Kaiserbiographien: Hadrian (117 – 138 n. Chr.)

März 30th, 2014 | von Andreas C. Hofmann |

prospectiva imperialia Nr. 14 [29.03.2014]

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Hadrian (117-138 A.D.)

Herbert W. Benario, Emory University

Abb.: http://www.luc.edu/roman-emperors/trjan-s1.jpe

Introduction and Sources

„During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administrationwas conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this and of the two succeeding chaptersto describe the prosperous condition of their empire, and afterwards, fromthe death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstancesof its decline and fall, a revolution which will ever be remembered andis still felt by the nations of the earth.“

So Edward Gibbon concluded the first paragraph of his massive TheDecline and Fall of the Roman Empire, referring to a period which healso styled the happiest of mankind’s history. Hadrian was the centralfigure of these „five good emperors,“ the one most responsible for changingthe character and nature of the empire. He was also one of the most remarkableand talented individuals Rome ever produced.

The sources for a study of Hadrian are varied. There is no major historianfor his reign, such as Tacitus or Livy. The chief literary sources arethe biography in the Historia Augusta, the first surviving lifein a series intended to continue Suetonius‘ Lives of the Caesars.[[1]]Debate about this collection of imperial biographies has been heated andcontentious for more than a century. The most convincing view is that whichsees the whole as the work of a single author writing in the last yearsof the fourth century. The information offered ranges from the preciselyaccurate to the most wildly imaginative.[[2]]

Cassius Dio, who wrote in the decade of the 230s, produced a long historyof the empire which has survived, for the Hadrianic period, only in anabbreviated version.[[3]] Fourth century historians,such as Aurelius Victor and Eutropius, occasionally furnish bits of information.Contemporaries or near-contemporaries of Hadrian, such as Arrian, Fronto,Pausanias, and Plutarch, are also useful. Papyri, inscriptions, coins,and legal writings are extremely important. Archaeology in all its aspectscontributes mightily to any attempt to probe the character of a man andemperor whose personality and thoughts defy close analysis and understanding.

Early Life and Career

Hadrian was born on January 24, 76. Where he saw the light of day was,even in antiquity, matter for debate. Italica, in Hispania Baetica, wasthe birthplace of Trajan and was also consideredthat of Hadrian. But the HA reports that he was born in Rome, andthat seems the more likely choice, since it is the more unexpected. Theactual place of one’s birth was, however, unimportant, since it was one’spatriawhich was crucial. Hadrian’s ancestors had come to Spain generations before,from the town of Hadria in Picenum, at the end of the Second Punic War.Italica’s tribus, to which Hadrian belonged, was the Sergia.His father, P. Aelius Afer, had reached the praetorship by the time ofhis death in 85/86, his mother, Domitia Paulina, came from a distinguishedfamily of Gades, one of the wealthiest cities in the empire. His sisterPaulina married Servianus, who played a significant role in Hadrian’s career.Trajanwas the father’s cousin; when Afer died, Trajanand P. Acilius Attianus, likewise of Italica, became Hadrian’s guardians.[[4]]

At the age of about ten, Hadrian went to Italica for the first time(or returned, if he had been there earlier in his childhood), where heremained for only a brief time. He then returned to the capital and soonbegan a rapid rise through the cursus honorum; he was a militarytribune of three different legions in consecutive years, a series of appointmentswhich clearly marked him for a military career, and reached the consulateas a suffect at the age of 32, the earliest possible under the principate.At Trajan’s death, he was legate of theprovince of Syria, with responsibility for the security of the east inthe aftermath of Trajan’s Parthian War.

His career as a privatus follows:

decemvir stlitibus iudicandis
sevir turmae equitum Romanorum
praefectus urbi feriarum Latinarum
trib. militum legionis II Adiutricis Piae Fidelis (95, in Pannoniainferior)
trib. militum legionis V Macedonicae (96, in Moesia inferior)
trib. militum legionis XXII Primigeniae Piae Fidelis (97, inGermania superior)
quaestor (101)
ab actis senatus
tribunus plebis (105)
praetor (106)
legatus legionis I Minerviae Piae Fidelis (106, in Germaniainferior)
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)

(Some of these dates are less than secure; important for much of thisinformation is the Athens inscription [Smallwood 109]).

