These are the relevant references from the Books where Bathhouses are mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
"Can you swim?" he asked.
"Yes," I said. Then I inquired, "How is it that you, a Tuchuk, can swim?" I knew few Tuchuks could, though some had learned in the Cartius.
"I learned in Turia," said Harold, "in the public baths where I was once a slave."
The baths of Turia were said to be second only to those of Ar in their luxury, the number of their pools, their temperatures, the scents and oils.
"Each night the baths were emptied and cleaned and I was one of many who attended to this task," he said. "I was only six years of age when I was taken to Turia, and I did not escape the city for eleven years." He smiled. "I cost my master only eleven copper tarn disks," he said, "and so I think he had no reason to be ill satisfied with his investment."
"Are the girls who attend to the baths during the day as beautiful as it is said?" I inquired. The bath girls of Turia are almost as famous as those of Ar.
"Perhaps," he said, "I never saw them - during the day I and the other male slaves were chained in a darkened chamber that we might sleep and preserve our strength for the work of the night." Then he added, "Sometimes one of the girls, to discipline her, would be thrown amongst us but we had no way of knowing if she were beautiful or not."
"How is it," I asked, "that you managed to escape?"
"At night, when cleaning the pools, we would be unchained, in order to protect the chain from dampness and rust, we were then only roped together by the neck - I had not been put on the rope until the age of fourteen, at which time I suppose my master adjudged it wise - prior to that I had been free a bit to sport in the pools before they were drained and sometimes to run errands for the Master of the Baths it was during those years that I learned how to swim and also became familiar with the streets of Turia one night in my seventeenth year I found myself last man on the rope and I chewed through it and ran I hid by seizing a well rope and descending to the waters below, there was movement in the water at the foot of the well and I dove to the bottom and found a cleft, through which I swam underwater and emerged in a shallow pool, the well's feed basin I again swam underwater and this time emerged in a rocky tunnel, through which flowed an underground stream - fortunately in most places there were a few inches between the level of the water and the roof of the tunnel it was very long - I followed it."
"On the other hand," said Harold, "I might like to stop by the baths."
"They are closed at this hour, are they not?" I asked.
"No," said he, "not until the twentieth hour." That was midnight of the Gorean day.
"Why do you wish to stop by the baths?" I asked.
"I was never a customer," he said, "and I often wondered - like yourself apparently if the bath girls of Turia are as lovely as it is said."
The room itself is very lovely and might have been one of the chambers in the renowned baths of Turia.
"Surely there are many Warriors in the city," said Kuurus.
"Yes," said Portus, "but they do little they are well paid, more than twice what was done before, but they spend the mornings in practices with arms, and the afternoons and evenings in the taverns, the gaming rooms and baths of the city."
the house I speak of is large, skilled and highly paid and their facilities are unparalleled in the City, both in size and appointments. They have interior baths which could rival the pools even of the Capacian Baths."
I have already mentioned the baths in the House of Cernus, which can rival some of the pools in the gigantic Capacian Baths, the finest of known Gor.
It was my intention to relax at the Capacian Baths, have a leisurely supper at some Paga tavern and then return to the House of Cernus. There was a little wench named Nela, usually in the Pool of Blue Flowers, whom I enjoyed sporting with.
Beneath the toweling Nela wore nothing; about her neck, rather than the common slave collar, she, like the other bath girls, wore a chain and plate. On her plate was the legend; I am Nela of the Capacian Baths. Pool of Blue Flowers. I cost one tarsk.
Nela was an expensive girl, though there were pools where the girls cost as much as a silver tarn disk. The tarsk is a silver coin, worth forty copper tarn disks. All the girls in the Pool of Blue Flowers cost the same, except novices in training who would go for ten or fifteen copper tarn disks.
There were dozens of pools in the vast, spreading Capacian Baths. In some of the larger pools the girls went as cheaply as one copper tarn disk. For the fee one was entitled to use the girl as he wished for as long as he wished, his use, of course, limited by the hours of the pool's closing.
