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The Roman Baths: Were They Just For Clenlyness Or Were Therer Other Resons For Them.

3313 words - 13 pages

Did the Romans only use the baths to get clean or were there political and social motivations behind the number of romans regularly going to the baths?"INTRODUCTIONThe idea of public baths was originally Greek, and the Romans picked up on the idea around the second century B.C.The first palatial bath (Thermae) was built by Agrippa in the Campus Martius. Others were located near the pantheon in Rome, on the slopes of the Esquiline Hill, near the Colusseum, by Porta Capena and on the Quirinai Hill. These Thermae were not merely baths. Some contained art galleries and halls to hire or use freely to meet friends in, others had large palaestra's (exercise yards) within or nearby.Before the great Thermae were built, smaller public baths called 'Balnea' were run by individuals trying to make a profit. These were plentiful in Augustus' time, there were about 170 in Rome, but by Pliny's era 'an infinite number' (1) and at the fall of the Empire, well over 900.Of course, some Balinea had very bad reputations as brothels where men and women were allow to bathe together (2) but these were avoidable for any Roman who knew his city well.One source (3) says,'Socially the Baths were an important meeting and mixing place. Everyone had his favourite Baths just as every Englishman has his favourite public house'.This comparison of the Baths and a modern pub leads to the question my coursework examines:'Did the Romans only use the Baths to get clean or were there political and social motivations behind the number of Roman's regularly going to the Baths?'It will do so first by examining the purpose of the baths for the Romans and their nature. Second, it will look at a case study on Aqua Sulis, Roman Baths in Bath, England and describe the nature of these baths in Roman times and the purposes for which they were used.'As the Roman's Did' p ?Emperor Hadrian passed a law forbidding this - source?Life and Leisure? As the Roman's did.Roman Baths: A way of keeping clean and or a means of political and social advancement?Bathing was very important to most Romans as it was a chance to demonstrate, increase and remind people about their status and wealth. Only people who could afford to pay to enter the baths, or people that had a certain status (above a slave) were supposed to use the baths. Therefore, bathing was an easy way to show class distinction and status.In Roman society, it was fashionable to be clean. However there were some dissenters. Seneca, wrote about bathing, 'It was a sign of weakness, and you should only wash once a week, like in the good old days' (ref?). However, he seems to be in the minority, and as I mentioned in my introduction, the number of public baths continued to increase.I suggest that one reason why cleansing one self was important was because of the climate of Italy. The hot dry dusty conditions meant that to be clean before social interactions, bathing was necessary and thus became increasingly fashionableThe purposes of the baths evolved...

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