Relationship to Trajan, Marriage, and Adoption

Hadrian’s only male relative after the death of his father was M.Ulpius Traianus, his father’s cousin, hence his own first cousinonce removed. Trajan and his wife, PompeiaPlotina, had no children, and were surrogate parents to the child Hadrian.Trajan’s influence in government was steadily increasing, both throughhis own merits and because of his father’s great services to Vespasianin the civil wars and afterwards.[[5]] WhenTrajanwas adopted by Nerva and designated successorin late 97, Hadrian carried the congratulations of the Moesian legionsto him along the Rhine, and was kept there by Trajanto serve in a German legion. In 100, largely at the instance of Plotina, Hadrianmarried Trajan’s grand-niece Vibia Sabina,ten years his junior. This marriage was not a happy one, although it endureduntil her death in 136 or 137. There were no children, and it was reportedthat Sabina performed an abortion upon herself in order not to produceanother monster.[[6]] In spite of marital unhappiness,the union was crucial for Hadrian, because it linked him even more closelywith the emperor’s family. He got along very well with his mother-in-lawMatidia and with the empress, whose favor enhanced his career.

In mid-summer 117, when Trajan was returningfrom his Parthian campaigns, he fell ill while at Selinus in Cilicia anddied on August 8. The following day his adoption of Hadrian was announcedby Plotina and Attianus, the praetorian prefect who had earlier been Hadrian’sguardian, with some question whether Trajanhad indeed performed the act or whether it was posthumous, thanks to hiswidow. On August 11, which he considered his dies imperii, the armyof Syria hailed its legate, Hadrian, as emperor, which made the senate’sformal acceptance an almost meaningless event. This was an example of thehistorian Tacitus‘ famous dictum that an emperor could be made elsewherethan at Rome.[[7]]

Succession and the Affair of the Four Consulars

Hadrian chose as his official title Imperator Caesar Traianus HadrianusAugustus (for much of the decade of the 120s, he was simply known asHadrianus Augustus). He must then have proceeded to Selinus at once fromAntioch, to catch up with Attianus, Plotina, and Matidia. He then returnedto his province no later than September and stayed there at least intothe new year, consolidating his administration. He began the year as cos.II; whether he had been so designated by Trajanis unknown. On January 3, 118, the Arval Brethren met in Rome to offervows for the well-being of the emperor, which shows that he was not inthe capital. In June or July they sacrificed because of the arrival ofthe emperor who is present at the ceremony. He therefore may have takenas much as eleven months from his accession to return to Rome. He saw tothe deification of his predecessor and celebrated games in honor of theconsecration. Trajan’s ashes were placedin the base of his column, by special dispensation, since burials wereprohibited within the pomerium.

Anticipation of his arrival had been overshadowed by the execution offour men of great importance, who had all held consulates and commands.This action had been ordered by the senate, perhaps at the instigationof the praetorian prefect Attianus. Hadrian always disclaimed responsibiltybut his relations with the senate were irrevocably damaged, never reallyto improve until his death, when the senate hoped to have posthumous revenge.The four men were Cornelius Palma (cos. II 109), who had been withTrajanin the east and had been governor of Syria, Avidius Nigrinus (cos.110), governor of Dacia, Publilius Celsus (cos. II 113), and LusiusQuietus, a Moorish chieftain (cos. 117), governor of Judaea andone of Trajan’s chief generals. Personalenmity toward Hadrian certainly existed, perhaps because of Hadrian’s moveaway from Trajan’s policy of expansion,perhaps because of jealousy that Hadrian had been preferred for the succession.Be that as it may, they were all Trajan’smen,and their elimination certainly made Hadrian’s course easier. But the odiumthereby raised caused him dismay until the end of his days.[[8]]He was cos. III in 119, which proved to be the last consulship heheld. He thereby showed himself to be different from many of predecessors:Augustus held 13, Vespasian 9, Titus8, Domitian 17, Trajan 6. He was similarly sparing in his acceptance of other titles; he becamepaterpatriae only in 128.

