Bathing in Public in the Roman World

Front Cover
University of Michigan Press, 2002 - History - 437 pages
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For Romans, bathing was a social event. Public baths, in fact, were one of the few places where large numbers of Romans gathered daily in an informal context. They went to meet friends, drink wine, pick up sexual partners, and generally while away the idle afternoon hours. Despite the disapproval of the morally superior, the popularity of the baths endured for over a millennium and spread to every corner of the Roman world.
This book is the first to study the Roman public bathing experience primarily as a historical, social, and cultural phenomenon rather than a technological or architectural one. As a result, many issues are developed here that have to date been addressed only superficially. Fagan reconstructs what a trip to a Roman bath was like. He asks when and why the baths became popular at Rome, who built and maintained the abundant bathing establishments, and what sociological function the baths played in the Roman empire's rigidly hierarchical social order.
To throw light on these everyday topics the author deploys a wide variety of evidence, including literary allusions; the remains of the baths themselves, graffiti scribbled on bathroom walls; and, above all, formal inscriptions that throw light on the ubiquitous bathing culture.
In the course of this study Fagan challenges some widely held beliefs about baths, ranging from such broad notions of baths as palaces of public hygiene or places where the social identity of the bathers broke down, to more mundane matters such as the habitual donning of bathing costumes.
This volume will be of great interest for those studying luxury and public ostentation, municipal life, and the meaning of Roman leisure. Comparative evidence from other bathing cultures will also interest social anthropologists and historical sociologists.
Garret Fagan is Assistant Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Pennsylvania State University.
  

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An excellent, informative read. Fagan has a good writing style, and the subject is fascinating.

Contents

Introduction
1
A Visit to the Baths with Martial
12
The Growth of the Bathing Habit
40
Accounting for the Popularity of Public Baths
75
Baths and Roman Medicine
85
Bath Benefactors 1 Rome
104
Bath Benefactors 2 Italy and the Provinces
128
The Physical Environment Splendor and Squalor
176
Nonbenefactory Texts
317
Greek Texts
329
Appendixes
349
The Spread of Public Bathing in the Italian Peninsula to ca AD 100
351
The Distribution of Nonimperial Baths in Rome
357
Parts of Baths Mentioned in the Epigraphic Sample
368
Bibliography
373
Index of Names
391

The Bathers
189
Conclusion
220
Epigraphic Sample
223
Introduction to the Epigraphic Sample
225
Constructional Benefactions
233
Nonconstructional Benefactions
300
Geographic Index
399
Index of Topics
407
Index of Ancient Sources
413
Concordance of Inscriptions
431
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Garrett G. Fagan is Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and History at Pennsylvania State University, where he teaches courses in Roman and Greek history, Latin, and ancient warfare. He is the author, co-author or editor of four books including Bathing in Public in the Roman World (1999), Archaeological Fantasies (2006) and New Perspectives on Ancient Warfare (2010), as well as numerous scholarly articles.

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