Balineae, Balneum, Balineum, Thermae
(ἀσάμινθος, βαλανεῖον, λοετρόν, λουτρόν
Bathing was a practice familiar to the Greeks of both sexes from the
earliest times, both in fresh water and salt, and in the natural warm
springs, as well as vessels artificially heated. Thus Nausicaa, daughter
of Alcinous, king of Phaeacia, goes out with her attendants to wash her
clothes; and after the task is done, she bathes herself in the river.
.) Ulysses, who is conducted to the same spot, strips and
takes a bath, whilst Nausicaa and her servants stand aside. (Od. 6.210
.) Europa also bathes in the river Anaurus (Mosch. Id.
2.31), and Helen and her companions in the
Eurotas (Theocr. Id.
7.22). Warm springs
were also resorted to for the purpose of bathing. The Ἡράκλεια λουτρὰ
shown by Hephaestus or
Athena to Hercules are celebrated by the poets. Pindar speaks of the hot
baths of the nymphs--θερμὰ Νυμφᾶν
12.27), and Homer (Hom. Il. 22.149
) celebrates one of the
streams of the Scamander for its warm temperature. Bathing in rivers or
the sea (ψυχρολουτεῖν
) was always
common for the young (cf. Caryst. Perg. ap. Ath.
c). Not to know how to read and to swim were proverbial
marks of the ignoramus (Paroem.
ed. Gaisf., D. 6.56). A
plunge in the Eurotas always sufficed for the Lacedaemonians (Schol. on
). There appears to have been
a swimming bath (κολυμβήθρα
) at Athens
in the time of Plato (Rep.
The artificial warm bath was taken in a vessel called ἀσάμινθος
by Homer, and ἔμβασις
by Athenaeus (1.25
c, e). It was no doubt of wood or marble, as the
is applied to it
), and in the case of
Menelaus' Egyptian presents (Od. 4.128
it was of silver. It would appear from the description of the bath
administered to Ulysses in the palace of Circe, that this vessel did not
contain water itself, but was only used for the bather to sit in while
the warm water was poured over him, which was heated in a large caldron
or tripod, under which the fire was placed, and when sufficiently warmed
was taken out in other vesselsand poured over the head and shoulders of
the person who sat in the ἀσάμινθος.
.) The bath was usually thus
administered by a handmaiden (Il. 14.6
), or even a daughter (Od.
), or the mistress of the house (Od
4.252; 5.263; 10.450): unless we hold with Mr. Gladstone (Studies
3.513-516) that the maidens gave the men in each
case the means of washing themselves; for which he compares such
expressions as “feeding the poor,” and refers especially to
, compared with
7.296. Where cleanliness merely was the object sought, cold bathing was
adopted, which was considered as most bracing to the nerves (Athen. l.c.
); but after violent bodily exertion or
fatigue warm water was made use of, in order to refresh the [p. 1.267]
body and relax the over-tension of the
muscles. (Id. ib.;
; Od. 4.48
, et alibi.
) Hesiod (Op.
protests against men elaborately cleaning (φαιδρύνεσθαι
) their bodies with female baths, i. e.
those of high temperature--which shows that this luxury had begun in his
day; and in Homer's time constant indulgence in the warm bath was
considered as a mark of luxury and effeminacy (Od. 8.249
The use of the warm bath was preceded by bathing in cold water.
576). The later custom of plunging into cold
water after the warm bath mentioned by Aristeides (vol. i. Orat.
2, Sacr. Serm.
p. 515), who
wrote in the second century of our era, was no doubt borrowed from the
Romans. [See p. 268.]
After bathing, both sexes anointed themselves with oil, in order that the
skin might not be left harsh and rough, especially after warm water.
; Athen. l.c.;
Plin. Nat. 13
. § §
4-17; see also Il. 14.172
.) The use of precious unguents
) was unknown at that early
period. In the Heroic ages, as well as later times, refreshments were
usually taken after the bath. (Od. 6.97
At Athens the frequent use of the public baths was regarded by strict
moralists in the time of Socrates and Demosthenes as a mark of luxury
and effeminacy: thus it is a sign of demoralization on the part of a
ship's crew. (Demosth. c. Polycl.
Accordingly Phocion was said to have never bathed in a public bath
(ἐν βαλανείῳ δημοσιεύοντι,
Plut. Phoc. 4
), and Socrates to have made
use of it very seldom (Plato, Symp.
p. 174 A). It was,
however, only the warm baths (βαλανεῖα,
called by Homer θερμὰ λουτρά
) to which
objection was made, and which in ancient times were not allowed to be
built within the city (Athen.
b): for the Greeks did not at all approve of people being
dirty (ἀπαράτιλτος, αὐχμηρός,
); but cleanliness, they thought, should be attained
by cold water. The estimation in which such baths were held is expressed
in the following lines of Hermippus (ap. Athen. l.c.
Μὰ τὸν Δἴ, οὐ μέντοι μεθύειν τὸν ἄνδρα χρή
τὸν ἀγαθὸν, οὺδὲ θερμολουτεῖν, ἃ σὺ ποιεῖς.
In the Clouds of Aristophanes the δίκαιος
warns the young man to abstain from the baths (βαλανείων ἀπέχεσθαι,
passage, compared with ll. 1045-54, shows that warm baths are intended
by the word βαλανεῖα.
vi. p. 761 C) would confine the use of warm
baths to old men. (Cf. Plut. de San. tuend.
8.) But the frequent and open mention of baths
in the time subsequent to the Peloponnesian War (e. g. in Theophrastus,
Thphr. Char. 4
) shows that they were an every-day feature of Greek life.
The baths (βαλανεῖα
) were either public
) or private
). The former
were the property of the state, but the latter were built by private
individuals. Such private baths are mentioned by Plutarch (Plut. Demetr. 24
) and Isaeus
], § §
22-24), who speaks of one which was sold for 3000 drachmae
], § 33). Baths
of this kind were probably mostly intended for the exclusive use of the
persons to whom they belonged. (Xen.
Rep. Ath. 2.1. 0
) There appears to have
been a small, almost nominal, charge for the use of the public baths
(cf. Aristoph. Cl. 853
). Thus in the
inscription of Andania (1.107) the price is fixed at 2 chalki = 1/4
obol. At Phaselis it was probably not much higher; though something more
seems to have been demanded from strangers (Ath.
f). In the time of Lucian, who calls the fee ἐπίλουτρον
was two obols.
We know very little of the baths of the Athenians during the republican
period; for the account of Lucian in his Hippias relates to baths
constructed after the Roman model. On ancient vases, on which persons
are represented bathing, we seldom find anything corresponding to a
modern bath in which persons can stand or sit; but there is always a
round or oval basin (λουτήρ
), resting on a stand (ὑπόστατον
). by the side of which those who
are bathing are represented standing undressed and washing themselves,
as is seen in the following woodcut taken from Sir W. Hamilton's
Public Basin for Men. (From a Greek Vase.)
vases. (Tischbein, i. pl. 58.) The word ΔΗΜΟΣΙΑ
upon it shows that it belonged to a public
The next woodcut is also taken from the same work (i. pl. 59), and
represents two women
Basin for Women. (From a Greek Vase.)
bathing. The one on the right hand is entirely naked, and
holds a looking-glass in her right [p. 1.268]
one on the left wears only a short kind of ἐχέσαρκον χιτώνιον,
of which we have no other
instance. Eros is represented hovering over the bathing vessel.
But besides the λουτῆρες
there were also vessels for
bathing, large enough for persons to sit in, which, as stated above, are
by Homer and πύελοι
by the later Greeks (Schol. ad
Aristoph. Kn. 1055
; Hesych. sub voce
: Pollux, 7.166, 168). The
thus, as we shall see,
corresponded to the Roman labrum;
to the solium
In the baths there was also a kind of sudorific or vapour bath called
which is mentioned as early as the time of
). (Compare Pollux, 7.168;
f, xii. p. 519 e; Plut. Cim. 1
Scene viii. note 23) holds that in Greece
generally, as at Sybaris (Athen. 12.519
), the bathers sat in separate tub-like compartments;
but Marquardt (Privatleben,
p. 282) and Göll
3.105) show, by a comparison of Timarchus
(ap. Athen. 11.501
1.23, with Vitruvius, 5.11. 5
, that this χηρὸς
(Alexand. Aphrod. Probl.
1.41) was the
same as the concarerata sudatio
of the Romans, for which see below, p.
277. This seems to have been not simply or even principally a Spartan
usage (for warm baths were very rarely allowed at Sparta; see Plut. Lyc. 16
), but common to the Greek
race (Ἑλληνικὴ πυρίη,
), and not, as in early Rome, a
luxury or form of medical treatment. Among the chambers of the Greek
bathing establishment was the ἀλειπτήριον,
(Alexis, ap. Poll. 7.166; Theophr. de
28). Lucian (Hipp.
p. 73) speaks of the
with its ἱματιοφυλακοῦντες
); but as they seem to be unknown to Aristotle
29.14), they were probably introduced from
Rome. Hence Aristotle tells us that those who stole clothes from the
D. L. 6.52
e) were punishable with death. (Cf. Demosth. c.
p. 1256.1; c. Timocr.
p. 736.114.) As
the baths most frequently adjoined the gymnasia and palaestra (cf., for
example, the baths at Anticyra, Paus.