Foreign policy, wars, and travel

In two important passages, Cassius Dio sets the tone for this section:

„Once, when a woman made a request of him as he passed by on a journey,he at first said to her, ‚I haven’t time,‘ but afterwards, when she criedout, ‚Cease, then, being emperor,‘ he turned about and granted her a hearing.“(69.6.3)

„Hadrian travelled through one province after another, visiting thevarious regions and cities and inspecting all the garrisons and forts.Some of these he removed to more desirable places, some he abolished, andhe also established some new ones. He personally viewed and investigatedabsolutely everything, not merely the usual appurtenances of camps, suchas weapons, engines, trenches, ramparts and palisades, but also the privateaffairs of every one, both of the men serving in the ranks and of the officersthemselves, – their lives, their quarters and their habits, – and he reformedand corrected in many cases practices and arrangements for living thathad become too luxurious. He drilled the men for every kind of battle,honouring some and reproving others, and he taught them all what shouldbe done. And in order that they should be benefited by observing him, heeverywhere led a rigorous life and either walked or rode on horseback onall occasions, never once at this period setting foot in either a chariotor a four-wheeled vehicle. He covered his head neither in hot weather norin cold, but alike amid German snows and under scorching Egyptian sunshe went about with his head bare. In fine, both by his example and by hisprecepts he so trained and disciplined the whole military force throughoutthe entire empire that even to-day the methods then introduced by him arethe soldiers‘ law of campaigning.“ (69.9.1-4; both passages in the translation of E. Cary in the Loeb edition)

These views of Hadrian stem from an historian who lived a century afterthe emperor’s reign. He appears as a conscientious administrator, an inveteratetraveler, and a general deeply concerned for the well-being of his armies,and thus of the empire. There was generally peace throughout its lands,although his principate was not entirely peaceful.

First of all, he had to quash the Jewish uprising which had begun underTrajanand spread throughout the diaspora. Then there were disturbances in Mauretania,Dacia, and in northern Britain. Late in his reign, after deciding to resettlethe site of Jerusalem as the city of Aelia Capitolina and build a templeto Jupiter on the site of the Jewish temple, another uprising occurred,more bitter still than its recent predecessor.

Hadrian’s goal as emperor was to establish natural or man-made boundariesfor the empire. He had realized that its extent had severely strained theempire’s capacity to maintain and protect it. Consolidation was his policy,not expansion, and this brought him enmity in the early years, when Trajan’seastern conquests were abandoned (a process already begun by Trajan)and withdrawal from Dacia was contemplated.

Hadrian’s own military experience was extensive. He had served in provincesin the east, along the Danube, and along the Rhine. Soon after his arrivalin Rome, he began the lengthy journeys which took him to almost every province.He was absent from Italy from 121 to 125, from 128 to 132, and from 134to 136. He spent more than half his reign traveling; he displayed a Wanderlustunlike that of any of his predecessors, and sharply contrasting with thepractice of his successor, who never left Italy.

Evidence for his precise routes and his goals is often entirely absent.One must frequently infer from what is known, and most lists differ insome details. The following is exemplary:

121 Gallia
Germania superior
Raetia
Noricum
Germania superior
122 Germania inferior
Britannia (where he began the construction of the
Wall which bears his name)
Gallia
Gallia Narbonensis (Nemausus)
Hispania (Tarraco)
123 Mauretania (?)
Africa (?)
Libya
Cyrene
Crete
Syria
The Euphrates (Melitene)
Pontus
Bithynia
Asia
124 Thrace
Moesia
Dacia
Pannonia
Achaia
Athens
125 Achaea
Sicily
Rome
128 Africa
Rome
Athens
129 Asia
Pamphylia
Phrygia
Pisidia
Cilicia
Syria
Commagene (Samosata)
Cappadocia
Pontus
Syria (Antioch)
130 Judaea
Arabia
Egypt (Nile trip; death of Antinous; Alexandria)
131 Libyan desert
Syria
Asia
Athens
132 Rome
134 Syria
Judaea
Egypt (?)
Syria (Antioch)
135 Syria
136 Rome

His stay in the East these last years was necessitated by the JewishWar. His recurrent visits to Athens stemmed from his devotion to Greekculture and the city itself, which had elected him archon while he wasstill a private citizen (112). He much preferred the eastern provinces,the Greek lands, to the western ones. After 128/9, he was hailed as Olympios,after 132 as Panhellenios, and also as Panionios. Otherwise,his travels were intended to gain intimate knowledge of people and provinces,of the military in all its aspects, and to help produce a better and securerlife for almost all his subjects.