After that we lay side by side for a long time, looking up at the bluish translucent dome of the Pool of Blue Flowers. There are, as I mentioned, many pools in the Capacian Baths, and they differ in their shapes and sizes, and in their decor, and in the temperatures and scents of their waters. The temperature of the Pool of Blue Flowers was cool and pleasing. The atmosphere of the pool was further charged with the fragrance of Veminium, a kind of bluish wild flower commonly found on the lower slopes of the Thentis range; the walls, the columns, even the bottom of the pool, were decorated with representations of Veminium, and many of the plants themselves were found in the chamber. Though the pool was marble and the walkways about it, much of the area was planted with grass and ferns and various other flora were in abundance. There were many small nooks and glades, here and there, some more than forty yards from the pool, where a man might rest. I had heard the Pool of the Tropics was an excellent pool in the Capacian; and also the Pool of Ar's Glories, and the Pool of the Northern Forests; there was even, of recent date, a Pool of the Splendor of the Hinrabians; I myself, however, with one arm about Nela, who nestled against me, felt content with the Pool of Blue Flowers.
I recalled Harold of the Tuchuks. The pools were beautiful, and yet I knew that somewhere, chained in darkness, were gangs of male slaves who cleaned them each night; and there were of course the Bath Girls of Ar, of which Nela was one, said to be the most beautiful of Gor. Harold, as a boy, had once been a slave in the baths, those of the city of Turia, before he had escaped. He had told me that sometimes a Bath Girl, to discipline her, is thrown to the slaves in the darkness.
She sniffed suspiciously. "You have been to the baths again," she said.
"It is true," I said.
"The Pool of Blue Flowers?" she asked.
"Yes," I said.
"Are the girls pretty there?" she asked.
"Not so pretty as you," I said.
"You are a sweet beast," she said. She looked up at me. "You will take me to the Pool of Blue Flowers sometime, will you not?"
"There are many lovely pools in the Capacian," I said.
Lydius is one of the few cities of the north which has public baths, as in Ar and Turia, though much smaller and less opulent.
Many men of the Tahari, incidentally, and interestingly, can swim. Nomad boys learn this in the spring, when the waterholes are filled. Those who live at the larger, more populous oases can learn in the baths. The "bath" in the Tahari is not a matter of crawling into a small tub but is more in the nature, as on Gor generally, of a combination of cleaning and swimming, and reveling in the water, usually connected with various oils and towelings. One of the pleasures at the larger oases is the opportunity to bathe. At Nine Wells, for example, there are two public baths.
Frightened though I was, I was pleased, in the lengthy process of the bath, which tends for Goreans to be a pleasant experience, and is often a social one, at the public baths, to rid myself of the stink of the pens.
Venna is a small, exclusive resort city, some two hundred pasangs north of Ar. It is noted for its baths and its tharlarion races.
"In the baths," he said, "I have seen the names of slaves and taverns scrawled on the walls."
"Oh?" I said, uneasily.
"And sometimes they are ranked in order of someone's opinion as to their desirability," he said.
Later in the afternoon, many men congregate in the baths. The baths in many Gorean towns are important social centers. Some are private, for a reserved clientele, but most are public, and their facilities, for a fee, are available to all free persons. They tend to be segregated, of course. Free persons of different sexes do not bathe together publicly.
I hurried along behind him. It was now late in the afternoon. The square was not crowded now. The public places and baths would soon be closed, I saw some men, some with clients in their train, leaving the square.
Also, the bath girl, and the sponge, oil and strigil, in most establishments, come with the price of the bath itself. The prices on the list on the wall seemed excessive, perhaps to a factor of five or more.
"I would like a bath, the sponge, and such, and a bath girl," I said.
"That will add two to your bill," he said.
"Should it not add four?" I asked.
"No bath girl," he said. "Because of the crowding, and the demand, we are using them as inn girls."