), one of the rooms of these
latter buildings served the purpose of undressing-room (Xen. Rep. Ath. 2.1. 0
About these rooms the τριβαλλοὶ
loaf, looking out for an invitation. We hear of wrestling (Theophr.
27) and playing the cottabos (D. L. 6.46
), besides a great deal of
conversation going on in the baths. To sing there was considered the
part of a boor (Theophr. Char.
Either the bath or simple anointing of the body generally formed part of
the business of dressing for dinner (Xen.
, 7). Hence we find the bath spoken
of as ὁδὸς ἐπὶ τροφὴν
), Artemid. Oneir.
It was generally taken shortly before the δεῖπνον
or principal meal of the day. Epictetus
1.1, 29) and Alciphr. (Ep.
3.60) mention noon as the hour; while voluptuaries bathed repeatedly
(Menander, ap. Ath. 4.166
; Simonides, ap.
Aelian, Ael. NA 16.24
). It was the
practice to take first a warm or vapour, and afterwards a cold bath
(Plut. de primo frig.
10; Paus. 2.34.2
), though in the time of Homer the cold bath
appears to have been taken first and the warm afterwards. The cold water
was usually poured on the back or shoulders of the bathers by the
or his assistants, who are
i. p. 344 D; Lucian, Demosth. Encom.
p. 503; Plut. de Invid.
6, Apophth. Lac.
49.) The vessel from which the water was poured was called ὑδρία
: there is mention also of the
which must have been
much smaller. (Aristoph. Kn. 1091
9.) In the first of the cuts on p. 267 a παραχύτης
is represented with one of these
vessels in his hands. Roulez (Choix de Vases peints du
Musée de Leyde,
pl. 19.1) gives us a vase
painting of a bath in a palaestra where two shower baths descend on men
from spouts shaped like panthers' heads, and Panofka (Bilder
Shower Baths for Women. (From a Greek Vase.)
18.9) shows us a bath for women similarly arranged, while an
unpublished vase painting in the Louvre represents a κολυμβήθρα
or swimming bath for women.
Swimming Bath for Women. (From a Greek Vase.)
These two last-mentioned paintings would incline us to the conclusion
that bathing establishments for women existed among the Greeks, whether
belonging to the state or maintained by private enterprise, and
Göll reads the inscription on the women's λουτὴρ
in Tischbein, 4.40, as δημόσια,
while we are told that Phryne did not use the
public baths (Athen. 13.590
), and we learn from Varro (L. L.
the earliest Greek balneum
contained a department for women.
The persons who bathed probably brought with them strigils, oil, and
towels, or had them carried by a slave (ληκυθοφόρος,
Poll. 3.154; χυστρολήκυθος,
Hesych.). The strigil, which was called
by the Greeks στλεγγίς
was usually made of iron, but sometimes also
of other materials. (Plut. Inst. Lac.
32; Aelian, Ael. VH 12.29
; Aristoph. Thes. 556
.) One of the
figures in the cut on p. 267 is represented with a strigil in his hand;
several strigils are figured on p. 279. Pollux says (10.181), “The
cloth which is worn by women round their loins when taking the bath,
or by the men who bathe them, is called ὤαλουτρίς.
” The Greeks also used different
materials for cleansing or washing themselves in the bath, to which the
general name of ῥύμμα
was given, and
which were supplied by the βαλανεύς.
(Aristoph. Lys. 377
usually consisted of a lye
made of lime or wood-ashes (κονία
nitrum, and of fuller's earth (γῆ κιμωλία,
Aristoph. Frogs 710
iv. p. 430 A).
Among the Greeks a person was always bathed at birth, marriage, and after
]; whence it is
said of the Dardanians, an Illyrian people, that they bathe only thrice
in their lives,--at birth, marriage, and after death. (Nicol. Damasc.
ap. Stob. Flor.
5.51.) The water in which
the bride was bathed (λουτρὸν νυμφικόν,
Aristoph. Lys. 378
) at Athens, was
taken from the fountain of Kallirrhoë, which was called from
the time of Peisistratus Ἐννεάκρουνος.
Compare Pollux, 3.43 Harpocrat. s. v. Λουτροφόρος,
who says that the water was fetched by a
boy, who was the nearest relation, and that this boy was called λουτροφόρος.
He also states that water was
fetched in the same way to bathe the bodies of those who had died
unmarried, and that on the monuments of such a boy was represented
holding a water-vessel (ὑδρία
), however, states that it was a female
who fetched the water on such occasions, and Demosthenes (c.
p. 1089.30; compare p. 1086.18) speaks of ἡ λουτροφόρος
on the monument of a person
who had died unmarried. In remains of ancient art we find girls
represented as λουτροφόροι,
boys. (Brönsted, Brief Description of thirty-two ancient
pl. 27; cf. Becker-Göll,
The natural warm springs (θερμὰ
) were not only
esteemed as sacred to Heracles, but also considered highly medicinal
24.19). The hot springs of Aedepsus in
Euboea were famed for their healing properties, as also was a cold
spring which flowed for a time (Athen. 3.73
In later times it became a great resort for pleasure as well as health,
especially in the spring (Plut. Symp.
17). Many other springs are mentioned by Pausanias (e.
g. 6.22, 4; 7.5, 5; 8.41, 4).
The best account of the Greek baths is given by Becker-Göll,
vol. i. p. 199; iii. pp. 98-113.
The words balneae, balineae, balneum, balineum,
are all commonly translated by our general term bath
or baths; but in the writings of the earlier and better authors they are
used with discrimination. Balneum
which is derived from the Greek
9.68), signifies, in its primary sense, a bath or
bathing-vessel, such as most persons of any consequence amongst the
Romans possessed in their own houses (Cic. Att.
), and hence the chamber which contained the bath (Cic. Fam. 14.2. 0
), which is also the
proper translation of the word balnearium.
The diminutive balneolum
is adopted by
86.3) to designate the bath-room of Scipio,
in the villa at Liternum, and is expressly used to characterise the
modesty of republican manners as compared with the luxury of his own
times. But when the baths of private individuals became more sumptuous,
and comprised many rooms, instead of the one small chamber described by
Seneca, the plural balnea
was adopted, which still, in correct
language, had reference only to the baths of private persons. Thus
Cicero terms the baths at the villa of his brother Quintus (ad Q.
3.1.1) balnearia. Balneae
which according to Varro
8.25, 9.41; Charisius, 1.12) have no singular
were the public baths. Thus Cicero (pro
25, 62) speaks of balneas Senias,
and in vestibulo
(ib. 26), and Aulus Gellius (3.1
) of balneas Sitias.
But this accuracy of diction is neglected
by many of the subsequent writers, and even in the time of the republic
was used for a public bath
(C. I. L.
1263); but particularly by the poets,
amongst whom balnea
is not uncommonly used
in the plural number to signify the public baths, since the word
could not be introduced in an
hexameter verse. Pliny also, in the same sentence, makes use of the
neuter plural balnea
for a public, and of
for a private bath.
hot springs) meant
properly warm springs, or baths of warm water; but came to be applied to
those magnificent edifices which grew up under the empire, in place of
the simple balneae
of the republic, and
which comprised within their range of buildings all the appurtenances
belonging to the Greek gymnasia, as well as a regular establishment
appropriated for bathing. (Juv. Sat.
7.233.) Writers, however, use these terms without distinction. Thus the
baths erected by Claudius Etruscus, the freedman of the Emperor
Claudius, are styled by Statius (Stat. Silv.
and by Martial (6.42
The Romans, in the earlier periods of their history, used the bath but
seldom, and only for health and cleanliness, not as a luxury. Thus we
learn from Seneca (Ep.
86.12) that the ancient Romans
washed their legs and arms daily, and bathed their whole body once a
week. (Cf. Cat. ap. Non. 108, s. v. Ephippium;
Colum. R. R.
1.6.20.) The room set
apart for this purpose was called lavatrina
and was placed near the
kitchen, so that warm water might be easily procured. (Varr. L.
It is not recorded at what precise period the use of the warm bath was
first introduced amongst the Romans; but we learn from Seneca (l.c.
) that Scipio had a warm bath in his villa
at Liternum; which, however, was of the simplest kind, consisting of a
single chamber, just sufficient for the necessary purposes, and without
any pretensions to luxury. It was “small [p. 1.270]
and dark,” he says ( § 3), “after the manner
of the ancients.” Seneca also describes the public baths of
former times as obscura et gregali tectorio
and while their arrangements were of the simplest
kind, aediles of noble birth did not disdain to look after them
personally ( § 9). These were baths of warm water;
but the practice of heating an apartment with warm air
by a hollow underneath the floor, so as to produce a hot-air bath, is
stated by Valerius Maximus (9.1.1) and by Pliny (Plin. Nat. 9.168
) to have been invented
by Sergius Orata, who lived in the age of L. Crassus, the orator, before
the Marsic war. The expression used by Valerius Maximus is balnea pensilia,
and by Pliny balineas pensiles,
which is differently explained by different
commentators; but a glance at the plan, inserted on p. 278, will be
sufficient in order to comprehend the manner in which the flooring of
the chambers was suspended
over the hollow cells
of the hypocaust, called by Vitruvius suspensura
(5.11), so as to leave no doubt as to the
precise meaning of the invention, which is more fully exemplified in the
following passage of Ausonius (Mosell.
