• Roman Baths - More about 'being seen' than 'keeping clean'

    Single Issue XIII

    Roman Baths - More about 'being seen' than 'keeping clean'
    by Dante Von Hespburg

    'You praise in 300 verses, Sabellus, the baths of Ponticus, who gives such excellent dinners. You wish to dine, Sabellus, not to be bathed.'
    (Marcus Valerius Martial)

    (The Roman Thermae of Fordongianus, It epitomizes the essence of the following article- 'did it ever really need water?' But in seriousness the Roman baths have left a timeless physical, social and cultural legacy...exactly what that is beyond beautiful buildings is of course wildly debated and disputed, Image Sourced from Wikipedia)

    In this academic foray, we take a brief break from economics and globalization to enjoy a more specific and yet equally complex issue. One that has caused historians to scuffle with one another over the years and that I am sure has you on the edge of your seat... What were Roman bathhouses actually used for? Were they truly an effective method of providing public hygiene and keeping clean? Or were they actually more to do with social and cultural display ('showing off' to you and me), both for the builders and the users?

    My take on this most controversial of subjects is that the Roman baths were largely arenas for cultural and social display rather than holding any intrinsic hygienic purpose for their builders or patrons. While hygiene was of course one of their functions, it was not the most important one for Romans. Public spaces (of which the baths were of course one) were integral to Roman society because of the limited functionality of many private homes stemming from their cramped and utilitarian nature. Even the wealthy and well to do, whose lavish homes were fit for hosting and engaging in social activities, would attend the baths because there was an audience to be had, and due to its and due to its convenience as a meeting place
    , much like going bowling, hanging at the mall today. The baths thus provided a public area where crowds congregated, creating an arena for social displays of status, wealth and relationships in both the republican and imperial contexts. Romans would attend the bath thus to be seen, and with an awareness of being seen. Here they could display their status, host friends, show off, and network with one another, both on the slippery slope of social climbing and the greasy pole of politics. The builders of various baths were aware of this and designed the buildings themselves as cultural displays to their users, showcasing Roman power and helping legitimise the Imperial apparatus.

    The article will illustrate this use by establishing the extent of the baths' hygienic function, and then comparing contemporary attitudes towards this and the way the baths were actually used through analysis of the writings of Pliny, Seneca and Martial. Supporting material from Pliny the Elder, Petronius, inscriptions and decoration will show the baths being largely a theatre for cultural and social display. 'Cultural display' is taken to mean the way the baths embodied and publicly broadcast shared characteristics and images of Roman culture. 'Social display' on the other hand, is the way individuals within the baths interacted with one another to establish a social hierarchy, build relationships, and form a community.

    The perhaps surprising scale of this subject leads this article to concentrate specifically on Rome itself and on Imperial-era baths, due to the wider availability of sources that I can access for corroboration. The Republican era will be referenced just as a comparison to show the consistency of attitudes, but many features of imperial baths are equally applicable in a republican context. The obvious exception is their role in helping to legitimise a monarch and serve as a propaganda piece for the monarch; a way for him to build and maintain support. However, this role can arguably be found in bathhouses built or donated to by leading Republican figures.

    (A representation of the inner-goings on of the Baths of Caracalla- Politics, business, gossip, relaxation, art, decadence and friendly back-scrubs, all brought together under one roof, Image courtesy of the public domain)

    The bath's core purpose of hygiene is shown through Pliny noting there are ‘baths for hire’ (2.17, p.78) near his villa saving him needlessly heating his private bath. The implication that regular washing was something to aspire to, even for private occasions, and that being unwashed is considered unacceptable regardless of context places bathing as a regular expectation, at least for wealthy Romans. This is supported by public bath artworks such as the 'Bust of Asclepius' (Figure 4.29, Hope and Huskinson, 2006, p.107)- the Greco - Roman god of healing- at the Baths of Diocletian. The fact that the bust is of Asclepius, making its placement thematic, reinforces the idea that the baths had the purpose of being places of hygiene.

    So far, hygiene appears to be accepted as part of the remit of public baths. That, however, is not the whole story, but simply one of several intended functions for the baths. Indeed, from the attitudes and usage of bathers, rather a different image emerges, of hygiene actually playing a far less important role in comparison to other uses of the baths. Seneca in 65CE for instance contrasts the republic’s enforcing ‘standards of cleanliness’ (Reading 4.5, p.99) with the contemporary period's lack of cleanliness in bathhouses, implying baths are not perceived as the most hygienic of places and calling into question for us their ability to actually keep people clean and whether they were in fact used for this purpose.

