Infobox Roman emperor
name =Emperor Hadrian
title = Emperor of the Roman Empire
full name =Publius Aelius Hadrianus
(from birth to accession and adoption);
Caesar Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus (as emperor)

caption =Bust of Hadrian
reign =August 10, 117 – July 10, 138
predecessor =Trajan
successor =Antoninus Pius
spouse =Vibia Sabina
spouse 2 =
issue =Lucius Aelius,
Antoninus Pius
(both adoptive)
dynasty =Nervan-Antonine
father =Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer
mother =Domitia Paulina
date of birth =birth date|76|1|24|df=y
place of birth =Rome or Italica, Spain
date of death =death date and age|138|7|10|76|1|24|mf=y
place of death =Baiae
place of burial =1) Puteoli
2) Gardens of Domitia (Rome)
3) Hadrian's Mausoleum (Rome)|
Nervo-Trajanic Dynasty


Publius Aelius Hadrianus [Inscription in Athens, year 112 AD: CIL III, 550 = InscrAtt 3 = IG II, 3286 = Dessau 308 = IDRE 2, 365: "P(ublio) Aelio P(ubli) f(ilio) Serg(ia) Hadriano / co(n)s(uli) VIIviro epulonum sodali Augustali leg(ato) pro pr(aetore) Imp(eratoris) Nervae Traiani / Caesaris Aug(usti) Germanici Dacici Pannoniae inferioris praetori eodemque / tempore leg(ato) leg(ionis) I Minerviae P(iae) F(idelis) bello Dacico item trib(uno) pleb(is) quaestori Imperatoris / Traiani et comiti expeditionis Dacicae donis militaribus ab eo donato bis trib(uno) leg(ionis) II / Adiutricis P(iae) F(idelis) item legionis V Macedonicae item legionis XXII Primigeniae P(iae) F(idelis) seviro / turmae eq(uitum) R(omanorum) praef(ecto) feriarum Latinarum Xviro s(tlitibus) i(udicandis)" //...(text in greek)] (January 24, 76 – July 10, 138), as emperor "Imperator Caesar Divi Traiani filius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus", and "Divus Hadrianus" after his apotheosis, known as Hadrian in English, was emperor of Rome from 117 to 138 AD, as well as a Stoic and Epicurean philosopher. A member of the "gens" "Aelia", Hadrian was the third of the Five Good Emperors, or the second of the recently proposed ulpio-aelian dynasty. [By Alicia M. Canto, "vid." [http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinast%C3%ADa_Ulpio-Aelia] and footnote 1, specially [http://www.ucm.es/BUCM/revistas/ghi/02130181/articulos/GERI0303120305A.PDF] ; see later [http://www.fondazionecanussio.org/palaestra/blazquez.pdf] , p.13 (2005) or [http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=2251672] (2006)] His reign had a faltering beginning, a glorious middle, and a tragic conclusion. [Following Hadrian: Elizabeth Speller, pp. 61–62]

Hadrian was born Publius Aelius Hadrianus in Italica [Alicia M. Canto, "Itálica, "patria" y ciudad natal de Adriano (31 textos históricos y argumentos contra "Vita Hadr". 1, 3", "Athenaeum" vol. 92.2, 2004, pp. 367-408 [http://dobc.unipv.it/dipscant/athenaeum/athenaeum.html] .] or, less probably, in Rome, [As Canto states, it exists only one ancient quote of Hadrian's birth in Rome (SHA, "Vita Hadr" 2,4, probably interpolated), opposite to 25 ancient authors who affirm that he was born in Italica. Among these ancient sources is included his own imperial horoscope, which remained in the famous Antigonus of Nicaea's collection (end of the 2nd. century A.D.). This horoscope was well studied by prominent authors as F. H. Cramer, "Astrology in Roman Law and Politics", Mem.Amer.Philos.Soc. nr. 37 , Philadelphia, 1954 (repr. 1996), [http://books.google.es/books?id=zv0UAAAAIAAJ&pgis=1 see] for Hadrian p. 162-178, fn. 121b and 122, etc.: "...Hadrian -whose horoscope is absolutely certain- surely was born in southern Spain... (in) SHA, Hadrian, 2, 4, the birth was erroneusly assigned to Rome instead of Italica, the actual birth-place of Hadrian"...", or O. Neugebauer and H. B. Van Hoesen in their magisterial compilation "Greek Horoscopes", Mem.Amer.Philos.Soc. nr. 48, Philadelphia, 1959, nr. L76, see now [http://books.google.es/books?id=kEgnLpm06zQC here, ed. 1987] pp. 80, 90-91 and his footnote 19. They came also to the conclusion that the astronomic parallel of the Hadrian’s birth is situated in the Baetica, today Andalusia: “..."L40 agrees exactly with the geographical latitude of southern Spain, the place of origin of Hadrian and his family..."”.. "since Hadrian was born in Italica (southern Spain, near Seville, latitude about 37º 30)"...".] from a well-established family which had originated in Picenum in Italy and had subsequently settled in Italica, Hispania Baetica (the republican Hispania Ulterior), near the present day location of Seville, Spain. His predecessor Trajan was a maternal cousin of Hadrian's father. [ [http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/eutropius/text8.html Eutr. VIII. 6] : "...nam eum (Hadrianum) Traianus, quamquam consobrinae suae filium..." and [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/1*.html SHA, "Vita Hadr". I, 2] : "...pater Aelius Hadrianus cognomento Afer fuit, consobrinus Traiani imperatoris."] Trajan never officially designated a successor, but, according to his wife, Pompeia Plotina, Trajan named Hadrian emperor immediately before his death. Trajan's wife was well-disposed toward Hadrian; as such, Hadrian may well have owed his succession to her.

