Hadrian (Biographical details)

Hadrian (ruler; royal/imperial; Roman; Male; 76 - 138)

Also known as

Hadrian; Publius Aelius Hadrianus


Emperor 117-138.
Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born in AD 76 to a cousin of the emperor Trajan (q.v.). At age ten his father died, and Hadrian became joint ward of Trajan and a Roman knight. He spent a dissolute youth, preferring hunting to military service, and Trajan kept an increasingly strict eye on him.

Trajan and Hadrian grew close while the former reigned. Trajan's wife Plotina (q.v.) especially favoured Hadrian, and may have faked evidence that Trajan named Hadrian his successor. As emperor, Hadrian ruthlessly eliminated certain enemies, but ruled capably. He scaled back the size of the empire to the natural borders decreed by Augustus (The Danube, the Euphrates, and the Rhine) and built his famous wall to protect Britannia from fierce northern tribes.

Hadrian loved Greek culture, though he famously decried Homer as an inferior poet. He built a large palace at Tivoli and enjoyed pursuing married women and adolescent boys. In his final days, Hadrian suffered from severe sickness and tried many times to commit suicide, but his slaves never allowed it. He handed over government to Antoninus Pius (q.v.), his chosen successor, and went to Baiae to die. His only major military accomplishment was the suppression of a Jewish revolt when he attempted to establish a new city at the site of Jerusalem.