Forum (Roman)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A forum (Latin, "marketplace"; pl. fora) was the public space in the middle of a Roman city.

In addition to its standard function as a marketplace, a forum was a gathering place of great social significance, and often the scene of diverse activities, including political discussions and debates, rendezvous, meetings, et cetera.

Modelled on the Roman Forum in Rome itself, several smaller or more specialised forums appeared throughout Rome’s archaic history. By the time of the late Republic expansions and refurbishing of the forums of the city had inspired Pompeii Magnus to create the Theatre of Pompey in 55 BC. The Theatre included a massive forum behind the theatre arcades known as the Porticus Pompei (Colonnades of Pompeius). The structure was the forebearer to Julius Caesar's first Imperial forum and the rest to follow. Major forums are to be found in Italy, however are not to be confused with the piazza of the modern town. While similar in use and function, most were created in the Middle Ages and are often not a part of the original city footprint. Forums were a regular part of every Roman province in the Republic and the Empire, with archaeological examples at:

thumb|300px|Wall painting from Pompeii depicting everyday activities in the marketplace

In new Roman towns the Forum was usually located at, or just off, the intersection of the main north-south and east-west streets (the Cardo and Decumanus). All fora would have a Temple of Jupiter at the north end, and would also contain other temples, as well as the Basilica; a public weights and measures table, so customers at the market could ensure they were not being sold short measures; and would often have the baths nearby. At election times, candidates would use the steps of the temples in the forum to make their election speeches, and would expect their clients to come to support them.

Typical forum structures

Equivalent spaces in other cultures

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Forum (Roman)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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