Hadrian's presumed indebtedness to Plotina was widely regarded as the reason for Hadrian's succession. However, there is evidence that he accomplished his succession on his own governing and leadership merits while Trajan was still alive. For example, between the years 100-108 AD Trajan gave several public examples of his personal favour towards Hadrian, such as betrothing him to his grandniece, Vibia Sabina, designating him "quaestor Imperatoris", "comes Augusti", giving him Nerva's diamond "as hope of succession", proposing him for "consul suffectus", and other gifts and distinctions. The young Hadrian was Trajan's only direct male family/marriage/bloodline. The support of Plotina and of L. Licinius Sura (died in 108 AD) were nonetheless extremely important for Hadrian, already in this early epoch. [After A.M. Canto, in [http://www.ucm.es/BUCM/revistas/ghi/02130181/articulos/GERI0303120305A.PDF] , specifically pp. 322, 328, 341 and footnote 124, where she stands out SHA, "Vita Hadr." 1.2: "pro filio habitus" (years 93); 3.2: "ad bellum Dacicum Traianum familiarius prosecutus est" (year 101) or, principally, 3.7: "quare adamante gemma quam Traianus a Nerva acceperat donatus ad spem successionis erectus est" (year 107).]

Early life

Although it was an accepted part of Hadrian's personal history that late tradition that Hadrian was born in Italica located in the province called Hispania Baetica (the southernmost Roman province in the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal), he himself stated in his autobiography, now lost, that he was born in Rome on 24 January 76 of a family originally Italian, [But see footnotes 4 and 5.] but Hispanian for many generations. However, this may be made up so Hadrian would look like a pure-bred Roman instead of being from the provinces. ["Historia Augusta", 'Hadrian', I-II, here explicitly citing the autobiography. This is one of the passages in the Historia Augusta where there is no reason to suspect invention. But see now the Canto's 31 contrary arguments in the "op.cit. supra"; among them, in the same Historia Augusta and, from the same author, Aelius Spartianus, "Vita Sev." 21: "Falsus est etiam ipse Traianus in suo municipe ac nepote diligendo", see also [http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriano#cite_note-nacimiento-0] , and, characterizing him as a man of provinces (Canto, "ibid".): "Vita Hadr". 1,3: "Quaesturam gessit Traiano quater et Articuleio consulibus, in qua cum orationem imperatoris in senatu agrestius pronuntians risus esset, usque ad summam peritiam et facundiam Latinis operam dedit"] His father was the Hispano-Roman Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer, who as a senator of praetorian rank would spend much of his time in Rome. [ On the numerous senatorial families from Hispania residing at Rome and its vicinity around the time of Hadrian’s birth see R.Syme, 'Spaniards at Tivoli', in "Roman Papers IV" (Oxford, 1988), pp.96-114. Tivoli (Tibur) was of course the site of Hadrian’s own imperial villa.] Hadrian’s forefathers came from Hadria, modern Atri, an ancient town of Picenum in Italy, but the family had settled in Italica in Hispania Baetica soon after its founding by Scipio Africanus. Afer was a paternal cousin of the future Emperor Trajan. His mother was Domitia Paulina who came from Gades (Cádiz). Paulina was a daughter of a distinguished Hispano-Roman Senatorial family. Hadrian’s elder sister and only sibling was Aelia Domitia Paulina, married with the triple consul Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus, his niece was Julia Serviana Paulina and his great-nephew was Gnaeus Pedanius Fuscus Salinator, from Barcino. His parents died in 86 when Hadrian was ten, and the boy then became a ward of both Trajan and Publius Acilius Attianus (who was later Trajan’s Praetorian Prefect). [Royston Lambert, "Beloved And God", pp.31–32.] Hadrian was schooled in various subjects particular to young aristocrats of the day, and was so fond of learning Greek literature that he was nicknamed "Graeculus" ("Little Greek").

