Monday, November 30, 2009

BAY OF BAIAE

Nero would feast from noon until midnight. He would dine in public places, in the Naumachia, in the Campus Martius (which, incidentally, included the Stagnum Agrippae), in the Circus Maximus. Dancing girls and prostitutes from all over thecity served at these parties. Whenever he floated down the Tiber to Ostia, or sailed along the gulf of Baiae (in the Bay of Naples), inns with taverns (deversoriae tabernae) were prepared along the banks and coasts; these were remarkable for their gourmandizing and for being kept by matrons who would imitate hostesses and urge Nero to put ashore.
(...) He took particular delight in eating while aboard ship, on
the Naumachia, on the Stagnum, during expeditions down the Tiber and in the Bay of Naples. He liked ersatz inns to be set up on the shores, both artificial and real, which he passed. He liked to see Roman matrons running them—indeed, when they played the role of innkeepers for him they were assuming a social role not far from that of the prostitutes whom he also liked to have around. And he enjoyed lavish parties hosted by other men.
Elaborate feasting, sexual license, and messing about in boats make an arresting combination. Repeatedly indulged, it was not a passing whim,for Nero, always the showman with an artistic plan and an eye to his public, had another purpose. With these theatrical banquets he was deliberately recreating at Rome the notorious maritime delights associated with one place in the western Roman empire above all: Baiae, the pleasure capital of Italy.

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