Publius Aelius Hadrianus (76-138 CE), or Hadrian, became Roman Emperor in 117 after the death of Trajan.

He was born either in Spain or in Rome, and as a child Trajan, who was a cousin of Hadrian’s late father, became his guardian. Later Hadrian’s ties to Trajan were reinforced by marriage to Sabina, a niece of Trajan, and later again by formal adoption.

When Trajan died Hadrian was in Syria, and he didn’t leave for Rome immediately. He only arrived in Rome eleven month later because he wanted to assure the loyalty of the troops. Meanwhile in Rome, four leading aristocrats, all military leaders close to Trajan, were assassinated. Hadrian always refused any part in the assassination, but his relationship with the senate was damaged for good.

Hadrian therefore spend little time in Rome during his reign. He preferred travelling around the empire and during the years he visited almost every part of it.

Trajan had followed a policy of expansion, but Hadrian changed direction and opted for a policy of consolidation of the empire.

He build numerous monuments and buildings throughout the empire. Best known are Hadrian’s Wall in England, the Pantheon and Hadrian’s Mausoleum in Rome and Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli near Rome.

Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius as his successor shortly before his death in 138 in a villa near Naples. The senate tried to get revenge posthumously by condemning his memory, the damnatio memoriae, but Antoninus Pius prevented it and obtained instead the deification of his adoptive father. It is believed the name Pius stems from that episode.



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