Curing Nero : a cold drink in context
Classical Association of Ireland
Pliny the Elder describes how it was the emperor Nero who first discovered how to use snow to produce a pleasant drink of cold water so that one did not have to drink the snow itself also (NH 31.40). This has traditionally been interpreted as a sign of his love of luxury. Similarly, Tacitus describes the decision by Nero to bathe in the spring feeding the Aqua Marcia aqueduct as another symptom of his excess also (Ann. 14.22), and modern commentators seem generally inclined to accept this judgement. The present note argues that these incidents may be more closely than is usually assumed, and that, in accordance with the rise in popularity of cold remedies, including cold baths, during Nero’s reign, they record different aspects of his medical treatment during an incident of illness rather than examples of his love of luxury.
Nero , Rome , cold , water , Tacitus , Pliny , medicine
Woods, D., 2009. Curing Nero : a cold drink in context. Classics Ireland, 16 (2009), pp.40-48.