Chapter VI - Thermae

Chapter 5 Contents Chapter 7

Excavated in 1824.

Atheneus says, that, on a stone or marble at the entrance of a bath, was an inscription which has been thus translated :

Balnea Vina Venus corrumpunt corpora sana
Corpora sana dabunt Balnea Vina Venus.

The design and destination of no edifice in the whole circuit of Pompeii is more clearly and certainly established than in the case of the thermae or baths, occupying an irregular quadrilateral space lying to the north of the Forum. It is, nevertheless, not so easy to assign to every apartment its appropriate and classical name ; for, though many treatises have been written on the subject of the baths of the ancients, the models referred to have been usually the stupendous piles of Imperial Rome, where innumerable chambers and porticos, adapted to various uses not necessarily connected with ablution, have extended the thermae to a degree which, admitting of no comparison, destroys any analogy with a building dedicated to a single purpose.

The Berlin edition of Vitruvius by Roder, and the English translation by Wilkins, have both exhibited the plan of certain Roman remains at Baden Weiler in Germany, as those nearest corresponding with the information we have received from Vitruvius on the subject of the thermae of the ancients, yet even these do not seem to agree precisely with the baths of Pompeii. At the Roman baths of Baden, according to Wilkins, the exedra is at the entrance, from which a vestibule, having an elaeotheca on one side, and a heated stufa on the other, leads to a frigidarium, to which succeed a tepidarium and a caldarium. A repetition of this plan for the women's baths forms the whole of the edifice, and all seems perfectly intelligible.

This is one of the few remains of thermae in which names can be assigned to the apartments with any degree of certainty. A learned man, Andreas Baccius, has collected an immense mass of all that the ancients have said on the subject ; and, as they appear to have described, according to circumstances and situations, such buildings as each of them frequented, without reference to any common example, so a more inextricable confusion has perhaps never been produced than the whole of his most erudite dissertation. His facts have materially assisted the present account of the baths of Pompeii, and may be depended upon, though his quotations are not always correct as to the chapter and verse whence they were professedly taken.

Among others Celsus and Galen are cited, who, as physiciens, directed their patients in the order to be followed in the use of the baths ; but nothing as to the plan can be gained from these doctors, as they differ as much as the other authors ; Celsus recommending to his patients first the tepidarium, then the caldarium, and lastly the frigidarium ; while Galen prescribes first the hot air of the laconicum, then the loutron or warm water bath, and then the frigidarium.

The thermae of Pompeii may, perhaps, be best explained by comparison with the baths of the Turks and other oriental nations who, succeeding by conquest to the luxuries of the enervated Greeks and Romans of the Eastern Empire, seem, as was most natural, to have retained the institution of the baths nearly in their original state.

A bather in Turkey first enters a large apartment of a low temperature, furnished with couches in recesses, where he undresses and leaves his clothes, attended by a person who immediately furnishes him with another covering formed of long towels or perizwma, answering to the subligar, and a rolled towel on the head, corresponding with the arculus of the Romans. This room seems, by its use, to correspond with the apodyterium of the ancients, which appears to have been the same as the frigidarium of smaller establishments.

On other occasions the tepidarium and apodyterium are mentioned as the same room, and those who bathed are said to have left their clothes in this doubly-named apartment, which answers to the first chamber of an oriental hamam, with the additional correspondence of being equally the station of persons who kept the garments of the bathers, and who were responsible, on pain of death, both by the ancient and modern law, for any theft committed.

From the outer room of the Turkish bath the stranger is conducted through two or more rooms, each increasing in warmth, to a hall, generally vaulted, and heated to a degree which would be disagreeable to a person in ordinary habiliments, but to which he soon becomes reconciled, and which shortly produces a most profuse perspiration.

This can be no other than the laconicum of the ancients, which was, like it, vaulted and filled with warm air from stoves and hot water, and was called also caldarium, vaporarium, and sudatorium.

This was anciently, as at present, a chamber under the pavement of which the heat of a furnace was introduced, whence it derived its appellation of hypocaustum.

These are the principal divisions of a Turkish hamam, derived and continued from the Greeks and the Romans. The story of the taking of Alexandria by the Saracens, and the destruction of the library by the application of the volumes to the heating of the baths, is at least a proof that these institutions did not fall into disuse during the general change of manners which then took place.

To reason from analogy, and, at the same time, to avail ourselves of the numerous though perplexed accounts left us by the ancients, seems the most probable method of getting at the real uses of the Pompeian thermae.

The grand entrance seems to have been that in the street of Fortune, so called, at present, from the temple of that Goddess.

This is seen in the general view of the thermae, plate XXIV, being the only entrance remaining perfect, near the centre of the street leading to the Forum.

All or many of the rooms opening into the street, on each side this entrance, seem to have been vaulted, thus contributing to the support of the arches thrown over the larger chambers in the interior.

This entry or passage, marked 21 on the plan, vide plate XXIII, opened into a court, 20, about sixty feet long, bounded on two sides by a Doric portico, and on the third by a crypt. Over the crypt was a second story, where the doubtful indications of a chimney may be observed.

At the opposite angle of the court was another exit, also marked 21, leading into an alley which runs from the Forum to the house of Pansa.

At this exit was the latrina, 22, the uses of which are unequivocally visible.

The spot marked 19, which is observable in plate XXVI, and is singular on account of a sort of pronaos with seats, is vaulted, and has been lighted at night by a lamp so placed that its rays fell into the chamber 15 on one side, and enlightened 19 on the other.

The same contrivance existed in the recels 14, where a lamp gave light also to the portico.

Both these lamps were protected by circular convex glasses, the fragments of which were found in the inner chambers at their excavation.

As the baths of Pompeii were not of consequence sufficient to be furnished with every sort of apartment like those of the capital, we are to look for the vestibulum and the exedra, or a place which might serve instead of them, near the entrance of the thermae. «In vestibulo deberet esse porticus ad deambulationes his qui essent ingressuri».

That portico is undoubtedly the one in the court ; and the exedra, so called from the a edrai, or seats, where those who did not choose to walk in the portico might repose, is represented by the bench which runs along the wall. Vitruvius mentions that, while some were bathing, others were generally waiting to succeed them.

In this court or vestibule was found a sword with a leather sheath, and the box for the quadrans, or money, which was paid by each visiter. The quadrans was the fourth part of the assis and the fourteenth part of a denarius ; a sum so moderate that the heating of the baths could not have been defrayed without a crowd of bathers.

The Poet remarks upon the trifling sum with which a man made himself as happy as a king :

Dum tu quadrante lavatum
Rex ibis.
Horace, Sat. III

Juvenal says that youths under the age of fourteen paid nothing. - Sat. II.

The smallness of the sum, however, was a great encouragement to bathers, who, according to Pliny, sornetimes bathed seven times in one day.

It is exceedingly probable that the sword was that of the keeper of the thermae, or balneator, whose station, with his box of money, must have been the ala of the portico, 19. This room was not painted, and the roof seems to have been blackened by the smoke of the lamps.

Vignette 28 - Commentary

Those who had paid here might have entered with some sort of ticket. Tickets for the theatre have been found at Pompei, and have been engraved. One for the show of gladiators is in the possession of Mr. Dodwell at Rome. It is of bronze, and of the size here represented.

In this Doric portico persons waited for admission to the thermae, which were not of sufficient size to admit conveniently more than twenty or thirty at once. Here, therefore, notices of shows, games, exhibitions, or sales, might conveniently be exposed to the public. Accordingly on the south wall was painted, in large letters

The word P0LY in the centre of the letter O signified, in Latin as in Greek, «many». The sparsiones were certain sprinklings of water perfumed with saffron, or other odours, with which the people were regaled in the theatre ; and, as these produced what was called a nimbus, a cloud or a shower, the perfumed waters were probably dispersed in drops by means of pipes or spouts over the audience.

Another inscription mentions the same practice :


The use of the word spassiones for sparsiones, appeared common to these two inscriptions when they were fresh, and it is not impossible that such a provincialism might have been common in the country.

From the court, those who intended to bathe passed, by a small corridor, into the chamber 17, which must be supposed to have corresponded with the first room of the Turkish bath, where a stranger is undressed.

In this corridor was found a great number of lamps, perhaps more than fixe hundred, but above one thousand were discovered in the whole circuit of the baths, of which it is said the workmen were ordered to make a general destruction after the best had been selected.

These lamps were generally of common terra cotta, and some of them had the impression of the figures of the Graces, and others of Harpocrates, of moderate execution. Athenaeus, B. XV, says that the lamps in baths were of brass, and distinguished by narres expressive of the number of burners, such as monomixi, dimixi, trimixi, and polymixi ; but the authors who have written on the subject seem to speak always of buildings and customs on a scale of magnificence too extravagant to guide us in the explanation of the Pompeian thermae.

Some attention had been paid to the decoration of this passage, the ceiling being covered with stars.

In the room 17, those who frequented the thermae for the purpose of bathing met, whether they entered by the portico, or from either of the doors from the street on the north ; and here was certainly the frigidarium, in which many persons took off their garments, but more especially those who intended to make use only of the natatio, or cold bath.

To them, at least, this chamber served as the spoliatorium, apodyterium, or apodyterium, so called from the Apoduthria of the Greeks, signifying the place where the clothes were left, and, accordingly, we may observe, on entering, certain holes in the wall, in which have either been inserted rafters or pegs for supporting shelves, or for hanging garments.

Pliny mentions that people first entered into the apodyterium, or tepidarium, with a temperate air, and consigned their garments to caprarii, which were probably pegs so called from their likeness to horns.

