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Hadrian's Rome
Hadrian's Rome

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Primary Source 1 SHA, Hadrian

Source: Birley, A. (trans.) (1976) Lives of the Later Caesars, London, Penguin, pp. 57–87.



[p. 57] 1. Hadrian’s family derived originally from Picenum but his more recent ancestors were from Spain – at least, Hadrian himself in his autobiography records that his ancestors were natives of Hadria who had settled at Italica in the time of the Scipios.Footnote 1 Hadrian’s father was Aelius Hadrianus, surnamed Afer, a cousin of the Emperor Trajan. His mother was Domitia Paulina, born at Gades [Cadiz]; his sister was Paulina, who was married to Servianus; and his wife was Sabina.Footnote 2 His great-great-great-grandfather Maryllinus was the first member of the family to be a senator of the Roman people. Hadrian was born on the ninth day before the Kalends of February [24 January] when the consuls were Vespasian for the seventh time and Titus for the second [a.d. 76].

In his tenth year he lost his father and had Ulpius Traianus (Trajan), then of praetorian rank, his cousin and the future emperor, and Acilius Attiantus,Footnote 3 as his guardians. He immersed himself rather enthusiastically in Greek studies – in fact he was so attracted in this direction that some people used to call him a ‘little Greek’. 2. In his fifteenth year he returned to his home [p. 58] town, and at once began military training.Footnote 4 He was keen on hunting, so much so as to arouse criticism, hence he was taken away from Italica by Trajan and treated as his son. Soon after, he was appointed a member for the Board of Ten (decemvir litibus iudicandis),Footnote 5 and this was followed by a commission as tribune in the legion II Adiutrix. After this he was transferred to Lower Moesia – it was, by this time, the very end of Domitian’s principate. In Lower Moesia he is said to have learned that he would be emperor from an astrologer, who told him the same things which, he had found out, had been predicted by his great-uncle Aelius Hadrianus, a man skilled in astrological matters. When Trajan was adopted by Nerva, Hadrian was sent to give the army’s congratulations, and was then transferred to Upper Germany. It was from this province that he was hurrying to Trajan to be the first to announce Nerva’s death, when he was detained for some while by Servianus, his sister’s husband, delayed by the deliberate breaking of his carriage. Servianus incited Trajan against Hadrian by revealing to him what he was spending and the debts he had contracted. But he made his way on foot and arrived before Servianus’ emissary (beneficiarius).Footnote 6 He was in favour with Trajan, and yet he did not fail, making use of the tutors assigned to Trajan’s boy favourites, to …Footnote 7 with the encouragement of Gallus. Indeed, at this time, when he was anxious about the emperor’s opinion of him, he consulted the ‘Virgilian oracle’ and this is what came out:

[p. 59] But what’s the man, who from afar appears,
His head with olive crown’d, his hand a censer bears?
His hoary beard, and holy vestments bring
His lost idea back: I know the Roman king.
He shall to peaceful Rome new laws ordain:
Call’d from his mean abode, a scepter to sustain.Footnote 8

Others said that this oracle came to him from the Sibylline verses. He also had a forecast that he would soon become emperor in the reply emanating from the shrine of Jupiter Niceforius, which Apollonius of Syria, the Platonist, has included in his books.Footnote 9

Finally, when SuraFootnote 10 gave his support, he at once returned into fuller friendship with Trajan, receiving, as his wife, Trajan’s niece (his sister’s daughter) – Plotina being in favour of the match, while Trajan, according to Marius Maximus, was not greatly enthusiastic. 3. He served his quaestorship when the consuls were Trajan for the fourth time and Articuleius [a.d. 101]; during his tenure of office he gave attention to his Latin, and reached the highest proficiency and eloquence after having been laughed at for his somewhat uncultivated accent while reading an address of the emperor in the Senate. After his quaestorship he was curator of the Acts of the Senate, and followed Trajan to the Dacian Wars in a position of fairly close intimacy; at this time, indeed, he states that he indulged in wine too, so as to fall in with Trajan’s habits, and that he was very richly rewarded for this by Trajan. He was made tribune of the plebs when the consuls were Candidus and Quadratus, each for the second time [a.d. 105]; he claims that in this magistracy he was given an omen that he would receive perpetual tribunician power, in that he lost the cloaks which the tribunes of the plebs used to wear in rainy weather, but which the emperors never wear. (For which reason even today [p. 60] emperors appear before the citizens without a cloak.) In the second Dacian expedition Trajan put him in command of the legion I Minervia and took him with him; and at this time, certainly his many outstanding deeds became renowned. Hence, having been presented with a diamond which Trajan had received from Nerva, he was encouraged to hope for the succession. He was made praetor when the consuls were Suburanus and Servianus, each for the second timeFootnote 11, and he received four million sesterces from Trajan to put on games. After this he was sent as a praetorian governor to Lower Pannonia; he restrained the Sarmatians, preserved military discipline, and checked the procurators who were overstepping the mark. For this he was made consul [a.d. 108].

While holding this magistracy, he learned from Sura that he was to be adopted by Trajan, and was then no longer despised and ignored by Trajan’s friends. Indeed, on the death of Sura, Tajan’s intimacy with him increased, the reason being principally the speeches which he composed for the emperor. 4. He enjoyed the favour of Plotina too, and it was through her support that he was appointed to a governorship at the time of the Parthian expedition. At this period, at any rate, Hadrian enjoyed the friendship of Sosius Senecio, Aemilius Papus and Platorius NeposFootnote 12 from the senatorial order, and, from the equestrian order, of Attianus, his former guardian, Livianus [p. 61] and Turbo.Footnote 13 He got a guarantee that he would be adopted when Palma and CelsusFootnote 14 – who were always his enemies and whom he subsequently attacked himself – fell under suspicion of plotting a usurpation. His appointment as consul for the second time [a.d. 118], through the favour of Plotina, served to make his adoption a completely foregone conclusion. Wide-spread rumour asserted that he had bribed Trajan’s freedmen, had cultivated his boy favourites and had had frequent sexual relations with them during the periods when he was an inner member of the court. On the fifth day before the Ides of August [9 August a.d. 117], while governor of Syria, he received his letter of adoption, and he ordered the anniversary of his adoption to be celebrated on that date. On the third day before the Ides of the same month [11 August] the death of Trajan was reported to him; he decreed that the anniversary of his accession should be celebrated on that day.

There was of course a persistent rumour that it had been in Trajan’s mind to leave Neratius PriscusFootnote 15 and not Hadrian as his successor, with the concurrence of many of his friends, to the extent that he once said to Priscus: ‘I commend the provinces to you if anything should befall me.’ Many indeed say that Trajan had it in mind to die without a definite successor, following the example of Alexander the Macedonian; and many say that he wanted to send an address to the Senate, to request that if anything should befall him the Senate should give a princeps to the Roman republic, adding some names from which it should choose the best man. There are not lacking those who have recorded that it was through Plotina’s [p. 62] party, Trajan being already dead, that Hadrian was received into adoption; and that a substitute impersonating Trajan spoke the words, in a tired voice.