Domestic policy and legal activity

Hadrian was so little in Italy, compared with his time abroad, thathis governmental policies at home play a lesser role in consideration ofhis entire principate. Yet they have significance, because they displaythe same tendency toward order and consolidation as his external policies.When he arrived in Rome in July 118 to a hostile reception on the partof the senate, because of the death of the four consulars, he devoted attentionto matters of significance to the people. He pursued the honors due Trajan,their favorite, examined the financial ledgers of the empire and discoveredthat there was an enormous sum of uncollectable debts, some 900,000,000sesterces. He determined to remove these from the accounts and begin hisreign with a clean slate. Consequently the records of these debts werepublicly burned, an event which, obviously, gained him public favor.[[9]]It was represented in the relief of the plutei Traiani, presentlydisplayed in the Senate house in the Forum.[[10]]He also continued and expanded the practice of the alimenta, wherebystate money was lent to individuals who paid interest to their local communities.This money supported the local economy and helped maintain orphans.[[11]]He also ensured that the grain supply upon which Rome depended became moresecure with his dramatic building program in Ostia.[[12]]

The most significant legal achievement was the codification of the praetorianand aedilician edicts. This task was assigned to Salvius Julianus, whoproduced one of the glories of Roman legal science.

Underscoring the importance of Hadrian’s work, Kunkel in his magisterialsurvey of Roman law indicates, „Edicts were magistral proclamations whosecontent and scope might be very diverse. . . . At least from the late Republiconwards litigants could, vis-à-vis a magistrate, rely onthe contents of the edicts as confidently as on a statute, for magistrateswere by lex Cornelia of 67 B.C. strictly bound by their edicts.“[[13]]

These edicts, covering centuries, Julianus brought together into a straightforwardand modern document, which became the basis of subsequent praetorian andaedilician activity in the field of law. The Edict has been lost, but manyexcerpts made by commentators upon it have survived in Justinian’s Code.[[14]]

Many letters and rescripts of Hadrian have survived, which, in theirvariety, illustrate the almost infinite range of matters which were referredto the emperor. Two important ones may be exemplary. In 121, at the requestof Plotina, who was deeply interested in the Epicurean School at Athens,he permits the presidency of the school to be assumed by someone who isnot a Roman citizen, thereby increasing the pool of potential candidatessubstantially.[[15]] Hadrian’s rescript toMinicius Fundanus is crucial for our understanding of the development ofRome’s relations with the Christians. He essentially reiterates Trajan’sresponse to Pliny (Ep. 10.97). Minicius was governor of Asia in124/5. Hadrian’s communication replied to a question put to him by Minicius’predecessor, Serennius Granianus.[[16]]

Literary and artistic achievements

Hadrian was a man of extraordinary talents, certainly one of the mostgifted that Rome ever produced. He became a fine public speaker, he wasa student of philosophy and other subjects, who could hold his own withthe luminaries in their fields, he wrote both an autobiography and poetry,and he was a superb architect. It was in this last area that he left hisgreatest mark, with several of the empire’s most extraordinary buildingsand complexes stemming from his fertile mind. The anonymous author of theHistoriaAugusta described Hadrian as Fuit enim poematum et litterarum nimiumstudiosissimus. Arithmeticae, geometriae, picturae peritissimus.[[17]]

He rebuilt Agrippa’s Pantheon into the remarkable building that survivestoday, reconstructing the accustomed temple facade, with columns and pediment,but attaching it to a drum which was surmounted by a coffered dome. Thelatter was pierced by an oculus nine meters in diameter, which wasthe main source of illumination. Height and diameter were identical, 43.3meters. The dome remained the largest in the world until the twentiethcentury. As was his custom, he replaced the original inscription of Agrippaon the architrave; seldom did he put his own name on a monument.[[18]]
To complete Trajan’s Forum, which hadbeen planned by Apollodorus on a tremendous scale, he added a large templededicated to the deified Trajan and Plotina.He thereby made this forum more similar to its four imperial predecessors,each of which had a temple as its focus.[[19]]