The chamber itself, which is spacious, is vaulted, and the arch springs from a projecting cornice covered with a richly coloured painting of griffins and lyres.

The ceiling appears to have consisted in panels of white within red Borders, and the pavement of the common sort of white mosaic. The walls were painted yellow. Stone benches occupy the greater part of the walls, with a step running below them, slightly raised from the floor. A little apartment at the north end may have been either a latrina, or, if it had sufficient light, a tonstrina for shaving, or it might possibly have served for keeping the unguents, strigils, towels, and other articles necessary for the accommodation of visiters.

It is probable that a window once existed at the north, like that now remaining at the south end ; but in no case could this, or any other room in the Pompeian thermae, answer to the description of the wide windows of the frigidarium of the author, who says, «frigidarium locus ventis proflatus fenestris amplis».

The yet remaining window admitted light from the south, and is placed close under the vault of the roof, and rather intrenching upon it.

It opens upon the cemented or plaster roof of the chamber 18, and was not only formed of glass, but of good plate glass, slightly ground on one side so as to prevent the curiosity of any person upon the roof. This glass was divided by cruciform bars of copper, and secured by what might be termed turning buttons of the same metal.

Of this glass all the fragments remained at the excavation, a circumstance which appeared not a little curious to those who imagined that its use was either unknown, or very rare, among the ancients, and did not know that a window of the same kind had been found in the baths of the villa of Diomedes.

Glass seems to have, at first, been brought from Egypt, and to have in fact received its name of ualoV from the Coptic. Crystal, krustalloV, or the permanent ice of the ancients, originally designated the natural stone itself. It is said to have been little known in Rome before 536, U.C., but this would give ample time for its use at Pompeii long before its destruction.

There are few subjects on which the learned seem to have been so generally mistaken as that of the art of glass-making among the ancients, who seem to have been far more skilful than was at first imagined.

Not to mention the description of a burning glass in the Nubes of Aristophanes, v. 764, the collection which Mr. Dodwell first formed and brought into notice at Rome by repolishing the fragments, is sufficient to prove that specimens of every known marble, and of many not now existing in cabinets, as well as every sort of precious stone, were commonly and most successfully imitated by the ancients, who used these imitations in cups and vases of every size and shape.

In the time of Martial, about a century after Christ, glass cups were common, except the calices allasontes, which displayed changeable or prismatic colours, and, as Vossius says, were procured in Egypt, and were so rare that Adrian sending some to Servianus ordered that they should only be used on great occasions.

The myrrhine vases, however, which were in such request, seem at last to have been successfully traced to China. Propertius calls them Parthian, and it seems certain that the porcelain of the east was called Mirrha di Smyrna to as late a date as 1555.

The vast collection of bottles, glasses, and other utensils discovered at Pompeii is sufficient to show that the ancients were well acquainted with the art of glass-blowing in all its branches ; but it is not the less true that they sometimes used, much as we do, horn for lanterns, which Plautus terms Vulcan in a prison of horn ; and that windows, and Cicero says lanterns, were sometimes made of linen instead of glass, as we see oiled paper in modern times. The common expressions for these objects in Latin appear to be «Fenestrae volubiles, vel lineis velis, vel specularia vitratis clausae».

In process of time glass became so much the fashion that whole chambers were lined with it. The remains of such a room were discovered in the year 1826, near Ficulnea in the Roman territory ; and these are hinted at in a passage of the Roman naturalist. «Non dubie vitreas facturas cameras, si prius id inventurn fuisset». In the time of Seneca the chambers in thermae had walls covered with glass and Thasian marble, the water issued from silver tubes, and the decorations were mirrors.

In the semicircular compartment containing the window was a large basso relievo in stucco, of which the subject appeared to be the destruction of the Titans by Jupiter, or, perhaps, by Saturn, whose colossal head appeared in the centre. Bacchus was one of the great assistants of Jupiter in that combat; and the cup of Bacchus, or one of the same shape, appears on the right, as if thrown at the Titan. The subject is at present scarcely intelligible, having suffered much in the reparation of the roof. Vide plate XXVII.

From the frigidarium a short passage opened into the street on the north, and a little recess is observable in it, where, possibly, another person sat to receive the money of the bathers. The third passage communicated with the hypocaust or stoves, and these again with the street.

A door, uniform with that leading from the court, opened into apartment 18, in which was the natatio or natatorium, piscina, or cold bath. Some may be inclined to apply the term baptisterion to this vase into which the bathers plunged. The word piscina is applied to the bath by the younger Pliny. It appears that Loutron was the Greek appellation. That this was called baptisterium in the time of Pliny appears from this passage, considering its connexion with the frigidarium. «Inde apodyterium balinei laxum et hilare excipit cella frigidaria in qua baptisterium amplum atque opacum». Plinius de Villa apud Thuscos.

