There is a common misconception that ancient Romans designated spaces called vomitoria for the purpose of vomiting during or after feasts so as to make room for more food, as part of a binge and purge cycle. In fact, that’s far removed from what it is.

A vomitorium is a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre or a stadium, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance. They can also be pathways for actors to enter and leave stage.

It takes its name from the Latin word vomitorium, (plural vomitoria), and is derived from the verb vomō, vomere – which means “to spew forth”. In ancient Roman architecture, vomitoria were designed to provide rapid egress for large crowds at amphitheatres and stadia, as they do in modern sports stadia and large theatres.

Picture Credit: “Vomitorium (accés a les grades), amfiteatre, Lepcis Magna” by Sebastià Giralt is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Martin Pollins
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