In seeking the origins of the celebrated portico-framed fora of Imperial Rome, John R. Senseney explores the earliest recognizable example of this architectural type, a lost porticus of the 160s BCE built by the victorious commander Gnaeus Octavius. Adrift toward Empire: The Lost Porticus Octavia in Rome and the Origins of the Imperial Fora adduces ancient testimony to aid our understanding of the purposes and formal appearance of this pivotal monument. While the author suggests that Octavius emulated a Hellenistic model, he does not posit that the patron necessarily sought to associate his triumph with those of his Greek forebears. Those meanings did, however, become attached to the building type by later viewers and the architects who created the Imperial fora. In order to appreciate this phenomenon, the author questions the usefulness of fixed categories like "Hellenistic" and "Roman" and argues for a history sensitive to the fluidic intentions and changing meanings of architecture.

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