This is perfectly preserved, and nothing but the water is wanting, which anciently gushed from a copper pipe opposite the entrance, about four feet from the floor, and fell into the cistern, being supplied by pipes yet to be traced from the great reservoir near the praefurnium. This apartment is a circle enclosed by a square, in the angles of which are four alcoves, called by the ancients scholae, a word derived from the Hebrew, and signifying repose. Some have given the name of schola to the platform round the bath on which visiters waited, but there seems little doubt that the schola was generally a hemicycle connected with that platform.

The diameter of the circle is eighteen feet six inches. Round the whole runs a walk or ambulatory two feet four inches and a half wide. The piscina or vase itself is twelve feet ten inches in diameter, and has a seat eleven inches wide surrounding it at the depth of ten inches below the lip, and two feet four from the bottom, allowing a depth of water equal to about three feet. There was a channel to get rid of the superfluous water, and a low step at the bottom to assist in getting out of the water.

The alcoves, or scholae, are five feet two inches wide, by two feet half an inch deep. Their arches, which rise to the height of one foot eight inches, spring from a point five feet six inches above the floor. Vide plate XXVIII.

The whole of the piscina, or natatio, with its seat or step, the pavement of the scholae and ambulatory, is of white marble, and in perfect preservation.

The roof is a dome, or rather a cone, of which a small part of the summit is destroyed, having, in fact, risen ahove the accumulated soil of so many centuries. It appears to have been painted blue, and had an opening or window near the top, toward the south-west, possibly not glazed, as, being a cold bath, the increase of temperature was not required. The walls have been painted yellow, with certain branches, here and there, of green. The walls of the alcoves were blue and the toncas or coves red, and the arches have a pretty relieved border in stucco.

About eight feet from the floor, a cornice runs round the whole, nearly eighteen inches high, coloured red, and adorned with stucco figures representing, in all appearance, the course on foot, on horseback, and in chariots.

The spina, or, perhaps, the goal, is also visible ; and, though much ruined, the chariot-race and the running horses with their riders, have an air of life and verity which seems to evince that they were at least copied from sculptures of the most brilliant period of the arts.

It is, possibly, the Olympic hippodrome which is represented. An attempt to give an idea of the figures may be observed in the internal frieze of the shrine in the frontispiece of this work.

The men on foot seem to raise their arms as if they were athletae or boxers, and it is curious that they either are far inferior to the rest in spirit and design, or appear so from their more mutilated condition.

The cistern, or bath, in this apartment was decidedly that termed piscina by Cicero, when, in writing to Quintus his brother, he observes, «Latiorem piscinam voluissem ubi jactata brachia non offenderentur». This passage is scarcely applicable to any vessel except one in which the whole body might be placed.

The piscina, called also natatio or natatorium, seems the only member of the bath which has not survived the revolution of manners in the east, at least in cities, for the cistern or vase yet exists in the neighbourhood of many thermal waters, immersion being the only way of benefiting by them.

The natatorium of the baths of Diocletian was 200 feet long, by half that width, the Aqua Mania supplying copious streams of water, which spouted forth in grottos artificially contrived.

With the magnificence of the capital the piscina of Pompeii cannot pretend to vie ; but nothing can be more elegant, or more aptly calculated for the purpose of bathing than the chamber in question, of which a view is given in plate XXVIII.

It is to be supposed that many preferred this species of bath to undergoing the perspiration of the thermal chamber ; and, as the frigidarium alone could have produced no effect, so it must be understood that the natatio was intended, when it is asserted that, at one period, the cold bath was in the greatest request. «Adeoque praevaluit semper frigidarum usus ut vix quidam aliis balneis uterentur».

It would seem possible that the vase, or natatorium, either hot or cold, might sometimes have had the name of solium, for the word implies it. A solium is defined to be, among its other senses, «alveus in quem descenderent lavaturi». This had a connexion with the tepidarium, or apodyterium, or spoliatorium, whether hot or cold.

A doorway, the jambs of which are somewhat inclined, and prove that the folding-doors, which turned upon umbilici, or pivots, were calculated to shut by their own weight, conducted the visiter to the chamber 15, which was called either tepidarium, ALEIPTHRION, apodyterium, elaeothesium, or unctuarium ; for, in thermae of small dimensions, one chamber must have served for many of those purposes to which, in the imperial city, separate apartments were allotted.

It is therefore probable that, though the frigidarium served as an apodyterium to the cold bathers, those who took the warm bath undressed in the second chamber, 15, which was warmed, not only by a portable fire-place, or foculare, called by the Italians bracciere, but by means of a suspended pavement heated by the distant fires of the stove of the caldarium or laconicum. The temperature did not, probably, much exceed that necessary to impart an agreeable warmth, and supply the want of the more cumbrous articles of dress.

