Thermae

Photograph of the Baths showing a rectangular area of greenish water surrounded by yellow stone buildings with pillars. In the background is the tower of the abbey.
Roman public baths in Bath, England. The entire structure above the level of the pillar bases is a later reconstruction.
Thermae Maiores, Aquincum, Budapest

In ancient Rome, thermae (from Greek θερμός thermos, "hot") and balneae (from Greek βαλανεῖον balaneion) were facilities for bathing. Thermae usually refers to the large imperial bath complexes, while balneae were smaller-scale facilities, public or private, that existed in great numbers throughout Rome.[1]

Most Roman cities had at least one, if not many, such buildings, which were centres not only for bathing, but socializing, and reading as well. Roman bath-houses were also provided for private villas, town houses, and forts. They were supplied with water from an adjacent river or stream, or more normally, by an aqueduct. The water would be heated by a log fire before being channelled into the hot bathing rooms. The design of baths is discussed by Vitruvius in De Architectura.

Terminology

Mosaic bath sign from Sabratha, Libya, showing bathing sandals, three strigils, and the slogan SALVOM LAVISSE, "A bath is good for you"[2]

Thermae, balneae, balineae, balneum and balineum may all be translated as "bath" or "baths", though Latin sources distinguish among these terms.

Balneum or balineum, derived from the Greek βαλανεῖον[3][4] signifies, in its primary sense, a bath or bathing-vessel, such as most persons of any consequence among the Romans possessed in their own houses,[5] and hence the chamber which contained the bath,[6] which is also the proper translation of the word balnearium. The diminutive balneolum is adopted by Seneca[7] to designate the bathroom of Scipio, in the villa at Liternum, and is expressly used to characterize the modesty of republican manners as compared with the luxury of his own times. But when the baths of private individuals became more sumptuous, and comprised many rooms, instead of the one small chamber described by Seneca, the plural balnea or balinea was adopted, which still, in correct language, had reference only to the baths of private persons. Thus Cicero terms the baths at the villa of his brother Quintus[8] balnearia.

Balneae and balineae, which according to Varro[9] have no singular number, were the public baths. But this accuracy of diction is neglected by many of the subsequent writers, and particularly by the poets, amongst whom balnea is not uncommonly used in the plural number to signify the public baths, since the word balneae could not be introduced in a hexameter verse. Pliny also, in the same sentence, makes use of the neuter plural balnea for public, and of balneum for a private bath.[10]

Thermae (Greek: Θέρμαι, Thermai, "hot springs, hot baths",[11] from the Greek adjective thermos, "hot") meant properly warm springs, or baths of warm water; but came to be applied to those magnificent edifices which grew up under the empire, in place of the simple balneae of the republic, and which comprised within their range of buildings all the appurtenances belonging to the Greek gymnasia, as well as a regular establishment appropriated for bathing.[12] Writers, however, use these terms without distinction. Thus the baths erected by Claudius Etruscus, the freedman of the Emperor Claudius, are styled by Statius[13] balnea, and by Martial[14] Etrusci thermulae. In an epigram by Martial[15]subice balneum thermis—the terms are not applied to the whole building, but to two different chambers in the same edifice.

Other Languages
العربية: ثرمي
azərbaycanca: Termlər
беларуская: Тэрмы
български: Терми
dansk: Termer
Deutsch: Thermen
Ελληνικά: Θέρμες
español: Termas romanas
Esperanto: Termoj
euskara: Terma
فارسی: حمام رومی
français: Thermes romains
한국어: 테르메
հայերեն: Թերմ
hrvatski: Terme
Bahasa Indonesia: Thermae
italiano: Terme romane
Latina: Thermae
latviešu: Termas
Nederlands: Thermen
polski: Termy
português: Termas romanas
română: Terme
русский: Термы
slovenščina: Rimske terme
српски / srpski: Римске терме
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Rimske terme
suomi: Termit
svenska: Termer
Türkçe: Roma hamamı
українська: Терми