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Awful Ancient Positions in Life II
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  5/28/12
By: Yona Williams

Some jobs during ancient times dealt with unbearable smells, while others involved the dirty work that no one else wanted to do. In this article, you will encounter ancient positions in life that truly tested the limits of the senses – namely the nose and mouth.

Disposer of Feces

The ancient Romans were known for creating an extensive sewer system, but not everyone had access to a way of getting rid of their excrement. The majority of Romans lived in hilly regions or were too poor to afford plumbing in their home. Becoming a part of the sewer system also meant that unpleasant odors leaked into your house or rats and other vermin entered your home because they had settled in the sewers. The Romans came up with a position that would take care of their feces issue – the stercorarius. Basically, this person was responsible for removing feces from a home. They'd travel door to door with a cart that took away the human waste and transported it to the edge of town. Farmers would also purchase the feces for their crops.

Armpit Hair Plucker

During ancient times, there was no Right Guard or other deodorants to take away the stench of a sweaty man. As athletes of the past sweated and produced unpleasant body odor, they blamed the hairs under their arms for the offensive scent. Hair does have a natural way of trapping in bad smells, especially if you've been sweating during a hot day. To treat unwanted hair, men in training would go through a daily ritual of having their armpit hair plucked by someone whose sole duty was to remove hair from under the arms of athletes.

Food Taster

Usually, being treated to a collection of tantalizing gourmet food is a positive thing, but during ancient times – you were not so lucky if you happened to taste food for royalty. It was quite popular to poison kings and emperors by adding potions and deadly concoctions to their meals. Royalty got smart and decided to enlist the help of tasters, who would take bites out of their food to make sure it was safe to eat. The Romans called this position the praegustator. They had the unfortunate pleasure who took in a mouthful of whatever the emperor or king was to eat. Many tasters met their death as a result, but the royal family stayed safe.

Ancient Dentist

During ancient days, there were no toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss or mouthwash, so when teeth started to hurt, it was the job of the ancient dentist to fix the pain or pull a tooth. An ancient Roman dentist would generally use wine as an anesthetic. If a tooth had to be pulled, a red-hot poker was used to treat the gums. The hole that was left behind was then stuffed with rotten fish.


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