Hadrian visited Italica when (or never left it until) he was 14, when was recalled by Trajan who thereafter looked after his development. He never returned to Italica although it was later made a colonia in his honour. [Aul.Gell., "Noct.Att." XVI, 13, 4, and some inscriptions in the city with "C(olonia) A(elia) A(ugusta) I(talica)"] His first military service was as a tribune of the Legio II "Adiutrix". Later, he was to be transferred to the Legio I "Minervia" in Germany. When Nerva died in 98, Hadrian rushed to inform Trajan personally. He later became legate of a legion in Upper Pannonia and eventually governor of said province. He was also archon in Athens for a brief time, and was elected an Athenian citizen. [The inscription in footnote 1]

His career before becoming emperor follows: "decemvir stlitibus iudicandis" - "sevir turmae equitum Romanorum" - "praefectus Urbi feriarum Latinarum" - "tribunus militum legionis II Adiutricis Piae Fidelis" (95, in Pannonia Inferior) - "tribunus militum legionis V Macedonicae" (96, in Moesia Inferior) - "tribunus militum legionis XXII Primigeniae Piae Fidelis" (97, in Germania Superior) - "quaestor" (101) - "ab actis senatus" - "tribunus plebis" (105) - "praetor" (106) - "legatus legionis I Minerviae Piae Fidelis" (106, in Germania Inferior) - "legatus Augusti pro praetore Pannoniae Inferioris" (107) - "consul suffectus" (108) - "septemvir epulonum" (before 112) - "sodalis Augustalis" (before 112) - "archon Athenis" (112/13) - "legatus Syriae" (117). [H. W. Benario in [http://www.roman-emperors.org/hadrian.htm] ]

Hadrian was active in the wars against the Dacians (as legate of the V "Macedonica") and reputedly won awards from Trajan for his successes. Due to an absence of military action in his reign, Hadrian's military skill is not well attested, however his keen interest and knowledge of the army and his demonstrated skill of administration show possible strategic talent.

Hadrian joined Trajan's expedition against Parthia as a legate on Trajan’s staff. [Anthony Birley, "Hadrian the Restless Emperor", p. 68] Neither during the initial victorious phase, nor during the second phase of the war when rebellion swept Mesopotamia did Hadrian do anything of note. However when the governor of Syria had to be sent to sort out renewed troubles in Dacia, Hadrian was appointed as a replacement, giving him an independent command. [Anthony Birley, p. 75] Trajan, seriously ill by that time, decided to return to Rome while Hadrian remained in Syria to guard the Roman rear. Trajan only got as far as Selinus before he became too ill to go further. While Hadrian may have been the obvious choice as successor, he had never been adopted as Trajan's heir. As Trajan lay dying, nursed by his wife, Plotina (a supporter of Hadrian), he at last adopted Hadrian as heir. Then he died. Allegations that the order of events was the other way round have never quite been resolved fully. [Elizabeth Speller, p. 26]


ecuring power

Hadrian quickly secured the support of the legions — one potential opponent, Lusius Quietus, was instantly dismissed. [Royston Lambert] The Senate's endorsement followed when possibly falsified papers of adoption from Trajan were presented (although he had been the ward of Trajan). The rumor of a falsified document of adoption carried little weight — Hadrian's legitimacy arose from the endorsement of the Senate and the Syrian armies.

Hadrian did not at first go to Rome — he was busy sorting out the East and suppressing the Jewish revolt that had broken out under Trajan, then moving on to sort out the Danube frontier. Instead, Attianus, Hadrian's former guardian, was put in charge in Rome. There he "discovered" a plot involving four leading Senators including Lusius Quietus and demanded of the Senate their deaths. There was no question of a trial — they were hunted down and killed out of hand. Because Hadrian was not in Rome at the time, he was able to claim that Attianus had acted on his own initiative. According to Elizabeth Speller the real reason for their deaths was that they were Trajan's men. [Elizabeth Speller.]

Hadrian and the military

Despite his own great stature as a military administrator, Hadrian's reign was marked by a general lack of major military conflicts, apart from the Second Roman-Jewish War. He surrendered Trajan's conquests in Mesopotamia, considering them to be indefensible. There was almost a war with Parthia around 121, but the threat was averted when Hadrian succeeded in negotiating a peace.

The peace policy was strengthened by the erection of permanent fortifications along the empire's borders ("limites", sl. "limes"). The most famous of these is the massive Hadrian's Wall in Great Britain, and the Danube and Rhine borders were strengthened with a series of mostly wooden fortifications, forts, outposts and watchtowers, the latter specifically improving communications and local area security. To maintain morale and keep the troops from getting restive, Hadrian established intensive drill routines, and personally inspected the armies. Although his coins showed military images almost as often as peaceful ones, Hadrian's policy was peace through strength, even threat. [Elizabeth Speller, p. 69]

Cultural pursuits and patronage

Hadrian has been described, by Ronald Syme among others, as the most versatile of all the Roman Emperors. He also liked to display a knowledge of all intellectual and artistic fields. Above all, Hadrian patronized the arts: Hadrian's Villa at Tibur (Tivoli) was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, recreating a sacred landscape, lost in large part to the despoliation of the ruins by the Cardinal d'Este who had much of the marble removed to build Villa d'Este. In Rome, the Pantheon, originally built by Agrippa but destroyed by fire in 80, was rebuilt under Hadrian in the domed form it retains to this day. It is among the best preserved of Rome's ancient buildings and was highly influential to many of the great architects of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque periods.

