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p531 Thermae Neronianae or Alexandrinae

Article on pp531‑532 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.


Thermae Neronianae: the second public bathing establishment in Rome, but by Nero near the Pantheon (Suet. Nero 12; Aur. Vict. Ep. 5; Eutrop. VII.15). According to the Chronica (Hier. a. Abr. 2079; Cassiod. Chron. min. II.138) they were erected in 64 A.D., but if they are to be identified with Nero's Gymnasium (q.v.), which was built in 62, their construction must also be assigned to that year (HJ 590). They were among the notable monuments of the city (Mart. II.48.8; III.25.4; VII.34.5, 9; Philostr. vit. Apoll. iv.42; Stat. Silv. I.5.62), and evidently became a very popular resort (for incidental references, Mart. II.14.13; XII.83.5; CIL VI.8676, 9797.5 = AL 29.5).

A hypocaust was found in the courtyard of Palazzo Madama in 1871 with the brick-stamps CIL XV.481 (123 A.D.); and in 1907 in another hypocaust were found ib. 164 (Severus), 364 (Hadrian), 371b (Severus), 404 (Severus) on the site of S. Salvatore in Thermis. Pipes were found in the walls of the time of Nero at the corner between the Piazza and the Salita dei Crescenzi (CIL XV.7271).

In 227 these thermae were rebuilt by Alexander Severus and thenceforth called officially thermae Alexandrinae (Hist. Aug. Alex. Sev. 24, 25, 42; Eutrop. VII.15; Chron. 147; Hier. a. Abr. 2243; Cassiod. ad 64 and 227, chron. min. II.138, 146; Not. Reg. IX), although there are indications of the survival of the original name (CIL VI.3052; Sid. Apoll. Carm. 23.495; Cassiod. Varia II.39.5: piscina Neroniana). A coin of Alexander Severus (Cohen, Alex. Sev. 17; Gnecchi, Med. II.101.6) probably represents them.1 They were wrongly called templum Alexandrini in 946 (MGH III.716; HCh 200), but still retained their correct name in 998‑1011 (cf. Reg. Farf. passim, cited by HCh 212: aecclesia S. Benedicti, quae est aedificata in thermis Alexandrinis, and S. Maria de Thermis, ib. 326‑327).

These baths2 occupied a rectangular area extending from the north-west corner of the Pantheon to the stadium of Domitian (Piazza Navona), an area of about 190 by 120 metres, and fronted north. Nothing now remains above ground except portions of walls built into the Palazzo Madama, but in the sixteenth century the foundations of the caldarium were still visible, extending out from the middle of the south side (Palladio, ed. Vicenza 1787, pls.3, 6; cf. Antonio da Sangallo the younger, Uffizi 949,3 1634; cod. Barb. Lat. 4333, ff.13, 14, 28, 29; Giovannoli, Roma antica iii. pls.8, 9; the latter is reproduced in Ill. 55; for a reconstruction, Canina Ed. iv. p201). The concrete, wherever visible, belongs to the time of Nero (AJA 1912, 406). The frigidarium was in the middle of the north side, the tepidarium between it and the caldarium; there were large colonnaded courts on the east and west sides of the p532central hall, and four dressing and lounging rooms on each side of the caldarium (see plan in LF 15). Excavations made at various times have brought to light architectural remains of great beauty, among them four columns of red granite, two of which were used by Alexander VII in 1666 to restore the left corner of the pronaos of the Pantheon — white marble capitals, and fragments of columns of porphyry, pavonazzetto and grey granite, as well as an enormous basin for a fountain 6.70 metres in diameter, cut from a single block of red granite, with pieces of several others (NS 1881, 270‑273; 1882, 412‑413; 1883, 81, 130; 1892, 265; 1907, 529; BC 1907, 330; LR 501; JRS 1919, 183‑184; for the thermae in general, see HJ 590‑592; Gilb. III.298; and for the mediaeval churches of S. Andrea de Fordivoliis (near S. Luigi dei Francesi), S. Iacobus de Thermis and S. Salvator de Thermis, Arm. 370, 438‑440; HCh 183, 184, 268‑269, 455). See also Mem. L. xvii.517.


The Authors' Notes:

1 Bernhardt (Handbuch der Münzkunde, 138) wrongly refers it to the Thermae Antoninianae.

2 For a library here, see Thermae Agrippae (p519).

3 Bartoli, Monumenti di Roma iii.300.


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