Rome celebrated the 2,000th birthday of Emperor Vespasian over the weekend, kicking off 10 months of festivities to highlight the life of the man who help build the Colosseum.
Vespasian came to power amid great chaos in the Roman Empire, the last of four emperors who ruled Rome in a single year, 69 AD.
According to a story in The Independent about the anniversary of Vespasian’s birth, “he took drastic measures to restore sanity to the Roman Empire’s finances, which had been emptied by Nero’s extravagance.”
“He raised taxes steeply … and famously introduced a tax on public urinals, which is why in Italy they are associated with him to this day. When his son Titus remonstrated with him over this measure, the emperor held out a handful of coins for him to sniff. These come from the urinal tax, he said, “Pecunia non olet” (money has no smell).”
He taxed public urinals and did so without a shred of embarrassment. Sounds like someone who’d fit in just fine with our elected leaders today, doesn’t it?