Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Biography of Hadrian, Roman Emperor

Biography of Hadrian, Roman Emperor Hadrian (January 24, 76–July 10, 138) was a Roman emperor for 21 years who unified and consolidated  Rome’s  vast empire, unlike his predecessor, who focused on expansion. He was the third of the so-called  Five Good Emperors; he presided over the glory days of the  Roman Empire and is known for many building projects, including a famous wall across Britain to keep out the barbarians. Known For: Roman Emperor, one of the five good emperorsAlso Known As: Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, Publius Aelius HadrianuBorn: January 24, 76, possibly in Rome or in Italica, in what is now SpainParents: Aelius Hadrianus Afer, Domitia PaulinaDied: July 10, 138  in Baiae, near Naples, ItalySpouse: Vibia Sabina Early Life Hadrian was born on Jan. 24, 76. He probably was not originally from Rome. The Augustan History,  a collection of biographies of the Roman emperors,  says his family was from Picenum, but more recently of Spain, and moved to Rome. His mother Domitia Paulina came from a distinguished family from Gades, which today is Cadiz, Spain. His father was Aelius Hadrianus Afer, a magistrate and cousin of future Roman Emperor Trajan. He died when Hadrian was 10, and Trajan and Acilius Attianus (Caelium Tatianum) became his guardians. In 90 Hadrian visited  Italica, a Roman city in present-day Spain, where he received military training and developed a fondness for hunting that he kept for the rest of his life. Hadrian married Vibia Sabina, grand-niece of Emperor Trajan, in 100. Rise to Power Toward the end of Emperor Domitians reign, Hadrian started out on the traditional career path of a  Roman senator. He was made a military tribune, or officer, and then became a quaestor, a low-ranking magistrate, in 101. He was later curator of the Acts of the Senate. When Trajan was consul, a higher magistrates position, Hadrian went with him to the Dacian Wars and became tribune of the plebeians, a powerful political office, in 105. Two years later he became praetor, a magistrate just below consul. He then went to Lower Pannonia as governor and  became consul, the  pinnacle  of a senator’s career, in 108. His rise from there to emperor in 117 involved some palace intrigue. After he became consul his career rise stopped, possibly triggered by the death of a previous consul, Licinius  Sura, when a faction opposed to Sura, Trajans wife Plotina and Hadrian came to dominate Trajans court. There is some evidence that during this period, Hadrian devoted himself to studying the nation and  culture  of Greece, a long-held interest of his. Somehow, Hadrian’s star rose again shortly before Trajan died, probably because Plotina and her associates had regained Trajan’s confidence. Third-century Greek historian Cassius Dio says that Hadrians former guardian, Attianus, then a powerful Roman, also was involved. Hadrian was holding a major military command under Trajan when, on  Aug. 9, 117, he learned that Trajan had adopted him, a sign of succession. Two days later, it was reported that Trajan had died, and the army proclaimed Hadrian emperor. Hadrians Rule Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire until 138. He is known for spending more time traveling throughout the empire than any other emperor. Unlike his predecessors, who had relied on reports from the provinces, Hadrian wanted to see things for himself. He was generous with the military and helped to reform it, including ordering the construction of garrisons and forts. He spent time in Britain, where in 122 he initiated the building of a protective stone wall, known as Hadrians Wall, across the country in to keep the northern barbarians out. It marked the northernmost boundary  of the Roman Empire until early in the fifth century. The wall stretches from the North Sea to the Irish Sea and is 73 miles long, eight to 10 feet wide, and 15 feet high. Along the way, the Romans built towers and small forts called milecastles, which housed up to 60 men. Sixteen larger forts were built, and south of the wall the Romans dug a wide ditch with six-foot-high earthen banks. Though many of the stones were carried away and recycled into other buildings, the wall still stands. Reforms During his reign, Hadrian was generous to citizens of the Roman empire. He awarded large sums of money to communities and individuals and allowed the children of individuals charged with major crimes to inherit part of the family estate. According to the Augustan History, he wouldnt take the bequests of people he didnt know or of people whose sons could inherit the bequests, contrary to earlier practice. Some of Hadrians reforms indicate how barbaric the times were. He outlawed the practice of masters killing their slaves and changed the law so that if a master was murdered at home, only slaves who were nearby could be tortured for evidence. He also changed laws so that bankrupt people would be flogged in the amphitheater and then released, and he made the baths separate for men and women. He restored many buildings, including the Pantheon in Rome, and moved the Colossus, the 100-foot bronze statue installed by Nero. When Hadrian traveled to other cities in the empire, he implemented public works projects. Personally, he tried in many ways to live unassumingly, like a private citizen. Friend or Lover? On a trip through Asia Minor, Hadrian met Antinoà ¼s, a young man born about 110. Hadrian made Antinoà ¼s his companion, though by some accounts he was regarded as Hadrians lover. Traveling together along the Nile in 130, the young man fell into the river and drowned, Hadrian was desolate. One report said Antinoà ¼s had jumped into the river as a sacred sacrifice, though Hadrian denied  that explanation. Whatever the reason for his death, Hadrian mourned deeply. The Greek world honored Antinoà ¼s, and cults inspired by him appeared across the empire. Hadrian named Antinopolis, a city near Hermopolis in Egypt, after him. Death Hadrian became ill, associated in the Augustan History with his refusal to cover his head in heat or cold. His illness lingered, making him long for death. When he couldnt persuade anyone to help him ​commit suicide, he took up indulgent eating and drinking, according to Dio Cassius. He died on July 10, 138.   Legacy Hadrian is remembered for his travels, his building projects, and his efforts to tie together the far-flung outposts of the Roman empire. He was aesthetic and educated and left behind several poems. Signs of his reign remain in a number of buildings, including the Temple of Rome and  Venus, and he rebuilt the  Pantheon, which had been destroyed by fire during the reign of his predecessor. His own country residence, Villa Adriana, outside Rome is considered the architectural epitome of the opulence and elegance of the Roman world. Covering seven square miles, it was more a garden city than a villa, including baths, libraries, sculpture gardens, theaters, alfresco dining halls, pavilions, and private suites, portions of which survived to modern times. It was designated a  UNESCO  World Heritage site  in 1999. Hadrians tomb, now called the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, became a burial place for succeeding emperors and was converted into a fortress  in the 5th century. Sources Birley, Anthony. Lives of the Later Caesars: The First Part of the Augustan History, with Lives of Nerva and Trajan. Classics, Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition, Penguin, February 24, 2005.Roman History by Cassius Dio. University of Chicago.Pringsheim, Fritz. The Legal Policy and Reforms of Hadrian. The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 24.Hadrian. An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors.Hadrian: Roman Emperor. Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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