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Born and bred in what is now northern Spain to a family of olive-oil magnates, Hadrian was lucky enough to benefit from the patronage of his maternal cousin, Trajan, who would later become emperor, and who named Hadrian his successor on his death in AD 117.
After suppressing the Jewish revolt that had started under Trajan (memorably depicted in Josephus' Jewish War), Hadrian brought years of turbulence to an end. He presided over Rome's expansion to its greatest extent, travelling all over his empire to fortify its borders and, notably, building a wall to demarcate its northern extreme in the island of Britain (as well as another in Germany). Hadrian also 'Hellenized' the cultural life of the empire, and left an extraordinary legacy, yet he remains one of the least-known of Rome's emperors.
Using exhaustive research, Anthony Everitt unveils the private life and character of this most successful of emperors, in the most vivid and exciting retelling of his story to date.
The author of biographies of Augustus and Cicero, British scholar Everitt now combines academic expertise with lively prose in a satisfying account of the emperor who ruled Rome from 117 to 138 C.E., the man Everitt says "has a good claim to have been the most successful of Rome's leaders." As a youth, Hadrian became the prot g and adopted ward of future emperor Trajan. (Homosexual emperors, including Hadrian, often adopted a successor, a procedure that worked better than letting pugnacious generals fight it out.) After suppressing the Jewish revolt that had begun under Trajan, