Roman Remedies for Hot Summers Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Roman culture

The Romans were no strangers to the summer heat.

In fact, the modern term: “the dog days of summer”” actually comes from the Latin ‘dies canincula’, the Roman term used to describe the stuffy, hot period of weather between July and mid-August.

The name comes from the fact that Sirius (the dog star) rises with the sun at this time of year, –and Romans thought it was responsible for the increase in temperature.


1. Frigidarium

The Frigidarium (1890) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

The Frigidarium (1890) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

The frigidarium was a large cold pool at the Roman baths where Romans went to cool down. For the Romans, a daily visit to the baths was an essential social event as much as it was an exercise in personal hygiene.

Modern alternative: Head to your nearest outdoor swimming pool. Toga optional.

2.Leave work early

Office Work.

Office Work.

The Ancient Romans did not do a nine-to-five day. In fact, the average Roman only had a six-hour workday, from sunrise until noon.

Modern alternative: Create an excuse to leave work early. Carpe diem!

3.Eat snow

Snow on the mountains of Southern California.

Snow on the mountains of Southern California.

While the rich patricians and Roman nobility would often have huge stores of imported snow at home to keep them cool, citizens had to visit the snow shop.

Modern alternative: Visit the ice-cream shop.

4.Turn on the air conditioning

Air conditioning units outside a building.

Air conditioning units outside a building.

The Romans were master architects and kept their homes cool during the summer months by employing a series of architectural tricks that provided ancient forms of air conditioning. For example, some rich residents pumped cold water through the walls of their homes to freshen their dwellings during the summer months.

Modern alternative: Turn on the air conditioning. Alternatively, if you don’t have air con, get someone to fan you with ostrich feathers.

5.Leave the city


Many wealthy Romans escaped the heat of the summer months by going to their country houses in the hills outside Rome. –Ancient Rome was a furnace in summer and the city’s wealthy patricians were fully aware of what is known today as the “urban heat island effect”.” They would retreat to coastal cities like Pompeii.

Modern alternative: Modern day plebs can book a weekend away in the countryside, while modern day patricians can just visit their country houses.


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About the Author: Brittany Britanniae

Hello There! Please feel free to ask me anything about Latin Grammar, Syntax, or the Ancient World.


  1. Andrew:

    Oh, man! There’s a heatwave here in Europe and hoped for some top tips. The most appropriate from the list are eat ice cream (done!) and leave the city – maybe to Iceland?