5. When he gained the imperial power he at once set himself to follow ancestral custom, and gave his attention to maintaining peace throughout the world. For those nations which Trajan had subjugated were defecting, the Moors were aroused, the Sarmatians were making war, the Britons could not be kept under Roman control, Egypt was being pressed by insurrection, and, finally, Libya and Palestine were exhibiting the spirit of rebellion.Footnote 16 He therefore gave up everything beyond the Euphrates and Tigris, following the example of Cato, as he said, who declared the Macedonians to be free because they could not be protected.Footnote 17 Parthamasiris,Footnote 18 whom Trajan had made king of the Parthians, he appointed a king over the neighbouring peoples, because he saw that he did not carry great weight among the Parthians.

So great in fact was his immediate desire to show clemency that, when in his first days as emperor he was warned by Attianus, in a letter, that Baebius MacerFootnote 19 the prefect of the city should be murdered in case he opposed his rule, also Laberius Maximus, who was in exile on an island, and Frugi Crassus,Footnote 20 he harmed none of them; although subsequently, without an order from Hadrian, a procurator killed Crassus when he left the island, on the grounds that he was planning a coup. He gave a double donative to the soldiers, to mark the opening of his reign. He disarmed Lusius Quietus,Footnote 21 taking away from him the [p. 63] Moorish tribesmen whom he had under his command, because he had come under suspicion of aiming for the imperial power, and Marcius Turbo was appointed when the Jews had been suppressed, to put down the rising in Mauretania.Footnote 22 After this he left Antioch to inspect the remains of Trajan, which were being escorted by Attianus, Plotina, and Matidia, and, placing Catilius SeverusFootnote 23 in command of Syria, he came to Rome by way of Illyricum. 6. In a letter sent to the Senate – and it was certainly very carefully composed – he requested divine honours for Trajan; and for this he obtained unanimous support; in fact, the Senate spontaneously decreed many things in honour of Trajan which Hadrian had not requested. When he wrote to the Senate he asked for pardon because he had not given the Senate the right of deciding about his accession to the imperial power, explaining that he had been hailed as emperor by the soldiers in precipitate fashion because the republic could not be without an emperor. When the Senate offered to him the triumph which belonged of right to Trajan, he refused it for himself, and conveyed the effigy of Trajan in the triumphal chariot, so that the best of emperors, even after his death, might not lose the honour of a triumph. He deferred the acceptance of the title of Father of the Fatherland, which was offered him straightaway, and again later, because Augustus had earned this title at a late stage.Footnote 24 He remitted Italy’s crown-gold and reduced it for the provinces, while he did indeed make a statement, courting popularity and carefully worded, about the problems of the public treasury.

Then, hearing of the uprising of the Sarmatians and Roxalani, he made for Moesia, sending the armies ahead.Footnote 25 He placed [p. 64] Marcius Turbo in command of Pannonia and Dacia for the time being, conferring the insignia of the prefecture on him after his post in Mauretania. With the king of the Roxolani, who was complaining about the reduction of his subsidy, he made peace, after the matter had been examined.

7. Nigrinus had plotted to murder Hadrian while he was making sacrifice, Lusius being a fellow-conspirator, and many others, although Hadrian had actually intended Nigrinus as his own successor.Footnote 26 Hadrian escaped death; and as a result, on the orders of the Senate, Palma was killed at Tarracina, Celsus at Baiae,Footnote 27 Nigrinus at Faventia and Lusius on a journey – against Hadrian’s will, as he himself says in his autobiography. Hadrian immediately came to Rome, to counteract the very harsh impression of him that was created by his allowing four ex-consuls to be killed at one and the same time (having entrusted Dacia to Turbo, dignifying him with the title of the Egyptian prefecture to give him more authority)Footnote 28 and, to check the rumour about himself, he gave the people a double largess, in person, even though three gold pieces a head had already been distributed in his absence. In the Senate too, having made excuses for what had been done, he swore that he would never punish a senator except by a vote of the Senate. He instituted a regular posting-service run by the fisc, so that magistrates should not be burdened by this task. Moreover, overlooking nothing to gain favour, he remitted to private debtors in the city and in Italy an immense amount of money which was owed to the fisc, and huge sums from the arrears in the provinces too: the forms were burnt in the Forum of the [p. 65] Deified Trajan, to strengthen general confidence. As for the property of the condemned, he ordered that it should not go to the private fisc, the whole sum being collected by the public treasury. To the boys and girls to whom Trajan, too, had granted support-payments, he gave an increased bounty. As for senators who had become bankrupt through no fault of their own, he made a grant to bring their property up to the requirements of the senatorial register, in accordance with the number of their children – in such a way that he paid out to many without deferment until the term of their life was measured out.Footnote 29 He bestowed a great deal of largess to enable not only his friends but a great many others too, far and wide, to fulfil the demands of public office. A number of women he assisted with expenses to keep up their position in life. He put on a gladiatorial show lasting for six successive days and put a thousand wild beasts into the arena on his birthday. 8. He admitted all the leading men from the Senate into close association with the emperor’s majesty. Circus-games, except those decreed in honour of his birthday, he refused. Both before the people and in the Senate he frequently stated that he would so administer the republic that it would know that the state belonged to the people and was not his property.

When he himself had been consul for a third time [a.d. 119] he appointed a great many to third consulships, while he bestowed the honour of a second consulship on an immense number.Footnote 30 Although he held his own third consulship for only four months, he did in fact administer justice on many occasions during that period. He always attended the regular [p. 66] meetings of the Senate when he was in the city or near it. He greatly exalted the rank of the Senate, restricting his creation of new senators: when he made Attianus, who had been prefect of the guard, a senator with honorary consular rank, he made it clear that he had no greater honour that could be conferred upon him. He did not allow Roman knights to sit in judgement on senators, either in his absence or even if he was present. For it was then the custom that when the princeps tried cases he should call both senators and Roman knights to his council and give a decision based on his consultation with them all. Finally, he denounced the principes who had shown no deference towards the senators. On his brother-in-law Servianus – to whom he showed such deference that he always went to meet him as he came from his bedroom – he bestowed a third consulship, but not with himself as colleague, so that he would not take second place in senatorial precedence, as Servianus had been consul twice before Hadrian. Servianus did not request it and Hadrian granted it without any urging on his part.

