Roman Forum (Republican)
Forum Romanum (The Republican Period)
The political, institutional, constitutional and symbolic centre of the Roman state in the Republican period (Dion. Hal. 3.67.3), the f.R. was a large open space formed already in the 7th c. (see f.R. Periodo arcaico) by the levelling of the floor of the valley of the Cloaca Maxima (q.v.) stream (Dion. Hal. 2.50.2). The principal legacy of this distinctive primordial landscape in the historical period was that the f. R. remained physically a topographically special place within the city, in a way that was not true of the agorà at Athens for instance. The neighboring districts retained the early designations of the muddy valley floor, Argiletum and Velabrum, throughout Antiquity; the two principal streets out of the f. R. towards the river and Rome's early port, the vicus Iugarius and the vicus Tuscus, hugged the hill-foot. The f. R. remained until the Middle Ages the space towards which the two most important of the Seven Hills, the Palatine and the Capitoline, faced and from which they were most easily and normally accessible, by means of the Sacra via and the clivus Capitolinus, respectively.
This separation of the Forum from the adjacent hills has been established by recent topographical research ( Coarelli, Foro Romano I, 226; Carandini 1986), and needs some stressing. The cult-places of the area Vestae and the Regia (qq.v.), forming a distinguishable temenos (Coarelli, Foro Romano I, 68; Carnabuci 1991) occupied an ambiguous position between the Palatine and f. R. (Regia in radicibus Palatii finibusque Romani fori; Serv. Aen. 8.363); at the other end, before the changes of the end of the Republic, the terrace of the lower slope of the Capitoline with the shrines of Concordia and Saturn seems to have been quite distinct from the f. R., and its open spaces may - the debate continues - have been the area supra Comitium linked with the ancient Volcanal (q.v.: Coarelli, Foro Romano I, 161-178, but see Castagnoli 1984; Richardson, Dictionary, 432 adheres to the older orthodoxy, and Purcell's acceptance of the Coarellian view (1989, 162) may have been too precipitate).
The antiquarian tradition identified a zone of septem iugera forensia (on the normal reading of Varro rust. 1.2.9, a jokey passage anyway). This is about 2 hectares, whereas the space of the imperial f. R. piazza, marked out with crepidines, was about 1.5 iugera (Giuliani - Verduchi 1987, 33-37, 39: 3755 m2). The Augustan and Imperial regio Forum Romanum also extended further, and we should probably be willing to associate in whatever way with the f. R. the economic zone of the late Republican Macellum (q.v.) to the north and the Velabrum (q.v.) to the south (which might help interpret the choice of the latter site for the foundation of the aedes Divi Augusti (q.v.) in A.D. 14).
The Roman tradition ascribed architectural changes in the Forum, appropriately, to the time of the establishment of the Republic (also considered in the preceding article). Thereafter there is a lacuna in the record of development of the f. R. (though there is more evidence for the Comitium, q.v.) which coincides with a period in which Rome is generally thought neither to have been economically powerful nor more than locally ambitious. It is now clear from the remains that the aedes Castorum (q.v.), traditionally of 484/3 B.C. but vowed in 499, did indeed date from the beginning of the 5th c., and that it was even in its first phase little smaller than the grand building which survives today. The ancient sanctuaries of Saturn, and Vesta (qq.v.), and their associated cult-places, on the lowest slopes of the adjacent hills, were relatively small in scale, topographically separate - as we have seen - from the early Forum, and architecturally not organically related to it in their early state.
The aedes Castorum therefore acquires considerable importance as being the most ambitious monument of the f. R. proper for many decades. This in turn enables us to assert, given the undoubted early phases and significance of the Comitium, that already at the start of the Republic the f. R. was oriented on the alignment of the Sacra via (and in turn on the augural line of sight, Coarelli , Foro Romano I, 97-110), a spine running across it as the Panathenaic Way did across the agorà at Athens (Purcell 1989, 159), and it was not, as a whole, a precinct whose bounds a throughway would be unable to cross (pace Castagnoli 1988, 88). It is not clear, however, what part was played within the open space of the early f. R. by ritually demarcated zones with precise boundaries, like the meeting places of other Mediterranean cities (against, Purcell 1989, 158). The Comitium was one place of this sort. There are various lines of holes or pits in the various pavements, which may represent barriers of different kinds ( Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 130f., reading Varro's septem iugera (rust 1.2.9, above) as saepta iugera), while the first state of the forum of the colonia at Cosa seems to have been delimited by trees (Brown 1980, 24, 27), and we hear of cancelli Fori in 56 BC (Cic. Sest. 124). Whatever the nature of the subdivisions (and it is clear that the f. R. as inaugurated space, already implied by the central function of the Sacra via, should have had some precise limit), it seems clear that the enclosure of the Comitium, and its surroundings, and the roadways of the area, and the open space as far as the aedes Castorum, all constituted a tract of land whose architectural openness seems to have been from the start linked to a juridically public status of some kind. The tradition of state-ownership -- and political control -- of property in this neighborhood was ancient and tenacious: the tabernae had been let by the state from the regal period (Vitr. 5.1.1, cf. Dig. 18.1.32); the plots owned by private citizens in the vicinity of the f. R. had been the gift of the kings (Livy 1.35.10) private houses here that exceeded the proportion consonant with a certain citizen-egalitarianism were demolished by the state; the atria attested in the vicinity have been taken, on the analogy of those excavated at Cosa, to have had a partly public function (see below).
