Originally Posted by kronckew
The Roman Forum had a speaking area where rostrums from defeated enemy warships were mounted as trophies. You would literally stand on the rostrum to speak to the crowds at the Forum, hence our use of the term to mean a speakers platform.
You can still see the Rostra (named using the plural form of the neuter noun, since it was once adorned with several trophy beaks taken at Actium) today in the ruins of the Forum Romanum. History records that it wasn't only the beaks of ships that were displayed there. Recall the grisly fate of Roman statesman Cicero, who was assassinated in 43 BC on order of the Second Triumvirate -- his severed head and hands were displayed on the Rostra by Mark Antony, who was the target of Cicero's letters and speeches.