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Roman Emperor - Hadrian
AD 76 - 138
Hadrian, Emperor of Rome from 117 AD. to 138 AD. Born Publius Aelius Hadrianus, at Italica (modern Santiponce), Hisania Baetica (modern Spain), 24th January 76 AD where his family, originally from Atria in Picenum, had resided for nearly 200 years.
On his father's death (in 85 or 86) he was placed under the guardianship of M. Ulpius Traianus (afterwards the emperor Trajan) who was his cousin, and of Caelius Attianus, a future praetorian prefect.
Hadrian was a poet, an amateur architect, and a student of Greek culture.
Hadrian spent the next six years at Rome, but at the age of 15 returned to Spain and joined the army.
Hadrian held military and civilian government posts and travelled to the northern and eastern frontiers of the empire.
He was summoned to Rome by Trajan in 93 and held various civil posts; for several years, he was tribune to the Second Legion at Aquincum on the Danube. In 99, he returned to Rome, where the empress Plotina arranged his marriage to Trajan's grand-niece, Vibia Sabina.
By virtue of this astute marriage and the favour of Plotina, no less than his own abilities, Hadrian rapidly advanced his career. He held various public positions: quaestor in 101, tribune of the people in 105 and praetor in 106. He distinguished himself in the Dacian campaigns of 101-02 and 105-07, eventually becoming legatus in the Parthian campaign of 113-17.
During this last campaign, Trajan fell sick and returned to Rome, leaving Hadrian as commander of the army and governor of Syria. It was at Antioch in 117 that he learned of his adoption by the emperor and, two days later, of Trajan's death. Hadrian's succession was supported by the army and confirmed by the Senate.
The empire was beset on all sides and, in his determination to avert the danger, Hadrian reversed the expansionist policies of Trajan. He abandoned Assyria, Mesopotamia and Armenia, made peace with Parthia (Persia) and pacified the lower Danube. And then in 118 he hurried to Rome to remove the unfavourable impression created by the execution of four consulars who were alleged to have conspired against him.
Hadrian was a very capable ruler. He introduced administrative, financial, and legal reforms, while his magnificent buildings, particularly at Athens and Rome, were among the glories of the empire.
He made government more efficient and he stabilized Roman law into a single, uniform code. The ensuing law code later served as a basis for the Justinian Code, established in the 500's by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.
Hadrian started an empire wide communications system similar to the pony express. He founded two cities - Antinoopolis in Egypt and Hadrianople in Thrace (now Edirne, Turkey). He also completed the huge temple of Zeus in Athens, which had been begun in the 500's BC.
The only major conflict occurred in 132, when Jews in Palestine revolted. Hadrian crushed the revolt in 135. He made Jerusalem a Roman city and forbade Jews to worship there.
Hadrian also began public works programs that restored old cities and built new towns, roads, aqueducts, harbors, and public buildings. Among his outstanding achievements were the construction of Hadrian's Wall in Britain and the rebuilding of the Parthenon in Rome and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus in Athens.
He initiated many reforms, establishing a more efficient administration, reorganizing the imperial army, regulating finance, and revising the postal system.
Unlike many emperors, Hadrian travelled widely during his reign, acquainting himself with his empire and fixing its boundaries.
The first of his two great tours of the empire (121-26) included Gaul, Germany. Britain, Spain, Mauretania. Greece, and Sicily. Among its principal events were the beginning of Hadrian's Wall in 122 and the emperor's initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries, 125.
The second tour (128-34) took in Athens (where he completed and dedicated the buildings begun during his first visit), Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine (where he ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem), Arabia, and Egypt.
On his second journey, he took in Athens, where he completed and dedicated the buildings that he had begun during his first visit, notably the Olympium; Asia Minor and Syria; Palestine, where he ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem; and Egypt.
On his way back to Europe he was recalled (133) to deal with the Jewish revolt, which had broken out in the previous year; but in 134 he entrusted the command to Julius Severus, returned to Rome and passed the remainder of his life between the capital and his villa at Tibur (Tivoli).
In 136, Hadrian picked Titus Aurelius Antonius (Antoninus Pius) to succeed him. He died in Baiae, Italy, July 10, 138 and was succeeded by Antoninus Pius.
Hadrian was a devoted servant of the empire. His vigorous leadership and thorough reforms built an effective state that permitted Rome to flourish for more than a century after his death.
Hadrian's Wall was an ancient Roman fortification extending across northern England between Solway Firth and the mouth of the Tyne. Intended as an operational base and as a defence against barbarian infiltration from the north it was constructed on the orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian from 122 to 126 AD.
It was built to mark and guard the northern boundary of Roman Britain, and to prevent attacks and smuggling by the Picts and Scots. The wall was built partly of stone and partly as a rampart of turf.
There was a small fort, called a milecastle, every mile (hence the name), and there were 23 large forts. A flat-bottomed ditch running parallel to the wall was on the northern side of the wall, to slow down attacks. It was called the Vallum.
The stone wall was about 20 feet (6 meters) high and roughly 8 to 10 feet (2.4 - 3 meters) thick.
The wall was planned by the Emperor Hadrian as part of his consolidation of the Empire, during his visit to Britain in 122, and the work was largely executed by the legate Aulus Platonus Nepos, 122-26.
It replaced the earlier Stonegate, a road to the south of the wall, with forts at regular intervals along it, on a line which takes every possible advantage of natural strength; its highest point, Winshields, is 375 m above sea-level.
At first the intention was to use the wall as a screen for offensive operations; later modifications under Severus made it a series of strong points.
Although the whole work, with outlying forts and service roads, was an impressive undertaking, it could only serve its purpose of excluding the barbarians when properly manned. The wall was twice overrun and seriously damaged by northern tribes, in 197 and 296 when its garrison was temporarily withdrawn and was finally abandoned by 400.