All together, there are 108 sculptural niches in the Baths of Caracalla, with 41 niches supplied with water. This suggests that they held fountain sculptures. Even more sculpture stood on the floor, and the even the bath basins and furniture were sculpted out of stone. Not surprisingly, the areas of the frigidarium and natatio, which lay at the center of the plan, contained the most extravagant decorations, and was the most important area sculpturally. It is here, near the room between the frigidarium and the palaestra, that the famous "Weary Hercules" stood. These "Weary Hercules" consist of two sculptures of Hercules. One, the Farnese Hercules, is shown here:
It can now be found at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples and is a Roman copy of the Greek original. Behind his back, Hercules holds the golden apples, signifying the end of his twelve labors. Hence, he is "weary" from all of the hard work that he has done.
One of the more famous sculptures from the Baths of Caracalla is the "Farnese Bull" which portrays the binding of Dirce from Greek mythology. This statue was placed in the center of one of the palaestra and serves as a classic example of the sculptural style of the 3rd century AD with its late baroque tendency for height, traditional materials (marble), and 3-D facade. This piece could be seen from the frigidarium and from the opposite palaestra through the main horizontal axis.
In addition, several other pieces have been recovered from the Baths. These include:
Achilles with the body of Patroclus (below)
And the Goddess Flora (below)
All of these sculptures were part of a grand design with a system of hierarchy. We cannot fully understand what role they played when the place that they occupied within the baths is not known because part of the significance of the sculpture depends upon its location in the baths. One can only admire them for their aesthetic beauty, rather than their value to the complex as a whole.
Finally, we'll look at the ceilings.
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