On April 21, 121, the dies natalis of the city of Rome, Hadrianbegan construction of a temple unique in design and larger than any otherever built by the Romans. Its length of more than 100 meters made it theonly Roman addition to the short list of temples built by the Greeks whichwere at least that long. Even more extraordinary was the interior, withina fully peripteral colonnade. There were two cellae, back to back, withan apse at the end in which were placed the statues of the goddesses Venusand Roma, gigantic statues which, Apollodorus is said to have sneered,would bang their heads if they got up.[[20]]The temple dominated the east end of the Roman forum, built on the heightsof the Velia, overwhelming Titus‘ Arch andfacing the Amphitheatrum Flavium. He thereby linked his own achievementsas conqueror of the Jews and great builder with his Flavian predecessors.Unlike Vespasian and Trajan,who built new fora which bore their names, Hadrian was more interestedin individual monuments, the novelty and magnitude of which would keephis name alive.[[21]] Late in life, he beganconstruction of a mausoleum, larger than that of Augustus, on the otherside of the Tiber and down river from it. It was approached by a new bridgeacross the river, the Pons Aelius. The mausoleum had not been completedat the time of his death.[[22]]His most imaginative,nay stupendous, architectural achievement was his villa at Tibur, the modernTivoli, some 30 kilometers ENE of Rome, in the plain at the foot of theSabine Hills. It covered some 700 acres and contained about 100 buildings,some of which were among the most daring ever attempted in antiquity. HereHadrian reconstructed, so to speak, many of the places which he had visitedin his travels, such as the Canopus of Alexandria and the vale of Tempe.[[23]]

He also left his mark on almost every city and province to which hecame. He paid particular attention to Athens, where he completed the greattemple of Olympian Zeus, some six centuries after construction had begun,and made it the centerpiece of a new district of the city.

Hadrian’s relationship with philosophers and other scholars was generallyfractious. He often scorned their achievements while showing his own superiority.An anecdote about an argument which he had with the eminent philosopherand sophist Favorinus revealed the inequity of such disagreement. AlthoughFavorinus was correct, he gave way to Hadrian, and when rebuked by friends,replied, „You advise me badly, friends, since you do not permit me to believethat he who commands thirty legions is the most learned of all.“[[24]]

Hadrian’s literary taste inclined toward the archaic and the odd. Hepreferred Cato to Cicero, Ennius to Vergil, Coelius Antipater to Sallust,and disapproved of Homer and Plato as well. Indeed, the epic writer Antimachusof Colophon supplanted Homer in Hadrian’s estimation.[[25]]The biographer Suetonius held office under Hadrian but was discharged in122 for disrespect to the empress.[[26]] Thehistorian Tacitus, who may have lived into Hadrian’s reign, seems to havefound no favor with the emperor.

His best known literary work is the short poem which he is said to havecomposed shortly before his death. These five lines have caused commentatorsmuch interpretative woe.

animula vagula blandula
hospes comesque corporis
quae nunc abibis in loca
pallidula rigida nudula
nec ut soles dabis iocos! (25.9)

„Little soul, wandering and pale, guest and companion of my body, youwho will now go off to places pale, stiff, and barren, nor will you makejokes as has been your wont.“[[27]]

Another four lines of verse are preserved by the HA, part ofan exchange with the poet Florus. [[28]] Mentionis also made of his autobiography, which he had published under someoneelse’s name.[[29]]

Antinous

Probably the aspect of Hadrian’s life which is most widely known ishis relationship with the handsome youth Antinous. He was a Bithynian,born about 110, whom Hadrian met when the lad was in his mid-teens. Hejoined Hadrian’s entourage and was with him in Egypt in the fall of 130.During the course of the emperor’s Nile cruise, Antinous drowned. The reason(or reasons) were not known. Conjecture of course abounded. The HAsuggests that Antinous offered himself to save Hadrian’s life and thatthere was a homosexual relationship between them. Tradition also reportedthat Antinous committed suicide because an oracle had stated that, if hedid so, the remaining years of life that he could expect would be transferredto the emperor. There is even the unsensational possibility that the childlessemperor, whose relationship with his wife was at best cool, looked uponthe attractive young man as the son whom he had never had. Whatever thefacts, Hadrian’s grief was extravagant, and he caused the youth to be worshippedas a god throughout the empire and cities in his honor were establishedin many places. An Antinoopolis rose along the Nile near the spot wherehe drowned. Many statues of Antinous have survived, which reveal his fleshyand attractive appearance.[[30]]

