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Subject: Re: Vespasian - Emperor transformed into useful object?
Author: Nanaea   (Authenticated as Nanaea)
Date: February 11, 2001 at 4:58:55 PM
Reply to: Vespasian - Emperor transformed into useful object? by Daividh
You always come up with such earthy topics for discussion, Daividh. :)

This one was particularly entertaining, because it gave me the opportunity to try out AltaVista's amazing Babelfish on some French websites, with the following entertaining (if not totally literate) translation into English:

"Pourquoi dire que l'argent n'a pas d'odeur? L'empereur romain Vespasien (dont le nom donnera plus tard le terme vespasienne pour urinoir), toujours ? court d'argent (vous voyez bien que je ne suis pas le seul !), cr?a une taxe sur les urines. Fallait y penser pour faire payer tout le monde ! Son fils lui reprochant cette origine de l'argent, il lui ass?na cette r?plique devenue immortelle."

Babelfish translation:
"Why say that the money does not have odor? The Roman emperor Vespasien (whose name will give the urinal term later for urinal), always with money court (you see well that I am not only!), created a tax on the urines. Was necessary to think of it to make pay everyone! His/her son reproaching him this origin of the money, it him ass?na this counterpart become immortal."

Well, it does help a bit to know in advance that Vespasian was supposedly the first Roman emperor to come up with the bright idea of levying a tax on public toilets in Rome. (He also made a tidy profit on the side by selling the urine collected from these public toilets to cloth-dyers.)

When Vespasian's son reproached the emperor for his pettiness in charging the citizenry each time they needed to "shake hands with the uxor's best friend" or "point Publius at the porcelain" (effectively telling Vespasian that his idea -- like the urine he was selling -- stank), Vespasian responded by shoving a fistful of denarii under Junior's nose and offering the wise observation: "Pecunia non olet" ("Money doesn't smell").

I have to admit that I didn't know the French called their public toilets "vespasiennes" -- I'd always thought they only called them "pissoirs". I guess "vespasienne" sounds somewhat more refined, sorta like calling a public toilet here in the U.S. a "restroom" instead of a "sh*t-stall".

I wonder what they call 'em in Greece? Guess we'll have to wait till Priapos gets back from the mountains again this weekend, to find out.

-- Nanaea

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