public buildings and
the spaces of the gods
The Forum was the pre-eminent place where Roman citizens gathered and met every day.
Normally occupied by a rectangle-shaped plaza surrounded by porticoes, as well as being the principal place of trade, the Forum provided the setting for all the most important public activities, and therefore contained the structures where they were carried out. Because of its centrality, it was also the place that lent itself more than any other to the display of state power (first Republican and later Imperial) and the glorification of the great patrician families, who competed for the privilege of being hallowed in the Forum with the dedication of commemorative monuments. In ancient Rome, the connection between politics and religion was unavoidable, to the point that the Senate meetings had always to be held within a consecrated space. A sanctuary might therefore fulfil not only strictly religious functions, as we intend them today, but also be used for other purposes that needed special divine protection.