Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus (January 24, 76 – July 10, 138), known as Hadrian in English was Roman emperor from 117 – 138, as well as a Stoic and Epicurean philosopher. A member of the gens Aelia, Hadrian was the third of the "Five Good Emperors." His reign had a faltering beginning, a glorious middle, and a tragic conclusion.Hadrian was born in Rome to a well-established family which had originated in Picenum in Italy and had subsequently settled in Italica, Hispania Baetica (originally Hispania Ulterior). He was a relative of his predecessor Trajan, being a grandson of Trajan's father's sister. Trajan never officially designated a successor, but, according to his wife, Pompeia Plotina, Trajan named Hadrian emperor immediately before his death. However, Trajan's wife was well-disposed toward Hadrian, and he may well have owed his succession to her.********************Despite his own great stature as a military administrator, Hadrian's reign was marked by a general lack of major military conflicts. 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. Hadrian's anti-Jewish persecutions in Judea led to the massive Jewish uprising (132–135) led by Bar Kokhba and Akiba ben Joseph. Hadrian's army eventually defeated the revolt and continued the religious persecution of Jews, according to the Babylonian Talmud.
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 keep the troops from getting 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.****************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. It is rumored that once Hadrian succeeded Trajan to become emperor, he had Apollodorus exiled and later put to death. It is very possible that this latter story was a later attempt to defame his character, as Hadrian, though popular among a great many across the empire, was not universally admired, either in his lifetime or afterward.
Hadrian wrote poetry in both Latin and of which the only example that survives is the well-known Latin poem Animula, vagula, blandula. According to the Historia Augusta, which preserves it (Hadrian XXV.9), he composed it on his deathbed. He also wrote an autobiography - not, apparently, a work of great length or revelation, but designed to scotch various rumours or explain various of his actions. The work is lost but was apparently used by the writer - whether Marius Maximus or someone else - on whom the Historia Augusta principally relied for its vita of Hadrian: at least, a number of statements in the vita have been identified (by Ronald Syme and others) as probably ultimately stemming from the autobiography.
Another of Hadrian's contributions to the arts was the beard. The portraits of emperors up to this point were all clean shaven, idealized images of athletes. Hadrian wore a beard as evidenced by all his portraits. Subsequent emperors would be portrayed with beards for more than a century and a half.
Hadrian was a humanist and deeply Hellenophile in all his tastes. He favoured the doctrines of the philosophers Epictetus, Heliodorus and Favorinus and was generally considered an Epicurean, as were some of his friends such as Caius Bruttius Praesens. 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 Edward Gibbon admired his "vast and active genius," as well as his "equity and moderation."
While visiting Greece in 125, he 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 instill cooperation among the Hellenes. Hadrian was especially famous for his romance with a youth, Antinous. While touring Egypt, Antinous mysteriously drowned in the Nile in 130. Deeply saddened, Hadrian founded the Egyptian city of Antinopolis. Hadrian drew the whole Empire into his mourning, making Antinous the last new god of antiquity.
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.
A strange fragment from the Roman History of Cassius Dio of uncertain context:
"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." ************The Stoic-Epicurean Emperor traveled broadly, inspecting and correcting the legions in the field. Even prior to becoming emperor, he had traveled 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 to simply go to war, returning soon after conflicts concluded. A previous emperor, Nero, once traveled through Greece and was condemned for his self indulgence. Hadrian, by contrast, traveled 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 loyal 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.*****************Prior to Hadrian's arrival on Great Britain there had been a major rebellion in Britannia, spanning roughly two years (119–121). It was here he initiated the building of Hadrian's Wall during 122. The wall was built chiefly to safeguard the frontier province of Britannia, by preventing future possible invasions from the northern country of Caledonia (now modern day Scotland). Caledonia was inhabited by tribes known to the Romans as Caledonians. Hadrian realized that the Caledonians would refuse to cohabitate with the Romans. He also was aware that although Caledonia was valuable, the harsh terrain and highlands made its conquest costly and unprofitable for the Empire at large. Thus, he decided instead on building a wall. Unlike the Germanic limes, built of wood palisades, the lack of suitable wood in the area required a stone construction . Hadrian is perhaps most famous for the construction of this wall whose ruins still span many miles and to date bear his name. In many ways it represents Hadrian's will to improve and develop within the Empire, rather than waging wars and conquering.
Under him, a shrine was erected in York to Britain as a Goddess, and coins were struck which introduced a female figure as the personification of Britain, labeled BRITANNIA By the end of 122 he had concluded his visit to Britannia, and from there headed south by sea to Mauretania.******************Hadrian died in 138 on the tenth day of July, in his villa at Baiae at age 62. However, the man who had spent so much of his life traveling had not yet reached his journey's end. 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 the 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.