End of life and problems of succession

When Hadrian returned to Rome in 136 from the east with its great responsibilitiesof the Jewish War, his health had deteriorated markedly. He was now 60years old, lonely and despondent. The empress Sabina had died, Antinouswas gone, few remained to whom he felt close. He therefore began to contemplatea successor, in order to avoid a situation such as had occurred beforehis own accession. Then, he was the obvious, indeed the only sensible choice;now, there was no one who, by military distinction or close relationshipwith him, would stand out. His choice, L. Ceionius Commodus, was surprising,although he was cos. ord. when adopted. Nothing particularly recommendedhim other than powerful political connections. His health was bad and hehad no military experience, his career having been entirely in the civilianarena. Some scholars have suggested that he was Hadrian’s bastard son,but that need not be believed. Nonetheless, his only recommendation washis good looks; his life was frivolous, his tastes luxurious. Hadrian’schoice seems to have been an aberration of judgment.

Commodus died on the first day of the year 138. Hadrian’s next choice,a much happier one, was T. Aurelius Fulvius BoioniusArrius Antoninus known to history as AntoninusPius. The scion of a distinguished consular family, he had beenborn near Rome in 86, although his patria was Nemausus in GalliaNarbonensis. Consul in 120, at an early age, he soon thereafter servedas one of the four consulares who had jurisdiction of Italy.[[31]]He reached the acme of a senatorial career with his governorship of Asiaabout 134/5. He was one of the most distinguished men of the age.

Hadrian caused Antoninus to adopt twoyoung men, who were intended to succeed him in the fullness of years. Onewas the seven-year-old son of Commodus, now named LuciusAelius Aurelius Commodus, the later LuciusVerus. The other was the seventeen year old MarcusAnnius Verus, now Marcus Aelius AureliusVerus, the later Marcus Aurelius.Upon Antoninus‘ death in 161, they succeededas co-emperors; Hadrian’s foresight was thus rewarded.

Hadrian was at an imperial villa at Baiae, on the Bay of Naples, whenhe died on July 10, 138. The senate now felt it could repay the emperorfor the wrongs done it from the beginning of his reign and undertook tocondemn his memory, in other words, damnatio memoriae. But Antoninusfought against this condemnation of his adoptive father and gained deificationinstead. It is generally thought that it was for this action that he receivedthe name of Pius.[[32]]

Hadrian’s ashes were placed in his mausoleum and he received the customaryhonors of having been recognized as a divus, which above all recognizedthat he had ruled constitutionally. A great temple in the Campus Martiuswas built to his memory in the early 140s, now called the Hadrianeum, oneof the largest in Rome. A substantial part survives. The tall stylobatewas decorated with alternating reliefs of provinces and victories. In alllikelihood, there was a relief of each of the 36 provinces which existedat the time of Hadrian’s death.[[33]]

Reputation

Hadrian died invisus omnibus, according to the author of theVita.[[34]]But his deification placed him in the list of „good“ emperors, a worthysuccessor to the optimus princeps Trajan.Hadrian played a significant role both in developing the foreign policiesof the empire and in its continuing centralization in administration. Fewwould disagree that he was one of the most remarkable men Rome ever produced,and that the empire was fortunate to have him as its head. When AeliusAristides delivered his oration To Rome in 143, he had Hadrian’sempire in mind when he said,
„But there is that which very decidedly deserves as much attention andadmiration now as all the rest together. I mean your magnificent citizenshipwith its grand conception, because there is nothing like it in the recordsof all mankind. Dividing into two groups all those in your empire – andwith this word I have indicated the entire civilized world – you have everywhereappointed to your citizenship, or even to kinship with you, the betterpart of the world’s talent, courage, and leadership, while the rest yourecognizedas a league under your hegemony. Neither sea nor intervening continentare bars to citizenship, nor are Asia and Europe divided in their treatmenthere. In your empire all paths are open to all. No one worthy of rule ortrust remains an alien, but a civil community of the World has been establishedas a Free Republic under one, the best, ruler and teacher of order; andall come together as into a common civic center, in order to receive eachman his due.[[35]]