Quid (memorem) quae sulfurea substructa crepidine fumant
Balnea, ferventi cum Mulciber haustus operto
Volvit anhelatas tectoria per cava flammas,
Inclusum glomerans aestu exspirante vaporem?
In the time of Cicero, though young people used in summer to bathe in the
15, 36), yet the use of baths, both public
and private, of warm water and hot air, had become general (ad Q.
3.1); and we learn from one of his orations that there
were already baths (balneas Senias
) at Rome
which were open to the public upon payment of a small sum (pro
25, 61). Besides public baths, others were built by
private speculators, who either worked them themselves or leased them
out. Sometimes even the state leased out the public baths under certain
conditions (e. g. see the Lex Metalli Vipascensis in Eph.
iii. p. 166, which makes stipulations with the conductor balinei
touching certain people to be
admitted free, hours of opening and shutting, height of water,
&c.). The lessee or worker of a bath (balneator
) appears to have stood very low in social
estimation (Juv. 7.4
). Examples of private baths in Cicero's time are
the balneae Pallacinae
and the balneae Seniae
Martial in his time says (ii 14, 11): “Nec Fortunati spernit nec
Nec Grylli tenebras Aeoliumque Lupi.”
“The Baths of Daphne,” owned by Phoebus (Schol. on Juv. 7.233
), is a name like “The
Aeolium” of Lupus. Jordan has collected a vast number of the
names of the baths from the Regionarii, and they appear to be nearly all
called after the possessor, though we find one of Mercurius and one of
Diana (Forma Urbis Romae,
p. 43). There
were baths, of course, in the country, and they professed to be quite up
to city style: e. g. an inscription has “In praediis Aureliae
Faustinianae balineus. Lavatur more urbico, et omnis humanitas
praestatur” (Marini, Atti de' Fratelli Arvali,
p. 532, where a similar profession of a balneator
is to be found, “omnia commoda
praestantur” ). A signboard, in Orelli 4326, of the Thermae of M.
Crassus, offers salt and fresh water baths. These baths, which were
worked by private individuals, appear to have been called balnea meritoria
), and money was
often invested in them (Dig. 7
,4, 12). Agrippa
added 170 baths to those which existed already in Rome. In the time of
Constantine there were no less than 856 (Jordan, l.c.
) in the city; and the Regionarii actually reckon 952
In the earlier ages of Roman history a much greater delicacy was observed
with respect to bathing, even amongst the men, than was usual among the
Greeks; for, according to Valerius Maximus (2.1.7), it was deemed
indecent for a father to bathe in company with his own son after he had
attained the age of puberty, or a son-in-law with his father-in-law.
(Comp. Cic. de Off. 1.3.
, § 129; de Orat.
224; Plut. Cat. maj.
20.) But virtue passed away as
wealth increased; and when the thermae came into use, not only did the
men bathe together in numbers, but even men and women stripped and
bathed promiscuously in the same bath. It is true, however, that the
public establishments generally contained separate baths for both sexes
adjoining each other (Vitr. 5.10
9.68), as will be seen to have been the case at
the baths of Pompeii. Aulus Gellius (10.3
relates a story of a consul's wife who took a whim to bathe at Teanum
(Teano), a small provincial town of Campania, in the men's baths
); probably, because
in a small town, the female department, like that at Pompeii, was more
confined and less convenient than that assigned to the men; and an order
was consequently given to the Quaestor, M. Marius, to turn the men out.
In the Lex Metalli Vipascensis the women have the use of the bath from
daybreak till the seventh hour; the men from the eighth hour till the
second hour of the night. If at Rome there were separate establishments
for the women, men at any rate appear to have been able to get into
them, and they were a possible place for assignations ( “celent
furtivos balnea tuta viros,”
Ov. Ars Am. 3.639
passage which further shows that there were small private chambers with
baths in them, such as we find in the Stabian baths at Pompeii (marked
in Overbeck's plan, Fig. 123, p. 193;
cf. p. 206). But whether the men and women were allowed to use each
other's chambers indiscriminately, or some of the public establishments
had only one common set of baths for both, the custom prevailed under
the empire of men and women bathing indiscriminately together. (Plin. Nat. 33.153
.) This custom was
forbidden by Hadrian (Spart. Hadr.
100.18), and by M.
Aurelius Antoninus (Capitolin. Anton.
Alexander Severus prohibited any baths, common to both sexes (balnea mixta
), from being opened in Rome
(Lamprid. Alex. Sev.
100.24). Although the practice was
not adopted by women of respectability ( “Signum est adulterae
lavari cum viris,” Quint. Inst.
this legislation was not permanently effective, and even the censures of
the Fathers of the Christian Church and the canons of Councils did not
avail to [p. 1.271]
suppress it. (Clem. Alex.
3.5, p. 272; Cypr. de Virg.
p. 179; Const. Apost.
1.6 and 9; Council
of Laodicea (A.D. 320), Can.
30, renewed by Council of
Constantinople (A.D. 692), ap. Mansi.) Justinian (Cod.
5.15, 11.2) recognises it as a ground of divorce, si
forte uxor ita luxuriosa est, ut commune lavacrum cum viris
libidinis causa habere audcat.
When the public baths (balneae
) were first
instituted, they were only for the lower orders, who alone bathed in
public; the people of wealth, as well as those who formed the equestrian
and senatorian orders, used private baths in their own houses. But as
early even as the time of Julius Caesar we find no less a personage than
the mother of Augustus making use of the public establishments (Suet. Aug. 94
); and in process of time even
the emperors themselves bathed in public with the meanest of the people.
The baths were opened at sunrise, and closed at sunset (Lampr.
24). The many lamps found in the baths at
Pompeii were used for lighting the rooms and the dark passages,
according to Nissen, Pomp. Stud.
135, and do not
necessarily imply night-bathing. But, in the time of Alexander Severus,
it would appear that the baths were kept open after nightfall. (Lampr.
l.c.) The allusion in Juvenal (balnea nocte subit, Sat.
6.419) probably refers
to private baths.
The price of a bath (balneaticum
) was a
quadrans, the smallest piece of coined money, from the age of Cicero
downwards (Cic. pro Cael.
, 62; Hor. Sat.
1.3, 137; Juv.
6.447), which was paid to the
keeper of the bath (balneator
); and hence
it is termed by Cicero, in the oration just cited, quadrantaria permutatio,
and by Seneca
86.9) res quadrantaria.
Children below a certain age were admitted free. (Juv. Sat.
The passage of Juvenal (6.447), which has been quoted to show that women
paid no fee, should be taken to imply that they paid a higher price than
men. So by the Lex Metalli Vipascensis, which has been already referred
to, the men pay half an as,
the women an as.
(Cf. D. C.
.) Faustus Sulla gave the people the use of the baths and
oil on the day of his father's funeral (D. C.
), and Augustus on his return from Germany gave them
baths and barbers for a day (ib. 54.25). Agrippa opened the baths
gratuitously to both men and women for a year (ib. 49.43), and
afterwards gave the people his thermae
ὥστε προῖκα αὐτοὺς λοῦσθαι
54.29). Such munificence was repeated by emperors and also by private
individuals (Dig. 32
; Henzen, 3325, 3326, 6962).
Strangers, also, and foreigners were admitted to some of the baths, if
not to all, without payment, as we learn from an inscription found at
Rome, and quoted by Pitiscus (Lex Antiq.):
L. OCTAVIO. L. F. CAM.
RUFO. TRIB. MIL ........
QUI LAVATIONEM GRATUITAM MUNICIPIBUS
HOSPITIBUS ET ADVENTORIBUS.
Compare the inscription at Naples (C. I. L.
also find free bathing given to an individual and his family as a reward
of merit: thus a soldier gets that privilege at Nemausus (Orelli, 3579).
The baths were closed when any serious public misfortune happened, just
as we should close our theatres (Fabr. Descr. Urb. Rom.,
100.18); and Suetonius says that the Emperor Caligula made it a capital
offence to indulge in the luxury of bathing upon any religious holiday
(ib.). They were originally placed under the superintendence of the
aediles, whose business it was to keep them in repair, and to see that
they were kept clean and of a proper temperature (ib.;
86). In the provinces the same
duty seems to have devolved upon the quaestor, as may be inferred from
the passage already quoted from Aulus Gellius (10.3
The time usually assigned by the Romans for taking the bath was the
eighth hour, or shortly afterwards. (Mart.
.) Before that time none
but invalids were allowed to bathe in public. (Lamprid. Alex.
24.) Vitruvius reckons the hours best adapted for
bathing to be from mid-day until about sunset (5.10). Spurinna took his
bath at the ninth hour in summer, and at the eighth in winter (Plin. Ep. 3.1
); and Martial speaks of taking a bath, when business had been
pressing, at the tenth hour, and even later (3.36 10.70).
When the water was ready, and the baths prepared, notice was given by the
sound of a bell--aes thermarum.