The early f. R. was a defined space, but it was principally the buildings around it that provided the boundaries -- the sanctuaries, the tabernae and beyond them the houses of leading citizen-families. Throughout the Republic it was important that it was a largely enclosed precinct (closed by ropes: Dion. Hal. 7.59, App. civ. 3.30; barricaded by rioters: Cass. Dio 42.32.3; sealed by soldiers: Ascon. Mil.41, Cic. Phil 5.4.9). This in turn made the points of access important topographically, and helped to keep the general form and size of the f. R. reasonably stable. In the 5th and 4th c. it can only have been significantly larger than the space we think of from the late Republican and imperial monuments as being the f. R. piazza if we take the view that the tabernae (and the basilicae that replaced or incorporated them) were in, and not alongside, the f. R. In many ways the stability of the structure and function of the Forum was seen as a reflection of the diuturnity of Roman state structures: a reflection with many other aspects, to which we now turn.
The f. R. as topographical mirror of the constitution. C. Sempronius Gracchus memorably stated the role of the f. R. as mirror of the res publica in a political speech of perhaps 125 B.C., contrasting the institutions of ancient Capua with those of Rome. At Capua there had been two separate fora for the aristocracy and for the common people; at Rome those functions were combined in one (Val. Max. 9.5.4, ext. 4, with P. Fraccaro, "Studi sull'età dei Gracchi II", StStorAntCl 1 (1913), 117). The statement, given the period and influence of the speaker, is eloquent, and it suggests that it may be useful to present what we know of the f. R. on the thematic and historical lines suggested by the texts, with support from the archaeological record where it is available. It is now clear (and this is one of the principal achievements of the "Coarellian revolution", Purcell 1989, 160) that there is the closest relationship between the spaces of Rome's topography and the working of its social and political institutions: naturally, this effect will have been at its most intense in the f. R. (and on the Capitol), and it has recently even been asserted ( Ammerman 1990, 643-645) that the original genesis of the f. R. is formally inseparable from the inception of the city.
Archaeological evidence for the period before the 2nd c. B.C. is, however, confined, with the exception of the Comitium and the first structures of the temples of Saturn and the Castores, to certain fragments of the earlier forum pavements (see now Ammerman 1990), and the deposit beneath the piazza identified by Coarelli with the Doliola (Foro RomanoI, 282-286, 294-298), and various scattered finds without context, and a possible cistern behind the imperial Rostra identified by Coarelli (Foro Romano I, 207-222) with the Mundus.
The monumental record of the f. R. truly begins towards the end of the 4th c. B.C., when the f. R. underwent an architectural revolution, to the circumstances of which we shall return (it is worth observing that the historical exposition of Platner-Ashby begins only after the Second Punic War). It took the form of the replacement of the fourth, rectangular phase of the Comitium with the fifth, circular one, and of the equipping of the ranks of tabernae which delimited the f. R. piazza to N and S, and perhaps NW (in front of the Atrium Maenium and Titium) with porticoes and balconies. Significantly, the changes respected many aspects of the older topography. From this moment, the f. R. started to become a showplace for the past of the city, a place of record for an increasingly proud warrior aristocracy; but it is probably no more a coincidence that the changes followed the constitutional upheavals that the Roman tradition linked with the year 366 B.C. and the Licinian-Sextian legislation (cf. Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 142). The topographical and architectural emphasis of the f. R. was derived from the real contribution of the democratic element to the compound constitution of Republican Rome, above all through the functioning of political persuasion (cf. Millar 1984, 1986, and 1989). Equally, however, the senatorial activities were not confined to the Comitium.
The plebeian forum. At Rome, as in other ancient cities, the city was people, not walls or buildings. The citizen-body of the populus Romanus was the principal institution reflected in the meaning, layout, and function of the f. R. The breadth of the f. R., spacious from the beginning, was intended to accommodate mass-meetings, even if their composition and modalities for the early Republic are now irrecoverable. What we now know of the history of the Comitium (q.v.), however, attests the care with which provision was made at every period of the Republic for the assembly of a smaller subset of the citizenry in the closest juxtapostion to the meeting place of the patres in the curia Hostilia (q.v.): for the topography of senatorial life, Bonnefond 1983). The laying out of the Comitium in the circular form which became widespread in the ekklesiasteria of the cities of Greek South Italy was a specially significant step, and it is well-dated to the period of rapid change in Rome's ambitions and functioning that followed the Licinian-Sextian legislation and that has been attributed to the work of C. Maenius (RE Maenius 9) from 338 B.C. ( Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 12-21). The Comitium, beside the Sacra via and on the Capitoline slopes, is a part and a microcosm of the f. R. itself. But it needs to be understood alongside both the open space of the forum and the assembly-place of the area Capitolina (q.v.) at the top of the hill. The f. R. took its place in a sequence of political meeting places.
The principal type of mass-meeting was the contio (Taylor 1966, 15-19, 21-35). Formally speaking, however, the activities of the comitia tributa, the legislative assembly of the tribus, were the most important popular institution of the forum ( Taylor 1966, 40-45). This consultation, which involved voting, was what was meant by the formal phrase agere cum populo (Gell. 13.16.3), and it was this that had happened in the Comitium, before it was moved to the other side of the Rostra and the open space of the forum by the revolutionary gesture of the tribune C. Licinius Crassus (RE Licinius 52) in 145 B.C. ( Cic. Lael.96; Varro rust. 1.2.9). Plutarch's attribution to C. Gracchus of a parallel step by which the less formal exchanges of the contio were moved likewise (C. Gracch. 5.3) is tendentious and mistaken: such meetings had involved the f. R. since time immemorial (Taylor 1966, 22-25; contra, Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 158).
The aedes Castorum, with its high podium, became an important focus for political activity in the years following the new monumental emphasis on the east end of the f. R. that we now understand better thanks to the excavations of the lacus Iuturnae (first SC attested here 159, ILLRP 512). It lost nothing by the new uses of the forum piazza, and was rebuilt by L. Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus (RE Caecilius 91) after 117 B.C. The statue of Marsyas (q.v.) in the open space of the forum near the sacred precinct of the lacus Curtius (q.v.) was another focal point for plebeian ideology. But the Rostra, that is (until the time of Caesar) the outer curve of the cavea of the Comitium, were the principal centre of plebeian attention and aspirations, and even after the Caesarian and Augustan changes (see below), they remained a symbolic focus for the populus Romanus, whose Genius (q.v.) was worshipped in the close vicinity (Cass. Dio 47.2, 50.8).
