Hadrian: Wikis


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Emperor of the Roman Empire
Bust Hadrian Musei Capitolini MC817.jpg
Bust of Hadrian
Reign 10 August 117 – 10 July 138
Full name Publius Aelius Hadrianus
(from birth to accession and adoption);
Caesar Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus (as emperor)
Born 24 January 76(76-01-24)
Birthplace uncertain, either Rome or Spain
Died 10 July 138 (aged 62)
Place of death Baiae
Buried 1) Puteoli
2) Gardens of Domitia
3) Hadrian's Mausoleum (Rome)
Predecessor Trajan
Successor Antoninus Pius
Consort to Vibia Sabina
Offspring Lucius Aelius,
Antoninus Pius
(both adoptive)
Dynasty Nervan-Antonian
Father Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer
Mother Domitia Paulina
Roman imperial dynasties
Nervo-Trajanic Dynasty
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Trajan
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Hadrian
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Lucius Aelius
   Adoptive - Antoninus Pius

Publius Aelius Hadrianus[1] (as emperor Imperator Caesar Divi Traiani filius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, and Divus Hadrianus after his apotheosis, known as Hadrian in English; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was the fourteenth emperor of Rome from AD 117 to 138, as well as a Stoic and Epicurean philosopher. A member of the gens Aelia, Hadrian was the third of the so-called Five Good Emperors.

Hadrian was born Publius Aelius Hadrianus in Italica[2] or, less probably, in Rome,[3] 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.[4] 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 towards Hadrian: 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 AD 100–108 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 AD 108) were nonetheless extremely important for Hadrian, already in this early epoch.[5]


Early life

Although it was an accepted part of Hadrian's personal history 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), his biography in Augustan History states that he was born in Rome on 24 January, 76 AD, of a family originally Italian,[6] but Hispanian for many generations. However, this may be a ruse to make Hadrian look like a person from Rome instead of a person hailing from the provinces.[7] 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.[8] 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).[9] 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 ("Greekling").

Hadrian visited Italica when (or never left it until) he was 14, when he 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.[10] 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.[11]

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).[12]

Hadrian was involved in the wars against the Dacians (as legate of the V Macedonica) and reputedly won awards from Trajan for his successes. Hadrian's military skill is not well attested due to a lack of military action during his reign; however, his keen interest and knowledge of the army and his demonstrated skill of leadership show possible strategic talent.

Hadrian joined Trajan's expedition against Parthia as a legate on Trajan’s staff.[13] Neither during the first 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.[14] 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. Since the document was signed by Plotina, it has been suggested that Trajan may have already been dead.[15]


Securing power

The Roman empire in 125 AD, under the rule of Hadrian.
Castel Sant'Angelo, the ancient Hadrian Mausoleum.
This famous statue of Hadrian in Greek dress was revealed in 2008 to have been forged in the Victorian era by cobbling together a head of Hadrian and an unknown body. For years the statue had been used by historians as proof of Hadrian's love of Hellenic culture.[16]

Hadrian quickly secured the support of the legions — one potential opponent, Lusius Quietus, was promptly dismissed.[17] The Senate's endorsement followed when possibly falsified papers of adoption from Trajan were presented (although he had been the ward of Trajan). The rumour of a falsified document of adoption carried little weight — Hadrian's legitimacy arose from the endorsement of the Senate and the Syrian armies.

Marble statue of Hadrian (Istanbul Archeological Museum)

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 conspiracy 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.[18]

Hadrian and the military

Despite his own great reputation 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 prevent the troops from becoming 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.[19]

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 demonstrate 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 rumoured 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 afterwards.

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.[20] In northwest Asia, he founded and dedicated a city to commemorate a she-bear he killed.[21] It is documented that in Egypt he and his beloved Antinous killed a lion.[21] In Rome, eight reliefs featuring Hadrian in different stages of hunting decorate a building that began as a monument celebrating a kill.[21]

Another of Hadrian's contributions to "popular" culture was the beard, which symbolised his philhellenism. Except for Nero (also a great admirer 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 had a face covered in warts and scars, and this may have partly motivated Hadrian's beard growth.

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 era was part of the "happiest era of human history".

While visiting Greece in 126, 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 foster cooperation among the Hellenes.

Hadrian had a close relationship, widely reported as having been romantic, 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


This aureus by Hadrian celebrates the games held in honour of the 874th birthday of Rome.