.) One of these bells, with the
inscription FIRMI BALNEATORIS, was found in
the Thermae Diocletianae, in the year 1548, and came into the possession
of the learned Fulvius Ursinus. (Append. ad
) A sun-dial was found in
the new baths at Pompeii, and Lucian (Hipp.
8) places in
the baths a sun-dial and a water-clock with apparently some method of
striking the hours attached.
Whilst the bath was used for health merely or cleanliness, a single one
was considered sufficient at a time, and that only when requisite. But
the luxuries of the empire knew no such bounds, and the daily bath was
sometimes repeated as many as seven and eight times in succession--the
number which the Emperor Commodus indulged himself with. (Lamprid.
11.) Gordian bathed four or five times a day in
summer, and twice in winter; the Emperor Gallienus six or seven times in
summer, and twice or thrice in winter. (Capitolin. Gord.
6; Trebell. Poll. Gall.
100.17.) Commodus also took his
meals in the bath (Lamprid. l.c.
); a custom
which was not confined to a dissolute emperor alone. (Cf. Mart. 12.19
It was the usual and constant habit of the Romans to take the bath after
exercise, and previously to their principal meal (cena
); but the debauchees of the empire bathed after
eating as well as before, in order to promote digestion, and so to
acquire a new appetite for fresh delicacies. Nero is related to have
indulged in this practice. (Suet. Nero
; comp. Juv. Sat.
practice of carrying off the effects of gluttony by artificial means of
inducing perspiration, which had taken the place of the hard labour and
exercise of sterner times, was severely condemned, and sometimes proved
fatal. (Columella, i. praef. § 15; Juv.
; Pers. 3.93; Sen. Ep.
15, 3; 86, 10; and
especially Plin. Nat. 14.139
29.26, where he mentions as one, [p. 1.272]
of the causes
of the ruined morals of the nation, balineae ardentes
quibus persuasere in corporibus cibos coqui.
Here at the outset a word must be said on the notorious illustration of a
Roman bath given below. It is said to have been found in and to
represent the Thermae of Titus at Rome. Long ago, however, Canina
suspected its authenticity. He could not, he said, find it in the baths,
nor was there any trustworthy evidence of its having been discovered
previously; and further its exceedingly close following of Vitruvius
made it look very like anillustration of that author. The fact is that
the picture was drawn by Giovanni Antonio Rusconi, an architect, in
1553, to serve as a plan to help the description of Roman baths as given
by Johannes Antonius Siccus Cremensis, De balneis compendium ex
Hippocrate et Galeno.
In the preface to this treatise the
picture is merely called a “figura antiqui balinei.” J.
Rhodius in his edition of Scribonius Largus (1655) says (p. 103),
“balnearum formam Ioannis Antonii Sicci Cremensis diligentia
vulgatam inspicere iuvabit,” It first appears as claiming to
be a picture of the Baths of Titus in a work called Raccolta di
statue antiche e moderne data in luce da de Rossi illustrata di P.
(1704), who was an officer of the Papal guard and
quite different from F. S. Maffei the scholar. From this work it got
into Montfaucon, Ant. expl.
3.2, pl. 122, and hence
unfortunately obtained general acceptance. Its unauthenticity is now
accepted by nearly all scholars, by Marquardt, Saglio, Overbeck,
Göll, Guhl and Koner, &c. For a full account of the
history of this drawing, the reader is referred to Marquardt,
Privatleben der Römer,
pp. 270-1, from whom
its history as given above is taken.
The picture indicates in its way the chief rooms of a Roman bath. There
was the elaeothesium,
where the oil was
kept, and where the bathers were frequently anointed. Next the frigidarium
or cold room, which generally had a
cold bath in it, and which frequently served as an undressing room
), though large
establishments had a separate apartment for undressing in. Beside the
was the warm room (tepidarium
), which led into the hot
Roman Baths. (Nominally from the Thermae of Titus, but a
modern representation of Roman baths.)
room (concamerata sudatio,
generally called caldarium
), or sweating
room, heated both by the hypocaust below and by an oven called,
according to the picture, laconicum,
be closed or opened by a brass cover called clipeus.
Also, over the hypocaust, in another room appears in
the picture the hot bath; and in a third room three coppers (ahena
) for cold, tepid, and warm water. The
errors of this illustration will appear quite plain after we have
described in detail the various rooms of the baths according to the
actual remains of such buildings.
The Romans did not content themselves with a single bath of hot or cold
water; but they went through a course of baths in succession, in which
the agency of air as well as water was applied. It is difficult to
ascertain the precise order in which the course was usually taken, if
indeed there was any general practice beyond the whim of the individual.
Under medical treatment, the succession would, of course, be regulated
by the nature of the disease for which a cure was sought, and would vary
also according to the different practice of different physicians. It is
certain, however, that it was a general practice to close the pores, and
brace the body after the excessive perspiration of the vapour bath,
either by anointing or by pouring cold water over the head, or by
plunging at once into the piscina,
a river. (Auson. Mosell.
341.) Musa, the physician of
Augustus, is said to have introduced this practice (Plin. Nat. 25.77
; cf. Hor. Ep. 1.15
), which became quite the fashion, in consequence of the
benefit which the emperor derived from it, though Dio Cass. (53.30)
accuses Musa of having artfully caused the death of Marcellus by an
improper application of the same treatment. In other cases it was
considered conducive to health to pour warm water over the head before
the vapour bath, and cold water immediately after it; and at other
times, warm, tepid, and cold water baths were taken in succession.
The two physicians Galen and Celsus differ in some respects as to the
order in which the baths should be taken; the former recommending [p. 1.273]
first the hot air of the laconicum
next the bath of warm water (ὕδωρ
), afterwards the cold, and finally to be well rubbed
(Galen, de Methodo Medendi,
10.10, pp. 708, 709, ed.
Kühn); whilst the latter recommends his patients first to sweat
for a short time in the tepid chamber (tepidarium
), without undressing; then to proceed into the
thermal chamber (calidarium
), and after
having gone through a regular course of perspiration there, not to
descend into the warm bath (solium
), but to
pour a quantity of warm water over the head, then tepid, and finally
cold; afterwards to be scraped with the strigil (perfricari
), and finally rubbed dry and anointed. (Cels.
1.4.) Such, in all probability,
was the usual habit of the Romans when the bath was resorted to as a
daily source of pleasure, and not for any particular medical treatment;
the more so, as it resembles in many respects the system of bathing
still in practice amongst the Orientals, who, as Sir W. Gell remarks,
“succeeded by conquest to the luxuries of the enervated Greeks
and Romans.” (Gell's Pompeii,
vol. i. p. 86, ed. 1832.)
Having thus detailed from classical authorities the general habits of the
Romans in connexion with their system of bathing, it now remains to
examine and explain the internal arrangements of the structures which
contained their baths; which will serve as a practical commentary upon
all that has been said. Indeed there are more ample and better materials
for acquiring a thorough insight into Roman manners in this one
particular, than for any other of the usages connected with their
domestic habits. The principal ancient authorities are Vitruvius (5.10
), Lucian (Ἱππίας
a detailed description of a set of baths
erected by an architect named Hippias), Pliny the Younger, in the two
letters describing his villas (2.17, 5.6), Statius (Balneum
Plan of the Roman Baths at Badenweiler.
Plan of the Roman Baths at Badenweiler. EXPLANATION.
a. Forecourt, atrium.
b. Central hall, vestibulum.
c. Undressing-room, apodyterium.
d. Anointing-room, unctorium.
e. Stokehole, praefurnium.
f. Cold bath, frigidarium.
g. Douche baths.
h. Warm bath, tepidarium.
i. Private baths, solia.
k. Passages for communication.
l. Hot baths, caldaria.
m. Hot-air bath, laconicum.
n. Reservoirs for cold and perhaps warm ablution.
Coal or wood store-rooms.
r. Underground exit drains.
s. Leaden exit
t. Exit pipe.
u. Altar of Diana
(6.42, and other epigrams), Seneca (Epist.
51, 56, 86),
and Sidonius Apollinaris (Epist.
But it would be almost hopeless to attempt to arrange the information
obtained from these writers, were it not for the help afforded us by the
extensive ruins of ancient baths,--such as the Thermae
of Titus, Caracalla, and Diocletian; the Thermae
of Pompeii excavated in 1854-8, and
numerous public and private baths throughout the whole extent of the
Roman empire, the most important of which are referred to in the list of
authorities at the end of this article; but above all the public baths
) of Pompeii, which were
excavated in 1824-5. Before elucidating the Roman system of bathing by
means of a detailed description of these baths, we give ground-plans of
baths attached to private houses, and first of the baths of “the
house of Livia” on the Palatine, which exhibits great
simplicity when compared with private baths at Pompeii, which must have
been built before A.D. 79. They consist of two rooms about 16 ft.
square, one of which contains a stove. The cut given above is a
ground-plan of the Roman baths at Badenweiler; and though less elaborate
than the baths attached to some Pompeian private houses, it is
interesting from its compactness and the arrangement of the women's and
men's baths. A full account of them is given by Dr. Heinrich Leibnitz,
Die römischen Bäder bei
Bath in house of Livia. (From Daremberg and Saglio.)
adjoining the Forum at Pompeii,
generally called the old baths, were found to be a complete set,
constructed in all their important parts upon [p. 1.274]
rules very similar to those laid down by Vitruvius, and in such good
preservation that many of the chambers were complete, even to the
ceilings. The woodcut below represents the ground-plan of these baths,
which are nearly surrounded on three sides by houses and shops, thus
forming what the Romans termed an insula.
