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Gaius Valerius Catullus 
(84–54 BC).
Artist: William Blake (1757-1827)
Catullus was important enough to appear on a coin.
Artist: Unknown

[121]           “Lōtium” is the basic Latin noun for Urine, relating to “lavāre,”: To Wash.


      In the pre-Soap Roman era, people preserved urine in cisterns, using the ammonia to wash their clothes. Some even washed their teeth with Urine, which resulted in very white teeth and  even a poem by Catullus (Verona, 82BC-54BC) about a man

called Egnatius, who was prone to do just that:

Egnativs, because he has white teeth,

is everlastingly smiling.

If people come to the prisoner's bench,

the counsel for the defence

is making every one cry,

he smiles:

if they are mourning

at the funeral of a dear son,

when the bereaved mother

is weeping for her only boy,

he smiles:

whatever it is, wherever he is,

whatever he is doing,

he smiles:

it is a malady he has,

neither an elegant one as I think,

nor in good taste.….

there is nothing more silly

than a silly laugh.

As it is, you are a Celtiberian;

now in the Celtiberian country

the natives rub their teeth and red gums,

every morning with what they have urinated,

so that the cleaner your teeth are,

the more urine you are shown to have drunk.


      This of course is an allegory, and nowadays we wouldn’t say that Egnatius was drinking urine and therefore smiling, but that he’s been ‘licking asses’ and therefore successful.

Did you ever try this treatment? Did it work for you?

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