In the tepidarium are three seats of bronze, about six feet long and one broad. Their general form may be observed in the view, plate XXIV, where the foculare is seen in its original position. This beautiful chamber was excavated in the autumn of 1824, at which period the whole vault, or very nearly the whole, was full of the common lapillae. The seats are inscribed with the name of the donor, Marcus Nigidius Vaccula, whose heraldic cognizance, if that expression were admissible, was a pun upon his name, the legs of the seats being those of a cow, whose head forms their upper ornament, and whose entire figure is the decoration of the foculare.

The inscription runs thus


The hearth, 16, is about seven feet long, and two feet six broad. It is, generally, of bronze, and is ornamented by thirteen battlemented summits and a lotus at the angles.

Within these is an iron lining, calculated to resist the heat of the embers ; and the bottom is formed by bars of brass, on which are laid bricks supporting the pumice stones for the reception of the charcoal.

Plate 25 - Commentary

By the view it will be seen that this apartment was decorated in a manner suitable to its importance. The pavement of white mosaic, with two small borders of black, the ceiling elegantly painted, the walls coloured with crimson, and the cornice supported by statues, all conspired to render this a beautiful and splendid place of relaxation for the inhabitants of Pompeii. «Signis ornatum et jucundis picturis». The section, plate XXV, united with the plan, will assist in forming an idea of the connexion of this room with the first and with the third chambers ; and the suspended floor and hypocaust will be easily understood. Some have traced the invention of suspensurae, pensile, or suspended floors, to the Sybarites, and some have imagined they only existed in private baths. Vitruvius directs that the props to support these pavements should be two feet high, on which tiles two feet long should be laid for the placing of the ornemental mosaic.

In the view, plate XXIX, which is copied, by permission, from a large drawing made with the camera lucida by my friend M. Zahn, architectural painter to the Elector of Hesse Cassel, will be observed the curious fine of figures which are supported by a heavy projecting cornice, and themselves sustain an entablature from whence springs the vault or roof.

This cornice begins at four feet three inches above the pavement, and is one foot two inches and a half high, the abacus, which is five inches and a half, included.

Above this, the figures, with the entablature, rise to the height of three feet five inches more, and, above these, is the flowery Corinthian tracery.

These figures are about two feet in height, stand upon little square plinths or dies of three inches high, and hold their arms in a posture fitted for assisting the head to bear the superimposed weight, much as the giants in the temple of the Olympic Jupiter at Girgenti were ingeniously shown by Mr. Cockerell to have done.

They are of terra cotta, and stand with their backs placed against square pilasters projecting one foot from the wall, and with an interval of one foot three inches and a half between each.

Figures, used as supports to the mutules and corona, are mentioned by Vitruvius (Chap. X.) as architectural ornaments. He adds that the Romans called these telamones, and the Greeks atlantes. They have been called fawns on the spot, on account of the hairy accoutrements of some of them ; but that was a dress common to all the divinities of remote antiquity. The word Telamo seems to have, at length, been used for any sort of prop, and to have been derived from the Greek word talaw, sustineo, without any necessary reference to the strength of the hero.

Hercules was also, in some manner, connected with the baths of the ancients ; and Dion Chrysostomus mentions a portion of a therma dedicated to him, possibly, however, as connected with the Palaestra ; but the use of those figures in the baths of Pompeii, by whatever name they may have been called, was evidently to ornament the separations between a number of niches, or recesses, in which the garments of those who vent into the sudatorium, or inner apartment, to perspire, were laid up till their return.

Pliny observes that the tepidarium was «locum laxum et hilarem amoenum a meridie illustratum». He adds that the garments of bathers were left there.

Six of the intervals are closed on the side nearest to the frigidarium, the reason for which is not apparent, though there was still a sufficient number vacant to have contained the garments of the visiters.

The heat in this chamber was a dry warmth produced by the hypocaust and the foculare, and, consequently, an agreeable place for perfuming, anointing, and all the other operations after the sudatory.

The ancients had an astonishing number of oils, soaps, and perfumes ; and their washballs seem to have had the general name of smegmata, a word derived from the Greek. Among the oils are named the mendesium, megalium, metopium, amaracinum, cyprinum, susinum, nardinum, spicatum, and jasmine ; and Heliogabalus never bathed without oil of saffron or crocum, which was thought most precious. We hear also of nitre and aphronitrum in the baths. To these were added all kinds of odoriferous powders, called diapasmata. The cyprian was not only a perfume, but was supposed to put a stop to further perspiration, and its name has been retained to the present day.

Persons of lower condition sometimes used, instead of soap, meal of lupins, called lomentum, which, with common meal, is yet used in the north of England ; while the rich carried their own most precious unguents to the thermae in phials of alabaster, gold, and glass, which were of such common use, both in ordinary life and at funerals, that they have very frequently been found in modern times, when they acquired the name of lachrymatories, from a mistaken notion concerning their original destination.