Even when no meeting was formally being held, the f. R. was a talking-shop: Scipio Aemilianus attacked the armchair strategists amongst the rumour-mongers who were later known as subrostrani (Liv. 44.22; Cic. fam. 8.1.4). The varied and disreputable population of the different parts of the f. R. in the early 2nd c. forms the subject of a vivid picture in Plaut. Curc. 467-484.
The economic life of the area (which will receive separate treatment below), both flourishing and sordid, especially to the opinion of certain periods of Roman literary culture, was implicated in the formation of a distinctive plebeian social consciousness which we can just discern through the hostility of the sources. One of the sets of tabernae, built by the plebeian aediles, was known as plebeiae (Fest. 230L), and the decoration of the galleries on the tabernae Veteres by the painter Serapion was considered to be in accordance with a recognisably separate popular taste (Plin. nat. 35.113); plebeian interventions of a more direct kind include the adoption of the cult of the Stata Mater (Fest. 416L), the impromptu planting of shade plants which survived for more than a century in the unpaved gap where Caesar had removed an altar to make space for his games (Plin. nat. 15.78), and the proprietal atmosphere which we gain from stories like that of the crow from the cobbler's shop in the vicus Tuscus which performed an imperial salutatio each day and became a mascot of the f. R. crowd (Plin. nat. 10.121f.) This was not a managed civic space into which the plebs was allowed on sufferance and on their best behaviour; it was theirs in a more intimate way. The ancient conflict of the people of the Sacra via with those of the Subura for the head of the equus October (Fest. 190L) is one reflection of this: we note also that the funeral of Pompeius Strabo (RE Pompeius 14) in 87 B.C. was disturbed not by the plebs in general but by the populus Suburanus (Gran. Lic. 22). The areas in the forum valley north (the Subura) and south (the Velabrum, cf. Plaut. Curc. 483-484) of the f. R. were the home of the part of the plebs to whom the f. R. "belonged" (note too the canalicolae forenses of Fest. 40L), and it was to join "the crowd of lowly and poor" that C. Gracchus changed his address from the Palatine to "below the forum" when he became a tribune (Plut. Gracch. 12.1).
The plebs was, however, obviously dependent on the political elite, and much of the public life of the f. R. involved their displays of affection or hostility for politicians, or the simple accompanying of the great to and from their houses as they participated in business or ceremony. Thus at the transvectio equitum of 70 B.C. Pompey declared to the censors that his military service was complete - under his own auspices - to a gale of approval; the watching audience then escorted him home (Plut. Pomp. 22.6). In turn, the elite was on display here, through messages of every kind, which were meant to be understood by their popular audience, though few had the advantage of the detailed exegesis provided by Hostilius Mancinus (RE Hostilius 20), who had the comitas to stand in the f. R. beside the picture of his heroic role in the storming of Carthage, explaining it to passers-by: he was elected to the consulship on the wave of approval that resulted (Plin. nat. 35.23: other pictorial representations included the tabula Valeria on the side of the Curia; note also the dedication of a picture of the gladiatorial combats in the f. R. at the sanctuary at Nemi, Plin. nat. 35.52). But it was in the interests of such messages that the architecture of the f. R. was developed, and it is therefore to the aristocratic sponsors of that development that we now turn.
The aristocratic forum: private life. The heartland of aristocratic housing throughout the Republic was the Sacra via (q.v.), which formed a through route from the Capitoline Hill to the slopes of the Palatine Hill. There, to the east of the hearth of the City itself, at the Temple of Vesta, and the hearth of the King, the Regia, lay the hearths of the principal families of the city on the lower slopes of the Palatine and of the Velia. The tenacity of the character of this zone as a visible abode of the longest lineages of Roman history has now been revealed by Carandini's excavations (Coarelli, Foro Romano I, 11-26; Carandini 1986). Between here and the Capitoline slopes was the open space of the forum, open - and focal - as it seems, since before the Republican period began. Seen from the Palatine, the f. R. is a forecourt to the domestic zone of the aristocracy, through which ran the high road to the Capitoline home of Jupiter, principal shrine of the Gods who made the city prosper in peace and war. Indeed it appeared to one ancient commentator that in the good old days the f. R. had been the setting for all the transactions of the elite, and that the transposition of the business of patronage to the domestic sphere was a decline: mox forum et in domibus privatis factum (Plin. nat. 34.17).
The forum, then, must be understood, with the space around the Capitoline temples, as a complement to the domestic world. In particular, in the historical period, it had ties with the domus of the Palatine (and of the Velia, the Carinae, and the northern slopes of the Arx). Some of these, as we now know, were very close indeed to the f. R., such as the house of the pontifex maximus on the south side of the Sacra via and the house which Cicero bought in the celeberrima pars urbis next door; the house of the gens Valeria opposite (Coarelli, Foro Romano I, 79-83); the house of Annius Milo on the clivus Capitolinus (Cic. Mil.26.64), and indeed behind the tabernae of the fringes of the forum piazza itself there had been from an early date atria, probably mostly originally private houses of the sort that survived in the house of the Scipiones on the south side of the f. R. until the mid-2nd c. B.C. (Liv. 46.16.11) to be replaced or fronted eventually by basilicae. Such atria were, it appears, imitated in coloniae such as Cosa (Brown 1980, 33-37; Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 45, cf. 147f.). This domestic topography, which we have only begun to understand with the discoveries of the last decade, lasted, though in its final stages increasingly adapted to the nascent imperial period, until the fire of A.D. 64 (Wiseman 1987).