From well before his reign, Hadrian displayed a keen interest in architecture, but it seems that his eagerness was not always well received. For example, Apollodorus of Damascus, famed architect of the Forum of Trajan, dismissed his designs. When Trajan, predecessor to Hadrian, consulted Apollodorus about an architectural problem, Hadrian interrupted to give advice, to which Apollodorus replied, "Go away and draw your pumpkins. You know nothing about these problems." "Pumpkins" refers to Hadrian's drawings of domes like the Serapeum in his Villa. It is rumored that once Hadrian succeeded Trajan to become emperor, he had Apollodorus exiled and later put to death. It is very possible that this later story was a later attempt to defame his character, as Hadrian, though popular among a great many across the empire, was not universally admired, either in his lifetime or afterward.Hadrian wrote poetry in both Latin and Greek; one of the few surviving examples is a Latin poem he reportedly composed on his deathbed (see below). He also wrote an autobiography – not, apparently, a work of great length or revelation, but designed to scotch various rumours or explain his various actions. The work is lost but was apparently used by the writer — whether Marius Maximus or someone else – on whom the "Historia Augusta" principally relied for its "vita" of Hadrian: at least, a number of statements in the "vita" have been identified (by Ronald Syme and others) as probably ultimately stemming from the autobiography.

Hadrian was a passionate hunter, already from the time of his youth according to one source. ["Historia Augusta", "Hadrian" [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/1*.html#2 2.1] .] In northwest Asia, he founded and dedicated a city to commemorate a she-bear he killed.Fox, Robin "The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian" Basic Books. 2006 pg 574] It is documented that in Egypt he and his beloved Antinous killed a lion. In Rome, eight reliefs featuring Hadrian in different stages of hunting on a building that began as a monument celebrating a kill.

Another of Hadrian's contributions to "popular" culture was the beard, which symbolised his philhellenism. Except for Nero (also a great lover of Greek culture), all Roman emperors before Hadrian were clean shaven. Most of the emperors after Hadrian would be portrayed with beards. Their beards, however, were not worn out of an appreciation for Greek culture but because the beard had, thanks to Hadrian, become fashionable.

Hadrian was a humanist and deeply Hellenophile in all his tastes. He favoured the doctrines of the philosophers Epictetus, Heliodorus and Favorinus, but was generally considered an Epicurean, as were some of his friends such as Caius Bruttius Praesens. At home he attended to social needs. Hadrian mitigated but did not abolish slavery, had the legal code humanized and forbade torture. He built libraries, aqueducts, baths and theaters. Hadrian is considered by many historians to have been wise and just: Schiller called him "the Empire's first servant", and British historian Edward Gibbon admired his "vast and active genius", as well as his "equity and moderation". In 1776, he stated that Hadrian's epoch was part of the "happiest era of human history".

While visiting Greece in 125, Hadrian attempted to create a kind of provincial parliament to bind all the semi-autonomous former city states across all Greece and Ionia (in Asia Minor). This parliament, known as the Panhellenion, failed despite spirited efforts to instill cooperation among the Hellenes.

Hadrian was especially famous for his relationship with a Greek youth, Antinous, whom he met in Bithynia in 124 when the boy was thirteen or fourteen. While touring Egypt in 130, Antinous mysteriously drowned in the Nile. Deeply saddened, Hadrian founded the Egyptian city of Antinopolis, and had Antinous deified - an unprecedented honour for one not of the ruling family.

Hadrian died at his villa in Baiae. He was buried in a mausoleum on the western bank of the Tiber, in Rome, a building later transformed into a papal fortress, Castel Sant'Angelo. The dimensions of his mausoleum, in its original form, were deliberately designed to be slightly larger than the earlier Mausoleum of Augustus.

According to Cassius Dio a gigantic equestrian statue was erected to Hadrian after his death. "It was so large that the bulkiest man could walk through the eye of each horse, yet because of the extreme height of the foundation persons passing along on the ground below believe that the horses themselves as well as Hadrian are very small."

Hadrian's travels


The Stoic-Epicurean Emperor traveled broadly, inspecting and correcting the legions in the field. Even prior to becoming emperor, he had traveled abroad with the Roman military, giving him much experience in the matter. More than half his reign was spent outside of Italy. Other emperors often left Rome to simply go to war, returning soon after conflicts concluded. A previous emperor, Nero, once traveled through Greece and was condemned for his self indulgence. Hadrian, by contrast, traveled as a fundamental part of his governing, and made this clear to the Roman senate and the people. He was able to do this because at Rome he possessed a loyal supporter within the upper echelons of Roman society, a military veteran by the name of Marcius Turbo. Also, there are hints within certain sources that he also employed a secret police force, the frumentarii, to exert control and influence in case anything should go wrong while he journeyed abroad.

