The Ancient Library

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On this page: Basterna – Baths



model of the St8a Basilcios (" royal colon­nade ") at Athens. It stood in the Forum near the Curia. The later basilicas usually bore the name of the persons who built them. Buildings of the same kind were constantly erected in the provinces to serve as halls of exchange or courts of justice. The form of the basilica was oblong; the interior was a hall, either without any divi­sions or divided by rows of pillars, with a main nave, and two or sometimes four side-aisles. Galleries for spectators were often added above. If the basilica was used as a


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hall of justice, a space, usually in the form of a large semicircular niche, and containing a tribunal, was set up at the end of the nave for the accommodation of the court. After the time of Constantine the Great, of whose great basilica, with its nave and two aisles, magnificent ruins still remain, many basilicas were turned into Christian churches, and many churches were built upon the same plan. (The annexed cut gives the plan of the basilica at Pompeii. See also architecture, fig. 11.)

Basterna. See litters.

Baths. Warm baths were for a long time only used by the Greeks for exceptional purposes, to take them too often being re­garded as a mark of effeminacy. It was only after the introduction of artificial bathing-places, public and private (baUneia) that they came into fashion, especially before meals. Such baths were often attached to the gymnasia. The Greeks, however, r>ever attained, in this matter, to the luxury of the Romans under the Empire. To take a hot dry air-bath, in order to promote perspira­tion, followed by a cold bath, was a peculiar fashion of the Lacedaemonians. The ancient custom at Rome was to take a bath every week in the lavatrlnn or wash-house near the kitchen. But after the Second Punic War bathing establishments on the Greek model made their appearance, and the afternoon hour between two and three was given up to the bath, which, with gymnastics, came

to be one of the most important proceed­ings of the day. The public baths were under the superintendence of the sediles. A small fee (balneatlcum) was paid for their use: a guadrans ( = about half a farthing) for men, and rather more for women. Children were admitted free. The baths were open from 2 p.m. till sunset; but outside the city precincts they were some­times lighted up after nightfall. Under the Empire the baths became very luxurious. The splendour of the arrangements, especi­ally in private houses, steadily increased, as did the number of public baths. 170 of these were added by Agrippa alone in his sedileship, and in the 4th century a.d. the number was reckoned at 952 in the city of Rome alone. From the time of Agrippa we find thermos or hot baths, fitted up in the style of those attached to the Greek gymnasia, in use in Rome, Italy, and the provinces. No provincial town was with­out its baths; indeed they were found in many villages, as is proved by the remains scattered over the whole extent of the Roman empire.

The baths of later times consisted of at least three chambers, each with separate compartments for the two sexes. (1) The tSpidarium, a room heated with warm air, intended to promote perspiration after un­dressing ; (2) the caldarium, where the hot bath was taken in a tub (sSlium) or basin (piscina); (3) the frlgidarium, where the final cold bath was taken. After this the skin was scraped with a strigllis, rubbed down with a linen cloth, and anointed with oil. This took place either in the tepi-darium or in special apartments, which were often provided in larger establishments, as were rooms for dressing and undressing. Round the basin ran a passage, with seats for the visitors. The Laconian or dry air-bath was a luxury sometimes, but not neces­sarily, provided. The heating was managed by means of a great furnace, placed between the men's and the women's baths. Imme­diately adjoining it were the caldaria, then came the tepidaria and the frigidarium. Over the furnace were fixed a cold-water, warm-water, and hot-water cistern, from which the water was conducted into the bath-rooms. The caldaria and tepidaria were warmed with hot air. The heat was conducted from the furnace into a hollow receptacle under the floor, about two feet in height (suspensura, hypdcaustum), and thence by means of flues between the double walls.

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