The whole building, which comprises a double set of baths, has six
different entrances from the street, one of which, A, gives admission to
the smaller set only, which are supposed to have been appropriated to
the women, and five others to the male department; of which two, B and
C, communicate directly with the furnaces, and the other three, D, E, F,
with the bathing apartments, of which F, the nearest to the forum, was
the principal one; the other two, D and E, being on different sides of
the building, served for the convenience of those who lived on the north
and east sides of the city. To have a variety of entrances (ἐξόδοις πολλαῖς τεθυρωμένον
) is one of
the qualities enumerated by Lucian as necessary to a well-constructed
set of baths (Hippias,
8). Passing through
the principal entrance, F, which is removed from the street by a narrow
footway surrounding the insula
kerb of which is marked upon the plan by the thin line drawn round it),
and after descending three steps, the bather finds upon his left hand a
small chamber (1), which contained a convenience (latrina
), and proceeds into a covered portico (2), which
ran round three sides of an open court--atrium
(3), which was 68 feet long and 53 feet broad; and
these together formed the vestibule of the baths--vestibulum balnearum
pro Cael. 26
), in which the servants
belonging to the establishment,
Plan of the Old Baths at Pompeii.
as well as the attendants of the bathers, waited. There are
seats for their accommodation placed underneath the portico (a, a
). This atrium
was the exercise ground for the young men, or perhaps served as a
promenade for visitors to the baths. It answers exactly to the first
compartment described by Lucian (l.c.
this court the keeper of the baths (balneator
), who exacted the quadrans
paid by each visitor, was also stationed; and the
box for holding the money was found in it. The room (4), which runs back
from the portico, might have been appropriated to him; but most probably
it was an oecus
for the convenience of the better classes whilst
awaiting the return of their acquaintances from the interior, in which
case it will correspond with the chambers mentioned by Lucian (l.c.
5), adjoining to the servants'
waiting-place (ἐν ἀριστερᾷ δὲ τῶν ἐς
τρυφὴν παρεσκευασμένων οἰκημάτων
). In this court
likewise, as being the most public place, advertisements for the
theatre, or other announcements of general interest, were posted up, one
of which, announcing a gladiatorial show, still remains. At the two
sides of the entrance to it were stone seats (scholae
). (5) Is the corridor which conducts from the
entrance E, into the same vestibule. (6) A small cell of similar use to
the corresponding one in the opposite corridor (1). (7) A passage of
communication which leads into the chamber (8), the apodyterium
perhaps in this sense Isidor. Gloss.
p. 488), a room for
undressing; and which is also accessible from the street by the door D,
through the corridor (9), in which a small niche is observable, which
probably served for the station of another balneator,
who collected the money from those entering from
the north street. In this room, which was 38 feet long and 22 feet
broad, all the visitors must [p. 1.275]
have met before
entering into the interior of the baths; and its locality, as well as
other characteristic features in its fittings up, leave no room to doubt
that it served as an undressing room. It does not appear that any
general rule of construction was followed by the architects of
antiquity, with regard to the locality and temperature best adapted for
The word is not mentioned
by Vitruvius, nor expressly by Lucian; but he says enough for us to
infer that it belonged to the frigidarium
in the baths of Hippias (l.c.
“After quitting the last apartment there are a sufficient
number of chambers for the bathers to undress, in the centre of
which is an oecus
baths of cold water.” Pliny the Younger says that the
at one of his own villas
adjoined the frigidarium
5.6.25); but it is plain from a passage already
quoted, that the apodyterium
was a warm
apartment in the baths belonging to the villa of Cicero's brother,
Quintus (assa in alterum apodyterii angulum
), to which temperature Celsus also assigns it. In the
thermae at Rome the hot and cold departments had probably each a
attached to it; or if
not, the ground-plan was so arranged that one apodyterium
would be contiguous to and serve for both, or
either; but where space and means were circumscribed, as in the little
city of Pompeii, it is more reasonable to conclude that the frigidarium
served as an apodyterium
for those who confined themselves to cold
bathing, and the tepidarium
for those who
commenced their ablutions in the warm apartments. The bathers were
expected to take off their garments in the apodyterium, it
not being permitted to enter into the
interior unless naked (Cic. pro
, 62). They were then delivered to a class of
slaves, called capsarii
the small case in which children carried
their books to school), whose duty it was to take charge of them, and to
whom the room (11) may have been assigned. These men were notorious for
dishonesty, and leagued with all the thieves of the city, so that they
connived at the robberies they were placed there to prevent. Hence the
expression of Catullus--O furum optume
33.1); and Trachilo in the
of Plautus (2.33, 51) complains
bitterly of their roguery, which, in the capital, was carried to such an
excess that very severe laws were enacted against them, as we find in a
special title of the Digest (47
), De Furibus
To return into the chamber itself--it is vaulted and spacious, with stone
seats along two sides of the wall (b, b
and a step for the feet below, slightly raised from the floor (pulvinus et gradus,
). Holes can still be seen in the
walls, which might have served for pegs on which the garments were hung
when taken off. It was lighted by a window closed with glass, and
ornamented with stucco mouldings and painted yellow. A sectional drawing
of this interior is given in Sir W. Gell's Pompeii.
There are no less than six doors to this chamber:
one led to the entrance E, another to the entrance D, a third to the
small room (11), a fourth to the furnaces, a fifth to the tepid
apartment, and the sixth opened upon the frigidarium,
the room which had the cold bath (10), named
indifferently by the ancient authors, natatio,
The bath, which is coated with
white marble, is 13 feet 8 inches in diameter, and about 3 feet 9 inches
deep, and has two marble steps to facilitate the descent into it, and a
seat surrounding it at the depth of 10 inches from the bottom. It is
probable that many persons contented themselves with the cold bath only,
instead of going through the severe course of perspiration in the warm
apartments; and it is said that at one period cold baths were in such
request that scarcely any others were used. (Gell's Pompeii,
) There is a platform or ambulatory
) round the bath, also of marble,
and four niches of the same material disposed at regular intervals round
the walls, with seats. The ceiling is vaulted, and the chamber lighted
by an opening towards the south-west. A drawing of this room is given on
p. 279. The annexed woodcut represents a frigidarium
with its cold bath (puteus,
Plin. Ep. 5.6.25
Frigidarium of a Formian villa.
at one extremity, supposed to have formed.a part of the
Formian villa of Cicero, to whose age the style of construction, and the
use of the simple Doric order, undoubtedly belong. The bath itself, into
which the water still continues to flow from a neighbouring spring, is
placed under the alcove, and the two doors on each side opened into
small chambers, which probably served as apodyteria.
It is still to be seen in the gardens of the Villa
Caposeli, at Mola di Gaeta, the site of the ancient Formiae.
In the cold bath of Pompeii the water ran into the basin through a spout
of bronze, and was carried off again through a conduit on the opposite
side. It was also furnished with a waste-pipe under the margin to
prevent it from running over. No. 11 is a small chamber on the opposite
side of the frigidarium,
which might have
served for keeping unguents or strigiles,
or for the capsarius;
and from the side of
the [p. 1.276]frigidarium,
the bather, who intended to go through the process of warm bathing and
sudation, entered into (12) the tepidarium.
33 feet long by 18 feet
broad, did not contain water either at Pompeii or at the baths of
Hippias, but was merely heated with warm air of an agreeable temperature
in order to prepare the body for the great heat of the vapour and warm
baths, and, upon returning, to obviate the danger of a too sudden
transition to the open air. In the baths at Pompeii this chamber served
likewise as an apodyterium
for those who
took the warm bath; for which purpose the fittings up are evidently
adapted, the walls being divided into a number of separate compartments
or recesses for receiving the garments when taken off, by a series of
figures of the kind called Atlantes
which project from the
walls, and support a rich cornice above them. One of these divisions,
with the Telamosnes,
is represented in the article ATLANTES
benches were also found in the room, which was heated as well by its
contiguity to the hypocausts of the adjoining chamber, as by a brazier
Brazier of the Old Baths at Pompeii.
), in which the charcoal ashes were
still remaining when the excavation was made. Sitting and perspiring
beside such a brazier was called ad flammam
(Suet. Aug. 82
representation of it is given in the above woodcut. Its whole length was
7 feet, and
Tepidarium of Old Baths of Pompeii. (From Gell.)
its breadth 2 feet 6 inches. The benches contained the
inscription M. NIGIDIVS VACCVLA P.S. (pecunia sua
). No doubt, from the representation
of the cow on the brazier, this latter was also a gift of the same man.
is generally the most highly
ornamented room in baths. It was merely a room to sit in and be anointed
in. The water-bath which appears in the Stabian baths at Pompeii is
quite an exception (see Becker-Göll, Gallus,
3.132-4). In the old baths at Pompeii the floor is
mosaic, the arched ceiling adorned with stucco and painting on a
coloured ground, the walls red. The light is from a window at the south
side, below which is a niche for a lamp. An illustration of the room
taken from Gell, plate 29, is given above.