The Stoic-Epicurean Emperor travelled broadly, inspecting and correcting the legions in the field. Even prior to becoming emperor, he had travelled 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 simply to go to war, returning soon after conflicts concluded. A previous emperor, Nero, once travelled through Greece and was condemned for his self indulgence. Hadrian, by contrast, travelled 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 staunch 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. His intention was to strengthen 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 travelling 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 bear 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.[22] 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 travelled north, towards Germania and inspected the Rhine-Danube frontier, allocating funds to improve the defences. 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.


Hadrian's Wall (Vallum Hadriani), a fortification in Northern England (viewed from Vercovicium)
Hadrian's Gate, in Antalya, southern Turkey was built to honour Hadrian who visited the city in 130 CE.

Prior to Hadrian's arrival on Great Britain there had been a major rebellion in Britannia, spanning nearly two years (119–121).[23] It was here where in 122 he initiated the construction 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 R. G. 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,[24] as a monument to Hadrian to gain glory in lieu of military campaigns, as work to keep the Army occupied and prevent mutiny and waste through boredom, or to protect 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 coexist 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;[25] 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.[26] 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 that introduced a female figure as the personification of Britain, labeled BRITANNIA, were struck.[27] 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.[28] 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.[29]

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 defences before setting off West along the coast of the Black Sea.[30] 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.[31] 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 favourite.[32]

After meeting Antinous, Hadrian travelled 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.[33]


Temple of Zeus in Athens
The Pantheon was rebuilt by Hadrian

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.[34]

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.[35]

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 the Temple of 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.[36]

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.[37]

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.[38]

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.[39] 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.[40]

Greece, Asia and Egypt

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 Greek cities together 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.[41]

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 Antinopolis 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 Antinopolis 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.[42]

Second Roman-Jewish War

In 130, Hadrian visited the ruins of Jerusalem, in Judaea, left after the First Roman-Jewish War of 66–73. He rebuilt the city, renaming it Aelia Capitolina after himself and Jupiter Capitolinus, the chief Roman deity. A new temple dedicated to the worship of Jupiter was built on the ruins of the old Jewish Second Temple, which had been destroyed in 70.[43] In addition, Hadrian abolished circumcision, which was considered by Romans and Greeks as a form of bodily mutilation and hence "barbaric".[44] 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.[45] Indeed, Roman losses were so heavy that Hadrian's report to the Roman Senate omitted the customary salutation "I and the legions are well".[46] 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. The final battle took place in Beitar, a fortified city 10 km. southwest of Jerusalem. The city only fell after a lengthy siege, and Hadrian only allowed the Jews to bury their dead after a period of six days. According to the Babylonian Talmud,[47] 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 (see Ten Martyrs). 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. When Jewish sources mention Hadrian it is always with the epitaph "may his bones be crushed" (שחיק עצמות or שחיק טמיא, the Aramaic equivalent[48]), an expression never used even with respect to Vespasian or Titus who destroyed the Second Temple.

Final years


Bust of Hadrian, National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Hadrian spent the final years of his life at Rome. In 134, he took an Imperial salutation or 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 Roma 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 the 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.[49]

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.[50]

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.[51] Servianus is reported to have prayed before his execution that Hadrian would "long for death but be unable to die".[52] The prayer was fulfilled; as Hadrian suffered from his final, protracted illness, he had to be prevented from suicide on several occasions.[53]


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.[54]

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 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:[55]

Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos...
P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp.
Roving amiable little soul,
Body's companion and guest,
Now descending for parts
Colourless, unbending, and bare
Your usual distractions no more shall be there...

Nerva–Antonine family tree

  • (1) = 1st spouse
  • (2) = 2nd spouse (not shown)
  • (3) = 3rd spouse
  • SMALL CAPS = posthumously deified (Augusti, Augustae, or other)
  • dotted lines indicate adoption or (in the case of Hadrian and Antinous) lovers
NERVA (r. 96-98)
TRAJAN, adoptive son (r. 98-117)
Aelius Afer
Paulina Major
Libo Rupilius Frugi (3)
L. Vibius Sabinus (1)
Rupilia Annia
M. Annius Verus
Rupilia Faustina
HADRIAN, adoptive son (r. 117-138)
Paulina Minor
Domitia Lucilla
M. Annius Verus
M. Annius Libo
ANTONINUS PIUS, adoptive son (r. 138-161)
Aelius, adoptive son
Julia Paulina
MARCUS AURELIUS, adoptive son (r. 161-180)
Aurelia Fadilla
two infant sons
VERUS, adoptive son (r. 161-169)
COMMODUS (r. 177-192)
nine other children