    Of course a degree of exaggeration may be at play here, as Seneca uses this comparative statement to present a Stoical attack on perceived contemporary decadence through comparison with past virtues, summarised with ‘Men are dirtier creatures now’ (4.5, p.99). But Martial’s epigrams written around the same time provide corroboration through several suggestions that baths are unhygienic, epitomised by Zoilus, who Martial chastises for spoiling ‘the bathtub washing your arse’ (4.2, p.71). Martial’s writings were paid entertainment for the wealthy elites (Hope and Huskinson, 2006 p.22). Although the subject is perhaps humorously overstated for entertainment, this humour could not work unless the idea was already present in the minds of Martial and his elite audience that bathing alongside others might be perilously unhygienic. It therefore seems reasonable to assume there is some element of genuine social commentary within these lines.

    This attitude is also present within other areas of society. In the early imperial era, in the great capital itself, the freedwoman Merope states in a tomb inscription for her companion that ‘Baths, wine, and sex ruin our bodies’ (4.8, p.105). That baths are perceived as bad for the body is not something we would expect of an intended place of hygiene. This of course is only one inscription and so we should not generalise too freely from it. Extrapolating from limited evidence to guess at the experience particularly of the lower orders may be an issue as their direct views are rarely available, especially those of women. However, this tomb inscription does support the attitudes expressed among the elite, thus some cross-societal consensus can be established.

    (A mosaic at a Roman villa in Sicily, Believe to be of women playing games at the baths- Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

    If the baths' hygienic value is questioned by contemporaries it would imply their use as popular public venues must have more to it. The cramped quality of most of Rome’s housing leads to great importance for public areas as places for social interaction, since the majority of the populace were unable to spend their leisure hours indoors, let alone socialise, in their homes due to the cramped and incredibly basic conditions. Some apartments merely had one room for all functions and lacked basic utensils such as washing or cooking apparatus
    (Hope and Huskinson, 2006, p.77). The baths could provide the missing informal location for socialising and its obligatory social display. This is suggested by the fact that various Emperors were clearly not only aware of the baths as popular social centres, but also sought to shape them into arenas of control and legitimation (Zajac, 1999) through cultural display. As an example, we have Pliny’s suggestion that Trajan rebuild the baths at Prusa for ‘the splendour of your reign’ (10.23, p.268) as through their decoration and function the baths epitomise the power of the Emperor and his care for his subjects. Thus, hygiene here is being subsumed under the umbrella of cultural display to cement the Emperor's place in the social hierarchy.

    Pliny speaks of a bath in provincial Bithynia though, not Rome. But bathing culture was exported so successfully to the provinces (Fagan, 1999) it is reasonable to assume a similar attitude and perception would be present, albeit with the slight difference that Rome’s baths would also attest to its paramount place as imperial capital through their luxury. This is suggested by
    Lucian’s description of an imperial era bath as ‘the most beautiful place in the world’ (4.18, p.118). While likely a paid advertisement it does show an expectation existed among Romans that baths be luxurious and thus reflect the benefits of empire and notions of Roman cultural supremacy. Indeed Seneca confirms this by complaining that his contemporaries ‘object to walking on anything other than precious stones’ (4.5, p.99). Provincial baths were vehicles for the declaration of Roman superiority far and wide.

    With this in mind, Inge Nielsen’s passing reference that baths provided an exhibition platform for cultural art (1990) is very accurate. The Bath of Caracalla’s Farnese Bull(The Open University, 2009, Plate 51) highlights this. It is a Roman copy of the Greek original (Chilvers, 2004). Greek based artistry was popular in the imperial era (Beard and Crawford, 2014, p.24), and the Emperor would wish to be seen delivering an appropriate level of fashionable decadence, both assuring Romans of his imperial credentials and overawing them through displays unaffordable by many. Furthermore, Emperors may have wished to associate themselves with the baths as a way to link the technical triumph of Roman power over nature with their person. The taming and directing of water through mountains (Pliny the Elder, 4.22, p.120) was an impressive feat displayed in the baths for all users to appreciate what Rome, and thus the Emperor, could achieve.

    These facets of cultural display provided the backdrop for the baths as a social theatre. They were used to enshrine the Emperor at the top of the social hierarchy, as he was perceived to allow the citizenry a brief sojourn in the baths, which mirrored the realm of high culture where the public expected him to exist (Zajac, 1999). We see this when Pliny the Elder (23CE-79CE) writes that Agrippa, an advisor to Augustus, made bathing establishments ‘free’ (4.22, p.120) in celebration of the public works undertaken to provide water. His actions would have reflected well on Augustus. They would also have acted to further solidify Augustus's position as Emperor, as the competitive ethos of the Roman elite, which had greatly contributed to the republic’s political instability (Andrews et al, 2006, p.131), might be curtailed in the face of a seemingly insurmountable imperial position offering affordable (or free) luxury to the masses in the shape of existing popular social centres. Indeed, Pliny notes that at the time there were 170 baths in Rome, and this number ‘infinitely increased’ (4.22, p.120). This may reflect an increase in demand, or the increased importance of the baths to the imperial administration for reasons beyond hygiene, as Emperors supported baths to solidify their position. The source also perhaps shows a difference in attitude towards the baths' range of purposes between late republican and early imperial periods. The republican baths lacked the emphasis on display for legitimation of a monarch. This might be the reason why the baths increased in both number and sophistication in the 1st Century BCE and 1st Century CE (Cartwright, 2013), as they played a role, however minor, in the move from republic to empire as Emperors and rising hopefuls sought to ingratiate and legitimise themselves in a myriad of ways. Bathhouses provided one avenue for this.

    Further to the differences between imperial and late republican era baths, the social aspect of the baths was slightly narrower during the republic, with men and women generally bathing separately. Vitruvius, writing in the first century BCE, highlights this with an architectural provision that ‘baths for men and for women are adjacent’ (4.21, p.119). In contrast, heading back to the Imperial era we find that Martial displays his incredulity that a woman who likes him avoids bathing with him (4.2, p.71). While a comic jibe, the crux of the witticism is that she avoids bathing with him - the fact that she could if she chose to is taken for granted. There is thus a slight change in use between the two periods; some of the baths' functions of providing a venue to socialize, bond, take pleasure and form attachments such as courting and sex in an informal setting are absent in the republican context. However, the baths still remain a symbol of Roman cultural power and also, in part because of cramped housing, a place of social display, particularly as regardless of era, Rome was always an incredibly ‘wealth-conscious society’ (Andrews et al, 2006, p.27). The clearest example of this is found in Martial’s complaint that Fabianus demands he give ‘service’ (4.2, p.71) by accompanying him to the baths. This is an example of the system of patronage prevalent in both republican and imperial eras. Martial as a client of Fabianus is expected to accompany him as part of a social display. The more clients Fabianus has with him, the more influential and wealthy he will appear to others (Andrew et al, 2006, p.37). The baths, it seems were the perfect venue for showing off in this way.

    (An 1868 oil painting by Fyodor Bronnikov representing female bathers at a bath in Pompeii- the Baths were not merely the providence of the man-folk, in the Imperial era it was increasingly common for men and women to bathe together. Everyone got your scandal hankies ready? Courtesy of WikiArt)

    Slave retinues at the baths were also for both periods a means of social display similar to being attended by clients. The Figure 4.30 ‘Mosaic depicting a group of bathers entering the baths’ (Hope and Huskinson, 2006, p.107) highlights this. The central figure is a woman, from her placement and elaborate dress presumably the mistress. Two supporting male slaves, and two female slaves carrying a box, possibly towels, and a hamper, perhaps of food, accompany her. These items themselves are a conspicuous display of status through possessions, particularly as the consumption of food and drink at the baths was popular among bathers to show their wealth. This is illustrated in Petronius’s first century CE The Satyricon, where Trimalchio gives his slaves ‘Falernian’ (4.3, p.76) a renowned wine, flaunting his wealth by allowing even his slaves to partake in luxurious consumption. While purposefully overblown, the work is a satire mocking existing attitudes, so the description must have been based on reality.