In addition to this service there can be little doubt that this apartment
was used as a depository for unguents and a room for anointing (ἀλειπτήριον,
), the proper place
for which is represented by Lucian (l.c.
adjoining to the tepidarium,
and by Pliny
(Plin. Ep. 2.17.11
) as adjoining
to the hypocaust; and for which purpose some of the niches between the
seem to be peculiarly
adapted. In the larger establishments a separate chamber was allotted to
these purposes; but as there is no other spot within the circuit of the
Pompeian baths which could be applied in the same manner, we may safely
conclude that the inhabitants of this city were anointed in the tepidarium
(cf. Celsus, 1.4); which service was
performed by slaves called unctores
] Anointing sometimes took place before
going into the hot bath (Celsus, l.c.
sometimes after the cold bath, just before putting on the clothes, in
order to stop perspiration (Galen, 10.479). In some baths we find a
special room, the destrictarium
used for anointing (Plin. Ep. 2.17.11
). For this purpose
the common people used oil, sometimes scented; but the more wealthy
classes indulged in the greatest extravagance with regard to their
perfumes and unguents. These they either procured from the elaeothesium
of the baths, or brought with them
in small glass bottles (ampullae oleariae
hundreds of which have been discovered in different excavations made in
various parts of Italy. [AMPULLA
] The fifteenth book of Athenaeus contains an ample
treatise upon the numerous kinds of ointments used by the Romans; which
subject is also fully treated by Pliny (H. N.
Caligula is mentioned by Suetonius (Suet. Cal.
) as having invented a new luxury in the use of the bath, by
perfuming the water, whether hot or cold, by an infusion of precious
odours, or, as Pliny states (H. N.
13.22), by anointing
the walls with valuable unguents; a practice, he adds, which was adopted
by one of the slaves of Nero, that the luxury might not be confined to
royalty (ne principale videatur hoc bonum
From this apartment, a door which closed by its own weight, to prevent
the admission of cooler air, opened into No. 13, the caldarium,
53 feet long, 17 1/2 feet broad. Its mosaic
floor was suspended over the hypocaust. The wall was not lined with
flues, but was hollow, forming as it were one large flue for the heated
air. This was effected by a lining of bricks with projections (tegulae mammatae
) of about four inches, strongly
connected with the outer wall by cramps of iron. The room has at its
south side the quadrangular alveus.
4.10; Cic. Cael.
) or solium
; Cat. Agr. 10
; Cels. 1.3 and 4; Liv. 44.6
; Suet. Aug. 82
) or calida
; Suet. Nero 27
); and at
the north side, which ended in a dome-roofed semicircle, a round
Fam. 14.2. 0
; Vitr. 5.10
), like the Greek basin figured on p. 267.
Into the alveus,
called in Greek πύελος
(Galen, 10.473, 536), or κολυμβήθρα θερμοῦ ὕδατος
), the bather descended from the platform (schola;
cf. Petron. 92) by a step to which
ascent was made from the floor of the caldarium
by two steps. The alveus
was 16 1/2 feet long, 5 1/4 broad, and 2 deep. Ten
people could be in it together. Sometimes the alveus
was sunk below the level of the room, sometimes raised
above it. Both occur in the baths at Badenweiler. The labrum
at the other end is a circular tub made of marble,
7 1/2 feet in diameter, 8 inches deep, raised 3 1/4 feet from the ground
on a solid support of lava. It has an inscription round it (Orelli,
3277), which declares that it cost HS. 5250. It was used for holding
cold water, for pouring over the head before the bather quitted the hot
room. In the splendid baths of Etruscus there was a constant stream of
water from silver pipes into a silver labrum,
whence the water, in wonder at its beauty, says the
poet (Stat. Silv.
1.5, 48), was loth to depart. Elsewhere
we hear of baths having silver alvei
(Plin. H. N.
xxxiii, § 152). Owing to the great heat of the caldarium,
there was not much ornamentation in
this room at Pompeii, and no painting. Any ornamentation there was, was
in the dome over the labrum.
There are four
windows, arranged with no regard to symmetry. Below the opening in the
dome is a hollow for the lamp. The woodcut taken from Gell (plate 31)
represents the end of the room which contained the labrum.
Caldarium of Old Baths at Pompeii. (From Gell.)
Strictly speaking, there was no laconicum
Cic. Q. Fr. 3.1
51.6 ξηρὸν βαλανεῖον,
Galen, 6.228) in
the old baths at Pompeii. When a laconicum
occur, it was quite separate from the caldarium,
and raised to a higher temperature. It was merely
a sweating-room, and had no bath. It was a circular apartment with a
dome-shaped ceiling; ξηρὸς θόλος
called by Alexander of Aphrodisias. The diameter of such a room,
Vitruvius says (5.10), should be equal to the height as far as the
beginning of the dome; and in the middle of the dome there should be an
opening which could be closed or opened partially or entirely by a brass
cover or shield (clipeus
), worked by chains
from below (cf. Timarchus, ap. Athen.
f, who calls the cover ὀμφαλός
). The term laconicum
appears to have arisen in Italy; for the Greeks, as we saw, called such
a sweating bath Ἑλληνικὴ πυρίη
). According to Dio Cassius
(53.27), “Agrippa first introduced the Laconian sweating-bath; for
the gymnasium is a Laconian institution, and the Spartans seemed
especially in former times to have stripped and anointed themselves
with oil” (cf. Thuc. 1.6
first statement cannot be accurate, as we hear of a laconicum
as early as 70 B.C. in an inscription from the
Stabian baths at Pompeii (C. I. L.
1.1251), and at
Cicero's villa at Puteoli in 55 B.C. (Cic.
Att. 4.1. 0
). But it is quite possible that the hot room got
the name of laconicum
from the notoriety of the
Laconian practice of anointing, which would of course be most
conveniently done in a room [p. 1.278]
of fairly high
temperature. When the name originated, the highest temperature used was
nothing very considerable; but as the use of baths increased, the heat
of the hottest rooms increased also (cf. Senec. Ep.
10), and the name laconicum
appears to have
continued to be applied to the hottest rooms, though the anointing was
no longer performed there, but in the milder temperature of the tepidarium.
There is no laconicum
proper, as has been said, in the old baths at
Pompeii; but as the hottest room is the caldarium,
we may if we like, with Nissen (op. cit.
156), apply that term to this latter apartment, but
we must apply it to the whole room, and not merely to the niche for the
The view that the laconicum
was a little arched oven in the
which was in direct
communication with the hypocaust, and which had an aperture with a
moveable covering (clipeus
), through which
the heat of the caldarium
regulated--this view, which is derived from the supposed plan of the
Baths of Titus, vanishes by the proved unauthenticity of that
Here a word must be said on the suspensurae,
or hanging floors above the hypocaustun.
; Stat. Silv.
On this subject we cannot do better than quote the words of Mr.
Middleton (Ancient Rome,
p. 334), who thus explains the
system of heating used in the Thermae
Caracalla at Rome: “Vitruvius's description of the hypocausts or
hollow floors used for heating the hot rooms (calidaria
) agrees closely with many existing
examples. The lower floor was to be laid with 2 feet tiles (tegulae bipedales
) over a bed of concrete:
on this, all over the area of the room, rows of short pillars
) were built to
Method of heating the Baths in the Thermae of Caracalla.
AA. Concrete wall faced with brick.
B. Lower part of wall with no brick facing.
CC. Suspensura, or upper floor
of hypocaust, supported by pillars.
DD. Another floor, with support only at the edges.
EE. Marble flooring.
FF. Marble plinth and wall lining.
GG. Under-floor of hypocaust, paved with large tiles.
HH. Horizontal and vertical sections of the fine tiles, which
line the walls of the Caldarium.
aa. Iron holdfasts.
JJ. Socket-jointed flue-pipe of Tepidarium.
K. Rain-water pipe.
LL. Vaults of crypt, made of pumice-stone concrete.
support the upper or ‘hanging
). These pilae
were to be 2 feet high [in the baths
of Caracalla they are from 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 feet high, p. 367], made
of tegulae bessales,
or tiles 8 inches
square, set, not in mortar, but with clay in the joints: in existing
examples these clay joints have been baked into brick by the action
of the fire” (rather “hot air,” for there was
not a fire in the hypocaustum,
but in the
). The passages from the
furnace to the hypocaust and the flues in the walls appear to have been
( “per quos vapor
trahitur in balneariis,”
Plin. Nat. 9.134
After having gone through the regular course of perspiration, the Romans
made use of instruments called strigiles
3.263), to scrape off the perspiration, much in the same
way as we are accustomed to scrape the sweat off a horse with a piece of
iron hoop, after he has run a heat, or comes in from violent exercise.
The strigil was also used by the Greeks, who called it stlengis
Plat. Hipp, Min.