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ 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 [1].
  3. ^ 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), 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 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 37° 30)...".
  4. ^ Eutr. VIII. 6: "...nam eum (Hadrianum) Traianus, quamquam consobrinae suae filium..." and SHA, Vita Hadr. I, 2: ...pater Aelius Hadrianus cognomento Afer fuit, consobrinus Traiani imperatoris.
  5. ^ After A.M. Canto, in [2], 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).
  6. ^ But see footnotes 4 and 5.
  7. ^ 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 es: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
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Royston Lambert, Beloved And God, pp.31–32.
  10. ^ Aul.Gell., Noct.Att. XVI, 13, 4, and some inscriptions in the city with C(olonia) A(elia) A(ugusta) I(talica)
  11. ^ The inscription in footnote 1
  12. ^ H. W. Benario in [3]
  13. ^ Anthony Birley, Hadrian the Restless Emperor, p. 68
  14. ^ Anthony Birley, p. 75
  15. ^ Elizabeth Speller, p. 26
  16. ^ Kennedy, Maev (2008-06-09). "How Victorian restorers faked the clothes that seemed to show Hadrian's softer side". Guardian.co.uk. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/heritage/story/0,,2284520,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  17. ^ Royston Lambert
  18. ^ Elizabeth Speller.
  19. ^ Elizabeth Speller, p. 69
  20. ^ Historia Augusta, Hadrian 2.1.
  21. ^ a b c Fox, Robin The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian Basic Books. 2006 pg 574
  22. ^ Elizabeth Speller, pp. 74–81.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Johnson, Hadrian's Wall (English Heritage Publications, 1989)
  25. ^ Birley 131-133
  26. ^ Breeze and Dobson (2000) pp. 15-17.
  27. ^ "Britannia on British Coins". Chard. http://www.24carat.co.uk/britanniaframe.html. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  28. ^ Royston Lambert, pp. 41–42.
  29. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 151–152.
  30. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 153 – 155
  31. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 157–158.
  32. ^ Royston Lambert, pp. 60–61.
  33. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 164–167.
  34. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 175-177.
  35. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 177 – 180
  36. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 182–184.
  37. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 189–190.
  38. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 191–200.
  39. ^ Royston Lambert, pp. 71–72.
  40. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 213–214.
  41. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 215–220.
  42. ^ Ronald Syme, "Journeys of Hadrian" (1988), pp. 164-169.
  43. ^ Cassius Dio, Roman history 69.12.1
  44. ^ Historia Augusta, Hadrian 14.2.
  45. ^ livius.org account(Legio XXII Deiotariana)
  46. ^ Cassius Dio 69, 14.3
  47. ^ Gittin 57a-58b; Lamentations Rabbah 2.2 §4;
  48. ^ The Aramaic version, "שחיק טמיא", is used, e.g., in Genesis Rabbah 78:1. This is referenced by Rashi in his comment on the phrase, "טמא לנפש", in his commentary on Numbers 5:2. The other two locations in Genesis Rabbah referenced in Rashi's comment, 10:3 and 28:3, use the Hebrew version, "שחיק עצמות"
  49. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 289-292.
  50. ^ 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.
  51. ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 291-292.
  52. ^ Dio 69.17.2
  53. ^ Anthony Birley, p. 297.
  54. ^ Diagonal Earlobe Creases, Type A Behavior and the Death of Emperor Hadrian [4]; Nicholas L. Petrakis, MD, West J Med. 1980 January; 132(1): 87–91.
  55. ^ Historia Augusta, Hadrian 25.9; Antony Birley, p. 301.


Primary sources


  • Smallwood, E.M., Documents Illustrating the Principates of Nerva Trajan and Hadrian, Cambridge, 1966.

Secondary sources

Further reading

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

External links

Born: 24 January AD 76 Died: 10 July AD 138
Political offices
Preceded by
Roman Emperor
117 – 138
Succeeded by
Antoninus Pius
Preceded by
Quintus Aquilius Niger and Marcus Rebilus Apronianus
Consul of the Roman Empire
118 – 119
Succeeded by
Lucius Catilius Severus Iulianus Claudius Reginus and Antoninus Pius

