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Bill Thayer

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 p526  Thermae Decianae

Article on pp526‑527 of

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

Thermae Decianae: built by the Emperor Decius in 252 A.D. on the Aventine (Cassiod. ad a. 252; Chron. min. II.147: his consulibus (Gallio et Volusiano) Decius Romae lavacra publica aedificavit quae suo nomine appellari iussit; Eutrop. IX.4: Romae lavacrum aedificavit; Chron. a. 354, I.147: hoc imperatore thermae Commodianae (an evident error for Decianae) dedicatae sunt; Not. Reg. XIII; CIL XV.7181: in Aventino in domo Potiti v. c. ad Decianas; cf. BC 1887, 266, 293; 1893, 240‑241).

A partial plan of these thermae drawn by Palladio about 1600 was found by Lanciani in the Devonshire collection (portfolio 15, pl. 81; LR fig. 210), on which can be traced the outlines of the central hall, the beginning of the caldarium, and the dressing and lounging rooms on the sides, in the usual manner of the Roman baths. This main part  p527 seems to have measured about 70 by 35 metres, which shows that the whole complex of buildings was very large.

The site of the thermae was between the present churches of S. Alessio and S. Prisca, in the Vigna Torlonia, and Palladio's plan corresponds with the remains of foundation walls still existing under and around the casino of the vigna. Excavations on this site since the seventeenth century have resulted in the discovery of large halls with mosaic pavements and painted marble and stucco decoration (Bartoli, Mem. 125, 127, 129; Vacca, Mem. 90; Ficoroni, Mem. 22), of inscribed pedestals of statues erected during the fourth century by prefects of the city (CIL VI.1159, 1160, 1167, 1192 (?), 1651 (?), 1672; BC 1878, 253‑256; DE II.1478); and of works of art such as the infant Hercules in basalt and the relief of Endymion now in the Capitoline Museum (HF 807, 863, Cap. 219, 275).

For these excavations and their literature, see LS III.143‑144; LR 544‑546; Merlin 316‑317, and especially App. Nos. 3, 6, 8, 11, 12, 34, 37; for the thermae in general, HJ 163‑164; LF 34; BC 1914, 348‑349; RE IV.2269‑2270.

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Page updated: 20 Sep 07