The great man was at his most visible as he went to and from his domus, and it was that that made houses whose postes gave onto highly frequented parts of the city so desirable. Mere wandering had its part to play: pace Richardson (Dictionary, 172), there is no reason to think that when Plautus (Curc.470-481) says boni homines atque dites ambulant, he intends us to think that they were "probably intent on serious business." This was the leisured behaviour for which more stylish and elegant settings were later provided on the campus Martius. The comings and goings of the family and their dependents, the display of their honors, and their participation in the ceremonies of the life-cycle, were all enhanced in this way. No occasion instantiates this better than the rites of final departure from domus and city community alike in the state funeral, to which the f. R. was central (160 B.C. Aemilius Paullus, Plut. Aem. 39; Lucullus, Plut. Luc. 43 Caesar, App. bell. civ. 2.143, Suet. Iul. 84, Cass. Dio 44.35.4).
The aristocratic forum: public life. Most of the exits and entrances of the powerful via the forum stage were all connected with the res publica. The public expression of the family life of the great houses was parallel to the attainment of the various stages of the public career. The scale on which the Roman elite responded to these opportunities may be gauged from the action of the censors of 158 B.C. who removed the statues of all magistrates from round the f. R. except those whose monument had been duly voted by either the senate or the people (Plin. nat. 34.30). The axis which patterned the f.R. was of course also first and foremost the route of procession of the triumphus which was the most splendid evocation of all of success in the service to the res publica.
We should not unneccessarily retroject this attitude. The aedes Castorum, although an ex voto for the Battle of Regillus, has plausibly been linked rather with the cavalry culture which late archaic Rome shared with other communities of the west at that time. In that case the equestrian tradition reflected in the honorific statuary of the f. R. and in ceremonies such as the transvectio may well be very ancient. The early honorific commemorations here were of those who had preserved Rome, like Horatius Cocles (v. statua) or died in the attempt, like the dead ambassadors to Fidenae (Plin. nat. 34.23-24). C. Maenius and his colleague in the consulship of 338 L. Furius Camillus (Liv. 8.13.9) received the "then rare honor" of equestrian statues in foro for their saving of Rome from the Latin threat. As in so many other ways, this period was a turning-point, when the columna Maenia and statues in Rostris were set up (Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 39-53), to be joined by the Marsyas that proclaimed the political achievements of C. Marcius Rutulus, cos. 310 (Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 91-119; RE Marcius 98), and the equestrian statue of Q. Marcius Tremulus (cos. 306, RE Marcius 106) outside the aedes Castorum (Liv. 9.43.22; Cic. Phil. 6.13; Plin. nat. 34.23). The celebration by the first dedication of rostra of the discomfiture of the Antiates, also in 338 (at which point Roman military success, as the Rostra so plainly showed, entered a whole new element) may be compared (Liv. 8.14.12).
After this pivotal age and the transformation of the Comitium, the monumentalisation of the f. R. no doubt proceeded in tandem with the growing ambitions and success of Rome. The accidents of the sources make the process seem more staccato than it was, though no doubt the fires - like those of 210 B.C. (Liv. 26.27.1-4) or 178 B.C. (Obseq. 8) - provided pivotal moments. The time of the First Punic War brought major works, including the monument of C. Duilius with further naval spolia (q.v.) and the tabula Valeria of 263 B.C. (Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 53-57). Monuments named after reges give way to ones named after basileis as Rome's ambit became more hellenic, and architecturally, the sequence of basilicas which began with the atrium Regium/basilica before 210 and which rapidly expanded in the 2nd c. with the basilica Porcia of 184 (Liv. 39.44.7), the basilica Fulvia (Liv. 40.51.5), the possible basilica Aemilia at the eastern end of the f. R. (Steinby 1987; cf. Carnabuci 1991, and for discussion and bibliography, Patterson 1992, 193) and the basilica Sempronia (Liv. 44.16.11), began to give the f. R. the appearance which it was to retain until the end of antiquity (on the debate on the origins of the Basilica, Gaggiotti 1985 and 1986; Zevi 1991, arguing for a 3rd c. context rather than a regal one for the atrium Regium). The extent to which the architectural intention either of the builders of the early galleries in front of the tabernae or the later basilicae was to give the impression of a porticoed piazza in the hellenic style remains unclear, but the use of the buildings for the display of spolia suggests ambitious aesthetic conceptions. At the same time we should recall the uses to which the basilicae were put in response to the changing nature of Roman public business.
With the anxieties of politics in the Gracchan period, investment in architecture in the f. R. could serve to reinforce conservative plans, as we may perhaps see in the new state of the aedes Castorum. There can be no doubt that this aim lay behind the monumentalisation of the lower slopes of the Capitoline at the expense of L. Opimius (RE Opimius 4). Our information on his aedes Concordiae, and basilica Opimia, and their relationship to the building history of the complex that we call "Tabularium," remain far from clear. The advertisement of triumphal success continued to be more and more desirable, and in this development the point at which the Sacra via - and triumphal procession - entered the f. R. was of special significance, and it was selected as the site of a splendid monument in the Hellenistic style, the first of Rome's monumental arches, the fornix Fabianus (q.v.), celebrating (121 B.C.) the dazzling combination through adoptions and marriages of the outstandingly successful 2nd-c. gentes Fabia, Cornelia, and Aemelia.
The gens Aemilia was indeed preeminent (Wiseman 1992): having emphatically made their mark through basilica-provision, they continued to treat their monuments as a place for further manifestations of magnificence, decorating both their domus and the basilica Aemilia with shields (Plin. nat. 35.13, probably 78 B.C.). Through restoring such buildings, ambitious curule aediles, who might also be providing theatrical or gladatorial games in the f. R., revived and redeployed the historical and political capital of their forebears and their monuments (the historical connexion being made especially prominent by the display here of the fasti). Particularly notable were Q. Fabius Maximus' (RE Fabius 110) restoration of the fornix Fabianus (Cic. Vatin. 28; ILLRP 392, 57 B.C.; Steinby 1987, 156-167) and L. Aemilius Paullus' (RE Aemilius 81) work on the basilica Paulli (54 B.C., Cic. Att. 4.16.8). The coins of moneyers in the late Republic likewise frequently evoked the monumental record of ancient lineages, and so preserve many details of use in the interpretation of earlier periods.
