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market and meeting place in ancient Roman towns in Italy and later in the provinces, corresponding to the Greek agoraagora
[Gr.,=market], in ancient Greece, the public square or marketplace of a city. In early Greek history the agora was primarily used as a place for public assembly; later it functioned mainly as a center of commerce.
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. By extension the word forum often indicates the meeting itself in modern usage. The forum was usually square or rectangular in shape and had, among other buildings, a basilica with shops, the public treasury, the curia, and a prison; under Greek influence colonnades were introduced.

The old Roman Forum extended into a marshy valley from Capitoline Hill along the Palatine Hill. When, much later, the Basilica of Constantine was added it reached almost to the Colosseum. The valley between the hills was crossed by a small stream emptying into the Tiber, which drained the area and was canalized underground (probably in the 6th cent. B.C.) to become the great sewer, the Cloaca Maxima (a portion of which still exists). At the south end of the Forum was the house of the vestal virgins and nearby the temple of Vesta. West of the temple, as an entrance to the Forum proper, was the Arch of Augustus, having on one side the temple of deified Julius Caesar and on the other that of Castor and Pollux. Behind it was a building, now the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua, with fine 8th-century frescoes. Along the southwest side of the Forum was the Basilica Julia, and along its northeast side were the Basilica Aemilia and the curia, where the senate met. The Forum was closed to the northwest by the Arch of Septimius Severus and by the rostra (platforms adorned with beaks of captured vessels), from which tribunes, consuls, and orators made their speeches. Beyond them, toward Capitoline Hill, were temples, among them the Temple of Concord and the temple of Saturn, housing the treasury.

In imperial times the old Forum became inadequate; the emperors built new forums to the northeast, from the Basilica of Constantine to the valley between the Capitoline and Quirinal. On the southeast were the Forum of Vespasian with the Temple of Peace surrounded by a colonnade; next the Forum of Nerva; then that of Augustus with the temple of Mars. Southwest was the smaller Forum of Julius Caesar, a colonnade enclosing the temple of Venus. Beyond the Forum of Augustus was the Forum of Trajan, a vast colonnaded square; then the Basilica Ulpia; then the two libraries with, between them, the Column of Trajan, which is still standing. The temple of Trajan closed the Emperors' Forums to the northwest.

In the 4th cent., the decay of the old Forum began; earthquakes, fires, and the barbarian invasions completed its destruction. In the Middle Ages materials from the forums were used to build new monuments throughout the city. Only in the 19th and 20th cent. were systematic excavations made to bring to light what was left. The forums are now, with the Palatine and Colosseum, an imposing complex of ruins, testifying to the magnificence of ancient Rome.


See M. Grant, The Roman Forum (1970).

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A Roman public square surrounded by monumental buildings, usually including a basilica and a temple; the center of civic life was often purely commercial.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in the cities of Ancient Rome, the main city square, which functioned as the marketplace and the center of political life. In Rome itself, there were several forums that served only as marketplaces. Forums usually contained the temples of the patron gods of the city, basilicas for legal proceedings and other purposes, and buildings for senate or city government meetings. The squares were surrounded by porticoes and decorated with statues. In the imperial period the number of forums increased, and the forum in Rome gradually became a complex ceremonial ensemble dedicated to the military glory of the emperor Trajan.

In a figurative sense, a forum is an assembly or public meeting.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


forum of Trajan, Rome, circa 110 A.D.
A Roman public square surrounded by monumental buildings, usually including a basilica and a temple; the center of civic life. A forum sometimes was purely commercial in aspect.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. (in South Africa) a pressure group of leaders or representatives, esp Black leaders or representatives
2. (in ancient Italy) an open space, usually rectangular in shape, serving as a city's marketplace and centre of public business
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(Plural "fora" or "forums") Any discussion group accessible through a dial-in BBS (e.g. GEnie, CI$), a mailing list, or a Usenet newsgroup (see network, the). A forum functions much like a bulletin board; users submit postings for all to read and discussion ensues.

Contrast real-time chat or point-to-point personal e-mail.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (

Internet forum

A website that provides an online exchange of information between people about a particular topic. It provides a venue for questions and answers and may be monitored to keep the content appropriate. Also called a "discussion board" or "discussion group," an Internet forum is similar to an Internet newsgroup (see below), but uses the Web browser for access. Before the Web, text-only forums were common on bulletin boards and proprietary online services. However, Internet forums include all the extras people expect from the Web, including images, videos, downloads and links, sometimes functioning as a mini-portal on the topic.

Forums can be entirely anonymous or require registration with username and password. Messages may be displayed in chronological order of posting or in question-answer order where all related answers are displayed under the question (see message thread).

Forums/Newsgroups vs. Chat Rooms
Forums are like Usenet "newsgroups," the original Internet discussion groups, and both systems keep postings online for some period of time. Users can scroll back in time and do not have to be logged in the moment they are posted. In contrast, chat rooms are interactive, real-time sessions, and users must be present to read them. See newsgroup and chat room.

Turn a Site into a Forum
There is a variety of forum creation software for the Web, typically written in Java, PHP, Perl or ASP. The software can be used to create forum-only sites or to add a discussion section to any Web page. See Google Groups and Reddit.
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