A Brief History of Bathing | Nicholas C. Rossis

By the time the Roman era began, the concept wasn’t exactly new anymore. But the city of Bath became a staple for bathing culture in Rome during its penultimate period. It should come as no surprise that Bath became the city of bathing with a wide swath of public baths that featured sophisticated water systems and even hydrothermal springs.

In most cases, the Roman bathhouses were located in the center of a town or city. This is because they were used for relaxation, exercise, and even socializing. These buildings weren’t simple huts, either. They were complex buildings, especially for the time. And more often than not, they were the first things built in that town!

These bathhouses would often contain a number of rooms with varying temperatures ranging from cold to hot. Not only that, they had special areas like restrooms, changing rooms, rooms for exercising, and even areas for drinking wine and eating.

Heating was possible in these bathhouses through hollow spaces underneath of the flooring where hot air could travel and the water was provided through pipes, drains, and sewers.

Simply put, the Roman bathhouse was one of the most modern advancements when it came to bathing, socializing, and caring for one’s body. The basic concept is what inspired modern irrigation and buildings, giving us the amenities that we are most familiar with today.

A Brief History of Bathing | Nicholas C. Rossis

The baths, both public and private, play a big part in my current work in progress, Pompeii Fire. Please click through to learn more about the history of bathing; the article is fascinating.

Renovations at Historic York Guildhall Reveal Human Remains, Roman Artifacts | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

As BBC News reports, the team’s other finds include a well-preserved hairpin, a copper stylus, and pieces of roof and floor tiles tentatively dated to the Roman period.

“It is therefore possible that the medieval Friary was built over the ruins of a Roman building that once occupied the riverfront,” says Tom Coates, project supervisor for the York Archaeological Trust, in the statement.

York—then known by its Latin name, Eboracum—was established as a Roman settlement around A.D. 71, according to the Yorkshire Museum.

The latest finds are far from the first ancient discoveries at the Guildhall site: In February, archaeologists uncovered a cobbled Roman road buried some five feet below the ground’s surface, reported Mike Laycock for the York Press.

Renovations at Historic York Guildhall Reveal Human Remains, Roman Artifacts | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Suetonius, one of the characters in Pompeii Fire, is from Britain. In fact, his gladiatorial nom de guerre is Britannicus. Click through to read more about the excavations at York.

Sample Saturday, with Bonus Track: “Pompeii Fire”

Hi, everyone. This week’s sample is, again, from my work in progress entitled Pompeii Fire. As always, the final product is likely to differ from the current draft.

Music was a regular part of gladiatorial games, played during and between bouts. The cornu referred to in the text is a brass instrument. You have probably seen images of them in frescoes and so on. Two examples of the instrument were excavated from Pompeii during the 19th century. The cornu in the video is a reconstructon. We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to hear this ancient horn played.


After his bout ended and the cornu signaled the next event, Drusilla met Suetonius in the quadriportico. “You must come to the praedia. I have arranged for us to have the baths to ourselves, so that you may bathe and I may dress your wounds in myrrh.”

“Drusilla, this is a dangerous game for you to play. There is still time for you to change your mind.”

“I am not playing, Suetonius.”

“I will be there within the half hour, then. Kiss me, my princess, and let me count the minutes.”

Nero, History’s Most Despised Emperor, Gets a Makeover | History | Smithsonian Magazine

The Domus Aurea project was also a mistake, criticized in its day as a lot more house than any absolute monarch would ever need. But it may be that Nero never meant for this city-within-a-city to be his purely private playground. “The Emperor wanted to make its pleasures available to the people,” David Shotter, a historian, asserts in his 2008 biography of Nero. “Recent excavations near the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum have revealed a colonnaded pool, the stagnum Neronis, which imitated Nero’s lake at Baiae and the stagnum Agrippae on the Campus Martius. The implication of this appears to be that Nero intended that his new house and the rebuilt city of Rome should be one—the home of the people and of himself, their Emperor, Protector and Entertainer.” Shotter goes on, “those looking for signs of Nero’s supposed madness will not find it here; his contribution to Roman construction should not be dismissed or underestimated in the shallow manner of many of his contemporaries. Here, writ large, is Nero the artist and popular provider—almost certainly the way in which he would have wished to be remembered.”

Nero, History’s Most Despised Emperor, Gets a Makeover | History | Smithsonian Magazine

This is an interesting article, with historians shedding some new and interesting light on both Nero and his contributions to architecture. Click through to read the entire piece; it’s fascinating!

Dormice and Other Ancient Delicacies

We carry culture via three methods: language, music, and food. I have been studying ancient Roman foodways while working on Pompeii Fire. While I’ve only reproduced one recipe to date (a chard dish that was a huge hit in our household), I have others in the pipeline. Here is some excellent information on ancient Greek and Roman foodways, via Nicholas Rossis.

Nicholas C. Rossis

I have a confession: besides writing, I love cooking and I love food.

Perhaps that explains why the parts I enjoy most in fantasy or historical fiction books concern the little things – things like food and drink. What kind of dinner do the protagonists enjoy, given that modern staples such as tomatoes and potatoes didn’t exist until fairly recently?

Let’s have a look at what an ancient Greek or Roman dinner table looked like.

Ancient Greece

Olive oil | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookThis could have been taken two millennia ago

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the East introduced the Greeks to the joys of lemons and ice cream. Indeed, Alexander has been described as an ice cream addict.

However, ancient Greek food was much simpler, consisting mainly of cereals – most prominently barley, emmer, and einkorn. Legumes like lentils, peas, and chickpeas were also popular.

These were used to produce not just stews but…

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