Just a fun fact!
To celebrate National Trivia Day and remind us that Harry Potter is getting close to rivaling Star Wars as a franchise so deeply fascinated by gazing into its own canonical navel, the official Pottermore Twitter account decided to #jointheconversation and drop this dookie:
Delightful. If your head isn’t now just full of imagery of dumbass wizards walking around defecating themselves, well...congratulations, you’re better people than we are.
The information itself has actually been known to Potterheads for a while, because of course it has—since 2015, in fact. It’s culled from the Pottermore section about Hogwarts’ Chamber of Secrets, because apparently, when people who literally cast magic for a living decided to go “Hey, we should try that plumbing thing the Muggles have got instead of shitting everywhere,” the construction work to outfit the school with piping almost uncovered the mythical chamber. So really, instead of just randomly deciding to reveal this vital canonical information now, it’s more like Pottermore just trying to get in on some trending hashtag fun.
By telling us that wizards used to shit themselves.
But Twitter has become all aflutter by this magical hygiene tidbit today:
As a site dedicating to thinking far too much about things we shouldn’t, this naturally sent the io9 staff into a bit of a downward spiral. You could say that we lost our shit, in fact.
But it really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny the moment you think about it beyond the base level of Wizards just...letting it loose wherever they happen to be standing. You can’t just say “oh it was the 18th century, that’s vaguely old enough for everyone to believe people would just shit everywhere.” [Ed’s Note: James conveniently left out the part where I mentioned there should have at least been rooms for this activity, like outhouses. Thought you outta know. - Jill P.]
The concept of the toilet has existed for thousands of years—the Palace of Knossos in Crete, built around 1700 BC, had a surprisingly intricate sewage system that included latrines with water reservoirs that would be then used to flush waste away (via jugs of water). We’ve had the concept of garderobes—specific overhanging rooms where people would relieve themselves and allow the waste to drop into a moat—and commodes since the Medieval times.
Hell, the 19th century was the century for modern toiletry as we know it. Despite the fact Sir John Harrington invented the flushing toilet two centuries prior in 1592, Thomas Crapper’s popularization of in-home sanitary plumbing in the mid 1800s brought flushing toilets into the mainstream. So if all these dumb Muggles that wizards had been living among (or observing from afar) had been developing all these sanitation advancements, are we really meant to believe wizards just...walked around vanishing away their own shit whenever the mood took them? And who cleaned up the shit of the young students who hadn’t learned the vanishing spell yet? That’s right.
The House Elves.
Happy National Trivia Day, I guess. Don’t put your nose near any wizard robes you might come across.
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