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BAIAE

BAIAE (Βαΐαι: Eth. Baianus: Baja), a place on the coast of Campania, celebrated for its warm baths, as well as for the beauty and pleasantness of its situation, on the SW. side of the bay between Cape Misenum and Puteoli, which was commonly known as the Sinus Baianus. We find no mention of a town of the name in early times, but its port was celebrated from a remote period, and was supposed to have derived its name from Baius, one of the companions of Ulysses, who was buried there. (Lycophr. Alex. 694; Strab. v. p.245; Sil. Ital. 12.114; Serv. ad Aen. 6.107, 9.710.) But it was never a place of any note till it became a favourite resort of the wealthy and luxurious Roman nobles towards the end of the Republic: a favour for which it was almost equally indebted to the abundance and variety of its warm springs, and to the charms of its beautiful situation. Horace speaks of the bay of “the pleasant Baiae” as surpassed by no other in the world (Ep. 1.1, 83); and its praises are not less celebrated by later poets, as well as prose writers. (Mart. 11.80; Stat. Silv. 3.5.96; Tac. Ann. 12.21.) It appears to have come into fashion before the time of Cicero: Lucullus had a villa here, as well as at a still earlier period C. Marius, and the example was followed both by Pompey and Caesar (Varr. R. R. 3.17.9; Seneca, Ep. 51; Tac. Ann. 14.9.) The villas of the latter were on the hill above Baiae, but subsequent visitors established themselves on the very edge of the sea, and even threw out vast substructions into the midst of the [p. 1.372]waters, upon which to erect their magnificent palaces. (Hor. Carsn. 2.18. 20; Plin. Ep. 9.7.) Baiae thus speedily became noted as an abode of indolence and luxury, and is indignantly termed by Seneca “diversorium vitiorum,” a place where all restraint was thrown off, and nothing was thought of but pleasure and dissipation. (Ep. l.c.). Statius also terms it Desides Baiae. (Silv. 4.7. 19.) Several Roman emperors, in succession, followed the prevailing fashion, and erected splendid villas, or rather palaces, at Baiae. Nero seems to have regarded it with especial favour, and it was in his villa here that he received his mother Agrippina for the last time, immediately before she fell a victim to his designs upon her life. (Tac. Ann. 14.4, 5; Suet. Nero 34; J. AJ 18.7.2.) Caligula also resided frequently at Baiae, and one of his most celebrated feats of extravagance was the construction of a temporary bridge across the bay from thence to Puteoli, which, though formed of boats, was covered with earth, and rendered passable both for horsemen and chariots. Suetonius states that it was 3,600 paces in length, but the real distance across (whether measured from the Castello di Baja, or from Bauli, which Dio Cassius makes the point of its commencement) is little more than two Roman miles. (Suet. Cal. 19; D. C. 59.17; J. AJ 19.1.1.) It was at Baiae also that the emperor Hadrian died, and at a later period Alexander Severus erected several villas here on a splendid scale. (Spartian. Hadr. 25; Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 26.)

It was, however, to its warm springs that Baiae was first indebted for its celebrity; and these appear to have been frequented for medical purposes long before the place became a fashionable resort. They are first mentioned by Livy under the name of the “aquaee Cumanae” as early as B.C. 176: and are celebrated by Lucretius. (Liv. 41.16; Lucret. vi, 747.) Pliny also speaks of them as surpassing all others in number and variety, some being sulphureous, others aluminous, acidulous, &c., so that their different properties rendered them efficacious in all kinds of diseases. The establishments of Thermae for the use of them were numerous, and on a scale of the greatest splendour; and we learn from a letter of Cassiodorus that these continued in use as late as the 6th century. (Plin. Nat. 31.2; Flor. 1.16.4; Joseph. l.c.; Cassiod. Var. 9.6; Hor. Ep. 1.15, 2--7; Stat. Silv. 3.2. 17; Vitr. 2.6.2.

Though Baiae must have grown up under the Roman Empire into a considerable town, it never obtained the privileges of a separate Municipium, and continued for all such purposes to be dependent upon the poor and decayed city of Cumnae, in the territory of which it was included. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 512; Orell. Inscr. 2263.) We have little information concerning it during the middle ages; but it appears to have fallen into neglect, and gradually became subject, as it still continues, to the noxious effects of the malaria. The modern Castello di Baja was erected in the reign of Charles V.; but the name of Baja is still applied to the whole line of coast from thence to the Lucrine Lake. Both the coast itself and the ridge of hill above it are covered with detached ruins and fragments of ancient buildings, to which it is impossible to assign any name. One of the most conspicuous edifices near the sea-shore is commonly known as the Temple of Venus, who appears to have been the tutelary deity of the place (Mart. 11.80. 1); but it is more probable that both this and the two other buildings, called the Temples of Diana and Mercury, really belonged to Thermal establishments. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 514; Iorio, Guida di Pozzuoli, pp. 129--136; Eustace's Classical Tour, vol. ii. p. 410, &c.).

[E.H.B]

hide References (17 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (17):
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 18.7.2
    • Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 19.1.1
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 2.6.2
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.5
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.9
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.21
    • Tacitus, Annales, 14.4
    • Suetonius, Caligula, 19
    • Suetonius, Nero, 34
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 31.2
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 9.7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 16
    • Statius, Silvae, 3.2
    • Statius, Silvae, 3.5
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 11.80
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.15
    • Horace, Epistulae, 1.2
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