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Roman Baths

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Bathing in Ancient Greece

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Delphi hated having baths.  She would have to sit in the bath in her front room and shiver.  The water was always freezing.  She’d tried to persuade her dad she could go to a bath house instead, but he was having none of it.


The idea of the bath house was just starting to take off in Greece.  Usually, people just had the occasional bath at home, but bath houses were slowly starting to spring up around the city, particularly near the gymnasia or temples.  Visiting one was seen as a bit wussy though – your average Greek thought cold water was good enough.  Hot water would make you soft.


Delphi disagreed – especially in the middle of winter where it was worth a few coins to get a nice warm bath.  But the one thing about being a girl was that it didn’t matter if people thought you were a bit girly.  Delphi hoped the idea would spread a bit more so she got to go and try it.

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Olympieion Roman Baths: Fact box

  • These bath houses were built during Roman times, so a long time after Delphi’s time in Athens, but there would have been small bath houses around earlier than this.  The Greeks didn’t go in for public baths in quite the way that the Romans did.  For the Romans, the bath house was an important place for seeing friends, discussing politics and staying clean.

 

  • However, in major cities in Athens there were some bath houses, usually connected to the gymnasia like the Academy or Lyceum.  These wouldn’t usually have had the heated waters of Roman baths – the Greeks thought that warm water made you soft and so cold water was best!

 

  • Most Greeks made do with a bath tub at home – but many Greeks didn’t think being clean was particularly important.  Even some philosophers, especially Diogenes and Socrates, were said to be especially foul and smelly!

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