Hadrian: Empire and Conflict

Marble bust of Hadrian

24 July – 27 October 2008  
Reading Room 
Exhibition closed

This special exhibition explores the life, love and legacy of Rome’s most enigmatic emperor, Hadrian (reigned AD 117–138).

Ruling an empire that comprised much of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East, Hadrian was a capable and, at times, ruthless military leader. He realigned borders and quashed revolt, stabilising a territory critically overstretched by his predecessor, Trajan.

Hadrian had a great passion for architecture and Greek culture. His extensive building programme included the Pantheon in Rome, his villa in Tivoli and the city of Antinoopolis, which he founded and named after his male lover Antinous.

This unprecedented exhibition provides fresh insight into the sharp contradictions of Hadrian’s character and challenges faced during his reign.

Objects from 28 museums worldwide and finds from recent excavations are shown together for the first time to reassess his legacy, which remains strikingly relevant today.

Books related to the exhibition

Videos about Hadrian

Bust of Antinous

An emperor's love
(3 minutes 2 seconds)

Statue of Hadrian being conserved

The power of image
(4 minutes 10 seconds)

Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli near Rome

The imperial palace
(2 minutes 25 seconds)

Hadrian's wall

Building the wall
(3 minutes 14 seconds)

Hadrian video

Hadrian: a new emperor
(3 minutes 3 seconds)