9. In the meantime, however, he abandoned many provincesFootnote 31 annexed by Trajan and, against the wishes of all, demolished the theatre which Trajan had built on the Campus Martius. These things seemed all the harsher because Hadrian pretended that everything that he saw to be unpopular had been secretly enjoined upon him by Trajan. When he could not endure the power of Attianus, his prefect and former guardian, he attempted to slay him, but was deterred because he was already labouring under the odium incurred by the killing of the four ex-consuls – the decision for whose deaths he of course tried to shift back on to Attianus’ shoulders. Since he could not give Attianus a successor because he did not ask for one, he brought it about that he did request it; and as soon as he requested it he transferred the power to Turbo. At this time also, in fact, he [p. 67] appointed Septicius Clarus as successor to Similis, the other prefect.Footnote 32

Having removed from the prefecture the very men to whom he owed the imperial power, he made for Campania, and gave support to all its towns by benefactions and largess, attaching all the leading men to his friendship. At Rome, of course, he frequently attended the official functions of the praetors and consuls, was present at friends’ banquets, visited them twice or three times a day when they were sick, including some who were Roman knights and freedmen, revived them with sympathetic words and supported them with advice, and always invited them to his own banquets. In short, he did everything in the style of a private citizen. On his mother-in-law he bestowed special honours, with gladiatorial games and other ceremonies.Footnote 33

10. After this, setting out for the Gallic provinces, he gave support to all the communities with various forms of generosity. From there he crossed into Germany and, while he was eager for peace rather than for war, he trained the soldiers as if war were imminent, instilling into them the lessons of his own endurance; and he himself supervised the military life among the maniples,Footnote 34 cheerfully eating camp fare out of doors – bacon fat, cheese and rough wine – after the example of Scipio Aemilianus, Metellus and his own progenitor Trajan, giving rewards to many and honours to a few, so that they would be able to put up with the harsher conditions that he was imposing. [p. 68] For he did in fact take army discipline in hand. After Caesar Octavianus it had been sinking, owing to the lack of attention given by previous principes. He set in order both the duties and the expenditure, never allowing anyone to be absent from camp without proper authorization, since it was not popularity with the soldiers but just conduct that won commendation for tribunes. He encouraged others by the example of his own good qualities, too: he would walk as much as twenty miles in armour; he demolished dining-rooms in the camps, and porticoes, covered galleries and ornamental gardens; frequently he would wear the humblest clothing – putting on an ungilded sword-belt, fastening his cloak with an unjewelled clasp, and only reluctantly permitting himself an ivory hilt to his sword. He would visit sick soldiers in their quarters, would choose the base for camp himself, and he would not give the vine-staff to anyone who was not robust and of good reputation, nor would he appoint anyone tribune who did not have a full beard or was not of an age to assume the powers of the tribunate with prudence and maturity; and he would not allow a tribune to accept any presents from a soldier. He cleared out every kind of luxury from all sides. Finally, he improved their arms and equipment. As regards soldiers’ age, too, he pronounced that one should serve in camp contrary to ancient usage either at a younger age than his strength called for or at an age more advanced than humanity would permit. It was his practice always to be acquainted with them and to know their unit. 11. Besides this, he made an effort carefully to familiarize himself with the military stores, examining the provincial revenues in expert fashion too, so that if there was any particular deficiency anywhere he could make it good. But he strove, more than all emperors, never at any time to buy or to maintain anything that was unserviceable.

Having completely transformed the soldiers, in royal fashion, he made for Britain, where he set right many things and – the first to do so – drew a wall along a length of eighty miles to [p.69] separate barbarians and Romans.Footnote 35 Septicius Clarus, prefect of the guard, and Suetonius Tranquillus, director of his correspondence, he replaced, because they had at that time behaved in the company of his wife Sabina, in their association with her, in a more informal fashion than respect for the court household demanded.Footnote 36 He would have dismissed his wife too, for being moody and difficult – if he had been a private citizen, as he himself used to say. He did not investigate his own household only, but those of his friends as well, to the extent that he searched out all their secrets by means of commissary agents,Footnote 37 and his friends were not aware that their private lives were known by the emperor until the emperor himself revealed the fact. With reference to this it is not displeasing to insert an episode which shows that he learned a great deal about his friends. The wife of a certain man wrote to her husband that he was so preoccupied with pleasures and the baths that he did not want to come back to her. Hadrian had found this out through commissary agents, and when the man asked for leave, he reproached him about the baths and pleasures. To this the man replied: ‘Surely my wife didn’t write to you as well what she wrote to me!’ In fact this practice has been regarded as a very bad fault in Hadrian; added to this are the assertions about his passion for adult males and the adulteries with married women in which he is said to have been involved; and there is the further assertion that he did not keep faith with his friends.

12. After settling matters in Britain he crossed to Gaul, disturbed by the rioting at Alexandria. This arose on account of Apis,Footnote 38 [p. 70] who, when he had been rediscovered after many years, provoked quarrels among the peoples as to which one ought to house him, all of them keenly competing. At the same time he built a basilica at Nemausus [Nîmes] in honour of Plotina, a remarkable construction.Footnote 39 After this he made for the Spains and wintered at Tarraco [Tarragona], where he restored the temple of Augustus at his own expense. All the Spaniards had been summoned to an assembly at Tarraco and were ‘jokingly expressing reluctance’ – to use Marius Maximus’ actual words – over conscription. To the ItaliciFootnote 40 he gave some strong advice, to the others he spoke cautiously and with circumspection. At this time, actually, he came into very grave danger, not without glory; while he was taking a stroll among the trees at Tarraco, a slave of his host madly rushed at him with a sword. He took hold of him and handed him over to the attendants who ran up, and, when it was established that he was mad, he gave him over to doctors to be treated, he himself being in no way agitated.

During this period, and frequently at other times, in a great many places where the barbarians are separated off not by rivers but by frontier-barriers, he set them apart by great stakes driven deep into the ground and fastened together in the manner of a palisade.Footnote 41

He appointed a king for the Germans, suppressed revolts among the Moors, and earned public thanksgivings from the Senate. A war with Parthia was getting under way at this period, and it was checked by Hadrian’s personal discussion of the matter.Footnote 42