    All four slaves in the mosaic mentioned above are well dressed. This may merely be an idealization as the mosaic is an artistic work for display, but it is also true that a slave’s appearance is a direct reflection of their master’s image. Wealthier owners would make sure they had the best-presented slaves as a means of cementing their place in the social hierarchy. This can be seen from Martial’s jibe at Aper whose ‘bow legged’ (4.2, p.75) slaves detract from his image. This is clearly something Aper is keenly aware of as he makes his bathing trip as short as possible. We might assume that the brevity of Aper's visit suggests no more than that the extent baths were for hygiene depended on individual context. However, Aper’s awareness of his public image, combined with his immediate ‘upgrade’ in slave quality when possible, and the fact he then spends a longer amount of time at the baths, shows this is not the case. Regardless of the comical intent, Martial highlights an active awareness of the importance of social display. Even those merely washing are still participating within the context of an informal social venue by being the audience, or reacting to the views of that audience.

    The mosaic’s depiction of a woman bathing replete with trappings of status shows that social display was not just for male elites. Indeed, slaves, clients and average bathers all were aware of their roles in social display at the baths, either through participation, support or as an audience. This, alongside the seeming consensus that baths were not particularly hygienic, overshadowed their original purpose of providing an opportunity for cleanliness, instead promoting their use as community centres to provide an informal setting for socializing in lieu of houses, against a backdrop of cultural display highlighting Roman power and later legitimation of Emperors as sovereigns. Within these contexts bathers, as Aper found, could not merely wash at the baths without being aware of the image they, their surroundings and their fellow Romans were projecting.


    Primary Sources:

    · Hope, V. and Huskinson, J. (2006) Rome- City and People, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.107, Figure 4.29
    · Hope, V. and Huskinson, J. (2006) Rome- City and People, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.107, Figure 4.30
    · Lucian, Hippias or the Bath 5-8 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.117-8
    · Martial, Epigram 2.42 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.71
    · Martial, Epigram 3.36 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.71
    · Martial, Epigram 3.51 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.71
    · Martial, Epigram 12.70 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.75
    · Merope, (n) Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI15258 (The corrupting effect of baths) (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.105
    · Petronius, The Satyricon (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.76-87
    · Pliny, Book 2 Letter 17. To Gallus, in Radice, B. (1969) The Letters Of The Younger Pliny, London, Penguin Books, pp.75-9
    · Pliny, Book 10 Letter 23. Pliny to the Emperor Trajan, in Radice, B. (1969) The Letters Of The Younger Pliny, London, Penguin Books, p.268
    · Pliny the Elder, Natural History 36.121-23 (2009), Classical Readings book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.120
    · Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Letter 86 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.98-100
    · The Open University (2009) Classical Illustrations Book, Milton Keynes, The Open University
    · Vitruvius, On Baths 5.10 (2009), Classical Readings Book 2, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.119-20

    Secondary Sources:

    · Andrews, C., Fear, F. and Perkins, P. (2006) ‘Part 2 The political system in the late republic’, The Roman Republic, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.24-45
    · Andrews, C., Fear, F. and Perkins, P. (2006) ‘Part 5 Poetry and cultural politics in Augustan Rome’, The Roman Republic, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.129-91
    · Beard, M. and Crawford, C. (2014), Rome in the Late Republic, London, Bloomsbury Academic
    · Cartwight, M. (2013), 'Roman Baths', Ancient History Encyclopaedia [Online] Available at https://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Baths/
    · Chilvers, I. (2004) ‘The Oxford Dictionary of Art: Farnese Bull’ in Oxford Reference [Online] Available at http://www.oxfordreference.com.libez...o2&result=1236
    · Fagan, G. (1999) ‘Interpreting the evidence: did slaves bathe at the baths?’, Readings Book 2 [Online] Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/pluginfile...p849956_l3.pdf
    · Hope, V. and Huskinson, J. (2006) ‘Part 1 The People of Rome’, Rome- City and People, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.9-38
    · Hope, V. and Huskinson, J. (2006) ‘Part 3 Living in Rome’, Rome- City and People, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.71-105
    · Price, C. (2009) ‘Essay Seven Seneca: a philosophy of living’ in Perkins, P. (ed) Experiencing the Classical World, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp.153-71
    · Zajac, N. (1999) ‘The thermae: a policy of public health or personal legitimation?’, Classical Readings Book 2 [Online] Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/pluginfile...p849956_l3.pdf
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar
      Caillagh de Bodemloze -
      Who would have thought baths were so interesting?! I've been educated and entertained all in one go.