That being the case, it seems somewhat odd that he is best known tomost people, not from Gibbon’s narrative nor from any specific scholarlytreatment, but from a work of fiction. This is the quite splendid Memoirsof Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, which became a best-seller abouthalf a century ago. She presents a Hadrian as he might have been, and,although she commands a wide range of source material, the reader mustalways be alert to the fact that this Hadrian is not necessarily the historicalHadrian.[[36]]

Scholarly work on the emperor, above all biographies, has been variedin quality. Much the best, as the most recent, is by A.R. Birley, who presentsall that is known but underscores how much is conjecture, nay even guesswork.We still do not really know the man. An enigma he was to many while alive,and so he remains for us. Semper in omnibus varius; omnium curiositatumexplorator; varius multiplex multiformis: these are descriptions ofhim from antiquity.[[37]] They are still validmore than 1900 years after the emperor’s death.
Appendix: Historians and their Craft: TheEvolution of the Historical Hadrian by Andrew Hill

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Footnotes

[[1]] See Benario, A Commentary, and Birley,Lives.
[[2]] See Syme, The Historia Augusta.
[[3]] See Millar, Cassius Dio.
[[4]] HA Vita Hadriani 1, PIR2A 184.
[[5]] M. Durry, „Sur Trajan père,“ in LesEmpereurs Romains d’Espagne (Paris, 1965) 45-54.
[[6]] Epitome de Caesaribus 14.8.
[[7]] Historiae 1.4.2.
[[8]] Dio 69.2.5-6.
[[9]] Dio 69.8.1.
[[10]] Nash II 176-77.
[[11]] See M. Rostovtzeff, Social and EconomicHistory of the Roman Empire (Oxford, 1957) chap. 8.
[[12]] See W.L. MacDonald, The Architecture ofthe Roman Empire
II (New Haven, 1986) 253-54.
[[13]] W. Kunkel, An Introduction to Roman Legaland Constitutional History, tr. J.M. Kelly, (Oxford, 1966)88-89.
[[14]] S. Riccobono, Fontes Iuris Romani Antejustiniani(Florence, 1941) 335-91.
[[15]] Smallwood 442.
[[16]] Eusebius, Historia ecclesiastica 4.8.6,4.9. See R. Freudenberger, Das Verhalten der römischen Behördengegen die Christen im 2. Jahrhundert (Munich, 1967) 216-34.
[[17]] VH 14.8-9; see also Dio 69.3.
[[18]] See MacDonald (above, note 12) I (New Haven,1965) 94-121; Nash II 170-75.
[[19]] Nash I 450-56.
[[20]] MacDonald (above, note 12) I 129-37; Dio69.4.
[[21]] Nash II 496-99.
[[22]] Nash II 44-48.
[[23]] W.L. MacDonald & J.A. Pinto, Hadrian’sVilla and Its Legacy (New Haven, 1995)
[[24]] VH 15.12-13.
[[25]] VH 16.2; Dio 69.4.6.
[[26]] VH 11.3.
[[27]] See B. Baldwin, „Hadrian’s farewell to life.Some arguments for authenticity,“ CQ 20 (1970) 372-74.
[[28]] VH 16.3-4.
[[29]] See Bardon, 393-424.
[[30]] Dio 69.11; see Lambert.
[[31]] VH 22.3.
[[32]] Dio 69.17.
[[33]] Nash I 457-61; see Toynbee.
[[34]] VH 25.7.
[[35]] J.H. Oliver, The Ruling Power (Philadelphia,1953), chaps. 59 and 60, 901.
[[36]] See Syme, Fictional History.
[[37]] VH 14.11; Tertullian, Apologetica5.7; Epitome de Caesaribus 14.6.

Copyright (C) 2000, Herbert W. Benario. This file may be copied onthe condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyrightnotice, remain intact.

Comments to: Herbert W. Benario.
Updated: 24 September 2008

Unveränd. Zweitpubl. v. Herbert W. Benario: Hadrian (98-117 A.D.), in: De Imperatoribus Romanis. An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers [24.09.2008], http://www.luc.edu/roman-emperors/hadrian.htm.

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