[p. 71] 13. After this he sailed along the coast of Asia and past the islands to Achaia, and undertook the Eleusinian rites, following the example of Hercules and Philip; he conferred many benefits on the Athenians and took his seat as president of the games.Footnote 43 During this stay in Achaia, care was taken, they say, that when Hadrian was present none should come to a sacrifice armed, whereas generally many used to carry knives. Afterwards he sailed to Sicily, where he climbed Mount Etna to see the sunrise, which is many-coloured, it is said, like a rainbow. Thence he came to Rome and from there crossed to Africa and bestowed a great many favours on the African provinces.Footnote 44 Hardly any other princeps has travelled so quickly across so much territory. Finally, when he had returned to Rome from Africa, he set out at once for the east, travelling by way of Athens. There he dedicated the public works which he had initiated among the Athenians, such as the shrine to Olympian Jupiter and the altar to himself.Footnote 45 In the same manner, as he journeyed through Asia, he consecrated temples to his own name. Then he received slaves from the Cappadocians for service in the camp. To the toparchsFootnote 46 and kings he made offers of friendship – even to Osroes, the king of the Parthians, as well: his daughter, whom Trajan had captured, was sent back to him, and the throne which had been seized at the same time was promised.Footnote 47 When certain kings had come to him, he acted in such a way that those who had not been willing to come regretted it, especially in the case of Pharasmanes,Footnote 48 who had haughtily ignored his invitation. Indeed, as he went round the provinces, he inflicted punishments on procurators and governors in accordance with their actions, with such severity that he was believed to have [p. 72] been inciting the accusers personally. 14. During this period he held the people of Antioch in such hatred that he wanted to split off Phoenice from Syria, so that Antioch would not be called the metropolis of so many cities. At this time too, the Jews set a war in motion, because they were forbidden to mutilate their genitals.Footnote 49 But on Mount Casius, when he had ascended by night for the sake of seeing the sunrise, a rainstorm arose while he was sacrificing and a thunderbolt descended, blasting the sacrificial victim and the attendant.

Having travelled through Arabia he came to Pelusium,Footnote 50 and rebuilt Pompey’s burial mound in a more magnificent fashion. Antinous, his favourite, he lost during a voyage along the Nile, and he wept for him like a woman. There are varying rumours about this person, some asserting that he had devoted himself to death for Hadrian’s sake, others – what both his beauty and Hadrian’s excessive sensuality make obvious. The Greeks, to be sure, consecrated him a god at Hadrian’s wish, asserting that oracles were given through him – Hadrian himself is talked about as their author.Footnote 51

Certainly he was excessively keen on poetry and literature. In arithmetic, geometry, and painting he was highly skilled – while as for his expertness in playing the cithara and in singing, he used to boast of it. In his sensual pleasures he was immoderate for he even composed a great deal of verse – about his favourites. Hadrian was most skilled with weapons and most expert in military science; he also wielded gladiatorial weapons. He was in one and the same person both stern and cheerful, affable and harsh, impetuous and hesitant, mean and generous, hypocritical [p. 73] and straightforward, cruel and merciful, and always in all things changeable. 15. His friends he enriched, even those who did not ask him, while to those who did ask he would refuse nothing. Yet this same man listened readily to whatever was whispered about his friends, and thus almost all, even the closest and even those whom he had raised to the highest honours, he regarded as being in the category of enemy in the sequel – for example Attianus and Nepos and Septicius Clarus. For Eudaemon,Footnote 52 formerly his accomplice in gaining the imperial power, he reduced to poverty; PolemaeanusFootnote 53 and MarcellusFootnote 54 he compelled to suicide; HeliodorusFootnote 55 he provoked by a highly defamatory letter; TitianusFootnote 56 he suffered to be accused and convicted of a plot to seize the imperial power, and to be proscribed; Ummidius QuadratusFootnote 57 and Catilius Severus and Turbo he assailed harshly; in order to prevent Servianus, his sister’s husband, from surviving him, he compelled him to commit suicide, although the man was already in his ninetieth year; finally he assailed his freedmen and a number of soldiers. Although he was very practised as a writer of prose and verse and very skilled in all the arts, yet he always mocked the teachers of all the arts on the grounds that he was more learned than they, and despised and humiliated them. With these same [p. 74] professors and philosophers he often competed, taking turns to publish books or poems. Once, indeed, a word used by FavorinusFootnote 58 was criticized by Hadrian. Favorinus yielded, which provoked some very agreeable amusement. He was wrong to concede to Hadrian, his friends charged him, over a word which reputable authors had used. ‘You don’t give me good advice, my friends,’ said Favorinus, ‘when you don’t allow me to believe the man who possesses thirty legions to be more learned than anyone else!’

16. So eager for widespread renown was Hadrian that he entrusted some books he had written about his own life to his educated freedmen, ordering them to publish them under their own names; for Phlegon’s books too are said to have been in fact by Hadrian.Footnote 59 He wrote catacannae, some very obscure books in imitation of Antimachus.Footnote 60 To the poet Florus,Footnote 61 who wrote to him:

I do not want to be Caesar,
To walk about among the Britons,
To ensure the Scythian hoar-frosts,

he wrote back:

I do not want to be Florus,
To walk about among taverns,
To lurk about among cook-shops,
To put up with the round insects.

[p. 75] Besides this he loved the old style of speaking; and he made debating-competition speeches. He preferred Cato to Cicero, Ennius to Virgil, CoeliusFootnote 62 to Sallust, and pronounced opinions on Homer and Plato with the same cocksureness. In astrology he regarded himself as such an expert that late on the Kalends of January he would write down what might happen to him during the whole year. In fact, he wrote down for the year when he died what he was going to do up to the very hour of his death. But although he was ready to criticize musicians, tragedians, comedians, grammarians, rhetoricians and orators, yet he both honoured and made rich all who professed the arts – although he always goaded them by his questioning. While he was himself responsible for many of them leaving his company in dejection, he used to say that he took it hardly if he say anyone dejected. He treated with the greatest friendliness EpictetusFootnote 63 and Heliodorus and philosophers, and, not to mention all of them by name, grammarians, rhetoricians, musicians, geometricians, painters and astrologers. Favorinus was conspicuous above the rest, as many assert. Teachers who appeared to be unfit for their profession he enriched and honoured, and then dismissed from their posts.

17. Men whom he had treated as his enemies when a private citizen he merely ignored as emperor – so that, after his accession, he said to one man whom he had regarded as a mortal foe: ‘You have escaped!’ To those whom he personally called up for military service he always presented horses, mules, clothing, expenses and their entire equipment. He frequently sent Saturnalia and SigillariaFootnote 64 presents to friends when they were not expecting them, and he himself gladly accepted [p. 76] presents from them, and gave others in return. To detect frauds on the parts of caterers, when he was giving banquets with several tables, he ordered that dishes from other tables, including each of the bottom tables, should be set before himself. He surpassed all kings by his gifts. Often he bathed in the public baths, even when everyone was present, as a result of which the following bathing-joke became well-known: on one occasion he had seen a certain veteran, known to him in military service, rubbing his back and the rest of his body on the wall; he asked why he had the marble scrape him, and when he learned that this was done for the reason that he did not have a slave, he presented him both with slaves and with the cost of their maintenance. But on another day when several old men were rubbing themselves on the wall to arouse the emperor’s generosity, he ordered them to be called out and to rub each other down in turn. He was, indeed, a most ostentatious lover of the common people. So fond was he of travelling that he wanted to learn further, at first hand, about everything that he had read concerning the different parts of the world. His endurance of the cold and bad weather was such that he never covered his head. On many kings he conferred a great deal, but from most of them he actually purchased peace; by not a few he was despised, but to many he gave huge favours – to none greater than to the king of the Hiberi, to whom he presented an elephant and a quingenary cohort,Footnote 65 in addition to magnificent gifts. When he himself, too, had received huge gifts and presents from Pharasmanes, including gold-embroidered cloaks, he sent in to the arena three hundred criminals clad in gold-embroidered cloaks in order to ridicule the king’s presents.

