The Forum was an essential part of public life. It was a place where Romans could shop, worship, and spectate gladiators from impromptu wooden bleachers. Classicism heavily influenced the buildings and statues in this space, and was perhaps employed as a way of adopting the grandeur (and therefore power) of the Greeks’ from the height of their culture.
Prominent rulers would create their own forums that branched from the central Roman forum as a way of legitimizing their power from its proximity. For example, Augustus ensured that visitors to his forum would have to pass through Julius Caesar’s, as a way of impressing the direct lineage of his power from his predecessor’s.Augustus further established his power by taking grand, historical statues from throughout the empire and placing them within his forum.
By far the most extravagant Roman forum, the Forum of Trajan was created to aggrandize the Dacian Wars by highlighting the substantial financial gains Trajan won through them. Further, as the Greeks had achieved with the Erechtion and use of caryatid columns, Trajan employed captive Dacian figures as the bearers of his structures’ attics.