(Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrian)


Hadrian was one of the most versatile and talented of the Roman Emperors. His administration, for the most part, was one of peace, but he did proved his military skill in putting down rebellions, and also in planning and organizing a permanent system of fortifications along the imperial borders. Hadrian's wall in Britain, built to keep the uncivilized tribes from the north out of Roman territories, is one of the most famous of these fortifications. Another area in which he showed great talent was in architecture. He planned and built many important buildings including major modifications to the Pantheon, a temple of Jupiter in Jerusalem, the arch of Hadrian in Athens, and improvements to the Roman Forum. The ruins of "Hadrian's Villa", his home in the country outside Rome, are still visible. He was also a great patron of the arts, and was himself a talented musician and poet.

Hadrian was adopted by Trajan, and was married to his grandniece, Sabina. He worked his way up the regular series of offices and was legate to Syria when Trajan died in 117 A.D. He was proclaimed emperor, but consolidated power in the east for almost a year before returning to Rome. This was an indication of how little influence the senate in Rome actually had by this time in governing the empire. Hadrian spent much of his reign traveling throughout the empire, and was away from Rome more than any previous emperor, and his policy was one of consolidation rather than expansion. He is known for firm Romanization policies, which brought him into conflict with the Jews throughout his realm. He put down a Jewish insurrection in 132 A.D., but fighting continued for several years, and thousands of Jews, as well as Christians, were killed as a result. His marriage to Sabina was always rocky, and produced no children. He spent the last few years of his reign at his villa in Tivoli, collecting and patronizing the arts. He died in 138 A.D. and was succeeded by his adopted heir, Antoninus Pius.

Key events during the life of Hadrian:

Adopted by Trajan.
Military tribune (for three years).
Quaestor. Married Trajan's niece, Vibia Sabina. Marriage produced no children.
Consul suffectus.
Military legate in Syria. Adopted by Trajan as successor.
Succeeded to imperial throne on death of Trajan.
Pacified Moesia.
Began construction of Hadrian's Wall in Britain.
  Traveled extensively around empire. Consolidated fortifications.
Put down Jewish insurrection.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Great Wall  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber

Image Links

Hadrian's Tomb and Aelian Bridge
 in Peeps at Many Lands: Ancient Rome

Tomb of Hadrian
 in The Story of the Romans

Hadrian's Mole, now Castle of St. Angelo
 in Famous Men of Rome

The Tomb of Hadrian
 in Historical Tales: Roman

Hadrian's Tomb (Now called Castle of St. Angelo).
 in Old World Hero Stories

Short Biography
Antoninus Pius Fourth of "Five Good Emperors." Continued policy of consolidation. Ruled justly.
Trajan Second of "Five Good Emperors." Ruled with justice and integrity. Conquered Dacia.
Aelius Verus Hadrian's first pick for successor, but preceded Hadrian in death.
Sabina Wife of Hadrian. Niece of Trajan.