It's the Ides of March, a good day for a bath

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Baths of Caracalla
credit: Lloyd Alter/ Baths of Caracalla, Rome

The baths in Rome were a lot more than just a place to get clean; they were a social institution, a key part of Roman life. Bathing was considered essential for health and wellbeing, for regeneration. The question arose then and throughout history, like it does now in the discussion of health care: Is this the role of the state? Siegfried Gideon writes in Mechanization takes command:

The role that bathing plays within a culture reveals the culture's attitude toward human relaxation. It is a measure of how far individual well-being is regarded as an indispensable part of community life.

This is a social problem. Should society assume responsibility for guarding health and promoting well-being or is this a private matter? Is it a duty of the state to provide the agencies of relaxation regardless of the cost? Or should it regard its people as mere components of the production line, leaving them to their own devices as soon as they have finished their work?

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