18. When he sat in judgement he had on his council not only his friends and comitesFootnote 66 but jurists too, and, in particular, Juventius [p. 77] Celsus,Footnote 67 Salvius Julianus,Footnote 68 Neratius Priscus, and others, all of whom, however, the Senate had recommended. Among other decisions he ruled that in no community should a house be demolished for the purpose of transporting cheap building material to another city. To the children of the proscribed he granted one twelfth of their property. He did not accept charges of maiestas.Footnote 69 Legacies from persons unknown to him he refused, and he did not accept them from persons he did know if they had sons. On treasure-trove, he stipulated as follows, that if anyone found anything on his own property he might take possession of it himself; if anyone found anything on someone else’s property he should give half to the owner; if anyone found anything on public land he should share it equally with the fisc. He prohibited the killing of slaves by their owners and ordered that they should be sentenced by judges if they deserved it. He prohibited the sale of a male or female slave to a pimp or gladiatorial trainer without cause being given. Bankrupts, if their status made them legally responsible, he ordered to be flogged in the amphitheatre, and let go. Workhouses for slaves and freedmen he abolished. He divided public baths between the sexes. In cases where a slave-owner had been murdered in his house he ruled that not all the slaves should be put to the torture but only those who were in a position to have some knowledge through having been in the vicinity.

19. In Etruria he held the praetura while emperor. In the Latin towns he was dictator and aedile and duumvir, at Neapolis [Naples] he was demarchus, in his own home town quinquennalis, [p. 78] and, likewise, quinquennalis at Hadria – as it were, in his other home town – and at Athens, archon.Footnote 70 In almost all the cities he built something and gave games. He never called a single wild-beast-hunter or actor away from Rome. At Rome, after other enormous delights, he presented the people with spices in honour of his mother-in-law, and in honour of Trajan he ordered that balsam and saffron should flow over the steps of the theatre. He put on plays of every kind, in the ancient fashion, in the theatre, and he had the court players perform in public. In the circus he slew many wild beasts and often a hundred lions. He frequently put on military Pyrrhic dances for the people, and he often watched the gladiators. Although he built countless buildings everywhere, he himself never inscribed his own name on them except on the temple of his father Trajan. At Rome he restored the Pantheon,Footnote 71 the Saepta,Footnote 72 the Basilica of Neptune, very many sacred buildings, the Forum of Augustus and the Baths of Agrippa, and dedicated all of them in the names of their original builders. He also built a bridge named after himself and the tomb next to the Tiber, and the shrine of the Bona Dea. With the help of the architect Decrianus he also moved the Colossus,Footnote 73 held in an upright position, from the place where the Temple of the City is now – so vast a weight that he provided twenty-four elephants for the work. When he had consecrated this statue to the Sun, after removing the face of Nero to whom it had previously been dedicated, he undertook to make another one of a similar kind, for the Moon, under the direction of the architect Apollodorus.Footnote 74

[p. 79] 20. In conversation even with people of the humblest class he acted very much as an ordinary citizen, denouncing those who, as if they were preserving the princeps’ high eminence, would begrudge him this pleasure in human nature. At Alexandria, in the Museum,Footnote 75 he propounded many debating questions to the professors and himself solved what he had propounded. Marius Maximus says that he was cruel by nature, and that the reason why he performed many acts of kindness was that he feared that the same thing might befall him as happened to Domitian.Footnote 76 Although he did not love inscriptions on public works, he named many cities Hadrianopolis, even Carthage for example, and part of Athens. He called countless aqueducts by his own name as well. He was the first to establish the post of Treasury Counsel (advocatus fisci). His memory was vast, his capability boundless; for he both dictated his speeches, and made his replies to everything, in person. Many of his jokes still survive, for he was also very witty. Hence the following story has also become well known: when he had refused a request to a certain grey-haired man, and the same man petitioned again, but with dyed hair, Hadrian replied: ‘I have already refused this to your father.’ In the case of a great many persons he repeated, without a nomenclator,Footnote 77 names which he had heard a single time and in a group on the same occasion, so that he corrected the nomenclatores, who would quite often make mistakes. He could also say the names of the veterans whom he had at any time discharged. Books, immediately he had read them – and ones which were in fact not known to most people – he could repeat from memory. At one and the same time he wrote, dictated, listened and conversed with his friends – if it [p. 80] can be believed. He had as comprehensive a knowledge of all the public accounts as any thrifty head of a family has of his private household. Horses and dogs he loved so much that he set up tombs for them.Footnote 78 He built the town of HadrianotheraeFootnote 79 in one place because there he had had a successful hunt and had once killed a bear.

21. In all trials he always continued his investigations, scrutinizing everything, until he found the truth. He did not want his freedmen to be known in public nor to have any power over himself, his maxim being to blame all earlier principes for the vices of their freedmen – all freedmen of his own who boasted of their influence over him were punished. Hence, too, there survives the following story concerning slaves, stern to be sure, but almost humorous. On one occasion he had seen a slave of his walk away from his presence between two senators, so he sent someone to give him a box on the ear and tell him: ‘Do not walk between men whose slave you can yet be.’ Among foods he particularly loved the tetrafarmacum,Footnote 80 which consisted of pheasant, sow’s udder, ham and pastry.

During his times there were famines, plague and earthquakes, all of which he dealt with as far as he could, and he aided many communities which had been devastated by them. There was also a flood of the Tiber. He gave Latin rightsFootnote 81 to many communities, to many he remitted their tribute.

The expeditions under him were in no case major ones; the wars too were brought to completion almost without comment.Footnote 82 [p. 81] By the soldiers he was greatly loved on account of his great attention to the army, and at the same time because he was very generous towards them. The Parthians he retained in a state of friendship, because he took away from them the king that Trajan had imposed. He allowed the Armenians to have a king, whereas under Trajan they had had a legate. He did not exact from the Mesopotamians the tribute which Trajan had imposed. He kept the Albani and Hiberi on very friendly terms, because he bestowed bounties on their kings, although they had scorned to come as suppliants to him. The kings of the Bactrians sent ambassadors to him, to request friendship.

