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DanM

Public Baths And The Use Of Oil

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I was reading a book that constantly kept coming back to the claim that the purchase of oils for the gymnasiums and public baths was often the largest single expense incurred by any city. Maybe its just me, but I am struggling to understand what they did with all of that oil. I am not a perv and not trying to go down that road. I am just looking for someone to describe the legitimate historical uses of oil in such a context so I can better understand how much of this stuff was actually consumed by a city in a given year and also so I can understand why it was such a politically important item that it justified so much funding and attention by the civic politicians.

 

Thanks.

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They would use olive oil to clean themselves...sort of like we use soap. They would cover themselves in the oil and sit in a sauna or similar thing, then they would scrape the oil off (well...have a slave scrape the oil off) with a wooden curved thing...the oil, and dirt, and sweat went with it. It actually worked pretty well. They would also use it for massages and such.

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You may have noticed Mark Antony being c;leaned by his slave in HBOs Rome? The instrument is the stirgil, used to remove the oil and effluvia from the body.I will post a small picture in my miscellenia galley to show a scene .The actual scene is ,I think of wrestlers but the principle is the same for any bather.

In many ways this was the very centre of (Imperial )Roman life, or rather the use of the baths as a social, business and political venue .Try this link

 

.http://www.bbc.co.uk/northyorkshire/iloveny/romans/2004/roman_bath/index.shtml

Edited by Pertinax

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May i quote Pliny here? excellent as always-"Sunshine is the best of all self-administered remedies, as is the vigorous use of towels and stirgils" Cleanliness being next to Godliness

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They would use olive oil to clean themselves...sort of like we use soap. They would cover themselves in the oil and sit in a sauna or similar thing, then they would scrape the oil off

 

I think they used oil after bath. When skin was already clean a slave rubbed oil into skin. There are two reasons for it (in Romans opinion). First, dirt will wash away better during next bath; second, oil was like a cream for skin and protected it from wind and sun.

I know some herbal extracts used for cleaning skin. These extracts added to water during taking a bath.

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The instrument is the stirgil,

 

Im not sure if this was a typo or an missanderstanding but the unstrument is called a strigil and it was metal

 

Thanks :(

 

typo-sorry I type too fast and fall over my own fingers. :)

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