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Are there any historical references to this being done? Either for fun, as revenge of some kind or for any other reason?

Did they have toilet facilities available near or inside the theaters, or even on the stage itself?

If this was common practice; did anyone try to prevent it from happening or was it accepted as another facet of daily life?

Thanks in advance!

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    Well, there is the obvious example of Diogenes, but more generally, we have evidence that they employed slaves to collect the urine. It was a valuable commodity as a source of ammonia. – sempaiscuba Apr 29 '18 at 23:55
  • @sempaiscuba: Shouldn't that be amino radicals (NH2) rather than ammonia (NH3)? Urea is two amino radicals joined by a carbonyl functional group (C=O). – Pieter Geerkens Apr 30 '18 at 0:38
  • @PieterGeerkens Titration with ash produces ammonia. There's a rather good paper on Ancient Roman Urine Chemistry available from Wiley Online Library. – sempaiscuba Apr 30 '18 at 0:51
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    @PieterGeerkens Perhaps it's small wonder that some of my friends think I'm peculiar, given some of the things I read! ;-) – sempaiscuba Apr 30 '18 at 0:52
  • @sempaiscuba: Of course - once the nitrogen has been fixed it is easy to make use of. I just thought the reference to ammonia rather indirect for general understanding. – Pieter Geerkens Apr 30 '18 at 0:54
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That's extremely unlikely for two reasons. First of all, the smell and lack of hygiene. Imagine several hundred or thousand people urinating in a theater during a performance. On a hot day in summer, which Athens has a lot. That really stinks to the sky. Just that alone would be a good reason for not doing it.

But urine was a very valuable commodity. It was used in many chemical processes. For example, tanners needed urine - lots of it. It was used by launderers, for whiting textiles. And much more.

Urine would be collected. Shops and taverns had bowls where you could relieve yourself in. The contents would be sold to the above industries. That was such a profitable business that Vespasian taxed it.

I don't think there would have been any real difference between the way Greeks or Romans behaved here. Urine was just as valuable for Greeks as it was for Romans. If a Greek theater didn't have a place to relieve yourself, entrepreneurs would make arrangements for that next door.

  • As for stink, I don't think that was any parameter as I read more than once that cities all around the world stank really really badly in those days due to people relieving themselves in the streets. So most likely people were used to those smells. But the other points are valid. – Shadow Wizard Mar 11 at 7:31

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