He's a link to a condensed history of outhouses and privys. Rather interesing reading I suppose.
But I tend to agree with ravells, especially for the fantasy genre of games. It is fantasy, not necessarily medieval. My campaign is set in a world of high magic, and has one rich merchant's house that has the garderobes going to a non-dimentional space (sort of like a bag of holding does) and a permanant control temperatue so that the only fireplaces are those used for relaxation. However, the poorer inhabitants of the land use the traditional chamber pot and street.
If I were running a historical game, I'm sure I'd research things a bit more.
After watching several episodes of Cities of the Underworld on The History Channel, I learned that the Romans apparently had indoor toilets. It's a shame that technology was lost in the Dark Ages.
Roman indoor toilets were not 'common' place in every house. They were common in the bathhouses though, as the bath houses had water transported to them. The idoor toilets functioned by have many 'latrines' positioned over a channel of flowing water into which ones waste was dropped. They even had 'backside' scrubbers that made use of the water to cleanse oneself after the deed.
Here are some images of the roman latrines:
I found an interesting vignette about indoor plumbing in "Life in a Medieval City" by Joseph & Frances Gies:
"A woman who keeps a lodging house is summonsed for creating a 'vile nuisance.' She has had a wooden pipe built from the privy chamber of her house to the gutter, rendering it evil-smelling and sometimes blocking it up. The neighbors bring her into court, where she is fined six deniers and ordered to remove the pipe within forty days." (p. 204)
So evidently plumbing crimes were not unheard of, so great was the desire for indoor plumbing in France c. 1250 AD.
Unlike the movie "Gladiator", the Roman Emperor Commudus was not killed in the arena, rather his imperial guards threw him down the "guarderobe" of the imperial palace.
This is where we get the word "commode" for toilet.
So I guess the romans had something like a guarderobe in certain large buildings.
A popular tale, but not one that is true. Commodus was strangled in the bath (or possibly his bed, sources differ) by a man named Narcissus (not to be confused with the Narcissus of Greek mythology), after a plot to poison him failed.
Cassius Dio: LXXIII, paragraph 22:5.
Herodian's History of the Roman Empire Since the Death of Marcus Aurelius, 1.17
The two words are related, though:
commodus -a -um [to measure , in full, complete]; hence [proper, fit, appropriate]; of persons, character, etc., [friendly, obliging, pleasant]. N. as subst. commodum -i, [suitable time, opportunity, convenience; use, advantage, interest; remuneration; loan]. N. acc. as adv. commodum, [at the right time, opportunely; just then]. Adv. commode, [rightly, properly, fitly; pleasantly, comfortably, kindly]. http://www.archives.nd.edu/cgi-bin/l...mmod&ending=us
Commodus' name indicates that he is a proper man--the right man for the time (an obvious misnomer if ever there was one). As the word commode came to English through French, it retained its meaning of something being convenient, or properly placed. Compare our words commodious and accommodate.
Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
I find it amazing that the Romans had such an advanced and technological society and that the Dark & Middle Ages was consumed by such regression. It seems that when the Roman legions left England and France, sanitation went with them.
Jack Whyte often writes about Roman sanitation in his A Dream of Eagles Series (called The Camulod Chronicles in USA). Fort at Mediobogdum (or Hardknott Pass) was located at the top of a cliff so the chute from the latrine just went out the side of the precipice. Good thing the valley below was uninhabited!
Last edited by Joshua_101; 10-17-2007 at 10:43 AM.