In the Sullan age, the drive to assert the power of a single political leader reached new heights. Sulla's plans transformed the Capitol (in response to the fire of 83), the Comitium (through the construction of the curia Cornelia, and the addition of a gilded equestrian statue to the Rostra, a step in which he was followed by Pompey), and the forum piazza, where a repaving is attested which must belong to this epoch, and with it probably the subterranean galleries (see below). At this point, the aristocratic consensus of display was doomed, and the way was paved for the dissolution of the f. R. as stage for the Roman hereditary elite in the age of Caesar and Augustus (v. f. R. The imperial period).
The f. R. had always been the center of the city, but its destiny was to be seen as that of the world: that was symbolized by the ancient sanctuary of the Mundus, on the terrace in front of the aedes Saturni, that found its final expression as the umbilicus Urbis (Coarelli, Foro Romano I, 208-226). This way of thinking cannot in fact be shown to have antedated the Augustan notion of a millearium aureum as the focal point of the radial road system of the imperium romanum (C. Nicolet, L'inventaire du monde 1988, 115). The ideology of competitive triumph among the Roman elite had turned Rome into the capital of a world state.
The forum as setting for formal spectacle. The close association between places of popular assembly and spectacle (cf. the orkhestra of the Athenian agora or the race-track of the Corinthian) made the f. R. a natural theatron for spectacles of all kinds. The height of the early temple podia may have provided early vantage-points (though they also guaranteed security from flooding): the provision by C. Maenius of the galleries (maeniana) that took his name was one of the salient features of the first attested monumentalisation of the forum as a space in the late 4th c. (Fest. 120L). The processions associated with the triumph and the ludi Romani may have been among the first such spectacles: both appear to have acquired a new grandeur and audience-appeal in the later 3rd century. By this time more commodious viewing arangements were provided by the development of the Rostra, and especially by the first basilicae, in the vogue for which the needs of the ludi probably played a part.
The forum was the principal, if not the exclusive, setting of gladiatorial combat at Rome from the 3rd c. to the building of an amphitheatre by Statilius Taurus in 29 B.C. (Ville 1981, 42-46; Golvin 1988, 298-313, with Welch 1991, 274f.). The first gladatorial munus attested was in the forum Boarium in 264 (Val. Max. 2.4.7); the funeral games of M. Aemelius Lepidus in 216 B.C. (Liv. 23.30.15) were in the f. R., which may reflect an interest in the standing of such events, but the practice may have been older (Vitr. 5.1.1). In the celebration with popular entertainment of the exequies of a great man (see above) the aristocratic and plebeian elements of the f. R. coalesced. The munus had incidental advantages for the elite, in that it appears that the tribunes arranged for the construction of temporary stands of seating around the f. R. for which tickets were then sold: in a populist gesture of 122 B.C., C. Gracchus attempted the removal of these seats by persuasion and then achieved it by force, to let the poor see without charge (Plut. C. Gracch. 12.3). This suggests that access to the galleries of the Basilicas was not free either at this date (confirmed by Vitr. 5.1.2). The value of the spectator space may be gauged from the grant of five feet in all directions around the standing statue of Ser. Sulpicius Rufus (RE Sulpicius 95) in front of the Rostra that was made as part of his posthumous honours to enable his children and descendants to watch the games. This would have been the new Rostra as built by Caesar, whose reworking of the f.R. created much new space for spectacles.
It cannot be shown that all gladiatorial displays here before the late Republic were funerary, but it is very likely. Some of these occasions were marked also by epula and ludi scaenici in the f. R. (e.g. Liv.41.28.11), such as the funeral of M. Aemilius Lepidus in 160 B.C. at which Terence's Adelphoe was performed (Ad. 183). For the banquets the f. R. was provided with triclinia, and in the case of bad weather, with tabernacula, as early as 184 B.C. (Liv. 39.46).
By the time of the anecdote of the supernatural news of the battle of Vercellae (30th June 101 B.C., Flor. 1.38.20-21, showing an interesting association of ideas between the wars fought by the populus Romanus and the fighting provided as a spectacle for it in the f. R.) such munera were relatively common; nor is it certain (pace Ville 1981, 382 f.) that all the venationes given by aediles or praetors in the late Republic were in Circo. The gruesome execution of the Sicilian bandit Selouros in the f. R. at an unspecified date in the Augustan period (Strabo 6.273) certainly involved beasts, though caged ones.
The escalation of elite competition in the last two generations of the Republic led to grandiose manipulation of the space of the f. R.: the equipping of the central piazza with the underground galleries and shafts to make theatrical entrances and exits possible is the one that left most mark archaeologically (Carettoni 1956-58). It has traditionally been linked with the hunting and gladiatorial displays of 46 B.C. for which Julius Caesar covered the whole f. R. and part of the Sacra via with awnings (Plin. nat. 19.23; Cass. Dio 43.24; against any such interpretation, Giuliani - Verduchi 1987, 53 f., and in favor of a Sullan date Wiseman 1990, citing Cic. Sest. 126: the cancelli fori of the same speech may equally be connected with provision for spectacles).
