Eating was an essential part of taking a bath.


Food & Alcohol
Food and drink—including wine—would have been readily available to you when visiting the baths.

Vendors might have hawked their wares at the bath's entrance or in the shops around the bath's perimeter. The fare was usually light, as the prime time for bathing was in the afternoon, well before dinner, the Romans' main meal of the day. In the archeological exploration of the baths of Caerleon, for example, the drains were found filled with bits of glass plates, jugs, cup fragments, and even small pieces of animal bones that are presumed to be remnants of light snacks.

The poet Martial describes one man in the baths who ate eggs, lettuce, and fish at the baths. A price list near the lobby of the Suburban Baths in Herculaneum reads:

"Nuts-drinks—14
Hog's Fat—2
Bread—3
Cutlets for 3—12
Sausage for 4—8
51"


The number after each snack is probably the cost for each item, with the final "51" probably a combination price. The Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca complained about the noise all the vendors made: "Then there are the varied calls of the cake seller and the sausage man, and the confectioner and all the peddlers of snacks selling their commodities; each with their own characteristic intonation." The cries were probably much like the calls of merchants in a bustling market today.

Thirsty bathers also drank to replenish the bodily fluids lost by continually sweating and over-heating. Alcohol, including wine, also was available. Seneca and the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder both opposed drinking at the baths, and Martial complains about one sloppy bather who "doesn't know how to go home from the baths sober."

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