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Hadrian Definition

Hadrian (A.D. 76-138, original name Publius Aelius Hadrianus), Emperor of Rome (117-138) who was the adopted son of Trajan (Wikipedia) - Hadrian This article is about the Roman emperor. For the WW II glider see Waco CG-4, other people of this name and its derivations, see Adrian (disambiguation). Hadrian Reign Predecessor Successor Wife Issue Full name Dynasty Father Mother Born Died Burial
14th Emperor of the Roman Empire
Marble bust of Hadrian at the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Capitoline Museums.
10 August 117 – 10 July 138
Antoninus Pius
Vibia Sabina
Lucius Aelius, Antoninus Pius (both adoptive)
Publius Aelius Hadrianus (from birth to adoption and accession); Caesar Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus (as emperor)
Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer
Domitia Paulina
(76-01-24)24 January 76 Italica, Hispania (uncertain)
10 July 138(138-07-10) (aged 62) Baiae
1) Puteoli 2) Gardens of Domitia 3) Hadrian''s Mausoleum (Rome)
Roman imperial dynasties Nervo-Trajanic Dynasty
Nerva Trajan Hadrian
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Trajan
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Hadrian
   Natural - (none)
   Adoptive - Lucius Aelius
   Adoptive - Antoninus Pius

Hadrian (/ˈheɪdriən/; Latin: Publius Aelius Hadrianus Augustus; 24 January, 76 AD – 10 July, 138 AD) was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. He is also known for building Hadrian''s Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. Hadrian was regarded by some as a humanist and was philhellene in most of his tastes. He is regarded as one of the Five Good Emperors.

Hadrian was born Publius Aelius Hadrianus to an ethnically Roman family. Although Italica near Santiponce (in modern-day Spain) is often considered his birthplace, his place of birth remains uncertain. His predecessor Trajan was a maternal cousin of Hadrian''s father. 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.

During his reign, Hadrian traveled to nearly every province of the Empire. An ardent admirer of Greece, he sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the Empire and ordered the construction of many opulent temples in the city. He used his relationship with his Greek lover Antinous to underline his philhellenism and led to the creation of one of the most popular cults of ancient times. He spent extensive amounts of his time with the military; he usually wore military attire and even 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.

Upon his accession 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 the latter 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 Baiae.

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Public service
  • 3 Emperor (117)
    • 3.1 Securing power
    • 3.2 Hadrian and the military
    • 3.3 Antinous
    • 3.4 Cultural pursuits and patronage
  • 4 Hadrian''s travels
    • 4.1 Purpose
    • 4.2 Britannia
    • 4.3 Parthia and Anatolia
    • 4.4 Greece
    • 4.5 Return to Italy
    • 4.6 Greece, Asia, and Egypt (128–130)
    • 4.7 Greece and Illyricum
    • 4.8 Hadrian and Israel; Second Roman-Jewish War and Jewish persecution (132–136)
    • 4.9 In Rabbinic literature
  • 5 Final years
    • 5.1 Succession
    • 5.2 Death
      • 5.2.1 Poem by Hadrian
  • 6 Nerva–Antonine family tree
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
    • 8.1 Primary sources
    • 8.2 Secondary sources
    • 8.3 Further reading
  • 9 External links

Early life

Hadrian was born Publius Aelius Hadrianus in Italica, or in Rome, 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.

Although it was an accepted part of Hadrian''s personal history that he was born in Spain, his biography in Augustan History states that he was born in Rome on 24 January 76, of a family originally Italian, but which had lived in Spain 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. His father was Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer, who as a senator of praetorian rank would spend much of his time in Rome.

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 Spanish-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 (Barcelona). 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). 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 years old, 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.

Public service

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.

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).

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 in 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. 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.

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.

Emperor (117) Securing powerThe Roman empire in 125, 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.

Hadrian quickly secured the support of the legions — one potential opponent, Lusius Quietus, was promptly dismissed. 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.

Statue of Hadrian unearthed at Tel Shalem commemorating Roman military victory over Bar Kochba, displayed at the Israel 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.

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.


Hadrian had a close relationship with a Bithynian Greek youth, Antinous, which was most likely sexual.

During a journey on the Nile he lost Antinous, his favourite, and for this youth he wept like a woman. Concerning this incident there are varying rumours; for some claim that he had devoted himself to death for Hadrian, and others — what both his beauty and Hadrian''s sensuality suggest. But however this may be, the Greeks deified him at Hadrian''s request, and declared that oracles were given through his agency, but these, it is commonly asserted, were composed by Hadrian himself.

Antinous drowned in 130. Deeply saddened, Hadrian founded the Egyptian city of Antinopolis in his memory, and had Antinous deified – an unprecedented honour for one not of the ruling family. The cult of Antinous became very popular in the Greek-speaking world. It has been suggested that Hadrian created the cult as a political move to reconcile the Greek-speaking East to Roman rule.

Cultural pursuits and patronageHadrian

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. The historian Cassius Dio wrote that, once Hadrian succeeded Trajan to become emperor, he had Apollodorus exiled and later put to death.

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. Hadrian was a passionate hunter from the time of his youth according to one source. In northwest Asia, he founded and dedicated a city to commemorate a she-bear he killed. 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 decorate 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. Since the time of Scipio Africanus it had been fashionable among the Romans to be clean-shaven. Also all Roman Emperors before Hadrian, except for Nero (also a great admirer of Greek culture), 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. This new fashion lasted until the reign of Constantine the Great and was revived again by Phocas at the start of the 7th century.

As a cultural Hellenophile Hadrian was familiar with the work of the philosophers Epictetus, Heliodorus and Favorinus. 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 131–132, 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 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 very small." This may refer to the huge statuary group placed atop the mausoleum, which disappeared at some later time, depicting Hadrian driving a four-horse quadriga chariot.

Hadrian''s travels Purpose

The 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.

His 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.

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 just four years after assuming the office of Caesar, when he sought a cure for a skin disease thought to be leprosy and travelled to Palestine while en route to Egypt. This time also allowed himself the freedom to concern himself with his general cultural aims. At some point, 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.

BritanniaHadrian''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.

Prior to Hadrian''s arrival on Great Britain there had been a major rebellion in Britannia from 119 to 121. In 122 he initiated the construction of Hadrian''s Wall. The wall was built, "to separate Romans from barbarians," according to the Historia Augusta. Augustan Histories It deterred attacks on Roman territory and controlled cross border trade and immigration.

Unlike the Germanic limes, built of wood palisades, the lack of suitable wood in the area required a stone construction. 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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 most likely have been a youth of 13 or 14. It is possible that Antinous may have been sent to Rome to be trained as a page to serve the emperor, and only gradually did he rise to the status of imperial favourite.

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 — low-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, built with dazzling white marble.

GreeceTemple 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. At the Athenians'' request, he conducted a revision of their constitution — among other things, a new phyle (tribe) was added bearing his name.

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; this 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.

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 over a timespan of more than five centuries — it was Hadrian and the vast resources he could command that 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.

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.

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.

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; his speech to the troops survives to this day. Hadrian returned to Italy in the summer of 128 but his stay was brief, as he set off on another tour that would last three years.

Greece, Asia, and Egypt (128–130)Hadrian and Antinous – busts in the British Museum

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.

In October 130, while Hadrian and his entourage were sailing on the Nile, Antinous drowned for unknown reasons; 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. In Athens, festivals were 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.

Greece and Illyricum

Hadrian’s movements subsequent to the founding of Antinopolis on 30 October 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.

Hadrian and Israel; Second Roman-Jewish War and Jewish persecution (132–136) See also: Bar Kokhba revoltCoinage minted to mark Hadrian'';s visit to JudeaPorphyry statue of Hadrian discovered in Caesarea, Israel

In 130, Hadrian visited the ruins of Jerusalem, in Roman Judaea, left after the First Roman-Jewish War of 66–73. He rebuilt the city, initially allowing the rebuilding of the Temple, but when told that it would be the cause for much sedition, he then changed his mind and, eventually, renamed the city Aelia Capitolina after himself and Jupiter Capitolinus, the chief Roman deity. According to Epiphanius, Hadrian appointed Aquila from Sinope in Pontus as "overseer of the work of building the city," seeing that Aquila was related to the king by marriage. Hadrian is said to have placed the city''s main Forum at the junction of the main Cardo and Decumanus Maximus, now the location for the (smaller) Muristan. Hadrian built a large temple to the goddess Venus.

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. A disputed tradition, based on the single source of the Historia Augusta suggests that tensions grew higher when Hadrian abolished circumcision (brit milah), which he, a Hellenist, viewed as mutilation. However others maintain that there is no evidence for this claim.

These anti-Jewish policies of Hadrian triggered in Judaea a massive Jewish uprising, led by Simon bar Kokhba. Based on the delineation of years in Eusebius'' Chronicon (now Chronicle of Jerome), it was only in the 16th year of Hadrian''s reign, or what was equivalent to the 4th year of the 227th Olympiad, that the Jewish revolt began, under the Roman governor Tineius (Tynius) Rufus who had asked for an army to crush the resistance. Bar Kokhba, the leader of the resistance, punished any Jew who refused to join his ranks. It was then that Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube. The Fifth Macedonian Legion and the Eleventh Claudian Legion had also taken part in war operations in Judea at the time. Roman losses were very heavy, and it is believed that an entire legion, the XXII Deiotariana was destroyed. Indeed, Roman losses were so heavy that Hadrian''s report to the Roman Senate omitted the customary salutation "I and the legions are well".

Hadrian''s army eventually put down the rebellion in 135. According to Cassius Dio, overall war operations in the land of Judea left some 580,000 Jews killed, and 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed to the ground. The most famous battle took place in Beitar, a fortified city 10 km. southwest of Jerusalem. The city only fell after a lengthy siege of three and a half years, at which time Hadrian prohibited the Jews from burying their dead. They were eventually afforded burial when Antoninus (Pius) succeeded Hadrian as Roman Emperor. According to the Babylonian Talmud, after the war Hadrian continued the persecution of Jews.

Roman Inscription found near Battir mentioning the 5th and 11th Roman Legions

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 barred 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), an expression never used even with respect to Vespasian or Titus who destroyed the Second Temple.

In Rabbinic literature

Rabbinic literature is critical of his foreign policy, particularly that of religious tolerance concerning the Jews. Indeed, his policies were viewed as an attack on the religious freedom of Torah law practice. Most of the stories related by the Sages of Israel reflect a two-faced approach to tolerance of the Jewish people. In one story he punishes a Jew who failed to greet him, and then punishes another Jew who wished him well. When asked what the logic was for his punishing both men, he replied: "You wish to give me advice on how to kill my enemies?"

In another story, Hadrian got down from his chariot and bowed to a Jewish girl afflicted with leprosy. When queried by his soldiers as to why he did this, Hadrian responded with a dual verse from the book of Isaiah in praise of the nation of Israel "So says God the redeemer of Israel to the downtrodden soul to the (made) repulsive nation, kings will view and stand."

The Malbim commentary to the book of Daniel comments how Hadrian erected a statue of himself at the site of the Bet HaMikdash on a day marking the anniversary of the Temple''s destruction by Titus.

According to Jewish historical records of that time, the famous rabbi and scholar and a contemporary of Hadrian, Rabbi Yehoshua, the son of Hananiah, opposed any Jewish military intervention against the occupying Roman army, in spite of Rome''s harsh decrees against the Jewish people. Rabbi Yehoshua, the son of Hananiah, is reported as saying: "A lion once pounced upon its prey and got a bone stuck in his throat. He then said, ''Whosoever comes and takes it out, I will give to him a reward.'' An Egyptian heron came along whose bill is long, and reaching down into the lion''s throat, extracted the bone. The bird then said to the lion, ''Give to me my reward.'' The lion replied, ''Just be happy that you can say, I went down into the lion''s mouth and I came out alive and well.'' It is the same with us. It is enough that we have gone into this nation and came out with our lives."

Final years SuccessionBronze bust of Hadrian found in London in the British Museum

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 1 January 138.

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


Hadrian died in the year 138 on the 10th of July, in his villa at Baiae at the age of 62. The cause of death is believed to have been heart failure. Dio Cassius and the Historia Augusta record details of his failing health.

He 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:

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
  • Darker purple indicates Emperor of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty; lighter purple indicates designated imperial heir of said dynasty who never reigned
  • dashed lines indicate adoption; dotted lines indicate love affairs/unmarried relationships
  • small caps = posthumously deified (Augusti, Augustae, or other)

Q. Marcius Barea Soranus Q. Marcius Barea Sura Antonia Furnilla M. Cocceius Nerva Sergia Plautilla P. Aelius Hadrianus
Titus (r. 79-81) Marcia Furnilla Marcia Trajanus Pater Nerva (r. 96–98) Ulpia Aelius Hadrianus Marullinus
Julia Flavia Marciana G. Salonius Matidius Trajan (r. 98–117) Plotina P. Acilius Attianus P. Aelius Afer Paulina Major L. Julius Ursus Servianus
Lucius Mindius (2) Libo Rupilius Frugi (3) Matidia L. Vibius Sabinus (1) Antinous Hadrian (r. 117–138) Paulina Minor
Matidia Minor Suetonius Sabina
M. Annius Verus G. Fuscus Salinator I Julia Serviana Paulina
Rupilia Faustina Boionia Procilla G. Arrius Antoninus
L. Caesennius Paetus L. Ceionius Commodus Appia Severa G. Fuscus Salinator II
Arria Antonia Arria Fadilla T. Aurelius Fulvus
L. Caesennius Antoninus Lucius Commodus Fundania Plautia Ignota Plautia G. Avidius Nigrinus
Antoninus Pius (r. 138–161)
M. Annius Verus Domitia Lucilla Fundania M. Annius Libo FAUSTINA Lucius Aelius Caesar Avidia Plautia
Cornificia MARCUS AURELIUS (r. 161–180) FAUSTINA Minor G. Avidius Cassius Aurelia Fadilla LUCIUS VERUS (r. 161–169) (1) Ceionia Fabia Plautius Quintillus Q. Servilius Pudens Ceionia Plautia
Cornificia Minor M. Petronius Sura COMMODUS (r. 177–192) Fadilla M. Annius Verus Caesar T. Claudius Pompeianus (2) Lucilla M. Plautius Quintillus Junius Licinius Balbus Servilia Ceionia
Petronius Antoninus L. Aurelius Agaclytus (2) Aurelia Sabina L. Antistius Burrus (1) Plautius Quintillus Plautia Servilla G. Furius Sabinus Timesitheus Antonia Gordiana Junius Licinius Balbus
Furia Sabina Tranquillina GORDIAN III (r. 238-244)
  • ^ In Classical Latin, Hadrian''s name would be inscribed as PVBLIVS AELIVS HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS.
  • ^ As emperor his name was Imperator Caesar Divi Traiani filius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus.
  • ^ a b Alicia M. Canto, Itálica, Sedes natalis de Adriano
  • ^ 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)
  • ^ Mary T. Boatwright (2008). "From Domitian to Hadrian". In Barrett, Anthony. Lives of the Caesars. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 159. ISBN 978-1405127554. 
  • ^ 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.
  • ^ 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).
  • ^ Royston Lambert, 1984, p. 175
  • ^ Alicia M. Canto, "Itálica, patria y ciudad natal de Adriano (31 textos históricos y argumentos contra Vita Hadr. His father died in AD 86 when Hadrian was at the age of 10. 1, 3", Athenaeum vol. 92.2, 2004, pp. 367–408 UNIPV.it
  • ^ Ronald Syme, in "Hadrian and Italica" (Journal of Roman Studies, LIV, 1964; pp. 142–9) examined the question and concluded that Rome was his birthplace. Against this is the argument of Canto, who argues that only one ancient source gives Hadrian''s birth as 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). 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 erroneously 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, 90–1, 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)...".
  • ^ 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
  • ^ On the numerous senatorial families from Spain 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
  • ^ a b Royston Lambert, Beloved And God, pp.31–32.
  • ^ Aul.Gell., Noct.Att. XVI, 13, 4, and some inscriptions in the city with C(olonia) A(elia) A(ugusta) I(talica)
  • ^ The inscription in footnote 1
  • ^ H. W. Benario in Roman-emperors.org
  • ^ Anthony Birley, Hadrian the Restless Emperor, p. 68
  • ^ Anthony Birley, p. 75
  • ^ Elizabeth Speller, p. 25
  • ^ Kennedy, Maev (2008-06-09). "How Victorian restorers faked the clothes that seemed to show Hadrian''s softer side". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  • ^ Royston Lambert, p. 34
  • ^ a b Elizabeth Speller.
  • ^ Elizabeth Speller, p. 69
  • ^ Lambert, Royston, Beloved and God, New York: Viking, 1984, pp. 1–14 passim.
  • ^ Historia Augusta (c. 395) Hadr. 14.5–7
  • ^ "Antinous’s mysterious death in the Nile led to a Graeco-Egyptian hero-cult to surpass all others in the Greek-speaking world, and busts of the young man are now among the most common from antiquity." (MacGregor, Neil, "There’s more to Hadrian than wall-building", Times of London, 6 July 2008. Dyson, Stephen L., Rome: A Living Portrait of an Ancient City, p. 195.
  • ^ "The public taking of Antinous the Greek as a lover makes more sense as a deliberate political manoeuvre designed to ingratiate himself with the Greek-speakers who still made up 50% of the empire." (Januszczak, Waldemar, "Hadrian – Empire and Conflict at the British Museum", Times of London, 20 July 2008) Lambert, op. cit. p. 185.
  • ^ Historia Augusta, Hadrian 2.1.
  • ^ a b c Fox, Robin The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian Basic Books. 2006 pg 574
  • ^ Conway, A. E. (1914). "?". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 25 (138): 346–349. JSTOR 859783. 
  • ^ "Facts About the Byzantine Emperors". Web2.airmail.net. 2001-09-07. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  • ^ a b Elizabeth Speller, pp. 74–81
  • ^ Epiphanius, Treatise on Weights and Measures – Syriac Version (ed. James Elmer Dean), University of Chicago Press, c1935, pp. 29–30
  • ^ 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.
  • ^ Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Hadrian, xi, 2
  • ^ Breeze, David J., and Brian Dobson, "Hadrian''s Wall: Some Problems", Britannia, Vol. 3, (1972), pp. 182–208
  • ^ Birley, pp. 131–3
  • ^ Breeze and Dobson (2000) pp. 15–7
  • ^ "Britannia on British Coins". Chard. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  • ^ Royston Lambert, pp. 41–2
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 151–2
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 153–5
  • ^ a b Anthony Birley, pp. 157–8
  • ^ Royston Lambert, pp. 60–1
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 164–7
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 175–7
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 177–80
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 182–4
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 189–190
  • ^ a b Anthony Birley, pp. 191–200
  • ^ Royston Lambert, pp. 71–2
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 213–4
  • ^ Anthony Birley, pp. 215–20
  • ^ Cassius Dio, LIX.11; Historia Augusta, Hadrian
  • ^ Ronald Syme, "Journeys of Hadrian" (1988), pp. 164–9
  • ^ Midrash Rabba, Genesis Rabba 64 (end)
  • ^ Epiphanius, Treatise on Weights and Measures – Syriac Version (ed. James Elmer Dean), University of Chicago Press, c1935, p. 30
  • ^ Virgilio Corbo, The Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (1981)
  • ^ Cassius Dio, Roman history 69.12.1
  • ^ Schäfer, Peter (1998). Judeophobia: Attitudes Toward the Jews in the Ancient World. Harvard University Press. pp. 103–105. ISBN 9780674043213. Retrieved 2014-02-01. " Hadrian''s ban on circumcision, allegedly imposed sometime between 128 and 132 CE . The only proof for Hadrian''s ban on circumcision is the short note in the Historia Augusta: ''At this time also the Jews began war, because they were forbidden to mutilate their genitals (quot vetabantur mutilare genitalia). The historical credibility of this remark is controversial The earliest evidence for circumcision in Roman legislation is an edict by Antoninus Pius (138-161 CE), Hadrian''s successor t is not utterly impossible that Hadrian indeed considered circumcision as a ''barbarous mutilation'' and tried to prohihit it. However, this proposal cannot be more than a conjecture, and, of course, it does not solve the questions of when Hadrian issued the decree (before or during/after the Bar Kokhba war) and whether it was directed solely against Jews or also against other peoples." 
  • ^ Mackay, Christopher. Ancient Rome a Military and Political History 2007: 230
  • ^ The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome Peter Schäfer Mohr Siebeck, 2003 pg 68
  • ^ The History of the Jews in the Greco-Roman World: The Jews of Palestine from Alexander the Great to the Arab Conquest By Peter Schäfer Routledge, 2 Sep 2003 pg 146
  • ^ Historia Augusta, Hadrian14.2
  • ^ Chronicle of Jerome, s.v. Hadrian. See:

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