GO TAKE A BATH!

July 21, 2015

 

 

 

Are you insulted? Don’t be. When asked why he bathed once a day, a Roman emperor replied, "Because I do not have the time to bathe twice a day." Romans enjoyed the pleasure of bathing and believed it led to good health. And so every city in the Empire had at least one public bath.

 

The public baths consisted of at least three rooms: the frigidarium (cold bath), the tepidarium (warm bath), and the caldarium (hot bath). One could start in the frigidarium, progress to the tepidarium, and then end up in the caldarium, where the bather’s head was drenched in cold water before 

leaving the room.

 

In The Deadliest Hate, Miriam and her loyal but officious servant Phoebe go to a small private bathhouse that in the morning accommodates women. Before allowing Miriam to bathe, Phoebe tests the temperature of the water and inspects the fingernails of the attendants. She makes sure the olive oil is 

warm, the towels fluffy, and the sheets clean. In the tepidarium, she fingers the edge of the strigilis before she lets the slave use it to scrape away the dirt, oil, and dead skin from Miriam’s body. Later, when they are back in the tepidarium for Miriam’s massage, Phoebe sniffs the unguents to check their freshness and ensure the scent that Miriam chooses is appropriate.

 

The Roman baths were a sort of community center, where friends and business associates met. Beyond the rooms for bathing could be a library, art gallery, gym, spa, and restaurant.

 

 

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