Legend has it that soon after the completion of the Cloaca Maxima, (The main sewer line constructed in the late 500’s BC in Rome), a statue of a woman was found in the sewers. Promptly rescued and cleaned, she became Cloacina, the Roman Goddess of the Sewer. Romans came to believe that Cloacina ruled over and protected their sanitary workers and the extensive sewer system they serviced.
While we may never know why that statue of the woman was thrown into the cloaca, it is clear that the sewer system revolutionized cleanliness standards and daily life for the citizens of Rome, and made the once discarded statue, a revered goddess. Her importance is evidenced by the fact that a coin, still available today, was minted in her honor in 46 BC. Additionally, Titus Tatius had a Cloacina statue and shrine erected on the Roman Forum in the 8th Century BC. This shrine is believed to be located on the entrance to the sewer system — an ancient manhole. The foundations of this landmark are still evident in Rome.