The Baths of Antoninus Caracalla


“The stupendous aqueducts, so justly celebrated by the praises of Augustus himself, replenished in the Thermae, or baths, which had been constructed in every part of the city with Imperial magnificence. The baths of Antoninus Caracalla, which were opened at stated hours for the indiscriminate service of the senators and the people, contained above sixteen hundred seats of marble; and more than three thousand were reckoned at the baths of Diocletian. The walls of the lofty apartments were covered with curious mosaics that imitated the art of the pencil in the elegance of design and the variety of colours. The Egyptian granite was beautifully encrusted with the precious green marble of Numidia; the perpetual stream of hot water was poured into the capacious basins through so many wide mouths of bright and massy silver; and the meanest Roman could purchase, with a small copper coin, the daily enjoyment of a scene of pomp and luxury which might excite the envy of the kings of Asia.”

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, 1776-89

A One-Volume Abridgement by Dero A. Saunders, Penguin Books, 1952