Pliny mentions that, in the apodyterium or tepidarium, was the elaeothesia, or place for anointing, called also in Latin unctorium, where persons called, from their office, unctores were employed. It is to be supposed that, in the great therma of the capital, this aleipthrion, or unctuarium, was a separate chamber.

A verse of Lucilius, quoted by Green in his work De Rusticatione Romanorum, describes the operations which took place in this apartment :

Scabor, suppellor, desquamor, pumicor, ornor,
Expilor, pingor

The third apartment, 12, for the use of those who frequented the hot baths, is entered by a door opening from the tepidarium, which closed by its own weight, and, it is probable, was generally shut, to prevent the admission of cold or less heated air. Vitruvius says that the laconicum and sudatories ought to join the tepidarium ; and that, when these were separate rooms, they were entered by two doors from the apodyterium.

This chamber, though perhaps not decorated with all the art displayed in the tepidarium, possibly because the constant ascent of steam would have destroyed the colours of the ceiling or vault, was, nevertheless, delicately ornamented with mouldings of stucco, which have an elegant and beautiful effect.

The view of this chamber is given in plate XXXI. It is taken from the warm bath, 13, and the alcove, with the labrum, 14, form the principal objects.

Not only is the pavement suspended in the manner recommended by Vitruvius, but the walls are so constructed that a column of heated air encloses the apartment on ail sides.

This is not effected by flues, but by one universal flue formed by a lining of bricks or, tiles, strongly connected with the outer wall by cramps of iron, yet distant about four inches from it, so as to leave a space by which the hot air might ascend from the furnace, and increase, almost equally, the temperature of the whole room.

Some parts of this casing having fallen, the whole of this admirable contrivance is now apparent ; and the pavement having, in some places, been forced in, by the fall of some part of the vault, the method of suspending it was, at the period of the excavation, sufficiently visible.

In the view, plate XXXI, it will be observed that scarcely any thing was placed in symmetry with the centre ; the circular window in the alcove, with its ornemental dolphins in stucco, being to the left, and the two side-windows in the vault being neither equal in size nor situation.

This may be accounted for, by supposing that these holes were pierced in the vault, in places where fewer obstacles to the transmission of light existed on the exterior of the roof above. The walls are painted yellow, with pilasters and cornice in red, and the alcove is prettily decorated with coloured panels or compartments, in relievo, generally painted alternately in blue and red, and adorned with figures ill preserved, as may be seen in the view.

Vitruvius directs that, on account of the penetrating vapour, the roof of the caldarium should, if possible, be stone. He recommends also certain precautions where that cannot be effected.

The most striking object in the apartment is the labrum, 14, placed in the centre of the alcove which forms one extremity of the caldarium, as the hot-water bath. This consists in a vase or tazza of white marble, not less than eight feet in diameter, and, internally, not more than eight inches in depth. In the centre is a projection, or umbo, rising from the bottom, in the middle of which a brass tube has thrown up the water, which, judging from the customary process in an oriental bath, was probably cold, or as nearly so as was judged expedient for pouring upon the head of the bather before he quitted tliis heated atmosphere.

This is supposed in the East a necessary practice ; but it must be understood that the water is by no means cold except by comparison.

It is not a little remarkable, that this circular basin of marble is placed on a mass of volcanic stone of oval form, which, besides being too bulky for the tazza, injures its appearance by hiding a portion. It is not impossible that certain cracks in the marble may have suggested the adoption of this precaution to prevent the increase of the evil.

The labrum was presented to the thermae of Pompeii by a private individual, whose name, together with the value, is inscribed in letters of bronze yet remaining on the lip of the basin.

EX. D. D. EX. P. I. F. C. CONSTAT. HSP. C.C.L.

The position of this labrum seems, in some respects, to accord with the instructions given by Vitruvius for the construction of such a vase : «Scholas autem labrorum ita fieri oportet spaciosas ut cum priores occupaverint loca circumspectantes reliqui recte stare possunt». Vit. (1.v.c.X). He says also : «labrum sub lumine faciendum videtur ne stantes circum suis umbris obscurent lucem». Even this, as applied to our labrum, is not very intelligible.

Andreas Baccius, who has written and collected much of what the ancients have left us on the subject of baths, says that some labra existed made of glass ; and he very sensibly concludes, that all the great tazza of Rome, like that at present on the Quirinal, were originally the labra of the public or private baths of the city. Ficoroni mentions labri in Rome of basalt, granite, porphyry, and alabaster, and observes that many of these had a lion's head in the centre. Mention is also made of the labrum in a private bath by Cicero, in a letter to his wife Terentia : «labrum si non est in balneo fac ut sit».