      (Also, I love the captions for the pictures...)
    1. selv's Avatar
      selv -
      Hell, one thing that I always found strange, it is how humanity in general took so long to 'discover' the virtues of hygiene. From experience, even if you are forced to wash with cold water and even some rivers, your body just naturally feel better when you are clean. Same things with teeths and the rest.
    1. Owlparrot3's Avatar
      Owlparrot3 -
      Good writing.But this has given me some nice ideas for future aar's.I would rep you if i could.
    1. Flinn's Avatar
      Flinn -
      great article, and great pics

      For me, as an italian, there's no other place where I can get to such a high self-confidence like I can do on my own bathroom; I guess it has to do with being naked, publicly or not; once naked you don't have anything else to hide, and thus you're probably more inclined to approach something in a very honest way, which turns out in a better "show" of ourselves, IMO. Besides, the "friendly back scrubs" is a powerful thing, at least when it comes to increase social relations (see what the animals do, in particular those who live in herds/packs) and it also contributes to further reduce shame and taboos.
    1. NorseThing's Avatar
      NorseThing -
      If I could go back in time, the Roman baths would be one of my first tourist destinations. I would certainly like to see something of the sort for use today. However, play grounds for the rich seldom translate into a truly social experience for the masses. Here in Colorado we do have something of a modern version though with the hot springs pools and motels in places such as Glenwood Springs. Positively intriguing when it is cold enough for a heavy fog to cover the pool area above the warm waters.
    1. mishkin's Avatar
      mishkin -
      The Helios title is misleading (Dante on Roman Baths). I expected something totally different. Apart from my initial disappointment, excellent article.
    1. Diocle's Avatar
      Diocle -
      The fact that any Roman private villa displayed thermae as one of the most essential key features of its architectural project, seems in open contradiction with the author's assumption.
    1. Dante Von Hespburg's Avatar
      Dante Von Hespburg -
      Thank you all , sorry for my delayed replies.

      @Caillagh- Cheers! And thank you so much for your extensive advice and editing skills . But yeah, its something i always find rather exciting (not bathing specifically ) that small items of history can expand to take on a life of their own- one day i'm sure they'll be writing about our ritualistic worship of netflix and its importance to social connections!

      @Selv- It is always something that's rather interesting indeed. I rather like for instance the Tudors- who understood that being clean was important...and yet disliked bathing believing it unhealthy (as indeed some Romans clearly argued)- instead fresh linen undergarments were thought to wash the skin...through reasons (I guess that awesome feeling of fresh clothing that makes us feel fresh?). Likewise you have cases like the Ancient Greeks and their humoural theory of medicine- totally wrong, but the methods and remedies their doctors offered genuinely did (usually) have a positive effect. In a way History is one long series of 'missed high fives'.

      @Mad orc- Cheers mate, i'd be interested to read it when you do!

      @Flinn- Haha the pics are amazing i thank you for your extensive help with them mate (He basically found them for our view pleasure ladies and gents as well as wrapped them up nicely)- and all good points i feel, its good to have an Italian perspective mate

      @Mishkin- Haha indeed, i promise to one day look into the works of my namesake! Guelphs and all But thank you for your support mate.

      @Diocle- that is an interesting point indeed. I considered it while writing, though of course the stipulation applies firstly that public and private baths are entirely different premises for both reason and use. Putting something into a 'public' theater immediately changes the dimensions and dynamics of use as there are different factors at play as I've explored.

      Also if we look at how Roman authors described private baths (Martial and Pliny the younger off the top of my head) the case could be made pretty well that it was the equivalent for having a 'modern swimming pool' in your holiday villa. Whenever a 'private thermae' is depicted in literature or imagery it usually is with a group of 'well-to-do's' getting together and sitting around, partying, bathing, feasting, playing, showing off and gossiping- the 'utilitarian hygiene' factor while present is definitely not the only, or indeed the main reason for the private or public baths.

      Now that of course is not to say that elites ever bathed in their private thermae's alone, of course they did- but they also were much more than that- particularly as of course we should remember that 'bathing tubs' were also in use, and indeed bathing tubs were popular among all classes- Pliny the younger mentions he uses them in his private villa iirc, as did poorer Romans- if an elite wanted to bathe merely to keep clean, they could just have one of those- cheap and easy and popular for all social groups, instead of making the private thermae as you rightly say, a key aspect to their villa, and a costly one at that for a room whose only function is hygiene.