How many of the elaborate temporary theatre-structures attested at this period were built in the f. R. is unclear, but the f. R. could be regarded as serving the purposes of the permanent theatres which were provided after 55 B. C.: Verres supplied statues for use in the f. R. to the Metelli and Hortensius during their aedilates (Ps. Ascon. on Cic. Verr. II.1.58, p.238 Stangl), and Cicero regarded the ornamentation of the "Forum and Basilicas," by this time constituting an inseparable whole, a central part of the aediles' duties in providing spectacles worthy of the dignity of Rome and its people (Verr. II.4.133). The acquisition, either temporary or permanent, of famous Greek statues such as the Praxitilean Eros that C. Claudius Pulcher, aed. cur. 99 (REClaudius 302), borrowed from Messana (Cic. Verr. II.4.133), formed an essential part of this; cf. Vitruvius 2, dedication of artworks from Sparta in Comitio by Varro Murena (PIR1 T 74) as aedile. In this way too, the evolving function of the f. R. and its decoration transcended the local competition of politicians and tended increasingly to make statements about Rome's relationships with a much wider world.
The seat of justice. The f. R. was synonymous with legal justice: Forum in quo omnis aequitas continetur (Cic. Catil. 4.2). In the lists of forum-functions, it should be stressed, this is what comes first (e.g. Varro ling. 5.145; Fest. 74L). The tribunal of the praetor, originally in the Comitium, appears alongside the settings of the quaestiones in the outer f. R. in the 1st c. B.C. (Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 166-199). A prominent physical setting, the gradus Aurelii (q.v.), which functioned like the seats for a spectacle, was in place by 74 B.C., when it could be described as new (Cic. Cluent. 93). It is almost certainly the tribunal Aurelium which was made use of by Clodius to muster his supporters in 58 B.C. A connection with C. Aurelius Cotta, cos. 75 (RE Aurelius 96) or M. Aurelius Cotta, cos. 74 (RE Aurelius 107), in their praetorships or consulships, is tempting. In this case, the effect of the construction of the curia Cornelia on the old Comitium, the repaving of the forum piazza by a Cotta, and the consequences of the nomothetic activity of Sulla may also perhaps be adduced. There is no trace of the monument, which may not have been of stone in any case (it is not likely that the walls beneath the aedes Divi Iulii are connected, pace Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 196-199; Steinby 1987, 144-147, cf. Cecchini 1985), and it was probably removed during the Caesarian and Augustan transformations: the inscription of L. Naevius Surdinus (PIR N 16) suggest that the forum piazza was used for legal proceedings in the Augustan period, and they may have been transferred to the basilicae thereafter. In his aedilate of 23 B.C., Augustus' heir Marcellus' covering of the f. R. with vela is said to have been done ut salubrius litigantes consisterent (Plin. nat. 19.24).
A link between the praetor's tribunal and the famous puteal Scribonianum (q.v.), to be located in the north-eastern corner of the piazza, can also be traced from the late Republic, and has been invoked to support a date for the transferral of the judicial function from the Comitium closer to the turning-point in the history of the comitia tributa of 145 B.C. But the dating of this change to the tribunate of L. Scribonius Libo (RE Scribonius 18), 149 B.C. (Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 167-169) is not likely - linking the unsuccessful denunciation of Ser. Sulpicius Galba by the tribune Libo and the lex Calpurnia de repetundis is "suppositious" (Richardson 1987, 2). The primary job (at an unknown date) of the builder of the puteal was the consecration of lightning strikes (Fest. 448L), and even if we accept the view (only in Porph. Hor. epist. 1.19.8) that it was the wellhead builder who set up the tribunal, the only evidence of help in dating is the commemoration of the puteal on coins of ca. 62 B.C. (Crawford, RRC 416). Lites of some sort were still going forward in Comitio at the time of the suasio legis Fanniae of C. Titius, which may be referred to the promulgation of the law in 161 B.C. or (more likely) to a debate on whether to repeal it in the years around 123 (H. Malcovati, Oratorum Romanorum Fragmenta (1953), 201f.; Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 158-163), but it is unlikely that such activity was as exclusively linked to that location: the quaestio into the fire-raisers of 210 B.C. was held medio foro (Livy 26.27.9).
The f. R., forecourt to the Capitol as it was to the Palatine, was also in the closest association with the topography of punishment around the Tarpeian Rock (the location above the Carcer is undoubtedly right, pace Richardson, Dictionary, 377-378) and Carcer, and at least some exemplary punishments were carried out in the f. R. (Selouros, Strabo 6.273), which was also the place where some of the more gruesome displays of the Proscriptions were put on. The lacus Servilius (Hinard 1985, 44-45 and 1987; David 1984) was a place of public execution in the Sullan proscriptions, and the new Rostra were notoriously used for the displays of the victims' remains in the triumviral period (Flor. 2.16.5; Cass. Dio 47.3.2).
For Vergil, the f. R. with its record offices was the visible symbol of the part played by law in the untranquil public life of the city (georg. 2.501f.). Among the statues on the Rostra was that of Hermodoros of Ephesus who had helped prepare the decemviral laws (Plin. nat. 34.21; cf. Dig. 126.96.36.199). We should see the forum of the law and justice therefore as the complement not just of the aristocratic forum, where the noble judges gave their verdicts, but also as the place where the laws were guaranteed by the continuing institutions of state, and where they had been created by act of the populus Romanus.
Economic life. The f. R. was also deeply involved in the economic life of the Republican city. Closely connected to the original Tiber port, and through it to the wider economic networks of the Mediterranean, by the vicus Tuscus and vicus Iugarius, conceptually not remote from the overtly economic nature of the forum Boarium (and the prominence of tabernae lanienae in the tradition (Varro ap. Non. 853L) should also be set alongside the existence of a cattle-market as a precious datum in early Roman economic history), it was from early times (attributed to the regal period, Liv. 1.35.10; Dion. Hal. 3.67.3) surrounded by tabernae, equipped with porticus, or pastades, which became characteristic of the retail geography of the city (Purcell 1994). These tabernae (on the architectural history of which see s.v. below: those on the south side were believed to be older, and Platner - Ashby adduced the avoidance of the midday sun in the summer as explanation) were, moreover, given more emphatic architectural form at an early date, through the creation of the maeniana (Fest. 120L). The closing up of the tabernae, and expecially those of the f. R., was a part of the iustitium or suspension of the public business that indicated a state of emergency, and was retrojected in the tradition as far as 458 B.C. (Liv. 3.27.2). It is also attested in 427/6 (Liv. 4.32.1), 321/0 (Liv. 9.7.8), and in the troubles of the end of the Republic (Cic. dom. 54). That the tabernae were believed to have been a publicly-owned resource from the beginning is an important datum in the history of the f. R. as a plebeian space.
