The copious literature on Rome's water supply extends back to Sextus Julius Frontinus's treatise on the ancient aqueducts, written late in the first century. Frontinus memorably remarked, “With such an array of indispensable structures carrying so many waters, compare, if you will, the idle Pyramids or the useless, though famous, works of the Greeks.” The Waters of Rome shares much with Frontinus's book, the fons et origo of studies on Rome's hydraulic infrastructure, including the emphasis that Katherine Rinne places on engineering over art and utility over display. In stressing utility, she also recalls Vitruvius, who considered water to be “the chief requisite for life, happiness, and for everyday use.”

By comparison with the...

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