Hadrian's visits were marked by handouts which often contained instructions for the construction of new public buildings. Hadrian was willful of strengthening the Empire from within through improved infrastructure, as opposed to conquering or annexing perceived enemies. This was often the purpose of his journeys; commissioning new structures, projects and settlements. His almost evangelical belief in Greek culture strengthened his views: like many emperors before him, Hadrian's will was almost always obeyed. His traveling court was large, including administrators and likely architects and builders. The burden on the areas he passed through were sometimes great. While his arrival usually brought some benefits it is possible that those who had to carry the burden were of different class to those who reaped the benefits. For example, huge amounts of provisions were requisitioned during his visit to Egypt, this suggests that the burden on the mainly subsistence farmers must have been intolerable, causing some measure of starvation and hardship. [Elizabeth Speller, pp. 74–81.] At the same time, as in later times all the way through the European Renaissance, kings were welcomed into their cities or lands, and the financial burden was completely on them, and only indirectly on the poorer class.

Hadrian's first tour came in 121 and was initially aimed at covering his back to allow himself the freedom to concern himself with his general cultural aims. He traveled north, towards Germania and inspected the Rhine-Danube frontier, allocating funds to improve the defenses. However it was a voyage to the Empire's very frontiers that represented his perhaps most significant visit; upon hearing of a recent revolt, he journeyed to Britannia.


Prior to Hadrian's arrival on Great Britain there had been a major rebellion in Britannia, spanning roughly two years (119–121). [The Historia Augusta notes that 'the Britons could not be kept under Roman control; Pompeius Falco was sent to Britain to restore order (Birley 123) and coins of 119-120 refer to this.] It was here where in 122 he initiated the building of Hadrian's Wall (the exact Latin name of which is unknown). The purpose of the wall is academically debated. In 1893, Haverfield stated categorically that the Wall was a means of military defence. This prevailing, early 20th century view was challenged by Collingwood in 1922. Since then, other points of view have been put forwards; the wall has been seen as a marker to the limits of "Romanitas", [Johnson, "Hadrian's Wall" (English Heritage Publications, 1989)] as a monument to Hadrian to gain glory in lieu of military campaigns, as work to keep the Army busy and prevent mutiny and waste through boredom, or to safeguard the frontier province of Britannia, by preventing future small scale invasions and unwanted immigration from the northern country of Caledonia (now modern day Scotland). Caledonia was inhabited by tribes known to the Romans as Caledonians. Hadrian realized that the Caledonians would refuse to cohabitate with the Romans. He also was aware that although Caledonia was valuable, the harsh terrain and highlands made its conquest costly and unprofitable for the Empire at large. Thus, he decided instead on building a wall. Unlike the Germanic limes, built of wood palisades, the lack of suitable wood in the area required a stone construction; [Birley 131-133] nevertheless, the Western third of the wall, from modern-day Carlisle to the River Irthing, was built of turf because of the lack of suitable building stone. This problem also led to the narrowing of the width of the wall, from the original 12 feet to 7, saving masonry. [Breeze and Dobson (2000) pp. 15-17.] Hadrian is perhaps most famous for the construction of this wall whose ruins still span many miles and to date bear his name. In many ways it represents Hadrian's will to improve and develop within the Empire, rather than waging wars and conquering.

Under him, a shrine was erected in York to Britain as a Goddess, and coins were struck which introduced a female figure as the personification of Britain, labeled BRITANNIA. [cite web|url=http://www.24carat.co.uk/britanniaframe.html |title=Britannia on British Coins |publisher=Chard |accessdate=2006-06-25] By the end of 122 he had concluded his visit to Britannia, and from there headed south by sea to Mauretania.

Parthia and Anatolia

In 123, he arrived in Mauretania where he personally led a campaign against local rebels. [Royston Lambert, pp. 41–42.] However this visit was to be short, as reports came through that the Eastern nation of Parthia was again preparing for war, as a result Hadrian quickly headed eastwards. On his journey east it is known that at some point he visited Cyrene during which he personally made available funds for the training of the young men of well bred families for the Roman military. This might well have been a stop off during his journey East. Cyrene had already benefited from his generosity when he in 119 had provided funds for the rebuilding of public buildings destroyed in the recent Jewish revolt. [Anthony Birley, pp. 151–152.]