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HADRIAN (PUBLIUS AELIUS HADRIANUS), Roman emperor A.D. 117-138, was born on the 24th of January A.D. 76, at Italica in Hispania Baetica (according to others, at Rome), where his ancestors, originally from Hadria in Picenum, had been settled since the time of the Scipios. On his father's death in 85 or 86 he was placed under the guardianship of two fellowcountrymen, his kinsman Ulpius Trajanus (afterwards the emperor Trajan), and Caelius Attianus (afterwards prefect of the praetorian guard). He spent the next five years at Rome, but at the age of fifteen he returned to his native place and entered upon a military career. He was soon, however, recalled to Rome by Trajan, and appointed to the offices of decemvir stlitibus judicandis, praefectus feriarum Latinarum, and sevir turmae equitum Romanorum. About 95 he was military tribune in lower Moesia. In 97 he was sent to upper Germany to convey the congratulations of the army to Trajan on his adoption by Nerva; and, in January of the following year, he hastened to announce the death of Nerva to Trajan at Cologne. Trajan, who had been set against Hadrian by reports of his extravagance, soon took him into favour again, chiefly owing to the goodwill of the empress Plotina, who brought about the marriage of Hadrian with (Vibia) Sabina, Trajan's great-niece. In for Hadrian was quaestor, in 10s tribune of the people, in 106 praetor. He served with distinction in both Dacian campaigns; in the second Trajan presented him with a valuable ring which he himself had received from Nerva, a token of regard which seemed to designate Hadrian as his successor. In 107 Hadrian was legatus praetorius of lower Pannonia, in 108 consul suffectus, in 112 archon at Athens, legatus in the Parthian campaign (113117), in 117 consul designatus for the following year, in 119 consul for the third and last time only for four months. When Trajan, owing to a severe illness, decided to return home from the East, he left Hadrian in command of the army and governor of Syria. On the 9th of August 117, Hadrian, at Antioch, was informed of his adoption by Trajan, and, on the iith, of the death of the latter at Selinus in Cilicia. According to Dio Cassius (lxix. i) the adoption was entirely fictitious, the work of Plotina and Attianus, by whom Trajan's death was concealed for a few days in order to facilitate the elevation of Hadrian. Whichever may have been the truth, his succession was confirmed by the army and the senate. He hastened to propitiate the former by a donative of twice the usual amount, and excused his hasty acceptance of the throne to the senate by alleging the impatient zeal of the soldiers and the necessity of an imperator for the welfare of the state.

Hadrian's first important act was to abandon as untenable the conquests of Trajan beyond the Euphrates (Assyria, Mesopotamia and Armenia), a recurrence to the traditional policy of Augustus. The provinces were unsettled, the barbarians on the borders restless and menacing, and Hadrian wisely judged that the old limits of Augustus afforded the most defensible frontier. Mesopotamia and Assyria were given back to the Parthians, and the Armenians were allowed a king of their own. From Antioch Hadrian set out for Dacia to punish the Roxolani, who, incensed by a reduction of the tribute hitherto paid them, had invaded the Danubian provinces. An arrangement was patched up, and while Hadrian was still in Dacia he received news of a conspiracy against his life. Four citizens of consular rank were accused of being concerned in it, and were put to death by order of the senate before he could interfere. Hurrying back to Rome, Hadrian endeavoured to remove the unfavourable impression produced by the whole affair and to gain the goodwill of senate and people. He threw the responsibility for the executions upon the prefect of the praetorian guard, and swore that he would never punish a senator without the assent of the entire body, to which he expressed the utmost deference and consideration. Large sums of money and games and shows were provided for the people, and, in addition, all the arrears of taxation for the last fifteen years (about £10,000,000) were cancelled and the bonds burnt in the Forum of Trajan. Traj an's scheme for the "alimentation" of poor children was carried out upon a larger scale under the superintendence of a special official called praefectus alimentorum. The record of Hadrian's journeys 1 through all parts of the empire forms the chief authority for the events of his life down to his final settlement in the capital during his last years. They can only be briefly touched upon here. His first great journey probably lasted from 121 to 126. After traversing Gaul he visited the Germanic provinces on the Rhine, and crossed over to Britain (spring, 122), where he built the great rampart from the Tyne to the Solway, which bears his name (see Britain: Roman). He returned through Gaul into Spain, and then proceeded to Mauretania, where he suppressed an insurrection. A war with the Parthians was averted by a personal interview with their king (123). From the Parthian frontier he travelled through Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean to Athens (autumn, 125), where he introduced various political and commercial changes, was initiated at the Eleusinia, and presided at the celebration of the greater Dionysia. After visiting Central Greece and Peloponnesus, he returned by way of Sicily to Rome (end of 126). The next year was spent at Rome, and, after a visit to Africa, he set out on his second great journey (September 128). He travelled by way of Athens, where he completed and dedicated the buildings (see Athens) begun during his first visit, chief of which was the Olympieum or temple of Olympian Zeus, on which occasion Hadrian himself assumed the name of Olympius. In the spring of 12 9 he visited Asia Minor and Syria, where he invited the kings and princes of the East to a meeting (probably at Samosata). Having passed the winter at Antioch, he set out for the south (spring, 130). He ordered Jerusalem to be rebuilt (see Jerusalem) under the name of Aelia Capitolina, and made his way through Arabia to Egypt, where he restored 1 The chronology of Hadrian's journeys - indeed, of the whole reign - is confused and obscure. In the above the article by von Rohden in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopadie has been followed. Weber's (see Bibliog.) is the most important discussion.

the tomb of Pompey at Pelusium with great magnificence. After a short stay at Alexandria he took an excursion up the Nile, during which he lost his favourite Antinous. On the 21st of November 130, Hadrian (or at any rate his wife Sabina) heard the music which issued at sunrise from the statue of Memnon at Thebes (see Memnon). From Egypt Hadrian returned through Syria to Europe (his movements are obscure), but was obliged to hurry back to Palestine (spring, 133) to give his personal attention (this is denied by some historians) to the revolt of the Jews, which had broken out (autumn, 131, or spring, 132) after he had left Syria. The founding of a Roman colony on the site of Jerusalem (Dio Cass. lxix. 12) and the prohibition of circumcision (Spartianus, Hadrianus, 14) are said to have been the causes of the war, but authorities differ considerably as to this and as to the measures which followed the revolt (see art. JEws; also E. Schiirer, Hist. of the Jewish People, Eng. tr., div. 1, vol. ii. p. 288; and S. Krauss in Jewish Encyc. s.v. " Hadrian"), which lasted till 135. Leaving the conduct of affairs in the hands of his most capable general, Julius Severus, in the spring of 134 Hadrian returned to Rome. The remaining years of his life were spent partly in the capital, partly in his villa at Tibur. His health now began to fail, and it became necessary for him to choose a successor, as he had no children of his own. Against the advice of his relatives and friends he adopted L. Ceionius Commodus under the name of L. Aelius Caesar, who was in a feeble state of health and died on the 1st of January 138, before he had an opportunity of proving his capabilities. Hadrian then adopted Arrius Antoninus (see Antoninus Pius) on condition that he should adopt M. Annius Verus (afterwards the emperor Marcus Aurelius) and the son of L. Aelius Caesar, L. Ceionius Commodus (afterwards the emperor Commodus). Hadrian died at Baiae on the 10th of July 138.

He was without doubt one of the most capable emperors who ever occupied the throne, and devoted his great and varied talents to the interests of the state. One of his chief objects was the abolition of distinctions between the provinces and the mother country, finally carried out by Caracalla, while at the same time he did not neglect reforms that were urgently called for in Italy. Provincial governors were kept under strict supervision; extortion was practically unheard of; the jus Latii was bestowed upon several communities; special officials were instituted for the control of the finances; and the emperor's interest in provincial affairs was shown by his personal assumption of various municipal offices. New towns were founded and old ones restored; new streets were laid out, and aqueducts, temples and magnificent buildings constructed. In Italy itself the administration of justice and the finances required special attention. Four legati juridici (or simply juridici) of consular rank were appointed for Italy, who took over certain important judicial functions formerly exercised by local magistrates (cases of fideicommissa, the nomination of guardians). The judicial council (consiliarii Augusti, later called consistorium), composed of persons of the highest rank (especially jurists), became a permanent body of advisers, although merely consultative. Roman law owes much to Hadrian, who instructed Salvius Julianus to draw up an edictum perpetuum, to a great extent the basis of Justinian's Corpus juris (see M. Schanz, Geschichte der riimischen Literatur, iii. p. 167). In the administration of finance, in addition to the remission of arrears already mentioned, a revision of claims was ordered to be made every fifteen years, thereby anticipating the "indictions" (see Calendar; Chronology). Direct collection of taxes by imperial procurators was substituted for the system of farming, and a special official (advocatus fisci) was instituted to look after the interests of the imperial treasury. The gift of "coronary gold" (aurum coronarium), presented to the emperor on certain occasions, was entirely remitted in the case of Italy, and partly in the case of the provinces. The administration of the postal service throughout the empire was taken over by the state, and municipal officials were relieved from the burden of maintaining the imperial posts. Humane regulations as to the treatment of slaves were strictly xir. 26 enforced; the master was forbidden to put his slave to death, but was obliged to bring him before a court of justice; if he ill-treated him it was a penal offence. The sale of slaves (male and female) for immoral and gladiatorial purposes was forbidden; the custom of putting all the household to death when their master was murdered was modified. The public baths were kept under strict supervision; the toga was ordered to be worn in public by senators and equites on solemn occasions; extravagant banquets were prohibited; rules were made to prevent the congestion of traffic in the streets. In military matters Hadrian was a strict disciplinarian, but his generosity and readiness to share their hardships endeared him to the soldiers. He effected a material and moral improvement in the conditions of service and mode of life, but in other respects he does not appear to have introduced any important military reforms. During his reign an advance was made in the direction of creating an organized body of servants at the disposal of the emperor by the appointment of equites to important administrative posts, without their having performed the militiae equestres (see Equites). Among these posts were various procuratorships (chief of which was that of the imperial fisc), and the offices ab epistulis, a rationibus and a libellis (secretary, accountant, receiver of petitions). The prefect of the praetorian guard was now the most important person in the state next to the emperor, and subsequently became a supreme judge of appeal. Among the magnificent buildings erected by Hadrian mention may be made of the following: In the capital, the temple of Venus and Roma; his splendid mausoleum, which formed the groundwork of the castle of St Angelo; the pantheon of Agrippa; the Basilica Neptuni; at Tibur the great villa 8 m. in extent, a kind of epitome of the world, with miniatures of the most celebrated places in the provinces. Athens, however, was the favourite site of his architectural labours; here he built the temple of Olympian Zeus, the Panhellenion, the Pantheon, the library, a gymnasium and a temple of Hera.

Hadrian was fond of the society of learned men - poets, scholars, rhetoricians and philosophers - whom he alternately humoured and ridiculed. In painting, sculpture and music he considered himself the equal of specialists. The architect Apollodorus of Damascus owed his banishment and death to his outspoken criticism of the emperor's plans. The sophist Favorinus was more politic; when reproached for yielding too readily to the emperor in some grammatical discussion, he replied that it was unwise to contradict the master of thirty legions. The Athenaeum owed its foundation to Hadrian. He was a man of considerable intellectual attainments, of prodigious memory, master of both Latin and Greek, and wrote prose and verse with equal facility. His taste, however, was curious; he preferred Cato the elder, Ennius and Caelius Antipater to Cicero, Virgil and Sallust, the obscure poet Antimachus to Homer and Plato. As a writer he displayed great versatility. He composed an autobiography, published under the name of his freedman Phlegon; wrote speeches, fragments of two of which are preserved in inscriptions (a panegyric on his mother-in-law Matidia, and an address to the soldiers at Lambaesis in Africa). In imitation of Antimachus he wrote a work called Catachannae, probably a kind of miscellanea. The Latin and Greek anthologies contain about a dozen epigrams under his name. The letter of Hadrian to the consul Servianus (in Vopiscus, Vita Saturnini, 8) is no longer considered genuine. Hadrian's celebrated dying address to his soul may here be quoted: "Animula vagula, blandula, Hospes comesque corporis, Quae nunc abibis in loca Pallidula, rigida, nudula; Nec, ut soles, dabis jocos?" The character of Hadrian exhibits a mass of contradictions, well summed up by Spartianus (14.11). He was grave and gay, affable and dignified, cruel and gentle, mean and generous, eager for fame yet not vain, impulsive and cautious, secretive and open. He hated eminent qualities in others, but gathered round him the most distinguished men of the state; at one time affectionate towards his friends, at another he mistrusted and put them to death. In fact, he was only consistent in his inconsistency (semper in omnibus varies). Although he endeavoured to win the popular favour, he was more feared than loved. A man of unnatural passions and grossly superstitious, he was an ardent lover of nature. But, with all his faults, he devoted himself so indefatigably to the service of the state, that the period of his reign could be characterized as a "golden age." The chief ancient authorities for the reign of Hadrian are: the life by Aelius Spartianus in the Scriptores historiae Augustae (see AUGUSTAN HISTORY and bibliography); the epitome of Dio Cassius (lxix.) by Xiphilinus; Aurelius Victor, Epit. 14, probably based on Marius Maximus; Eutropius viii. 6; Zonaras xi. 23; Suidas, s.v. 'ASptctvos : and numerous inscriptions and coins. The autobiography was used by both Dio Cassius and Marius Maximus. Modern authorities: C. Merivale, Hist. of the Romans under the Empire, ch. lxvi.; H. Schiller, Geschichte der romischen Kaiserzeit, i. 2, p. 602 (1883); J. B. Bury, The Student's Roman Empire (1893), where a concise table of the journeys is given; P. von Rohden, s.v. "Aelius" (No. 64) in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopddie, i. I (1894); J. Diirr, Die Reisen des Kaisers Hadrian (1881); F. Gregorovius, The Emperor Hadrian (Eng. tr. by Mary E. Robinson, 1898); A. Hausrath, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, iii. (1874); W. Schurz, De mutationibus in imperio ordinando ab imp. Hadr. factis, i. (Bonn, 1883); J. Plew, Quellenuntersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisers Hadrian (Strassburg, 1890); O. T. Schulz, "Leben des Kaisers Hadrian," Quellenanalysen [of Spartianus' Vita] (1904); E. Kornemann, Kaiser Hadrian and der letzte grosse Historiker von Rom (1905); W. Weber, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Kaisers Hadrianus (1908); H. F. Hitzig, Die Stellung Kaiser Hadrians in der romischen Rechtsgeschichte (1892); C. Schultess, Bauten des Kaisers Hadrian (1898); G. Doublet, Notes sur les oeuvres litteraires de l'empereur Hadrien (Toulouse, 1893); J. B. Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, ii. 1, 47 6 seq.; Sir W. M. Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 320 seq.; V. Schultze, in Herzog-Hauck's Realencyklopcidie, vii. 315; histories of Roman literature by Teuffel-Schwabe and Schanz. On Aelius Caesar, see Class. Quart., 1908, i. (T. K.; J. H. F.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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From the Latin Hadrianus, meaning from the Roman harbour Hadria (Adria).

Proper noun




  1. (historical) The Roman emperor Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus.
  2. A male given name; a rare variant of Adrian

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Roman emperor (117-138). At the very beginning of his reign he was called upon to suppress the final outbreaks of Jewish rebellion at Cyrene and Alexandria. According to a late but trustworthy source, he is said to have enticed the Jews of Alexandria into the open country, where about 50,000 of them were killed by his soldiers (Eliyahu R. xxx. 3). Afterward he seems to have avoided conflict with the Jews and to have granted them certain privileges. The Jewish sibyl, in fact, praises him (Sibyllines, v. 248); and Jewish legend says that R. Joshua b. Hananiah was on friendly terms with him, and that Hadrian intended to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem (Gen. R. lxiv.). This agrees with the statement of Epiphanius ("De Mensuris et Ponderibus," § 14) that the emperor commissioned the proselyte Akylas (Aquila)—who, according to the rabbinical legend, was related to him—to supervise the building at Jerusalem, this of course referring to the city and not to the Temple. Other Christian sources, as Chrysostom, Cedrenus, and Nicephorus Callistus, say that the Jews had intended to build the Temple themselves; but a passagein the Epistle of Barnabas (xvi. 4)—though its interpretation is disputed among scholars—seems to indicate that the Jews expected the pagans to rebuild the Temple.

Scholars also differ as to the cause of the rebellion. According to Gregorovius (comp. Schlatter, "Die Tage Trajans und Hadrians," p. 2), "Palestinians instituted the kingdom of Jerusalem as a protection against the oppressions of Hadrian." Other scholars, however, say that the institution of the Messianic kingdom followed upon the rebuilding of the Temple. Even the ancient sources differ on this point. Thus, Spartianus ("Hadrianus," § 14) reports that the Jews rebelled because circumcision was interdicted; while the more reliable Dion Cassius says (lxix. 12) that Hadrian attempted to turn Jerusalem into a pagan city, which the Jews regarded as an abomination, and they therefore rebelled. It is possible that both of these measures were responsible for the rebellion; on the other hand, it is also possible that they were merely the consequences of it. Hadrian, who had a gentle disposition, was lauded throughout the great empire as a benefactor; he indeed so proved himself on his many journeys. Palestinian cities like Cæsarea, Tiberias, Gaza, and Petra owed much to him; and his presence in Judea in 130 is commemorated on coins with the inscription "Adventui Aug[usti] Judææ." He therefore could have had no intention of offending the Jews; but as a true Roman he believed only in the Roman "sacra" (Spartianus, l.c. § 22). It may have happened that in his zeal to rebuild destroyed cities he had disregarded the peculiarities of the Jews. The law against circumcision was founded on earlier Roman laws, and did not affect the Jews only. So long as the emperor was in Syria and Egypt the Jews remained quiet; but after his departure in 132 the rebellion under Bar Kokba broke out.

It seems that Hadrian himself remained in Judea until the rebellion had been put down (Darmesteter, in "R. E. J." i. 49 et seq.), and he may have mentioned the Jews in his autobiography, a point that Dion Cassius dwells upon; but he did not use the customary formula in his report to the Senate, that he and the army were well (Dion Cassius, l.c.), for the Roman army also was suffering. After the dearly bought victory in 135, Hadrian received for the second time the title of "imperator," as inscriptions show. Now only could he resume the building, on the ruins of Jerusalem, of the city Ælia Capitolina, called after him and dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus. A series of magnificent edifices that Hadrian erected in Jerusalem are enumerated in a source that gathered its information probably from Julianus Africanus ("Chron. Paschale," ed. Dindorf, i. 474; "J. Q. R." xiv. 748). The temple of Jupiter towered on the site of the ancient Temple, with a statue of Hadrian in the interior (Jerome, Comm. on Isaiah ii. 9). The Jews now passed through a period of bitter persecution; Sabbaths, festivals, the study of the Torah, and circumcision were interdicted, and it seemed as if Hadrian desired to annihilate the Jewish people. His anger fell upon all the Jews of his empire, for he imposed upon them an oppressive poll-tax (Appian, "Syrian War," § 50). The persecution, however, did not last long, for Antoninus Pius revoked the cruel edicts.

After this the Jews did not hold Hadrian's memory in high honor; the Talmud and Midrash follow his name with the curse "Crush his bones." His reign is called the time of persecution and danger, and the blood of many martyrs is charged to his account. He is considered the type of a pagan king (Gen. R. lxiii. 7).

Bibliography: Grätz, Gesch. 3d ed., iv. 132-157; Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., i. 670-704, 781; Rapoport, Erech Millin, p. 17; Schlatter, Die Kirche Jerusalems vom Jahre 70-130, Gütersloh, 1898; Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, ii. 1, 476 et seq.; W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 320 et seq.; Schultze, in Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. 3d ed., vii. 315.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Simple English

Emperor of the Roman Empire

File:Bust Hadrian Musei Capitolini
Marble bust of Hadrian.
Reign 10 August 117 –
10 July 138
(&&&&&&&&&&&&&020.&&&&&020 years, &&&&&&&&&&&&0334.&&&&&0334 days)
Predecessor Trajan
Successor Antoninus Pius
Spouse Vibia Sabina
Lucius Aelius
Antoninus Pius
(both adoptive)
Full name
Publius Aelius Hadrianus
(from birth to accession and adoption);
Caesar Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus (as emperor)
Father Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer
Mother Domitia Paulina
Born 24 January 76(76-01-24)
Italica, Hispania
Died July 10, 138 (aged 62)
Burial Rome

Hadrian (Publius Aelius Hadrianus,[1] 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138.

He is best-known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman territory in Britain. In Rome, he built the Pantheon and the Temple of Venus and Roma.[2]

In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and a lover of Greek culture in all his tastes. Hadrian was the third of the so-called Five Good Emperors.[3]

Hadrian was born to a Hispano-Roman family, probably in Italica (near Seville). His predecessor Trajan was a maternal cousin of Hadrian's father.[4] Trajan never officially designated an heir, but according to his wife Pompeia Plotina, Trajan named Hadrian emperor immediately before his death. Trajan's wife and his friend Licinius Sura were well-disposed towards Hadrian, and he may well have owed his succession to them.[5]

During his reign, Hadrian traveled to nearly every province of the empire. Hadrian sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the empire: he ordered the construction of many temples in the city.

Hadrian spent much of his time with the military. He usually wore military attire, and dined and slept amongst the soldiers. He ordered military training and drilling to be more rigorous and even made use of false reports of attack to keep the army alert. Despite his fondness for the army, Hadrian's reign is marked by a lack of military activity throughout the empire. Upon his ascension to the throne, Hadrian withdrew from Trajan's conquests in Mesopotamia and Armenia, and even considered abandoning Dacia. Late in his reign he suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judaea, renaming the province Syria Palaestina.

In 136 an ailing Hadrian adopted Lucius Aelius as his heir, but he died suddenly two years later. In 138, Hadrian resolved to adopt Antoninus Pius if he would in turn adopt Marcus Aurelius and Aelius' son Lucius Verus as his own eventual successors. Antoninus agreed, and soon afterward Hadrian died at his villa near Tibur.


  1. As emperor his name was Imperator Caesar Divi Traiani filius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus.
  2. Anthony Everitt 2009. Hadrian and the triumph of Rome. Random House, N.Y.
  3. Birley, Anthony R. 1997. Hadrian: the restless emperor. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16544-X.
  4. Eutr. VIII. 6: "...nam eum (Hadrianum) Traianus, quamquam consobrinae suae filium..." and SHA, Vita Hadr. I, 2: ...pater Aelius Hadrianus cognomento Afer fuit, consobrinus Traiani imperatoris.
  5. After A.M. Canto, in UCM.es, 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).

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