Thermae Agrippae

Baths of Agrippa

The Baths of Agrippa (Thermae Agrippae) in ancient Rome, built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, were the first of the great thermae constructed in Rome. In their first form, constructed at the same time as the Pantheon and on axis with it, as a balaneion (βαλανεῖον), they were apparently a hot-air bath with a cold plunge, not unlike a sauna. With the completion of the Aqua Virgo, the aqueduct completed by Agrippa in 19 BC, the baths were supplied with water and became regular thermae, with a large ornamental pool (Stagnum Agrippae) attached. Agrippa furnished his baths with decorations that may have been executed in glazed tiles and with works of art: the Apoxyomenos of Lysippus stood outside. He left the baths to the citizens of Rome at his death, 12 BC.

The Baths of Agrippa were damaged by fire in AD 80 (Cassius Dio, lxvi.24), but were restored and enlarged; they were thronged in the times of Martial, and enlarged under Hadrian and later emperors.

In the seventh century they were being mined for their building materials, but much of the structure was still standing in the sixteenth century, when the ruins were drawn by Baldassare Peruzzi and Andrea Palladio, among others.

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