Hadrian

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Publius Aelius Hadrianus (A.D. 76-138), Roman emperor (117-138).

One of the Five Good Emperors, Hadrian is known for ordering the construction of the Pantheon in Rome, Hadrian's Wall and an extensive villa at Tivoli. In 132 he crushed an uprising of Jews in Palestine, declaring Jerusalem a Roman city and prohibiting Jews to worship there.

Early Years

Hadrian was especially famous for his love affair with a young servant boy named Antinous. While touring Egypt, Antinous was killed, or perhaps killed himself, by drowning in the Nile. Stricken with grief, Hadrian had erected the Egyptian city of Antinopolis. For the rest of his life, Hadrian would have commissioned many hundred (thousands) of sculptures of Antinous in the manner of a Greek youth. The passion and depth of Hadrian's love for the boy is even now written all across the landscape of Europe. Busts and statues all featuring the boy's full lips and round cheeks have, for centuries, littered the countryside.

Hadrian's death

Fragment from the Roman History of Dio Cassius as translated by Earnest Cary in 1925:

"After Hadrian's death there was erected to him a huge equestrian statue representing him with a four-horse chariot. 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."


Adrian is the English form of Hadrian meaning "from Hadria" a N. Italian town and eponym of the Adriatic Sea.


previous emperor: Trajan (98 - 117)
following emperor: Antoninus Pius (138 - 161)

see: Roman Emperors