The atrium, or fore-court, which some of the early basilican churches possessed, was probablysuggested by the similar feature in the Roman house. It helped to shut off the sacred buildingfrom the outer world, and, as we have said, provided accommodation for those of theworshippers who were not fully qualified to attend the service within the building. In cathedralsof later date the atrium still survives in the cloister, though its position has been changed. Thetwo ambos of the basilica are represented in modern churches by the reading-desk and thepulpit, situated on either side of the choir.In almost every feature, then, the Gothic cathedral plan of mediaeval times represents thenatural development of the old basilican church of the early Christians. One change should bementioned, which has been made in the position of the altar and of the bishop's seat. The earlyChristian basilicas resembled their prototypes, as the bishop occupied the seat in the centre of the apse, which had formerly been assigned to the chief magistrate ; this seat became, in fact,the bishop's throne, and was raised up above the level of the seats of the surrounding clergy,the altar, meanwhile, being placed centrally in front of the apse. In a few of the later churchesthis arrangement is still adhered to, as in S. Peter's at Rome, where the Pope's throne issituated in the middle of the apse, and the high altar occupies a position in front, under thecentre of the great dome. In western cathedrals generally, however, the positions have beenchanged: the altar occupies a central position against the wall of the apse, and the bishop isaccommodated elsewhere at the side of the choir.Great reverence was paid by the early Christians to the remains of the saint to whom the churchwas dedicated, whose baptistery and font ²usually a circular or polygonal building²adjoinedthe basilica. At a later period the shrine was placed under the altar, in the apse. In due coursethe belief in the efficacy of various saints led to the erection of secondary altars; and, the apsebeing recognized as the natural position for an altar, it became customary to build apsidalrecesses for its accommodation. At first the secondary apses were added on either side of thecentral recess, but as the main apse extended and developed into the choir, occupying the fullwidth of the building, the apsidal chapels were either relegated to the transepts or were rangedround the main central apse, an arrangement which became a special feature of Frenchcathedral architecture.The exterior of the basilica was treated in the simplest manner possible, with no attempt atarchitectural embellishment, while the interior depended upon the accessories for its beauty,rather than upon architectural form. The walls inside were rich with veined marbles, and brilliantwith mosaic²the most permanent of all forms of decoration, for the golden mosaics of theseearly basilicas are still undimmed after the lapse of centuries. The apse and the wall space over its arch-the triumphal arch, as it was called²were especially rich with pictures worked in thesesmall glass cubes, many of them almost childish in drawing, but all finely decorative.Inlaid marbles were used for the floor, in geometric patterns, forming a sort of mosaic known asopus Alexandrinum-a fine specimen of which may be seen in England in the presbytery of Westminster Abbey. In many of the buildings are found an odd mixture of columns and capitals,collected from the older buildings of pagan Rome : plain and fluted shafts are placed side byside, Ionic columns contrasting with Corinthian, as in S. John Lateran, Corinthian with Doric;small capitals upon large columns, shafts of different lengths raised upon bases of unequalheights, and so on; for, in Ruskin's words, "the architect of a Romanesque basilica gathered hiscolumns and capitals where he could find them, as an ant picks up sticks "²a heterogeneouscollection, sometimes, built up with little intelligent skill, guilty of little architectural style, butbrimful of history!