Piscina Publica

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Map showing the Piscina Publica bottom right

In ancient Rome, the Piscina Publica ("Public Pool") was a public reservoir and swimming pool located in Regio XII. The region itself came to be called informally Piscina Publica from the landmark.[1] The piscina was situated in the low-lying area between the Via Appia, the Servian Wall, and the northeast slope of the Aventine Hill, an area later occupied by the Baths of Caracalla.[2]

There is some disagreement as to whether the reservoir was fed by one of several springs in the immediate area[3] or by the aqua Appia, the first public aqueduct built by Appius Claudius Caecus.[4] Located just inside the Porta Capena,[5] it was the first site for both communal water distribution and sports.[6] The aqueduct supplied water for wool processors near the piscina.[7]

Mention of a piscina publica was first made in 215 BC,[8] when the two city praetors moved their tribunals to the site, near where the senate was meeting with generals to discuss the ongoing Hannibalic War.[9] A reference in Festus indicates that it no longer existed in the 2nd century.[10]


  1. ^ CIL VI.975; Ammianus Marcellinus 17.4.14; Lawrence Richardson, A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), p. 332.
  2. ^ Samuel Ball Platner and Thomas Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (Oxford University Press, 1929), pp. 391‑392, in the LacusCurtius edition of Bill Thayer online.
  3. ^ Richardson, A New Topographical Dictionary, p. 291.
  4. ^ Mario Torelli, "The Topography and Archaeology of Republican Rome," in A Companion to the Roman Republic (Blackwell, 2010), p. 92.
  5. ^ Richardson, A New Topographical Dictionary, p. 292.
  6. ^ Torelli, "Topography and Archaeology," p. 92.
  7. ^ CIL VI.167; Stephen L. Dyson, Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), p. 67.
  8. ^ Livy 23.32.4 (in Latin); Richardson, A New Topographical Dictionary, p. 292.
  9. ^ T. Corey Brennan, The Praetorship in the Roman Republic (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 106.
  10. ^ Festus 213 (Verrius): "The name of the Public Pool remains today, but the pool itself does not."