22. He very often appointed guardians. Discipline in civilian affairs he maintained no differently from in the military sphere. He ordered senators and Roman knights always to wear the toga in public unless they were returning from a banquet; he himself, when he was in Italy, always appeared in the toga. When receiving senators coming to a social occasion he stood up, and he always reclined at table either clad in a Greek cloak or with his toga let down. He determined the costs of a social occasion with the diligence of a judge and reduced them to the ancient level. He prohibited vehicles with heavy loads from entering the city and did not permit horses to be ridden in towns. He allowed no one unless ill to bath in public before the eighth hour. He was the first to have Roman knights as ab epistulis and a libellis.Footnote 83 Those men whom he saw to be poor and blameless he enriched of his own accord, while he regarded with actual hatred those who had become rich through cunning means. Roman rites he most carefully observed, foreign ones he despised. He always carried out the duties of the pontifex [p. 82] maximus.Footnote 84 He frequently heard lawsuits at Rome and in the provinces, taking on to his council the consuls and praetors and the best senators. He drained the Fucine Lake. He appointed four consulars as judges for the whole of Italy. When he came to Africa, on his arrival, it rained for the first time for five years, and for this reason he was esteemed highly by the Africans.

23. However, after traversing all parts of the world bare-headed and often in severe rainstorms and frosts he contracted an illness which confined him to bed. Having become anxious about a successor, at first he thought about Servianus, whom, in the sequel, as we have said, he compelled to die. FuscusFootnote 85 he held in the greatest abhorrence, on the grounds that he had been aroused by prophecies and presentiments to hope for the empire. In the case of Platorius Nepos – whom Hadrian had formerly esteemed so very highly that when he came to him when he was ill and was refused admission no punishment was inflicted – he was led on by suspicions; it was likewise with Terentius Gentianus,Footnote 86 and in his case hatred was the more violent because at this time he could see that the man was esteemed by the Senate. All, in the end, whom he had considered for the imperial position, he detested as though they were emperors-to-be.

In fact he restrained all the force of his innate cruelty up to [p. 83] the time when he almost met his end at his Tiburtine villa, through a haemorrhage. Then, casting aside restraint, he compelled Servianus to die, on the grounds that he was an aspirant for the empire – because he had provided a banquet for the royal slaves, because he had sat on a royal seat, placed next to the bed, because he, a ninety-year-old, had stood up and gone to meet the soldiers on guard-duty. Many others were put to death, either openly or by craft. At this time, indeed, Sabina his wife died, not without a rumour that poison had been given her by Hadrian.

Then he determined to adopt Ceionius Commodus, son-in-law of Nigrinus the former conspirator – Commodus’ recommendation to him being his beauty. So he adopted Ceionius Commodus Verus, against the wishes of all, and named him Aelius Verus Caesar.Footnote 87 On the occasion of the adoption he gave circus-games and bestowed a donative on the people and the soldiers. He honoured Commodus with the praetorship and at once placed him in charge of the Pannonian provinces; and the consulship, together with the expenses thereof, was decreed for him.Footnote 88 The same Commodus he designated to be consul a second time [a.d. 137]. When he saw that he was by no means healthy, he used very often to say: ‘We have leaned against a falling wall and we have lost the 300 million sesterces that we gave the people and the soldiers to mark the adoption of Commodus.’ Commodus, indeed, because of his health, could not even make his speech of thanks to Hadrian for his adoption in the Senate. Finally, having taken too copious a dose of medicine, his condition began to worsen and he died in his sleep – on the very Kalends of January [1 January a.d. 138]; hence mourning was prohibited by Hadrian on account of the vow-taking.

[p. 84] 24. Aelius Verus Caesar being dead, Hadrian, afflicted by the most wretched health, adopted Arrius Antoninus who was afterwards called Pius; and in the same law laid down that Antoninus should adopt two sons, Annius Verus and Marcus Antoninus.Footnote 89 These are the two who subsequently governed the republic as the first joint Augusti. Antoninus, indeed, is said to have been named Pius because he used to support his father-in-law with a hand when worn out by age; although others say that this surname was given him because he had rescued many senators from Hadrian when he was already acting cruelly; and others say that it was because he bestowed great honours on Hadrian after his death. A great many were grieved that the adoption of Antoninus had been carried out, especially Catilius Severus, the prefect of the city, who had designs on the imperial power for himself. When this fact was made known, he was given a successor and deprived of his office.

Hadrian, however, now moved with extreme disgust for life, ordered a slave to stab him with a sword. When this was known and had come to the attention of Antoninus, he, as Hadrian’s son, and the prefects, went in to Hadrian and begged him to endure the necessity of the disease with equanimity; Antoninus told him that he would be a parricide if, having himself been adopted, he allowed him to be killed. Hadrian was angered by them and ordered the person responsible for informing them to be killed (he was however saved by Antoninus). He at once wrote his will; however, he did not lay aside the business of the republic. After making his will he did in fact attempt to kill himself again; when the dagger was taken from him he became more violent. He sought poison from a doctor, who killed himself to avoid giving it.

[p. 85] 25. At that time a certain woman arrived who said she had been warned in a dream to recommend Hadrian not to kill himself, because he was going to have good health; and that because she had not done this she had gone blind. However, she said, she had been ordered again to say the same things to Hadrian and to kiss his knees; and she was to recover her sight if she did this. When she had done this in accordance with the dream, she did recover her eyesight, after washing her eyes with water from the sanctuary from which she had come. There came also from Pannonia a certain old man to the fevered Hadrian, and touched him, whereupon the man recovered his eyesight and the fever left Hadrian; although Marius Maximus records that these things were faked.

After this Hadrian made for Baiae, Antoninus being left at Rome to rule. When he made no progress there, he summoned Antoninus and passed away in his presence, at Baiae itself, on the sixth day before the Ides of July [10 July a.d. 138]. Unseen by all,Footnote 90 he was buried at Cicero’s villa at Puteoli. Shortly before the time of his death he compelled Servianus to die – in his ninetieth year, as was said above, so that he would not out-live him and, as he thought, become emperor – and also, for slight reasons, ordered the killing of a great many persons, whom Antoninus saved. He is said, as he was actually dying, to have composed these verses:

Little charmer, wanderer, little sprite,
Body’s companion and guest,
To what places now will you take flight,
Forbidding and empty and dim as night?
And you won’t make your wonted jest!

He did compose such verses as these, and Greek ones too, that were not much better. He lived sixty-two years, five months and seventeen days and ruled for twenty years and four months. 26. In stature he was tall, in appearance elegant; his hair was curled [p. 86] on a comb and his beard was full, to cover the natural blemishes on his face; his figure was robust. He rode and walked a very great deal, and always practised with weapons and with the javelin. He also hunted, and on many occasions killed a lion with his own hand; but once when hunting he broke his collarbone and a rib. He always shared the hunt with friends. When entertaining guests he always put on tragedies, comedies, Atellan farces, Sambuca players,Footnote 91 readers or poets, to fit the occasion. He completed the building of his Tiburtine villaFootnote 92 in wonderful fashion, in such a way that he inscribed the most famous of names of provinces and places there, and called them, for example, Lycium, Academia, Prytanium, Canopus, Poecile and Tempe. So that he might omit nothing, he even made a Lower World.

