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Roman Sewage

By Tess Dawson

There was a marvelous movie-event at the local cinema earlier this night—a documentary about Pompeii sponsored by the British Museum and in support of one of their current exhibits. Please ma’am, just take my money and hand me a ticket now, thank you! I want to see the sweeping silver screen present Roman history, artifacts, ancestors, deities, and polytheism.

[Snip] For the most part, I enjoyed the documentary and I enjoyed listening to what the experts had to say. But there was one glaring part that soured the experience. One part that I found wounding to the core: disrespect for the deities.

One of the hosts of the documentary asked if the Romans “actually” believed in these many deities, or if the ancient Romans were “just superstitious.” At a different point in the documentary, they make reference to Bacchus being little more than an amusing “character.” They also showed a household shrine for just a few seconds, only to point out the painting of it and the flat area where offerings went, before swiftly moving on to an extensive discussion about sewage and drains.

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