When Hadrian arrived on the Euphrates, he characteristically solved the problem through a negotiated settlement with the Parthian king Osroes I. He then proceeded to check the Roman defenses before setting off West along the coast of the Black Sea. [Anthony Birley, pp. 153 – 155] He probably spent the winter in Nicomedia, the main city of Bithynia. As Nicomedia had been hit by an earthquake only shortly prior to his stay, Hadrian was generous in providing funds for rebuilding. Thanks to his generosity he was acclaimed as the chief restorer of the province as a whole. It is more than possible that Hadrian visited Claudiopolis and there espied the beautiful Antinous, a young boy who was destined to become the emperor's beloved. Sources say nothing about when Hadrian met Antinous, however, there are depictions of Antinous that shows him as a young man of 20 or so. As this was shortly before Antinous's drowning in 130 Antinous would more likely have been a youth of 13 or 14. [Anthony Birley, pp. 157–158.] It is possible that Antinous may have been sent to Rome to be trained as page to serve the emperor and only gradually did he rise to the status of imperial favorite. [Royston Lambert, pp. 60–61.]

After meeting Antinous, Hadrian traveled through Anatolia. The route he took is uncertain. Various incidents are described such as his founding of a city within Mysia, Hadrianutherae, after a successful boar hunt. (The building of the city was probably more than a mere whim — lowly populated wooded areas such as the location of the new city were already ripe for development). Some historians dispute whether Hadrian did in fact commission the city's construction at all. At about this time, plans to build a temple in Asia minor were written up. The new temple would be dedicated to Trajan and Hadrian and built with dazzling white marble. [Anthony Birley, pp. 164–167.]


The climax of this tour was the destination that the hellenophile Hadrian must all along have had in mind, Greece. He arrived in the autumn of 124 in time to participate in the Eleusinian Mysteries. By tradition at one stage in the ceremony the initiates were supposed to carry arms but this was waived to avoid any risk to the emperor among them. At the Athenians' request he conducted a revision of their constitution — among other things a new phyle (tribe) was added bearing his name. [Anthony Birley, pp. 175-177.]

During the winter he toured the Peloponnese. His exact route is uncertain, however Pausanias reports of tell-tale signs, such as temples built by Hadrian and the statue of the emperor built by the grateful citizens of Epidaurus in thanks to their "restorer". He was especially generous to Mantinea which supports the theory that Antinous was in fact already Hadrian's lover because of the strong link between Mantinea and Antinous's home in Bithynia. [Anthony Birley, pp. 177 – 180]

By March 125, Hadrian had reached Athens presiding over the festival of Dionysia. The building program that Hadrian initiated was substantial. Various rulers had done work on building a temple to Olympian Zeus — it was Hadrian who ensured that the job would be finished. He also initiated the construction of several public buildings on his own whim and even organized the building of an aqueduct. [Anthony Birley, pp. 182–184.]

Return to Italy

On his return to Italy, Hadrian made a detour to Sicily. Coins celebrate him as the restorer of the island though there is no record of what he did to earn this accolade. [Anthony Birley, pp. 189–190.]

Back in Rome he was able to see for himself the completed work of rebuilding the Pantheon. Also completed by then was Hadrian's villa nearby at Tibur a pleasant retreat by the Sabine Hills for whenever Rome became too much for him. At the beginning of March 127 Hadrian set off for a tour of Italy. Once again, historians are able to reconstruct his route by evidence of his hand-outs rather than the historical records. For instance, in that year he restored the Picentine earth goddess Cupra in the town of Cupra Maritima. At some unspecified time he improved the drainage of the Fucine lake. Less welcome than such largesse was his decision to divide Italy into 4 regions under imperial legates with consular rank. Being effectively reduced to the status of mere provinces did not go down well and this innovation did not long outlive Hadrian. [Anthony Birley, pp. 191–200.]

Hadrian fell ill around this time, though the nature of his sickness is not known. Whatever the illness was, it did not stop him from setting off in the spring of 128 to visit Africa. His arrival began with the good omen of rain ending a drought. Along with his usual role as benefactor and restorer he found time to inspect the troops and his speech to the troops survives to this day. [Royston Lambert, pp. 71–72.] Hadrian returned to Italy in the summer of 128 but his stay was brief before setting off on another tour that would last three years. [Anthony Birley, pp. 213–214.]

Greece and Asia

In September 128 Hadrian again attended the Eleusinian mysteries. This time his visit to Greece seems to have concentrated on Athens and Sparta — the two ancient rivals for dominance of Greece. Hadrian had played with the idea of focusing his Greek revival round Amphictyonic League based in Delphi but he by now had decided on something far grander. His new Panhellenion was going to be a council that would bring together Greek cities wherever they might be found. The meeting place was to be the new temple to Zeus in Athens. Having set in motion the preparations — deciding whose claim to be a Greek city was genuine would in itself take time — Hadrian set off for Ephesus. [Anthony Birley, pp. 215–220.]

In October 130, while Hadrian and his entourage were sailing on the Nile, Antinous drowned, for unknown reasons, though accident, suicide, murder or religious sacrifice have all been postulated. The emperor was grief stricken. He ordered Antinous deified, and cities were named after the boy, medals struck with his effigy, and statues erected to him in all parts of the empire. Temples were built for his worship in Bithynia, Mantineia in Arcadia, and Athens, festivals celebrated in his honour and oracles delivered in his name. The city of Antinoöpolis or Antinoe was founded on the ruins of Besa where he died (Cassius Dio, LIX.11; "Historia Augusta", "Hadrian").

