Friday, October 26, 2012

Vomeo, Vomere, Vomitum

This one isn't particularly complicated, but it's pretty prolific. 

The idea is that the ancient Romans, with their great love of feats, would have a room set aside so that guests could go and vomit what they've eaten, so they could resume feasting with a freshly emptied stomach. This room was supposedly called a "vomitorium."

Except, no, they didn't. And while Romans did have vomitoriums, they didn't actually have anything to do with vomit

This is a Roman vomitorium:

It may make more sense if I explain that what is causing the confusion is the word itself. Vomitorium comes from the verb vomeo, vomere, vomitum. It's the Latin verb for "to spew forth." (Sorry for the lack of a link on this. I got it from my old Latin textbook) This is the same root as the English word vomit, but instead of a vomitorium spewing forth vomit... they were spewing out people

A vomitorium is simply a large portal, gateway, or thoroughfare in an amphitheater or stadium. 

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