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Quo Vadis: a narrative of the time of Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz
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evening before he had been at one of Nero's feasts, which was prolonged
till late at night. For some time his health had been failing. He said
himself that he woke up benumbed, as it were, and without power of
collecting his thoughts. But the morning bath and careful kneading of
the body by trained slaves hastened gradually the course of his slothful
blood, roused him, quickened him, restored his strength, so that he
issued from the el├Žothesium, that is, the last division of the bath, as
if he had risen from the dead, with eyes gleaming from wit and gladness,
rejuvenated, filled with life, exquisite, so unapproachable that Otho
himself could not compare with him, and was really that which he had
been called,--arbiter elegantiarum.

He visited the public baths rarely, only when some rhetor happened there
who roused admiration and who was spoken of in the city, or when in the
ephebias there were combats of exceptional interest. Moreover, he had
in his own "insula" private baths which Celer, the famous contemporary
of Severus, had extended for him, reconstructed and arranged with such
uncommon taste that Nero himself acknowledged their excellence over
those of the Emperor, though the imperial baths were more extensive and
finished with incomparably greater luxury.

After that feast, at which he was bored by the jesting of Vatinius with
Nero, Lucan, and Seneca, he took part in a diatribe as to whether woman
has a soul. Rising late, he used, as was his custom, the baths. Two
enormous balneatores laid him on a cypress table covered with snow-white
Egyptian byssus, and with hands dipped in perfumed olive oil began to
rub his shapely body; and he waited with closed eyes till the heat of
the laconicum and the heat of their hands passed through him and
expelled weariness.