368 C) or xystra
5); and the
Greek instrumentis represented in the annexed cut. These instruments,
some specimens of which are also represented in the cut on p. 279, and
many of which have been discovered amongst the ruins of the various
baths of antiquity, were made of bone, bronze, iron, and silver; all
corresponding in form with the epithet of Martial, “curvo
Strigil. (From a Statue in the Vatican.)
51). The poorer classes were obliged to scrape themselves, but the more
wealthy took their slaves to the baths for the purpose; a fact which is
elucidated by a curious story related by Spartianus
100.17). [p. 1.279]
The strigil was by no means a blunt instrument, consequently its edge was
softened by the application of oil, which was dropped upon it from a
small vessel called guttus,3
which had a
Strigils. (Found in Roman baths.)
narrow neck, so as to discharge its contents drop by drop,
from whence the name is taken. A representation of a guttus
is given in the preceding woodcut; a strigil and
guttus together are represented below, and also in the figure on p. 117.
Augustus is related to have suffered from an over-violent use of the
strigil. (Suet. Aug. 80
.) Invalids and
persons of a delicate habit made use of sponges, which Pliny says
answered for towels as well as strigils. They were finally dried with
), and anointed. (Juv.
1.23; Plin. Nat.
The common people were supplied with these necessaries in the
baths,--omnia commoda praestantur,
Strign and Guttus. (From a Relief at Athens.)
as we saw above; but the more wealthy carried their own with
them (Pers. Sat.
After the operation of scraping and rubbing dry, they retired into, or
remained in, the tepidarium
thought it prudent to encounter the open air. But it does not appear to
have been customary to bathe in the water, when there was any, either of
the temperature only of the atmosphere in
these two chambers being of consequence to break the sudden change from
the extreme of heat to cold.
Returning now back into the frigidarium
which, according to the directions of Vitruvius (5.11
), has a passage (14) communicating with the mouth of
the furnace (e
), which is also seen under
the boilers in the cut opposite, called praefurnium
(Plin. Ep. 2.17.11
); and passing down that passage, we reach
the chamber (15) into which the praefurnium
projects, and which has also an entrance from the street at B. It was
appropriated to the use of those who had charge of the fires (fornacatores
). There are two staircases in it;
one of which leads to the roof of the baths, and the other to the
coppers which contained the water. Of these there were three: one of
which contained the hot water--caldarium
); the second the tepid--tepidarium;
and the last the cold--frigidarium.
Frigidarium of the Old Baths at Pompeii. (From Gell.)
warm water was introduced into the warm bath by means of a
conduit pipe, marked on the plan, and conducted through the wall.
Underneath the caldarium
was placed the
circular furnace (f
Hor. Ep. 1.11
), over 7 feet in diameter, which served to heat the water and
give out streams of warm air into the hollow cells of the hypocaustum.
It passed from the furnace under
the first and last of the caldrons by two flues, which are marked upon
the plan. The copper containing hot water was placed immediately over
the furnace; and, as the water was drawn out from thence, it was
supplied from the next, the tepidarium,
which was raised a little higher and stood a little way off from the
It was already considerably heated from its contiguity to the furnace and
the hypocaust below it, so that it supplied the deficiency of the former
without materially diminishing its temperature; and the vacuum in this
last [p. 1.280]
was again filled up from the farthest
removed, which contained the cold water received directly from the
square reservoir seen behind them,--a principle which has at length been
introduced into the modern bathing establishments, where its efficacy,
both in saving time and expense, is fully acknowledged. The boilers
themselves no longer remain, but the impressions which they have left in
the mortar in which they were imbedded are clearly visible, and enable
us to ascertain their respective positions and dimensions, the first of
which, the caldarium,
is represented in the
above cut. Such coppers or boilers appear to have been called miliaria,
from similarity of shape to a
milestone (Pallad. 5.8, 1.40).
Behind the coppers there is another corridor (16), leading into the court
(17) appropriated to the servants
of the bath, and which has also the convenience of an immediate
communication with the street by the door at C.
We now proceed to the adjoining set of baths, which were assigned to the
women. The entrance is by the door A, which conducts into a small
vestibule (18), and thence into the apodyterium
(19), which, like the one in the men's bath, has
a seat (pulvinsus, gradus
) on either side built
up against the wall. This opens upon a cold bath (20), answering to the
of the other set, but of much
smaller dimensions, and probably similar to the one denominated by Pliny
There are four steps on the inside to descend into it. Opposite to the
door of entrance into the apodyterium
another doorway which leads to the tepidarium
(21), which also communicates with the thermal
chamber (22), on one side of which is a warm bath in a square recess,
and at, the further extremity the labrum.
The floor of this chamber is suspended, and its walls perforated for
flues, like the corresponding one in the men's baths. It is to be
specially noticed that the tepidarium
the women's baths had no brazier, but had a hanging or suspended floor.
Suspending the floor of a tepidarium
proceeding subsequent apparently to Vitruvius's time ; so that this,
among many other reasons which are enumerated by Nissen (op. cit.
chap. v.), proves that the women's
baths were a subsequent addition.
True, the comparative smallness and inferiority of the fittings--up in
this suite of baths has induced some Italian antiquaries to throw a
doubt upon the fact of their being assigned to the women; and amongst
these the Abbate Iorio (Plan de Pompeii
suggests that they were an old set of baths, to which the larger ones
were subsequently added when they became too small for the increasing
wealth and population of the city. But their greater carelessness of
structure is an actual proof of later date in a building at Pompeii (see
). And the story, already quoted, of
the consul's wife who turned the men out of their baths at Teanum for
her convenience, seems sufficiently to negative such a supposition; and
to prove that the inhabitants of ancient Italy, if not more selfish,
were certainly less gallant than their successors. In addition to this,
Vitruvius expressly enjoins that the baths of the men and women, though
separate, should be contiguous to each other, in order that they might
be supplied from the same boilers and hypocaust (5.10); directions which
are here fulfilled to the letter, as a glance at the plan will
Besides the public baths at Pompeii, there are several very interesting
baths of two or three chambers in private houses, which reproduce in a
smaller scale many of the peculiarities of the larger baths. Such are to
be found in the villa of M. Nonius (Overbeck, op.
247-8), Casa del Fauno (310), the three-storied house
(323), the Villa Suburbana (326), and especially the Casa del Laberinto
Notwithstanding the ample account which has been given of the plans and
usages respecting baths in general, something yet remains to be said
about that particular class denominated Thermae;
of which establishments the baths in fact
constituted only a small part. The thermae,
properly speaking, were a Roman adaptation of the Greek gymnasium
], or palaestra,
as described by Vitruvius (5.11
): both of which contained a system of baths in
conjunction with conveniences for athletic games and youthful sports;
in which the rhetoricians
declaimed, poets recited, and philosophers lectured; as well as
porticoes and vestibules for the idle, and libraries for the learned.
They were decorated with the finest objects of art, both in painting and
sculpture, covered with precious marbles, and adorned with fountains and
shaded walks and plantations, like the groves of the Academy. It may be
said that they began and ended with the empire, for it was not until the
time of Augustus that these magnificent structures were commenced. M.
Agrippa is the first who afforded these luxuries to his countrymen, by
bequeathing to them the thermae
which he had erected in the Campus Martius. (D. C.
; Plin. H. N
36.189.) Recent excavations
(1882) have brought to light magnificent remains of these baths, but a
careful examination goes far to disprove the belief long entertained
that the Pantheon was originally designed to be a part of Agrippa's
probably a colossal laconicum.
But it was originally a separate
structure; and though the thermae
to it subsequently, yet no passage was ever broken through. Besides, the
Pantheon has no trace of a hypocaust. It was consecrated as a temple to
Mars, Venus, and other ancestors of the Gens Julia, probably immediately
after its completion in 27 B.C.: see D. C. 63.27
. (Middleton, Rome,
p. 337.) It appears from a passage in Sidonius Apollinaris
23.495), that the whole of these buildings,
together with the adjacent Thermae Neronianae, remained entire in the
year 466 A.D. The example set by Agrippa was followed by Nero, and
afterwards by Titus; the ruins of whose thermae
are still visible, covering a vast extent, partly
under ground and partly above the Esquiline Hill.4
were also erected by Trajan,
Caracalla, Diocletian, and Constantine: besides several which were
constructed by private individuals, P. Victor enumerates sixteen, and
Panvinius (Urb. Rom. Descript.
p. 106) has added four
more. There are still ample remains of the thermae
of Caracalla and Diocletian. [p. 1.281]
Although the custom of seeking the favour of the people by grants of free
bathing might lead to the surmise that no fee was exacted from bathers
in the imperial thermae,
yet it is certain
that we find in the literature descriptive of life at Rome constant
references to the charge of a quadrans,
none to free bathing. Most, if not all, of the other regulations
previously detailed as relating to the economy of the baths, apply
equally to the thermae;
but it is to these
establishments especially that the dissolute conduct of the emperors,
and other luxurious indulgences of the people in general, detailed in
the compositions of the satirists and later writers, must be considered
Although considerable remains of the Roman thermae
are still visible, yet, from the very ruinous state
in which they are found, we are far from being able to arrive at the
same accurate knowledge of their component parts, and the usages to
which they were applied, as has been done with respect to the balneae;
or indeed to discover a satisfactory
mode of reconciling their constructive details with the description
which Vitruvius has left of the baths appertaining to a Greek palaestra,
or to the description given by
Plan of the Thermae of Caracalla.