The streets around the f. R. constituted a market of considerable economic importance (already in the 3rd century, DeRuyt 1985, 236-250, though there was nothing inevitable about that, pace Platner - Ashby, 459: "like all the first streets in great cities, the Sacra via became in the process of time largely a street of shops"). The process actually reflected the commoditization of the raw materials of an elite lifestyle which was progressively extended socially through the ideology of benefaction as a sign of imperial success, and the parallel was with the Seplasia of soft Capua (cf. Varro Men. p.103 Riese; Plaut. Epid. 196-199; on the myropolia, butchers and bankers). By the end of the Republic the retail function seems to have been considered unsuitable for the forensis dignitas of the political heart of the city (Varro ap. Non. 532 L = vita pop. Rom. 2.72 Riposati) and to have been deliberately relocated (though for the long survival of butchers, Liv. 44.16.10). Tabernae of some sort were clearly retained in the late forms of the basilica Paulli, though these units had probably acquired political or administrative functions by the 1st century A.D. (Quint. 6.3.38). The devolution of the retail function was assisted by the development of the "imperial" fora: with the new political significance of the cultivation of the forensis dignitas in the Augustan period the process continued, with the creation of the horrea Agrippiana (q.v.) internal reference and later the development of the imperial horrea of the lower Palatine slope (for Republican precursors, Palombi 1990) and the "mercati Traianei" of the Quirinal.
At the same time the f. R. was the centre of the fiscal existence of the Roman state, right beside the aerarium Saturni; and the monetisation of Roman economic life equally had its heart there (note the term aes circumforaneum of Cic. Att. 2.1.11). The argentarii were in the tabernae by 310 B.C. (Liv. 9.40.16, with Maselli 1986, 91-94, 175 f.), and the f. R. functioned as a financial centre of high standing, as Cicero implies in needing to explain (Manil. 19) that "even our credit, even the ratio pecuniarum of transactions at Rome, and even in the forum itself" depended, unexpectedly perhaps, on the economic fortunes of Asia. If the emphasis of the sources is correct, the role of debt and usury in the political life of the middle Republic was one of the aspects of the struggle of the Orders most lastingly recorded in the monumental record of the f. R. (Coarelli, Foro Romano II, 39-53, 91-119).
Certainly there is no excuse for seeing the economic functions of the f. R. as standing independently of the social and political history of the Republic. The exchanges of the luxury market outlets of the Sacra via and Macellum can also be seen as epiphenomena of conspicuous consumption, early stages in the one-sided parasitism of an imperial city; and the questions of the nature of the Republican economy and its connexion with political and constitutional history, although undoubtedly to be read in the history of the f. R. area, must still be judged unresolved. If there can be no doubt of the involvement of all sections of Roman society in the economic life of the f. R. (an anecdote preserves a notice of the sudden death of a senator C. Servilius Pansa (RE Servilius 70), at a taberna with his brother at the second hour), there is no need to assert against the clear emphasis of the sources that the economic function was perceived as being either the oldest or the most important role of this place (pace Richardson, Dictionary, 170).
The forum as the arena of conflict. Given these various and central functions in Roman public life, it is scarcely surprising that the f. R. was also the scene of many of the conflicts of Roman political life. While the Comitium embodied the desired harmonious balance of the elements in the Roman system, and was made the location for edifying but legendary displays of concordia ordinum (Liv.5.7.9), the reality was perhaps better evoked by the stone lion which was believed to have been set up to honor the self-sacrifice of Faustulus, who had died in an attempt to defuse civil strife (Dion. Hal. 1.87.2). The Romans believed that this had been the site of a potentially disastrous battle between the Sabine and Roman communities, and monuments proclaimed the reconciliation of Romulus and T. Tatius (Serv. Aen. 8.641; Dion. Hal. 2.46.3; Fest. 372 L; Plut. Rom. 19.7. In vain. It was on the Rostra that a slave of M. Octavius (RE Octavius 31) was blinded in the riot that accompanied his master's deposition from the tribunate by Ti. Gracchus in 133 B.C. (Plut. Ti. Gracch. 12.5). In 131 B.C. at midday, when the f. R. - and the Capitolium - were uncharacteristically deserted, and the tribune C. Atinius Labeo (RE Atinius 10) seized the censor Metellus Macedonicus (RE Caecilius 94) on his way back from the campus Martius, and attempted to throw him from the Tarpeian rock (Plin. nat. 7.143-146). Here the worst violence of the last days of Saturninus took place. Here Clodius virtually fortified the aedes Castorum (Cic. dom. 54), and here the people turned the heart of the Republican monumental forum into a pyre for him in 52 B.C. The people smashed the statues of Sulla and Pompey from the Rostra in 49 (App. bell. civ. 1.97; Cass. Dio 42.18.2, 43.49.1; Suet. Iul. 75.4). The f. R. itself was barricaded and turned into a fortress by the plebeians during the agitation connected with the debt-alleviation measures of Cornelius Dolabella in 47 B.C. (Cass. Dio 42.32). The examples could be endlessly multiplied. In a last attempt to restore tradition, order and normality, in the months of plebeian paroxysm that followed Caesar's assassination and which saw the short-lived creation of an asylon where the dead dictator's temple was to rise, we hear both of the setting up in immemorial style of a statue of a Roman dead on public service, Ser. Sulpicius Rufus, on the Rostra; and alongside it, another of the teenage warlord who was to end that tradition for ever (Vell. 2.61.3). In the maturity of his power, he was to realise that the f. R. could never be fully converted, and could only be marginalised; which makes the imperial history of the f. R. a very different story, as Caesar Augustus intended.