He had the following signs of death. On his last birthday [24 January a.d. 138], when he was commending Antoninus, his bordered toga fell down of its own accord and uncovered his head. The ring, on which his own portrait was carved, of its own accord slipped from his finger. On the day before his birthday somebody came to the Senate wailing; Hadrian was as much moved in his presence as if he were speaking about his own death, for no one could understand his words. Again, when he meant to say in the Senate: ‘After my son’s death’, he said: ‘After my death’. Besides this, he dreamed that he was overcome by a lion.

27. Many things were said against him by many people when he was dead. The Senate wanted his acts to be made invalid, and he would not have been deified if Antoninus had not asked. Finally, Antoninus built a temple for him at Puteoli, instead of a tomb, and established a quinquennial contest and flamines and [p. 87] sodalesFootnote 93 and many other things which appertain to the honouring of a divinity. As was said above, many think that is why Antoninus was called Pius.


  1. 1 A small town near Seville, in the Spanish province of Baetica, Italica was founded by Scipio Africanus in 206 b.c. (Appian, Iberica, 38).Back to main text
  2. 2 See genealogical table A [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  3. 3 Reading Acilium Attianum in preference to the MS’s ‘Caelium Tatianum’. P. Acilius Attianus (PIR2, A 45), a fellow-townsman of Trajan and Hadrian, rose to be prefect of the guard by a.d.117.Back to main text
  4. 4 Presumably in the local para-military youth organization (iuventus).Back to main text
  5. 5 The decemviri were future senators, who carried out duties in the law-courts at Rome. Hadrian’s career as given here is confirmed by an inscription erected in his honour at Athens in a.d.112 (Smallwood, no. 109), with a few extra items.Back to main text
  6. 6 A soldier seconded for special duties on an officer’s staff.Back to main text
  7. 7 The MSS are defective here.Back to main text
  8. 8 Virgil, Aeneid, 808–812 (Dryden’s translation).Back to main text
  9. 9 Presumably a bogus author: see p. 16 above [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  10. 10 L. Licinius Sura (cos. III ord. 107: PIR2, L 253).Back to main text
  11. 11 An error: the year is presumably 107, when the consuls were Sura III and Senecio II. Suburanus was cos. II in a.d.104, Servianus in 102. See Smallwood, pp. 3ff.Back to main text
  12. 12 I follow H.G. Pflaum, HAC, 1966, p. 148 in his restoration of the text. Q. Sosius Senecio (cos. II ord. 107) was a prominent figure under Trajan. A. Platorius Nepos (cos. 119), perhaps a Spaniard, was the man responsible for building Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. Papus, another Spaniard, is not known to have been prominent in public life.Back to main text
  13. 13 Ti. Julius … Claudius Livianus (PIR2, C 913) was prefect of the guard under Trajan (cf. p. 41 above) Q. Marcius Turbo, a native of Epidaurus in Dalmatia, was to hold the same office soon after Hadrian’s accession: see Syme, JRS, 1962, pp. 87ff.Back to main text
  14. 14 A. Cornelius Palma (cos. II ord. 109) and L. Publilius Celsus (cos. II ord. 113).Back to main text
  15. 15 L. Neratius Priscus (cos. 97) was a leading jurist. But the story is dubious: see Syme, Tacitus, pp. 233f.Back to main text
  16. 16 Egypt, Libya (Cyrenaica) and Palestine were all affected (with Cyprus) by the Jewish revolt of a.d.115–17. See p. 51f above [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  17. 17 In 167 b.c.Back to main text
  18. 18 An error: the correct name was Parthamaspates (p. 52 above) [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  19. 19 A friend of the younger Pliny (epist., 3.5, 4.9.16ff. 4.12.4).Back to main text
  20. 20 See pp. 33, 44 above [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  21. 21 A Moorish chieftain promoted to high command by Trajan, he served in both Dacian and Parthian wars (PIR2, L 439, and cf. p. 51 above) [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  22. 22 Thought to have been provoked by Quietus’ treatment.Back to main text
  23. 23 PIR2, C 558, and see p. 49 above [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  24. 24 Augustus received the title in 2 b.c. Hadrian took it in a.d.128.Back to main text
  25. 25 This resumes the narrative from the end of chapter 5.Back to main text
  26. 26 C. Avidius Nigrinus (PIR2, A 1408) was stepfather of L. Ceionius Commodus: see p. 83 below and genealogical table E [not reproduced here]. (Lusius is Lusius Quietus)Back to main text
  27. 27 See p. 61 above.Back to main text
  28. 28 This repeats, with slightly different wording, what has just been said a little earlier: but this is hardly evidence for the use of two separate sources, merely for carelessness.Back to main text
  29. 29 I read numero after liberorum as the best way of making sense of the passage.Back to main text
  30. 30 This statement appears to be incorrect: the only men known to have been given a third consulship were M. Annius Verus in a.d.126 (p. 108 below) [not reproduced here] and his brother-in-law L.Julius Ursus Servianus in a.d.134 (p. 66 below). Only five second consulships are known. See Smallwood, pp. 7ff.Back to main text
  31. 31 Armenia, Mesopotamia and Assyria, and part of Lower Moesia.Back to main text
  32. 32 C. Septicius Clarus, friend of the younger Pliny and of Suetonius (mentioned below, p. 69), and dedicatee of the former’s letters and the latter’s The Twelve Caesars. Ser. Sulpicius Similis is known to have governed Egypt before promotion to the guard.Back to main text
  33. 33 To mark Matidia’s death in a.d.119; see Smallwood, no. 114 (Hadrian’s funeral speech from December of that year).Back to main text
  34. 34 The term is used anachronistically, for the maniple was superseded by the cohort, as a subdivision of the legion, in the late 2nd century b.c.Back to main text
  35. 35 This is the sole ancient literary evidence for Hadrian having built the Wall. His visit was evidently in a.d.122.Back to main text
  36. 36 Syme, Tacitus, pp. 778ff., discusses the question of where and when the dismissal took place. Suetonius is, of course, the biographer.Back to main text
  37. 37 The so-called frumentarii, whose functions might be compared to those of the secret police in modern states, seem to have been reorganized for this purpose by Hadrian.Back to main text
  38. 38 The sacred bull of the Egyptians.Back to main text
  39. 39 After her death (Dio, 69.10.3). Plotina was probably from a Nemausus family.Back to main text
  40. 40 Perhaps an abbreviated form of Italicenses, i.e. citizens of his home town Italica; see Syme, JRS, 1964, pp. 142ff.Back to main text
  41. 41 In particular, in Upper Germany.Back to main text
  42. 42 The author’s desire for compression has caused him to omit mention of Hadrian’s journey from Spain to Syria.Back to main text
