Were the baths really as enjoyable and important as many historians portray, and how do they compare to today's modern leisure activities?

Going to the Thermae baths was a significant part of every day life. It is said that almost everything was done at these huge sculptured buildings ranging from the obvious cleansing of the body to such things as doing business. Of all the leisure activities, bathing was surely the most important for the greatest number of Romans, since it was part of the daily regimen for men of all classes, and many women as well.

In today's world bathing is conducted as a very private activity completed in a specific room of the home, but bathing in Rome and surrounding cities was a communal activity, conducted for the most part in public facilities that in some ways resembled modern spas or health clubs although they were less expensive.

The idea of bathing universally in every day modern society belongs to the Roman world. The United Kingdom was first introduced to the baths when the Romans immigrated here. Baths were usually built from starch and water supplies were designed alike to the systems used in Rome. Apart from their normal hygienic functions, they provided facilities for sports and recreation, their public nature created the apposite environment, similar to common city clubs or community centres; for social interaction varying from neighbourhood gossip to business discussions.

There was even an academic side to the baths since the grand thermae, incorporated libraries, which were widely used and lecture halls also a major gymnasium; in this area such equipment as weights were kept and first introduced, today we use the same idea but most people now have these in their homes.

Although wealthy Romans might set up a bath in their town houses or especially in their country villas, they often attended the public bathhouses in the cities and towns throughout the empire. The equipment available was unable to be installed into small bathhouses, called balneae; these might be privately owned, but they were public in the sense that they were open to the community for a small fee, which was usually quite reasonable. The large baths, called thermae, were owned by the state or other emperors trying to promote their party, and to encourage the support of that specific government. The baths were so vast in its size that it would cover several city blocks. The water delivery was complicated but did not mean that pipes would scatter the walls.

'The Romans could not have built cities as big as they did without aqueducts-and some of their cities wouldn't have existed at all. Romans sometimes built cities on dry plains. They'd find a spring in the mountains and take that water into the city, which would not have been possible without the transported water. With the water, they could have their baths, their fountains, and their drinking water.' This quotation from a historian named Garrett Fagan, signifies that the water supply was in fact from only major water source, so the baths would never experience problems of running out of water. Lakes were unreliable in the eyes of the roman engineer.
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'A tunnel might be five, 10, or even 20 feet down. They couldn't pump the water up, because it wasn't practical. So they would dig a tunnel right from the beginning. Some of these aqueducts are almost entirely underground.' This specific quotation from the same historian as named above states that the water waste was sent along huge underground tunnels, which means that it would not interfere with other supplies. For this extent of planning and design to be taken, it is obvious that the baths are more than important; in fact it is more of an every ...

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