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Bathing in the Roman World Paperback – 19 Nov 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (19 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521549620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521549622
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 1.2 x 25.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 661,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

'This is an affectionate and scholarly account of the ancient romans' passion for bathing which builds on the author's more extensive study, Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity.' History Today

Book Description

Fikret Yegul examines the social and cultural aspects of one of the key Roman institutions. Yegul traces the origins and development of baths and bathing customs and analyzes the sophisticated technology and architecture of bath complexes. Richly illustrated and written in an accessible manner, this book is geared to undergraduates for use in courses on Roman architecture, archaeology, civilization, and social and cultural history.

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By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fikret Yegül's book covers all aspects of Roman bathing. Beginning his tour with rituals and activities, it is made clear just how central bathing was to Romans for all classes, accessible and affordable to all. Apart from the exercise and bathing aspects, baths were centres for many other activities - eating, contemplation of works of art, perusing libraries, education and lectures, and listening to readings of literature and poetry; it seems as though all of human life was there. Yegül follows on with a chapter on criticism of Roman bathing; as evidenced by writers such as Martial and Seneca, not everyone was appreciative of some aspects of the practice.

The origin and development of Roman baths is considered, which seem to owe less to Greek gymnasia than is commonly thought, and more to central Italian farmsteads having steam rooms for treatment of respiratory conditions, rheumatism and the like. The next chapter discusses the mechanisms of the heating and water supply for baths.

Many examples of baths are analysed in three chapters, firstly on the large scale imperial baths of the city of Rome itself which could each cover an area bigger than some towns, followed by provincial baths of north Africa (where small towns of around 3000 could have a dozen public baths), and finally baths in Asia Minor which unlike elsewhere did show evidence of more of a Greek heritage, giving more prominence to the palaestra/gymnasium.

A couple of chapters are devoted to the later developments. Christian opposition to bathing was not as clear cut as often supposed; there seemed to be a wide range of opinions, but generally it was considered acceptable so long as it was for purposes of hygiene rather than pleasure.
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It isn't often I find academic books compulsive reading but I did with this one. Aimed at people interested (undergraduate probably) in learning about the history and architecture of Roman Baths, it is well written, easily readable and contains many references to primary sources and other academic journals and papers. I would have happily read this for fun - wonderful!
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The book is ok for someone that isn't studying as an undergraduate, I found; but for more serious studying, due to the lack of references, I would recommend Garrett G.Fagan's 'Bathing in Public in the Roman World' which is excellent.
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This is the best book about the Roman cult of bathing. Yegul manages to cover the hardware of the elaborate bathing facilities of the Roman Empire, plus the software which made an afternoon at the baths the norm for rich Romans/ An inspiration for my own studies.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa22bd7d8) out of 5 stars 1 review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xad6e41a4) out of 5 stars Must-have book on this subject 5 Mar. 2013
By YA librarian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This 2010 publication from Cambridge University Press is more than an updated or abridged edition of this author's original (1996), larger, longer book on the same topic from MIT Press: Baths and Bathing in Classical Antiquity. While of course the older book, which is out of print, has far more illustrations, notes, and passing mention of more specific sites, it is also geared for a narrower audience concerned primarily with ancient architecture. This new 2010 book is more accessible to undergraduates and general audiences. In some cases it actually expands on certain topics -- for example the Thermae of Zeuxippos near the Hippodrome in Constantinople, complete with an original map -- whereas many topics expanded upon at length in the older book (palaestra, for example) are barely mentioned in the new one. In a perfect world you would own both, but as a practical matter, "Bathing in the Roman World" is still the best book available on this topic.
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