Pecunia non olet (money does not smell)

You might now think: Has he finally lost his marbles? What’s going on here? Well, I have decided to regularly mention famous citations here and give a bit of an explanation about their background. And this first posting should of course be a bit of an eye-catcher. So here you go:

This is a {en:Latin} citation that is attributed to the {en:Roman} emperor {en:Vespasian} (9-79). Part of his efforts to consolidate the public budget was the introduction of a special tax for “restrooms”, or more specifically the newly built {en:Cloaca Maxima} (sic!). When challenged by his son {en:Titus} about it he responded with the above statement. Here are some examples how this saying still lives in today’s world

  • It is widely used to justify money coming from questionable sources.
  • In Paris public restrooms are called “Vespasiennes”.
  • And in Italy they are “Vespasiani”.

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