The opening for the lamp, which has been formerly noticed as giving light, on one side, to the Doric portico, and on the other to the caldarium, is visible above the labrum, and had, anciently, a convex glass to prevent the entrance of cold air from without.

The view, plate XXXI, which was taken with the camera lucida, will give an idea of the proportions of the semicircular and chamber, which is thirty-seven feet long, by seventeen feet four inches in breadth. Having been taken from the hot bath at the north end, the first objects in the foreground are the step and the brink by which the bathers entered it. The surbase, or plinth, is ten inches high, and the wall is seven feet high up to the lowest cornice, which is, like the pilasters, painted red.

From the pavement of the caldarium, which was of white tesserae, with two small borders of black, bathers ascended by two steps so as to sit down conveniently upon the third or marble wall, one foot four inches broad, which formed the brink of the vase or vat of hot water. Thence one step dividing the whole depth of the cistern, not exceeding two feet and half an inch, permitted them to immerse themselves by degrees in the heated fluid. The whole length of the cistern is fifteen feet, and the breadth four. About ten persons might have sat upon the marble pavement, without inconvenience, at the same moment, immersed in the hot water. It is evident, from the shallowness of this cistern, that persons must have sat on the pavement in order to have been sufficiently immersed ; and, accordingly, the side next the north wall is constructed with marble, sloping like the back of a chair in an angle well adapted to the support of the body in that position.

Hot water entered this bath, 13, at one of the angles, immediately from the caldron 9, which boiled on the other side of the wall.

There appears to have been a moveable stone in the pavement, near this cistern, possibly for permitting the entrance of a column of hot air on certain occasions.

This chamber, from the water which must have fallen upon the pavement, and the distillation caused by the vapour from so great a quantity of heated liquid, must have always been wet, and must have had an outlet, called fusorium, to which the floor inclined. Perhaps the opening near the hot bath served, in part, for this purpose. The floor was found much damaged and broken in by the fall of a part of the arch on its first discovery.

The seats in this chamber were probably of wood, as the whole must have been constantly in a state of humid heat, which would have corroded furniture of bronze like those of Vaccula in the tepidarium. In that portion of the vaulted roof yet remaining are no fewer than four openings for the admission of light, and the transmission of hot air and vapour.

These must have been glazed, or closed with linen windows, called vela, for it was probably previous to that common use of glass which evidently prevailed at Pompeii, that the brazen shields, or circular shutters, mentioned by Vitruvius as hanging by chains, for the purpose of opening and shutting the windows of the laconicum or sudatory, were necessary. It appears, from that author, that these shields were lowered to open, or raised to close, the circular openings in the roof of the laconicum. Over the labrum is seen one of these circular windows.

An author named Robortellius, in the collection of Graevius and Gronovius, says that the openings in the roof of the baths of Pisa are yet visible, and are, some of them, six feet in diameter. In the Moorish baths at Granada, in the palace of the Alhambra, a number of small orifices exist ; and, in Turkish baths, these holes are generally numerous and covered with convex glasses.

It is evident that, when the vaults were entire, none of these apartments could have been supplied with a cheerful light ; and that, when the brazen shields were in use, the darkness must have increased with the increase of temperature.

In some instances, these shields seem to have condensed the vapours, and caused them to fall in showers ; and this, which must have followed of course, is mentioned to have happened in the hemisphere of the laconicum.

It may be supposed that, in an establishment so small as this at Pompeii, this inner room, or caldarium, might unite in itself more than one of the numerous appellations in use in the Roman capital.

The caldarium seems to be the hot bath, the absolute vessel of hot water, the loutron or lavacrum ; but this was always close to the laconicum. «Ex laconico aditus in caldarium». The words, however, caldarium, vaporarium, sudatorium, and laconicum, seem to have been often indiscriminately used, to say nothing of hypocaustum, which, at Pompeii, applies equally to the tepidarium, and signifies, in fact, any chamber heated bysubterraneous flues. They were, as it was said, first invented by the Sybarites, and, in private bouses, were called apoqhkaV qermaV.

Wilkins says that the laconicum is a circular stove ; and it certainly appears that it was often circular and full of warm vapours from stoves and hot water. A certain Oribasius observes that the laconicum was very hot, yet exceedingly humid, which proves that he alluded to a bath where the laconicum and caldarium were united like this at Pompeii. Under the pavement of the laconicum was the furnus upokauston.

The laconicum, even in baths of great dimensions, seems to have been often small, as many persons preferred producing the perspiration by exercise. For this purpose such thermae were provided with all the adjuncts of palaestra, xysta, ephebium, corycaeum, conisterium, sphaeristerium, peristylia, theatre, and other endless divisions, which augmented the imperial thermae of Rome to the size of moderate towns, but which have no existence at Pompeii. The presence of so many of these apartments has been the cause of the difficulties which have arisen in comprehending the accounts of the ancients.