F. M. Nichols, The Roman Forum (1877). H. Jordan 1.2, 195-429. O. Marucchi, Le Forum et le Palatin (1902). D. Vaglieri, "Gli scavi recenti nel foro Romano," BCom 1903, 3-239, 252-273. H. Thédenat, Le forum Romanum et les forums impériaux (1904). Ch. Hülsen, The Roman Forum2 (1909). E. B. Van Deman, "The Sullan Forum," JRS 12 (1922), 1-31. E. De Ruggiero, Il Foro Romano (1913). G. Lugli, Roma antica (1946), 55-184; Monumenti minori di foro Romano (1947). E. Gjerstad, "Scavi stratigrafici nel foro Romano", BCom 73 (1949-1950), 13-29; "Stratigraphic excavations in the Roman Forum", Antiquity 26 (1952), 60-64. E. Welin, Studien zur Topographie des Forum Romanum (1953). M. Grant, The Roman Forum (1970). F. E. Brown, Cosa, the making of a Roman town (1980). H. Broise - I. M. David, "Un plan du forum Republicain", in Architecture et société (1983), 243-246. F. Coarelli, Foro Romano I (1983). F. Castagnoli, "Il Niger Lapis", PP 39 (1984), 56-61. F. Coarelli, Foro Romano II (1985). M. G. Cecchini, "Tempio del Divo Giulio. La zona prima della costruzione del tempio", in Roma I (1985), 67-72. A. Carandini, "Domus e insulae sulla pendice settentrionale del Palatino", BCom 91 (1986), 263-278 = Schiavi in Italia (1988), 359-387. C. F. Giuliani - P. Verduchi, Foro Romano (1987). E. M. Steinby, "Il lato oriento del foro Romano", Arctos 21 (1987), 139-184. F. Castagnoli, Topografia (1988), 88. Nicholas Purcell, "Rediscovering the Roman Forum", JRA 2 (1989), 156-166. A. Ammerman,"On the origins of the Forum Romanum", AJA 94 (1990), 627-645. E. Carnabuci, "L'angolo sud-orientale del Foro Romano nel manoscritto inedito di Giacomo Boni" MemLinc 1.4 (1991), 251-365. G. Maetzke, "Struttura stratigrafica dell'area nordoccidentale del Foro Romano", AMediev 18 (1991), 43-200. L. Richardson, Dictionary, 170-174.
The f. R. as topographical mirror of the constitution. F. G. B. Millar, "The political character of the classical Roman republic", JRS 74 (1984), 1-19; "Political persuasion and the people before the Social War", JRS 76 (1986), 1-11; "Political power in mid-Republican Rome: Curia or Comitia?," JRS 79 (1989), 138-150.
The plebeian f. R. L. R. Taylor, Roman Voting Assemblies (1966). M. Bonnefond, "Espace, temps et idéologie: le sénat dans la cité romaine républicaine", DialA 1 (1983), 37-44.
The aristocratic f. R. M. Gaggiotti, "Atrium regium - basilica (Aemilia): una insospettata continuità storica e una chiave ideologica per la soluzione della problema dell'origine della basilica", AnalRom 14 (1985), 53-80; "Plauto, Livio, la più antica "basilica" del foro Romano e la politica edilizia degli Aemilii", in Roma I (1986), 56-65. T. P. Wiseman,"Conspicui postes tectaque digna deo: the public image of aristocratic and imperial houses in the late Republic and early Empire", in L'urbs (1987), 393-413. F. Zevi "L'Atrium Regium," ArchCl 43 (1991), 475-487. J. Patterson, "Politics and the City: the Forum", in "The city of Rome from Republic to Empire", JRS 82 (1992), 186-215, at 190-194. T. P. Wiseman, "Rome and the resplendent Aemilii", in Tria Lustra: Essays presented to the Editor of the Liverpool Classical Monthly (1992), 181-192.
The f. R. as setting for formal spectacle. G. Carettoni, "Le gallerie ipogee del foro Romano e i ludi gladiatori forense", BCom 76 (1956-59), 23-44. G. Ville, La gladiature en occident des origines à la mort de Domitien (1981). J. C. Golvin, L'amphithéatre romain. Essai sur la théorisation de sa forme et ses fonctions (1988). T. P. Wiseman,"The central area of the Roman Forum", JRA 3 (1990), 245-247. K. Welch,"Roman amphitheaters revived", JRA 4 (1991), 272-281.
The seat of justice. J. M. David, "Du Comitium à la roche tarpéienne. Sur quelques rituels d'exécution capitale sous la république, les règnes d'Auguste et de Tibère", in Le chatiment dans la cité; supplices corporels et peine de mort dans le monde antique (1984), 151-176. F. Hinard, Les proscriptions de la Rome républicaine (1985); "Spectacle des executions et espace urbain", in L'urbs (1987), 111-125. J. S. Richardson, "The purpose of the Lex Calpurnia de Repetundis", JRS 77 (1987), 1-12.
Economic life. C. DeRuyt, Macellum. Marché alimentare des Romains (1985). G. Maselli, Argentaria. Banchi e banchieri nella Roma repubblicana (1986). D. Palombi, "Gli horrea della via Sacra: dagli appunti di G. Boni ad un ipotesi su Nerone," DialA 8 (1990), 53-72. N. Purcell, "The plebs urbana;" Camb. Anc. Hist.2 IX (1994), 644-688.
The f. R. as the arena of conflict. A. W. Lintott, Violence in Republican Rome (1967).