Greece, Judaea, Illyricum

Hadrian’s movements subsequent to the founding of Antinoöpolis on October 30, 130 are obscure. Whether or not he returned to Rome, he spent the winter of 131–32 in Athens and probably remained in Greece or further East because of the Jewish rebellion which broke out in Judaea in 132 (see below). Inscriptions make it clear that he took the field in person against the rebels with his army in 133; he then returned to Rome, probably in that year and almost certainly (judging again from inscriptions) via Illyricum. [Ronald Syme, "Journeys of Hadrian" (1988), pp. 164-169.]

econd Roman-Jewish War

In 130, Hadrian visited the ruins of Jerusalem, in Judaea, left after the First Roman-Jewish War of 66–73. He promised to rebuild the city, but in doing so renamed it Aelia Capitolina after both himself and Jupiter Capitolinus, the chief Roman deity. A new temple dedicated to the worship of Jupiter was also built on the ruins of the old Jewish Second Temple, which had been destroyed in 70. [Cassius Dio, Roman history 69.12.1] In addition, Hadrian abolished circumcision, which was considered by Romans and Greeks as a form of bodily mutilation and hence "barbaric". [Historia Augusta, "Hadrian" [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/1*.html#14.2 14.2] .] These anti-Jewish policies of Hadrian triggered in Judaea a massive Jewish uprising, led by Simon bar Kokhba and Akiba ben Joseph. Following the outbreak of the revolt, Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube. Roman losses were very heavy, and it is believed that an entire legion, the XXII Deiotariana was destroyed. [ [http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/xxii_deiotariana.html livius.org account] (Legio XXII Deiotariana)] Indeed, Roman losses were so heavy that Hadrian's report to the Roman Senate omitted the customary salutation "I and the legions are well". [Cassius Dio 69, 14.3] However, Hadrian's army eventually put down the rebellion in 135, after three years of fighting. According to Cassius Dio, during the war 580,000 Jews were killed, 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed. According to the Babylonian Talmud, [Gittin 57a-58b; Lamentations Rabbah 2.2 §4;] after the war Hadrian continued the persecution of Jews. He attempted to root out Judaism, which he saw as the cause of continuous rebellions, prohibited the Torah law, the Hebrew calendar and executed Judaic scholars. The sacred scroll was ceremonially burned on the Temple Mount. In an attempt to erase the memory of Judaea, he renamed the province Syria Palaestina (after the Philistines), and Jews were forbidden from entering its rededicated capital.

Final years


Hadrian spent the final years of his life at Rome. In 134, he took an Imperial salutation for the end of the Second Jewish War (which was not actually concluded until the following year). In 136, he dedicated a new Temple of Venus and Rome on the former site of Nero's Golden House.

About this time, suffering from poor health, he turned to the problem of the succession. In 136 he adopted one of the ordinary consuls of that year, Lucius Ceionius Commodus, who took the name Lucius Aelius Caesar. He was both the stepson and son-in-law of Gaius Avidius Nigrinus, one of the "four consulars" executed in 118, but was himself in delicate health. Granted tribunician power and the governorship of Pannonia, Aelius Caesar held a further consulship in 137, but died on January 1, 138. [Anthony Birley, pp. 289-292.]

Following the death of Aelius Caesar, Hadrian next adopted Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus (the future emperor Antoninus Pius), who had served as one of the four imperial legates of Italy (a post created by Hadrian) and as proconsul of Asia. On 25 February 138 Antoninus received tribunician power and imperium. Moreover, to ensure the future of the dynasty, Hadrian required Antoninus to adopt both Lucius Ceionius Commodus (son of the deceased Aelius Caesar) and Marcus Annius Verus (who was the grandson of an influential senator of the same name who had been Hadrian’s close friend; Annius was already betrothed to Aelius Caesar’s daughter Ceionia Fabia). Hadrian’s precise intentions in this arrangement are debatable. Though the consensus is that he wanted Annius Verus (who would later become the Emperor Marcus Aurelius) to succeed Antoninus, it has also been argued that he actually intended Ceionius Commodus, the son of his own adopted son, to succeed, but was constrained to show favour simultaneously to Annius Verus because of his strong connections to the Hispano-Narbonensian nexus of senatorial families of which Hadrian himself was a part. It may well not have been Hadrian, but rather Antoninus Pius — who was Annius Verus’s uncle – who advanced the latter to the principal position. The fact that Annius would divorce Ceionia Fabia and re-marry to Antoninus' daughter Annia Faustina points in the same direction. When he eventually became Emperor, Marcus Aurelius would co-opt Ceionius Commodus as his co-Emperor (under the name of Lucius Verus) on his own initiative. [The adoptions: Anthony Birley, pp. 294-295; T.D. Barnes, 'Hadrian and Lucius Verus', "Journal of Roman Studies" (1967), Ronald Syme, "Tacitus", p. 601. Antoninus as a legate of Italy: Anthony Birley, p. 199.]

