The Forum Romanum

The Roman Forum, often simply called the Forum, was once the administrative center of Rome, and thus of the world. Indeed, a structure called the Umbilicus, a round tower faced in marble, stands in its northern corner to mark the center of the Rome, and thus of the world. The Forum is an open space, surrounded by monumental buildings, around which runs the Sacred Way. The open area is roughly rectangular, running from northwest to southeast.

In the northern corner stands the Curia Julii, the Senate House, which is a restoration by Diocletian of a structure originally built by Julius Caesar. The long sides of the Forum are closed by two basilicae; in the northeast, the Basilica of Aemilius, and, in the southwest, the Basilica of Julius. These are rectangular, columned buildings, with shops set into the outer walls and law courts within.

In the southeast, the temple of Julius Caesar stands in front of the Regia, the residence of the pagan pontiff, and the temple of Vesta and house of the Vestal Virgins. In the northwest stands the rostra, a high stone platform from which orators address the Roman people. It is adorned with statues of gods and Emperors. At its northern end stands the Umbilicus, mentioned above, while at the southern end stands a gilded column, the Miliarium Aureum, which was erected by Augustus as the symbolic point from which the roads of the Empire began. The column is carved with the names of the principal cities, and their distances from the gates in the city wall.

Two other sites are particularly important to the Kindred of Rome. The first is the Lapis Niger, a slab of black marble, fenced off with white marble, which lies in the surface of the Forum in front of the Senate House. The mortals believe that this is the tomb of one of the early kings, possibly Romulus himself, but the Kindred know differently. Originally, it was a column of black rock, at which Remus solemnized his pact with the Striges. When Senex overthrew the Traditores and voided the pact, he also overturned the column, leaving only its base intact. It stood guarded by stone lions during the Republic, but was hidden underground during the early days of the Empire. The location remains cursed; anyone, mortal or Kindred, touching the column itself, or standing on the marble slab, attracts the hostile attention of the Striges.

The second is the Lacus Curtius, an area near the center of the Forum marked off with a marble railing and surrounded by altars. The mortal inhabitants of Rome have several legends concerning the origins of this location, one claiming that a chasm opened up spontaneously, and a youth called Curtius rode his horse into it, sacrificing himself for the city. The story the Kindred tell is much more mundane. When Necropolis was first being constructed, not all the Kindred had the necessary skills as miners. A certain Curtius, generally thought to be a Nosferatu, tunneled under the Forum, but left the ceiling too weak. During a great gathering of the people of Rome, the roof collapsed, and Necropolis swallowed many lives.

Senex ordered all the passages leading to the opening from Necropolis to be sealed, and these walls can still be seen. However, there were some passages that could only be accessed through that tunnel, passages private to Curtius. Persistent legends tell of great treasures hidden there, or great threats: the wealth of Troy, brought by Aeneas, or the resting place of Remus, for example. Experienced Kindred tend to mock such rumors, but younger vampires occasionally try to get into the old tunnels.

The Forum Romanum

Blood of Rome Darkfool