This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Baths – place of meetings of Romans

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Baths - place of meetings of Romans
Baths - place of meetings of Romans | Photo: Ancient World Alive

Roman thermal baths were certainly one of the favourite places where a Roman could relax his body. Tepidarium was probably the first place visited by bathers and was a kind of introduction to further hot (caldarium) or cold (frigidarium) baths.

The Tepidarium was distinguished by the richest decorations among other baths and was the central hall in the Roman baths and was surrounded by other rooms. The room was heated under the floor and had hot water.

Then they usually went to the warmest room – caldarium (the temperature could be in the range of 50-55 degrees Celsius), heated by an underfloor heating system called hypocaustum. Previously, the visitor had to perspire profusely to avoid going too abruptly to the hot caldarium. In the caldarium, there was sometimes a separate room with a dry hot room – laconicum, which allowed the “poisons” to be well sweated out of the body. In both these places, skin pores opened, which then closed in the cold waters of the frigidarium. In this way, it was possible to clean the skin in inaccessible places. It happened that the water in the frigidarium was cooled with snow. However, there were also disadvantages:

Beshrew me if I think anything more requisite than silence for a man who secludes himself in order to study! Imagine what a variety of noises reverberates about my ears! I have lodgings right over a bathing establishment. So picture to yourself the assortment of sounds, which are strong enough to make me hate my very powers of hearing! When your strenuous gentleman, for example, is exercising himself by flourishing leaden weights; when he is working hard, or else pretends to be working hard, I can hear him grunt; and whenever he releases his imprisoned breath, I can hear him panting in wheezy and high-pitched tones. Or perhaps I notice some lazy fellow, content with a cheap rubdown, and hear the crack of the pummelling hand on his shoulder, varying in sound according as the hand is laid on flat or hollow. Then, perhaps, a professional comes along, shouting out the score; that is the finishing touch.[…]

Add to this the arresting of an occasional roisterer or pickpocket, the racket of the man who always likes to hear his own voice in the bathroom, or the enthusiast who plunges into the swimming-tank with unconscionable noise and splashing. Besides all those whose voices, if nothing else, are good, imagine the hair-plucker with his penetrating, shrill voice, – for purposes of advertisement, – continually giving it vent and never holding his tongue except when he is plucking the armpits and making his victim yell instead. Then the cakeseller with his varied cries, the sausageman, the confectioner, and all the vendors of food hawking their wares, each with his own distinctive intonation. […]

Think of the unfortunate man who courts sleep by surrendering his spacious mansion to silence, who, that his ear may be disturbed by no sound, bids the whole retinue of his slaves be quiet and that whoever approaches him shall walk on tiptoe; he tosses from this side to that and seeks a fitful slumber amid his frettings!

Seneca the Younger, Letters to Lucillus, 56.1, 56.2, 56.7

  • Szolginia Witold, Architektura, Warszawa 1992

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: