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Hadrian

Hadrian

The Roman emperor Hadrian (76-138), or Publius Aelius Hadrianus, reversed the expansionist policies of Rome in a permanent shift to the defensive.

Hadrian was born in Rome on Jan. 24, 76. A ward of his uncle, Emperor Trajan, he spent the first 30 years of his life as a general and public official under Trajan's tutelage. There was a cloud over Hadrian's accession, for Trajan, though a relation, did not adopt him until on his deathbed, and there was some doubt even of that. The prompt execution of four possible rivals, though done without Hadrian's knowledge, also raised doubt.

Accession to the Throne

At Hadrian's accession the Jewish revolt over much of the East and Trajan's faltering Parthian War were his first concerns. He ended the war by abandoning Armenia and Trajan's Parthian conquests, quelled the Jewish revolt, and returned to Rome (118). His administration was marked throughout by great care for finances—Trajan's wars had proved too costly—and strict governmental supervision of an increasing number of sectors of public and private life. Of great importance was his policy of appointing equestrians (knights), the class below the senators, instead of freedmen to head the imperial bureaus. He thus recognized that these bureaus were organs of state, not household chores to be left to the Emperor's personal servants.

Hadrian's defensive policy posed problems of military discipline and morale, since it is always harder to maintain the efficiency of an army whose training may never be put to use. His answer was endless personal supervision, and he spent approximately half his reign touring the provinces on inspection. The system worked under Hadrian, but in time the efficiency of the armies declined.

Another result of Hadrian's defensive policy was the need for clearly marked frontiers and for border fortresses. He strengthened the defenses, notably in Germany and in Britain, where the most famous of all his frontier works, Hadrian's Wall, crosses Britain approximately along the border between England and Scotland.

Hadrian's last years were darkened by a new revolt of the Jews and the question of succession. He was responsible for the Jewish outbreak, since he decided to rebuild Jerusalem, in ruins since A.D. 70, as a Greek city with all Jews excluded save on one day a year. He also built a temple to Jupiter and the Emperor on the very site of the Jewish temple. This was too much to bear for the Jews of Judea, who had remained quiet during the previous revolt. They rose in 132, and the revolt lasted 3 1/2 years and cost the lives, it is said, of half a million people.

The Succession

Hadrian became ill about 135, and the quest for a successor was acute. For unknown reasons he executed his nearest relation (136) and adopted Aelius Verus. Hadrian continued to linger, however, and Verus died. He then adopted Aurelius Antoninus, making him in turn adopt Verus's son Lucius Verus and Antoninus's own nephew, the future emperor Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian died unlamented on July 10, 138.

The most many-sided of the emperors, Hadrian was interested in all the arts. In literature his taste ran toward the archaic; in sculpture he preferred the classic. But his favorite discipline was architecture; he built the Pantheon and Castel Sant' Angelo, his own tomb, in Rome; added a whole new quarter to Athens; and made of his palace at Tibur (modern Tivoli) a museum of replicas of buildings he had seen on his travels.

Further Reading

The only surviving ancient biography of Hadrian is in the collection known as the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, vol. 1, translated by David Magie (1921). The best modern treatment is Bernard W. Henderson, The Life and Principate of the Emperor Hadrian (1923). See also Sulamith Ish-Kishor, Magnificent Hadrian (1935). A brief but excellent discussion of Hadrian is in Edward T. Salmon, A History of the Roman World from 30 B.C. to A.D. 138 (1944; 6th ed. 1968). Hadrian's buildings are considered in Paul MacKendrick, The Mute Stones Speak (1960).

Additional Sources

Lambert, Royston, Beloved and God:the story of Hadrian and Antinous, New York, NY:Viking, 1984.

Perowne, Stewart, Hadrian, London; Dover, N.H.:Croom Helm, 1986, 1960. □

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Hadrian (Roman emperor)

Hadrian (hā´drēən), AD 76–138, Roman emperor (117–138), b. Spain. His name in full was Publius Aelius Hadrianus. An orphan, he became the ward of Trajan. Hadrian distinguished himself as a commander (especially in Dacia) and as an administrator. Trajan's choice of Hadrian as his successor, announced after his death, caused some discontent in Rome. His reign was vigorous and judicious, and he ruled over a prosperous and relatively peaceful era. Hadrian proved his military skill in pacifying (118) Moesia. Abandoning Trajan's aggressively expansionist policy in Asia, he withdrew to the boundary of the Euphrates. In Palestine, however, he proved himself ruthless. His Romanizing policy aroused opposition there, especially when he excluded the Jews from Jerusalem. He put down (AD 132) the insurrection of Bar Kokba with great severity; the ensuing war (132–135) was the most difficult of his reign. In Rome he was generous in offering circuses and in giving alms to the poor, and he enlarged and reformed the civil service.

Hadrian traveled extensively in the empire, interesting himself in all the local affairs of state and adorning the provincial cities. In Germany he built great protective walls, and in Britain (where he had visited c.121) he had Hadrian's Wall constructed. He built a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the site of the ruined Temple at Jerusalem and renamed Jerusalem Colonia Aelia Capitolina. He also built the Arch of Hadrian in Athens, and in Rome he rebuilt the Pantheon, added to the Roman Forum, and erected a mausoleum (now Castel Sant'Angelo). His last years were spent more or less quietly in Rome and in his villa at Tibur (which has been excavated), cultivating the arts. He was learned in Greek and accomplished in poetry and music. Hadrian also patronized artists, and his love for the doomed young Antinoüs was memorialized by sculptors and architects. As his successor he chose Antoninus Pius.

See S. Perowine, Hadrian (1987); M. T. Boatwright, Hadrian and the City of Rome (1989); A Everitt, Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome (2009).

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Hadrian

Hadrian. Roman emperor 117–38. Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born in 76, probably at Italica near Seville. Related by marriage to Trajan, he became a ward of the future emperor on the death of his father. During Trajan's reign he progressed through a series of military and civil offices, succeeding Trajan in 117. In the early part of his reign he toured his empire, coming to Britain in 122. Here he commanded the building of the wall which bears his name. The forum at Wroxeter was dedicated in his reign and other public buildings are dated to this period, though it is far from certain that he consciously encouraged civil development in the province. An over-life-size bronze head of Hadrian from the Thames, now in the British Museum, suggests a colossal statue or a temple to him in London, perhaps after his deification by the Senate at the urging of his successor, Antoninus Pius.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary

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Hadrian

Hadrian (ad 76–138), Roman emperor from 117. The adopted successor of Trajan, he toured the provinces of the Empire and secured the frontiers.

The building of Hadrian's Wall, a Roman defensive wall across northern England, stretching from the Solway Firth in the west to the mouth of the River Tyne in the east (about 120 km, 74 miles), was begun just after his visit to Britain, to defend the province of Britain against invasions by tribes from the north. The wall was built of stone and was 2.5–3 m thick, with forts and fortified posts at intervals along its length. After Hadrian's death the frontier was advanced to the Antonine Wall, which the Romans proved unable to hold; after being overrun and restored several times Hadrian's Wall was abandoned c.410 ad.

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Hadrian (for popes, variant spelling of Adrian)

Hadrian: For popes of that name, use Adrian.

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Hadrian

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