Emperor Hadrian was a true world traveler in the modern sense of the word. He understood Public Relations like no other and made sure all his subjects knew him whether in the far east or in remote Britain where he left his “Hadrian Wall”. It seems he was very much appreciated also since so many cities built arches in his honor and dedicated temples and baths to him. A rare exception on my travelling through
where I found no trace of him. Strange, to say the least! Albania
Hadrian was born in 76 AD and died in 138 AD, after having reigned over the
Roman Empire for twenty-one years. He belongs to the category of the five “good emperors”, joining ranks with Nerva, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius. More importantly, he ruled at the height of Roman power in the middle of the Pax Romana which started under Augustus in 27 BC and ended in 180 AD. This Pax Romana, a two hundred years-long period of peace, was in great part due to Alexander the Great – a detail that is generally overlooked. Through his two years of fierce guerilla wars in Sogdiana and in Bactria from 229 to 227 BC, Alexander had scared the hell out of the Scythian tribes on the northern frontiers of Central Asia to such an extent that they did not dare interfere with the Roman occupation in the following centuries.
Hadrian comes to me as a good-natured and friendly person who liked his contacts with people. He is known to be generous to the soldiers under his command, making sure they were properly garrisoned; additionally, he implemented many military reforms and built appropriate forts. He was on good terms with the civilians of the cities he visited as well and is said to have defended the weaker population against the empowered ones, which may be one of the reasons why he was so popular. He loved everything that was Greek and that included his beautiful lover Antinous. He sought to make
the cultural capital of his empire and to this purpose he ordered the construction of many buildings all over the city. Best known is probably his arch in the center of Athens Athens carrying two typical inscriptions reading on one side, Here starts the city of Hadrian and on the other, Here ends the city of . Hadrian , in turn, honored the emperor with a bronze statue at the Theatre of Dionysus. According to Pausanias, Hadrian also built a gymnasium with columns of Libyan marble, a Athens , a large Library and a Pantheon dedicated to all the gods. We still can admire his life-size statue at the very heart of the Greek Agora. Another interesting feature of Hadrian’s legacy is the vaulted Temple of Hera that has been exposed during the metro construction works at the Monastiraki station. Eridanos River
Nothing much has transpired from his personal life, except his affair with the gorgeous Antinous (when you see the very recognizable Antinous in a museum, you can be sure that Hadrian is not far off). Whatever his relation with his wife Sabina was, she is often represented at his side. One such case that springs to my mind is Andriake, the
According to the latest news, the city of Antalya is renewing its appreciation for Hadrian by cleaning up the area around the gate built in his honor in 130 AD, known locally as the “Three Doors”. They are planning a rather fancy landscaping with lighting in the shape of the sun. The project is not too clear but it is nice to hear that this impressive city gate will gain in prestige after so many centuries of abandon.