"I see," I said.
"You will have to sponge, oil and strigil yourself," he said.
"That seems somewhat barbaric," I said. Also it was hard to reach certain spots on the back.
"Times are hard," he said.
"Where are your baths?" I asked.
"Through there," he said, indicating a passage.
I closed my eyes in one of the second tubs, the cleansing tubs. There were five first tubs, and five second tubs. These were all large, shallow, round tubs, of clay, covered with porcelain, mounted on open-bricked platforms, each platform about a yard high. In this particular bath, adequate enough, I suppose, for the area, the fires beneath the bricked platforms were stirred, tended and cleaned with long-handled fire rakes. To be sure, it was late, and I suspected that the fires had not been tended since perhaps the eighteenth Ahn. The water, however, happily, was still comfortably warm. They would probably be built up again around the fifth Ahn. I had hung my wet garments on racks about the brick platform, behind the tub. They would probably be dry by now. Each tub was some seven feet in width and some eighteen inches deep. On a hook, behind me, kept for towels, and such, I had slung my scabbard.
More than one fellow, and even a Ubar or two, as history has it, had been attacked in the bath. The baths here, of course, were very simple, and primitive. For example, they were heated in the same room, and not in virtue of subterranean furnaces, heat from which would normally be conveyed upward through vents and pipes. Here, too, there were no scented pools, no massaging rooms, no steaming rooms.
Gorean baths are almost always segregated, incidentally, if only by the time of day. This does not mean that bath girls may not be available to tend to a strong male's various wants in the men's baths, or that handsome silk slaves, if they are summoned, may not appear in attendance in the baths of free women. A latticework separated the bathing area from the outer area. It was open now. I heard a fellow stirring in his sleep a few feet away, on the floor, near the bricked platform. Some seven or eight fellows, the latticework open, were sleeping in the bath area. I supposed they preferred the warmth of the baths to their spaces in the unheated levels, or lofts, of the inn. This sort of thing is not unusual in Gorean towns, incidentally, in cold weather, that folks should sleep in the baths.
There are many types of baths, and ways to take them, for example, depending on the temperatures of the tubs, or pools, and the order in which one uses them. A common fashion is to use the first tub for a time, soaking, and, if one wishes, sponging, and then, emerging, to apply the oil, or oils. These are rubbed well into the skin and then removed with the strigil. There are various forms of strigil, and some of them are ornately decorated. They are usually of metal and almost always of a narrow, spatulate form. With the strigil one scrapes away the residue of oil, and, with it, dirt and sweat, cleaning the pores. One then generally takes the "second tub," which consists of clean water, sponges away tiny remaining grime, residues of oil and dirt, and such, and then, luxuriating, soaks again.
If one has a bath girl, of course, she does most of these things for one. Sometimes the services of a bath girl, including massage and love, in whatever modalities the customer may elect, come in the price of the bath, and, at other times, as here, at the Crooked Tarn, I gathered, at least normally, they are extra. Needless to say, bath girls are almost always female slaves. Sometimes, in certain cities, free women, found guilty of crimes, are sentenced to the baths, to serve there as bath girls, subject, too, to the disciplines of such. After a given time there, after it is thought they have learned their lessons, and those of the baths, they are, commonly, routinely enslaved and sold out of the city. It is probably just as well. By that time they will have been, in effect, "spoiled for freedom."
He had chosen, too, I saw, not to come unarmed to the baths. It is thought to be very bad form, incidentally, to carry weapons in the baths, and, in large public baths, they must often be checked upon entry. On the other hand, I certainly did not blame him for carrying a blade into the baths, particularly in a place such as this. I had done so, myself.
"I take the first of the first tubs," said the fellow.
"I do not share tubs," said the fellow soaking in the tub, not too pleasantly. Most Goreans, in the baths, at least in their own towns or cities, do share tubs, of course. That is one reason the tubs are so large. To be sure, even in one's own area, one usually shares a tub only with friends or acquaintances. If the baths are crowded, of course, it would be only polite to share with one's fellow citizens. The same customs, of course, generalized even further, normally govern the use of pools, which, on Gor, are normally located at the baths, and, indeed, are usually considered a part of them.
"Nor do I," said the newcomer, climbing to the platform.
"Aiii!" cried the fellow in the tub, seized, and, in a moment, flung over its edge to the slotted wooden bath floor. He struggled to his feet, to see, in the half darkness, lit by a single lamp, and the reddish embers within the bricked platforms, the unsheathed sword now in the newcomer's hand.
"Stir up the fire," said the newcomer.
Hastily the ejected fellow seized a fire rake and poked about within the platform.
"Bring more wood," said the newcomer. "Then tend the fire. Do not leave until it is suitable."
From one of the large barrels to the side open near the bottom, the ejected fellow scooped out, and returned with, a bucket of wood chips, which he flung into the bricked platform. He then arranged these with the fire rake. He then returned the bucket to its place by the barrel and, from one of the wood bins, to the right, near the barrels, fetched an armload of kindling, then some narrow hardwood logs. In a few moments the chips were burning well. He then added kindling, and then, a bit later, thrust the narrow logs into the platform. He then, the reddish glow of the flames from within the platform reflected on his countenance, looked up, questioningly, frightened, at the newcomer.
"Get out," said the newcomer.
"Too," she said, "it is my understanding that information is sometimes furnished, for a fee, by some of the female proprietors of women's baths in Ar. Too, in some cases, Appanius is permitted to observe the women from a secret coign of vantage."
Certainly professional slavers on this world would customarily exercise great care in such matters, perhaps even having recourse to elaborate techniques of inquiry and espionage. It is rumored they sometimes work in conjunction with free women who manage baths, and such, patronized by free women.
To the right of the stream was an empty cisternlike, low, walled enclosure, a constructed pool, of some twenty feet in diameter. In this pool none were bathing. Near to it, on towels spread on the grass, were vessels, presumably of cheap oils and lotions. Too, on them, toward the edges, were a number of sponges and rags. Some small heaps of pebbles, doubtless from the stream, lay here and there near the towels.
Pani are often concerned with cleanliness. Indeed, Goreans, in general, take such matters seriously. Few Gorean cities are without their baths, public and private, which are sometimes extensive and luxurious, with shops, arcades, restaurants, gymnasiums, libraries, and such.
Closer to the center of the camp were private enclosures where free women might refresh themselves, bathing themselves or being bathed by serving slaves. Similar arrangements were available to free men, but were not enclosed. Goreans, on the whole, tend to be concerned with matters of personal cleanliness. In Ar itself, as in many of the larger cities, there are private and public baths. The best known public bath in Ar is the vast Capacian, almost a small city in itself with shops, restaurants, libraries, and gymnasiums. Slave pools, of various sorts, are, as one would suppose, very unlike the baths of the free, with their amenities, servants, and pools of different temperatures. In some baths catering to free women the chamber is perfumed and the water scented.
Port Kar has nothing of the great baths of Ar, but most Goreans take personal hygiene seriously, and, in the basement, there were several large tubs in which slaves, standing or kneeling in the water, might bathe their masters.
"You will not leave me in this place," said Talena.
"There is an alternative," I said.
"What is that?" she asked.
"That you are stripped and chained by the left ankle to one of the tubs in the inn's bathing chamber," I said, annoyed.
Comely bath girls, serving guests, is one of the pleasures of a well-appointed establishment. The girls, adept in the use of strigils, oils, sponges, towels, and such, are trained to bathe guests. A relaxing bath is commonly welcome after a long, hot, dusty trip. The bathing, in itself, is included in the price of the stay, but if the bath girl is put to slave use, it is a common courtesy to leave a tarsk-bit in the slotted, metal bowl near the door when one takes one's leave.