A forum (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
''forum'' "public place outdoors", plural ''fora''; English plural either ''fora'' or ''forums'') was a public square in a Roman municipium, or any civitas, reserved primarily for the vending of goods; i.e., a marketplace, along with the buildings used for shops and the stoas used for open stalls. Many fora were constructed at remote locations along a road by the magistrate responsible for the road, in which case the forum was the only settlement at the site and had its own name, such as Forum Popili or Forum Livi.

The functions of a forum

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. In that case it supplemented the function of a '' conciliabulum''. Every municipium had a forum. Fora were the first of any civitas synoecized whether Latin, Italic, Etruscan, Greek, Celtic or some other. The first forums were sited between independent villages in the period, known only through archaeology. After the rise of the Roman Republic, the most noted forum of the Roman world, the
Roman Forum The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Throu ...
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
itself, served as a model of new construction. By the time of the late Republic expansions refurbishing of the forums of the city had inspired Pompey 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 Pompey). The structure was the forebearer to Julius Caesar's first Imperial forum and the rest to follow. Other major fora are found in Italy; however, they are not to be confused with the piazza of the modern town, which may have originated from a number of different types of ancient civic centers, or more likely was its own type. While similar in use and function to fora, most were created in the Middle Ages and are often not a part of the original city footprint. Fora were a regular part of every Roman province in the Republic and the
Empire An empire is a sovereign state consisting of several territories and peoples subject to a single ruling authority, often an emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ...

, with archaeological examples at: *
Forum Forum (plural forums or fora) may refer to: Common uses * Forum (legal), designated space for public expression in the United States *Forum (Roman), open public space within a Roman city **Roman Forum, most famous example *Internet forum, discus ...
of Plovdiv, Bulgaria *Roman Forum, Philippi, Forum of Philippi, Philippi, Greece *Roman Forum (Thessaloniki), Forum of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece *Roman Forum, Beirut, Forum of Beirut, Lebanon *Roman Forum (Mérida), Forum and Roman Provincial Forum, Mérida, Provincial Forum of Mérida, Spain *Colonial forum of Tarraco, Colonial forum and Provincial forum of Tarraco, Provincial forum of Tarragona, Spain 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 Maximus, 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

* Basilica * Roman baths * Roman temple * Triumphal arch * Victory column

Equivalent spaces in other cultures

* Agora * Civic center * Internet forum * Piazza * Plateia * Plaza * Town square

See also

* Amphitheatre * Circus (building), Circus * Hippodrome * Roman theatre (structure), Theatre * ''A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum''


External links

{{Ancient Rome topics Ancient Roman forums, Urban studies and planning terminology Ancient Roman city planning