      The choice to make such a place central to the villa and build it, over using what i shall refer to as 'the tub' is a flag that clearly something more than bodily scrubbing is at play. Which suggests an obvious social use (for going to all that extra cost and effort) for both the display of their own wealth to guests (The 'oh look at my lovely private bathhouse everyone') and its centrality and importance for a place of social interaction- talking, hanging out with their betters and peers, networking, hosting, feasting, romping et al which again are depicted commonly with good ol Pliny, Martial and co- its a group activity, not just for scrubbing up.

      Also the final caveat that for the masses and middle-classes without a Villa, a public bathhouse would have indeed all those elements described above present in terms of social interactions and the power and use of baths as symbols. So its in interesting point you make Diocle, but its not quite so black and white. Its shades of grey here, with extent swinging towards the 'social' and away from the 'practical'- So while you are right that hygiene plays an element indeed, it is not the key and sole purpose for private or public baths, and for neither was it the most important feature particularly over 'social display'.
    1. hellheaven1987's Avatar
      hellheaven1987 -
      I wonder, when was the idea of public bathing house appeared and when it disappeared?
    1. Diocle's Avatar
      Diocle -
      In Italy it disappeard when the Church during the Middle Age condemned Public Baths as indecent places. When it began the idea of public baths .. well, this is for me a mystery, good question!
    1. Dante Von Hespburg's Avatar
      Dante Von Hespburg -
      Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
      I wonder, when was the idea of public bathing house appeared and when it disappeared?

      Diocle's spot on about Italy and how the baths decline. In Britain for instance, public baths continued on and off into the 1400s as they faded in and out of popularity (and don't get me wrong, several kings closed down the baths altogether for long periods of time, or whole reigns for much the same reasons as Diocle's states) Then of course they were somewhat revived by the Victorians briefly.

      In terms of where the idea originated from, as far as i can tell, and as with most things Roman, it was the good ol Greeks, who tended to build large public bath houses next to or as part of their athletic areas. The Romans seem to have taken this concept and decided that baths should be 'a thing' in their own right. I'm not sure when the idea really cottoned on though i'm afraid. I know Cato had some disparaging words about baths and how they were 'Greekly effeminate' and 'Un-manly/Un-Romanly'- but then he said that about nearly everything luxurious and isn't exactly a 'voice of the people' kind of source. So indeed good questions and ones that i'd be interested if anyone has a more accurate or extensive answer than i can put together.
    1. hellheaven1987's Avatar
      hellheaven1987 -
      Interesting, I suspect much like Japan (the only East Asian culture which public bathing is part of national culture) the idea of public bathing was originally from the public hot spring spots, which Italy, much like Japan, has quite a number. Public bathing house in Japan did not become wide-spread until Edo period and it mostly only appeared in large cities, aimed on middle and upper-lower class which unlike the ruling class, had no time and resource to visit the hot spring spot (which mostly were located in mountain area).
    1. Carl Jung was right's Avatar
      Carl Jung was right -
      Epictetus wrote (and this is a brief paraphrasing of his lengthy statement) concerning baths: when you intend to bathe, focus on what you intend to do and don't get distracted by other things that people do in the bath that are not related to bathing. Although he used this as an example of his philosophy, it does however provide us with evidence that some people in Ancient Roman society DID attend baths with the goal of their intended purpose in mind.
    1. Dante Von Hespburg's Avatar
      Dante Von Hespburg -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carl Jung was right View Post
      Epictetus wrote (and this is a brief paraphrasing of his lengthy statement) concerning baths: when you intend to bathe, focus on what you intend to do and don't get distracted by other things that people do in the bath that are not related to bathing. Although he used this as an example of his philosophy, it does however provide us with evidence that some people in Ancient Roman society DID attend baths with the goal of their intended purpose in mind.
      Indeed he did, well paraphrased mate- but also essentially this supports the idea that bathing for many was a 'secondary' factor i would put forward. The fact as a philosopher he was having to make such a statement to provide a 'moral' example of how to behave generally, speaks that most people DID get 'distracted' at the baths, and indeed most around you would be doing 'other things' that can be 'distracting', so i feel this relegates bathing for hygiene to being 'key' for his chosen few, as opposed to something everyone was primarily doing it for. For indeed if the 'majority' were bathing with merely hygiene first and foremost in their minds- there would be no need for the warning.