Lucian of the baths of Hippias. All, indeed, is doubt and guess-work the
learned men who have pretended to give an account of their contents
differing in almost all the essential particulars from one another. And
yet the great similarity in the ground-plan of the three which still
remain--namely, those of Titus, Caracalla, and Diocletian--cannot fail
to convince even a superficial observer that they were all constructed
upon a similar plan. Not, however, to dismiss the subject without
enabling our readers to form something like a general idea of these
enormous edifices, which, for their extent and magnificence, have been
likened to provinces--(in modum provinciarum
Amm. Marc. 16.6
)--a ground-plan is given of
of Caracalla, which are the
best preserved amongst those remaining, and which were perhaps more
splendid than all the rest, though those of Diocletian were more
extensive. Those apartments of which the use is ascertained, even with
the appearance of probability, are alone marked and explained. But for
most of these explanations there cannot be claimed more than a bare
probability. The dark parts represent the remains still visible; the
open lines are restorations.
A, Portico fronting the street made by Caracalla when he constructed his
--B and C, small chambers--D,
D, and E, E, the [p. 1.282]
porticoes. (Vitr. 5.11
.)--F, F, Exedrae,
in which there were seats for the philosophers
to hold their conversations. (Vitruv. l.c.;
Cic. de Orat. 3.5
passages open to the air:
appellant.” (Vitruv. l.c.
Stadia in the palaestra--quadrata sive
), if they were
not like I, I, which were possibly academies where public lectures were
delivered.--J, J, and K, K, Rooms appropriated to the servants of the
). In the latter are
staircases for ascending to the principal reservoir. The spaces between
J and K, marked I, I, were probably like I, I, below, lecture rooms or
libraries.--L, Space occupied by walks and shrubberies--ambulationes inter platanones.
)--M, The arena or stadium in which the
youth performed their exercises, with seats for the spectators (Vitruv.
), called the theatridium.
--N, N, Reservoirs, with upper stories, sectional
elevations of which are given in the two woodcuts on p. 283.--O,
Aqueduct which supplied the baths.--P, The cistern or piscina.
This external range of buildings occupies one
mile in circuit.
We now come to the arrangement of the interior, for which it is very
difficult to assign satisfactory destinations. Q represents the
principal entrances, of which there were eight.--R, the natatio, piscina,
or cold-water bath, to which
the direct entrance from the portico is by a vestibule on either side
marked S, and which is surrounded by a set of chambers which served
Tepidarium of the Thermae of Caracalla, restored. (From
most probably as rooms for undressing (apodyteria
), anointing (unctuaria
and stations for the capsarii.
nearest to the peristyle were perhaps the conisteria,
where the powder was kept which the wrestlers used in
order to obtain a firmer grasp upon their adversaries:--“Ille
cavis hausto spargit me pulvere palmis,
Inque vicem fulvae
tactu flavescit arenae.”
(See also Salmas. ad
p. 217; and Mercurialis, de Art.
1.8.) The inferior quality of the ornaments which these
apartments have had, and the staircases in two of them, afford evidence
that they were occupied by menials. T is considered to be the tepidarium,
with four warm baths (U, U, U, U)
taken out of its four angles, and two labra
on its two flanks. There are steps for descending into the baths, in one
of which traces of the conduit are still manifest. Thus it would appear
that the centre part of this apartment served as a tepidarium,
having a balneum
or calda lavatio
in four of its corners.
The centre part, like that also of the preceding apartment, is supported
by eight immense columns. This tepidarium
was a splendid room, 170 feet long by 82 feet wide. It is restored in
the above cut from existing indications. “It had a groined roof
springing from immense columns of granite and porphyry, each
surmounted by a short piece of entablature, which merely returns
round the capital of the column in the debased fashion of the second
and third centuries. The smaller columns on each side were set in
front of the recesses containing the warm baths.” (Middleton,
p. 361.) [p. 1.283]
The apartments beyond this, which are too much dilapidated to be restored
with any degree of certainty, contained of course the laconicum
and sudatories, for which the round chamber W and
its appurtenances seem to be adapted, and which are also contiguous to
the reservoirs, Z, Z. (Vitr. 5.11
probably comprised the ephebia,
or places where the youth were taught
their exercises, with the appurtenances belonging to them, such as the
The first of these takes its name from the game at
ball, so much in favour with the Romans, at which Martial's friend was
playing when the bell sounded to announce that the water was ready
). The latter is derived
a sack (Hesych. sub voce
), which was filled with
bran and olive husks for the young, and sand for the more robust, and
then suspended at a certain height, and swung backwards and forwards by
the players. (Aulis, de Gymn. Const.
p. 9; Antill. ap.
Oribas. Coll. Med.
The chambers also on the other side, which are not marked, probably
served for the exercises of the palaestra in bad weather. (Vitr. 5.11
These baths contained an upper story, of which nothing remains beyond
what is just sufficient to indicate the fact. They have been mentioned
and eulogized by several of the Latin authors. (Spartian.
100.9; Lamprid. Heliogab.
100.17, Alex. Sever.
100.25; Eutropius, 8.11
; Olymp. apud
Phot. p. 114, ed. Aug. Vindel. 1601.) For a full account
of the noble proportions and elaborate ornamentation of the several
rooms, the reader is referred to Middleton, l.c.,
It will be observed that there is no part of the bathing department
separated from the rest which could be assigned for the use of the women
exclusively. From this it must be inferred either that both sexes always
bathed together promiscuously in the thermae,
or that the women were excluded altogether from
these establishments, and only admitted to the balneae.
It remains to explain the manner in which the immense body of water
required for the supply of a set of baths in the thermae
was heated, which has been performed very
satisfactorily by Piranesi and Cameron, as may be seen by a reference to
the two subjoined sections of the castellum
belonging to the thermae
A, Arches of the aqueduct which conveyed the water into the piscina
B, from whence it flowed into the upper
range of cells through the aperture at C, and thence again descended
into the lower ones by the aperture at D, which were placed immediately
over the hypocaust E; the praefurnion of which is seen in the transverse
section, at F in the lower cut. There were thirty-two of these cells
arranged in two rows over the hypocaust, sixteen on each side, and all
communicating with each other; and over these a similar number similarly
arranged, which communicated with those below by the aperture at D. The
parting walls between these cells were likewise perforated with flues,
which served to diffuse the heat all around the whole body of water.
When the water was sufficiently warm, it was turned on to the baths
through pipes conducted likewise through flues in order to prevent the
loss of temperature during the passage, and the vacuum was supplied by
tepid water from the range above, which was replenished from the
Piscina and Castellum of the Aquaeductus of the Thermae of
Of the thermae
of Diocletian, built on the
Quirinal hill, the largest edifice of the imperial period, which
accommodated 3200 bathers, twice as many as those of Caracalla,
commenced in A.D. 302 by Maximian in honour of his colleague Diocletian,
and dedicated in 305 A.D., we have extensive
remains, which, like those of the thermae
of Titus, include the cavea
of a theatre,
while the tepidarium
was made by Michel
Angelo into the church of S. Maria degli Angeli, about 1565. “Even
now this tepidarium
forms one of the
most imposing interiors in the world; it is about 300 feet long by
92 wide, vaulted in three bays with simple quadripartite groining,
which springs from eight monolithic columns of Egyptian granite
about 50 feet high and 5 feet in diameter” (Middleton, op. cit.
371). The vestibule of the church was
of the baths: it is a circular
domed hall, which originally had a circular opening in the centre of the
Remains of the thermae
of Constantine, built
only a few years after those of Diocletian, existed in the sixteenth
century (see Palladio, plate xiv.), but have been mostly cleared away to
obtain sites for Italian palaces.
The most important works on the subject are--Baccius, de thermis veterum
279-379); Ferrarius, de balneis
3.297-310); Montfaucon, Antiq.
iii. pp. 201-12; Palladio, Le Terme dei
ed.. Scamozzi; Cameron, The Baths of the
Stieglitz, Archaeologie der Baukunst,
iii. pp. 241-76; Hirt, Geschichte der Baukunst,
233-36; Canina, L'architettura Romana,
i. ch. ix.;
Bussemaker et Daremberg, Œuvres d'Oribase,
2.865-75; Bechi in Mus. Borbonico,
chapters vi., vii.;. Saglio,
Dict. des Antiquités,
1.648-664; Guhl and
Koner, Das Leben der Griechen und Römer,
1876, especially pp. 491-503, 655-660; Overbeck, [p. 1.284]Pompeii,
174-190 for the old
baths, 190-207 for the Stabian baths; Nissen, Pompeianische
chaps. v., vi., vii.; Becker's Gallus,
ed. Göll, 3.104-57; Marquardt,
Privatleben der Römer,
1.262-88, who gives
in the notes to p. 269 references to descriptions of the most
interesting remains of ancient baths now extant; J. H. Middleton,
Ancient Rome in
1885, ch. xi., who gives the results
of the latest excavations and valuable information as regards the
materials used in the building and other architectural peculiarities of
the great Roman thermae.