It was the custom, to perspire first, and, after the operation of the strigil, to resort to the warm-water bath. The strigil is well known to have been a sort of concave and sickle-shaped scraper, made of bone, iron, copper, or silver, for cleansing the skin from the copions perspiration caused by the laconicum. It was by no means a very agreeable operation, and Suetonius says Augustus was a sufferer by its having been too roughly used. Its place is now supplied, in a Turkish bath, by a sort of bag or glove of camels' hair, which, without pain, peels off the perspiration in large flakes, and leaves the skin in a most wonderfully luxurious state of softness and polish. Persons of quality carried with them their own apparatus, whence Persius, in Sat. V., says

I puer et strigiles Crispini ad balnea defer.

After the warm water, a cooler stream was probably poured on the head from the labrum, and this was the preparation for encountering the lover temperature of the tepidarium, whence, after the use of unguents, it was thought safe to enter the frigidarium, and thence to pass into the open air.

The thermae must have been of great advantage to the practice of medicine. Alexander the Great is said to have slept in the bath during a fever ; and certainly, where perspiration vas the object, such a plan could scarcely fail. They practised cupping, and bleeding with leeches also, in the laconicum.

The physicians of antiquity have written much on the subject of therma and their effects, without always rendering the subject very intelligible.

Galen, Book X., says a bather should first go into the warm air, thence into the warm water or loutron, thence into the cold. After this he should enter the tepidarium or apodyterium, where the scraping off of the perspiration should be performed, and where Celsus says persons were anointed. This is not very comprehensible ; but Celsus, Book I. c. IV., seems to have given real information, and that which is applicable to the Pompeian thermae, when he cells us that people perspired a littte in the tepidarium, thence entered the caldarium or laconicum, and retired in order through the hot, the tepid, and the cold apartments.

Galen says that he who neglects the cold chamber, or cold water, is in danger from open pores on passing into the open air. This may serve to show that the tepidarium was not the last chamber recommended by him ; and it is not improbable that some, who were ordered by the physician to pass «from the laconicum to the caldarium, and thence to the apodyterium, from whence they are to use the solium frigidum», might, in the baths of Pompeii, have plunged into the natatorium, 18, as a termination of the process. Solium is defined to be either a vessel to wash in, or a hollow into which those who washed descended.

In places not affording the convenience for immersion in the solium frigidum, aspersions of cold water, like a shower-bath, are recommended ; and this is, in fact, resorted to in the Turkish baths, where the natatorium does not commonly exist.

It is observable that those who bathe, or rather perspire, in the Turkish hamam, very rarely, if ever, take cold on returning to the open air. A disease depending on impeded perspiration could indeed scarcely exist where every thing like perspiration had been previously so carefully removed.

From the frigidarium, 17, a very narrow passage ran to the furnace 9, upon which were placed caldrons to the number of three, one above another, and possibly, as may be gathered from an inspection of the ruins, placed in three columns of three caldrons each, so that the water in the uppermost or ninth vase, nearest the cisterns 10 and 11, would be very nearly cold. One author has observed that, in some instances, in the pavement of the frigidarium was a hole through which the furnarius, or fire-lighter, vent to the propnigeum, or furnace.

Praefurnium, propnigeum, ostium furni, fornax, all seem terms applicable to this part of the therma, which was under the care of persons called also fornacatores and furnacatores. Vitruvius says, on the left of the hypocaust or fornax inferior were the male baths, and on the right those of the women, a position according with those of Pompeii. A Pompeian inscription, relating to those who had the care of the fires, is given by Mazzocchi or Rossini :


In the section of the baths, plate XXV, may be observed, on the right, the three vases placed one above the other over the fire.

They were named, litre the chambers, according to their situations, the lowest being the caldarium, the next the tepidarium, and the last the frigidarium, though, probably, no water was absolutely cold in the whole building.

The form and proportions of these vases or caldrons are given in the section, plate XXV, from the impression they have very visibly left in the cement which fixed them.

The caldron immediately above the flames was of course boiling ; and, on the water being withdrawn for use, it was contrived that an equal portion should replace it from the tepidarium, into which at the same time the frigidarium was discharged.

It does not seem improbable, from the appearance of the place, that there were three columns of these caldrons at Pompeii dependent on a single fire ; and if so, the upper caldron of the column nearest the cistern, 10, contained water nearly cold, and hence that was probably derived which rose in the centre of the labrum, and must have had a higher level.

From one of these, or the cisterns adjoining, the circular bath, or natatorium, was also supplied, through tubes yet to be traced in the wall.

We read of some of these vases, or cisterns, which were made of lead, and called miliaria ; but these were, of course, far from the furnace, and were so named because of the thousand measures of water contained, or of the pounds of lead employed.

In the section, only the chambers of the men, or one set of baths, are given, as the plate would either have been considerably longer, or the objects would have been too much diminished.