Name Known by: Hadrianus Augustus
Dates: January 24, 76 - July 10, 138
Place of Birth: Italica, in Hispania Baetica, or Rome
Parents of Hadrian: P. Aelius Afer (whose ancestors had come from Hadria in Picenum) and Domitia Paulina (from Gades)
Wife: Trajan's grand-niece Vibia Sabina
Who Was Hadrian?
Hadrian (r. A.D. 117-138) was a Roman emperor known for his many building projects, cities named Hadrianopolis (Adrianopolis) after him, and the famous wall across Britain, from Tyne to Solway, designed to keep the barbarians out of Roman Britain (see map of Roman Britain).
Hadrian was one of the 5 good Roman emperors. Like Emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was influenced by the philosophy of the Stoics. He did not add to Trajan's expansion of the Roman Empire, but traveled around it. He rectified tax situations and is said to have defended the weak against the strong. He was emperor during the Bar Kochba revolt in Judaea.
Family of Hadrian:
Hadrian was born January 24, 76. His father died when he was 10. Trajan and Acilius Attianus (Caelium Tatianum) became his guardians.
Hadrian's Career - Highlights of Hadrian's Path to Emperor:
2. He became quaestor in 101 and
3. then became curator of the Acts of the Senate.
4. He then went with Trajan to the Dacian Wars.
5. He became tribune of the plebeians in 105.
6. Hadrian became praetor in 107, in which position, with a healthy gift from Trajan, Hadrian put on games.
7. Hadrian then went to Lower Pannonia as governor.
8. He first became consul in 108.
Hadrian Ruled the Roman Empire From A.D. 117-138:
Hadrian Traveled ... a Lot:
When his supposed lover Antinous died in Egypt, Hadrian mourned deeply. The Greeks made Antinous a god and Hadrian named a city for him (Antinoopolis, near Hermopolis). He tried to settle the Jewish War, but started new problems when he built a temple to Jupiter on the site of the temple in Jerusalem.
Hadrian Was Generous:
Hadrian outlawed masters' killing their slaves and (an important point for historical fiction writers) changed the law so that if a master was murdered at home, only those slaves who were nearby could be tortured for evidence.
Hadrian in Historical Fiction:
Hadrian is an appealing figure for historical fiction writers. Starting with his rise to the imperial purple through the presumed backstage machinations of those interested in his advance to his presumed romantic involvement with Antinous to his famous wall against the Picts to his bearded visage, there are lots of plot points in the emperor's life. In 2010, Steven Saylor makes Hadrian one of the major emperors covered in his historical fiction novel Empire, but he is hardly the first to do so. In 1951, Marguerite Yourcenar wrote the Memoires d'Hadrien (Memoirs of Hadrian). A novel about the wall came out in 2005.
- Review: Hadrian's Wall, by William Dietrich
- Review: Trajan and Plotina, by David Corson
- Review: Empire, by Steven Saylor
- Cassius Dio - 69
- Lives of the Later Caesars (Augustan History)
- "The Legal Policy and Reforms of Hadrian," by Fritz Pringsheim. The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 24. (1934), pp. 141-153.
- DIR Roman Emperors Hadrian