  43. 43 In March a.d.125.Back to main text
  44. 44 His visit can be dated to summer a.d.128: Smallwood, no. 328.Back to main text
  45. 45 This stay was from September a.d.128 to March 129.Back to main text
  46. 46 District governors.Back to main text
  47. 47 See p. 104 below [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  48. 48 King of the Hiberi in the Caucasus region.Back to main text
  49. 49 i.e. carry our circumcision. This version differs from that of Dio (69.12–14), who ascribes the outbreak of rebellion to Hadrian’s foundation of a pagan city at Jerusalem. In any case, the war did not become serious until a.d.132, whereas the context of this statement places it in 130.Back to main text
  50. 50 a.d.130.Back to main text
  51. 51 Here the narrative suddenly breaks off, as if the author had tired of it (see p. 19 above) [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  52. 52 Valerius Eudaemon, appointed prefect of Egypt by Antoninus Pius.Back to main text
  53. 53 Reading Polemaeanum instead of the MS’s Polyaenum. Perhaps a son of Ti. Julius Aquila Polemaeanus, colleague of Avidius Nigrinus as consul in a.d.110 and a native of Asia Minor (PIR2, J 168).Back to main text
  54. 54 C. Quinctius Certus Poblicius Marcellus, governor of Syria a.d.132.Back to main text
  55. 55 PIR2, A 1405: C. Avidius Heliodorus, father of Avidius Cassius. But Heliodorus was still in office as prefect of Egypt when Hadrian died.Back to main text
  56. 56 Probably a confusion with the Titianus who is referred to in the Life of Antoninus, p. 101 below [not reproduced here]: PIR2, A 1305 (T. Atilius Rufus Titianus).Back to main text
  57. 57 C. Ummidius Quadratus (cos. 118). His son was to marry M. Aurelius’ sister.Back to main text
  58. 58 PIR2, F 123: a prominent rhetorician, native of Arles, a friend of Plutarch and Aulus Gellius, and frequently mentioned by Lucian, Philostratus and others.Back to main text
  59. 59 As Syme points out, this passage reveals that the author ‘was familiar with the notion of literary impersonation – who more so?’ (EB, p. 19, n. 5).Back to main text
  60. 60 An epic poet from Colophon, flourished about 400 b.c. The term catacanna is obscure: it apparently means a fruit-tree onto which stocks of different kinds have been grafted.Back to main text
  61. 61 PIR2, A 650: P. Annius Florus.Back to main text
  62. 62 L. Coelius Antipater, an historian who lived in the second century b.c.Back to main text
  63. 63 The lame, Stoic, ex-slave, whose Discourses still survive.Back to main text
  64. 64 The Saturnalia was a festival lasting several days, beginning on 17 December; the last days were called the Sigillaria, when presents, especially little images (sigilla), were exchanged.Back to main text
  65. 65 i.e. a cohort 500 strong, reading quingenariam.Back to main text
  66. 66 The post of comes, ‘companion’ (of the emperor), was becoming formalized at this time and evidently meant something like ‘imperial staff officer’.Back to main text
  67. 67 PIR2, J 882: P. Juventius Celsus (cos. II ord. 129), frequently cited in the Digest.Back to main text
  68. 68 Another celebrated lawyer, L. Octavius Cornelius P. Salvius Julianus (cos. ord. 148), still a young man in Hadrian’s reign: Smallwood, no. 236.Back to main text
  69. 69 i.e. lèse majesté, or high treason, a charge that first became common under Tiberius.Back to main text
  70. 70 All these posts are local magistracies in different towns.Back to main text
  71. 71 Still standing, with the inscription of its original builder, M. Agrippa.Back to main text
  72. 72 The voting-enclosure in the Campus Martius.Back to main text
  73. 73 A statue set up by Nero, over 100 feet high, representing himself.Back to main text
  74. 74 PIR2, A 922: a Syrian, who had built Trajan’s Danube bridge (p. 42 above [not reproduced here]) and new Forum at Rome. He was banished and then put to death by Hadrian (Dio, 69.4.1).Back to main text
  75. 75 An academy and research institution founded by Ptolemy I (305–283 b.c.).Back to main text
  76. 76 Assassinated 18 September a.d.96 (p. 31 above [not reproduced here]).Back to main text
  77. 77 A slave whose special duty was to tell his master the names of people presented to him.Back to main text
  78. 78 See Smallwood, no. 520, for the verse epitaph on his horse, Borysthenes.Back to main text
  79. 79 In Bithynia.Back to main text
  80. 80 See also p. 92 below [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  81. 81 A kind of half-way stage to full Roman citizenship: in Latin communities the annual magistrates acquired full citizenship on election. (Hadrian appears to have introduced an enhanced form, Latium maius, whereby all members of town councils became full citizens.)Back to main text
  82. 82 This is misleading: the Jewish war of a.d.132–5 was quite serious (see Dio, 69.12–14).Back to main text
  83. 83 Respectively ‘Chief Secretary’ and ‘Secretary for Petitions’. But the statement is mistaken, as a knight was already ab epistulis under Domitian, Nerva and Trajan (Smallwood, no. 270).Back to main text
  84. 84 These two sentences look suspiciously like inventions by the author. All emperors were pontifex maximus – until Gratian, who laid down the office in a.d.382 (Zosimus, 4.36.5). As for the phrase ‘foreign ones he despised’, this is difficult to reconcile with his amply attested interest in the Eleusinian mysteries (cf. p. 71 above) and it may reveal the author’s attitude to the ‘foreign rites’ of the Christians.Back to main text
  85. 85 His grand-nephew Cn. Pedanius Fuscus Salinator: genealogical table A [not reproduced here].Back to main text
  86. 86 Son of the prominent Trajanic marshal Terentius Scaurianus, D. Terentius Gentianus (cos. 116) had apparently become consul before he was thirty (Smallwood, no. 237).Back to main text
  87. 87 There is an error over the name: Ceionius Commodus was never called Verus (see p. 17f above [not reproduced here]). Nigrinus; stemma E.Back to main text
  88. 88 Incorrect: he had been praetor in a.d.130 and was already consul in 136, before his adoption in the same year (PIR2, C 605).Back to main text
  89. 89 There is a hopeless confusion over the names here: the adoptive sons of Antoninus were Marcus Annius Verus and Lucius Ceionius Commodus the younger (see p. 17f above [not reproduced here]).Back to main text
  90. 90 invisus omnibus could also mean ‘hated by all’.Back to main text
  91. 91 The Sambuca was a triangular stringed instrument with a shrill tone.Back to main text
  92. 92 Substantial remains of Hadrian’s great villa still survive at Tibur, the modern Tivoli, close to Rome.Back to main text
  93. 93 Both the flamen and the sodales were priests chosen from the senatorial class to conduct the worship of deified emperors – sodales Augustales for Augustus, Flaviales for Vespasian, Hadrianales for Hadrian, and so on.Back to main text