The ancient sources present Hadrian's last few years as marked by conflict and unhappiness. The adoption of Aelius Caesar proved unpopular, not least with Hadrian's brother-in-law Lucius Julius Ursus Servianus and Servianus' grandson Gnaeus Pedanius Fuscus Salinator. Servianus, though now far too old, had stood in line of succession at the beginning of the reign; Fuscus is said to have had designs on the imperial power for himself, and in 137 he may have attempted a coup in which his grandfather was implicated. Whatever the truth, Hadrian ordered that both be put to death. [Anthony Birley, pp. 291-292.] Servianus is reported to have prayed before his execution that Hadrian would "long for death but be unable to die". [Dio [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/69*.html#17.2 69.17.2] ] The prayer was fulfilled; as Hadrian suffered from his final, protracted illness, he had to be prevented from suicide on several occasions. [Anthony Birley, p. 297.]


Hadrian died in 138 on the tenth day of July, in his villa at Baiae at age 62. The cause of death is believed to have been heart failure. Dio Cassius and the Historia Augusta record details of his failing health, and a study published in 1980 drew attention to classical sculptures of Hadrian that show he had diagonal earlobe creases – a characteristic associated with coronary heart disease. [Diagonal Earlobe Creases, Type A Behavior and the Death of Emperor Hadrian [http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/pagerender.fcgi?artid=1271965&pageindex=1#page] ; Nicholas L. Petrakis, MD, West J Med. 1980 January; 132(1): 87–91.]

Hadrian was buried first at Puteoli, near Baiae, on an estate which had once belonged to Cicero. Soon after, his remains were transferred to Rome and buried in the Gardens of Domitia, close by the almost-complete mausoleum. Upon the completion of the Tomb of Hadrian in Rome in 139 by his successor Antoninus Pius, his body was cremated, and his ashes were placed there together with those of his wife Vibia Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Antoninus also had him deified in 139 and given a temple on the Campus Martius.

Poem by Hadrian

According to the Historia Augusta Hadrian composed shortly before his death the following poem: [Historia Augusta, "Hadrian" [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/2*.html#25.9 25.9] ; Antony Birley, p. 301.]

:"Animula, vagula, blandula":"Hospes comesque corporis":"Quae nunc abibis in loca":"Pallidula, rigida, nudula,":"Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos..."

:::P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp.

:"Little soul, roamer and charmer":"Body's guest and companion":"Who soon will depart to places":"Darkish, chilly and misty":"An end to all your jokes..."



Primary sources

* Cassius Dio or Dio Cassius "Roman History". Translated by [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/69*.html Earnest Cary]
* Scriptores Historiae Augustae, "Augustan History". Translated by [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/1*.html David Magie]
* Aurelius Victor, "Caesares", XIV. Latin [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/LAT0199/__P5.HTM]
* Anon., "Excerpta" of Aurelius Victor: "Epitome de Caesaribus", XIII. Latin [http://www.intratext.com/IXT/LAT0210/__P5.HTM] Inscriptions:
* Smallwood, E.M., "Documents Illustrating the Principates of Nerva Trajan and Hadrian", Cambridge, 1966.

econdary sources

* Edward Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", vol. I, 1776. The Online Library of Liberty [http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=1365&Itemid=27]
* Reprinted in cite book|last=Syme|first=Ronald|title=Roman Papers VI|location=Oxford|publisher=Clarendon Press|year=1991|id=ISBN 0-19-814494-6|pages=346-357

Further reading

* Bernard W. Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor Hadrian, 1923;

External links

* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Hadrian/1*.html Historia Augusta: Life of Hadrian]
* [http://www.roman-emperors.org/hadrian.htm Hadrian, in: De Imperatoribus Romanis, An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors]
* [http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/ric/hadrian/t.html Hadrian coinage]
* [http://www.britishtours.com/rome/piazza_di_pietra.html Temple of Hadrian] Quicktime VR, Rome
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07104b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia article]
* [http://bsa.biblio.univ-lille3.fr/hadrien.htm A Bibliography]
* [http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hadrian/ Major scultoric find at Sagalassos (Turkey)] , August 2, 2007 (between 13 and 16 feet in height, four to five meters), with [http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/hadrian/1.html some splendid photos courtesy of the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project]
* [http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/future_exhibitions/hadrian.aspx Next exhibition on Hadrian in the British Museum] , 24 July – 26 October 2008: "Hadrian, Empire and Conflict". Curator: Thorsten Opper
* [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article4470548.ece "Emperor Hadrian, YouTube hero"] : a review by Tom Holland of the Hadrian Exhibition at the British Museum, [http://www.the-tls.co.uk TLS] , August 6 2008.

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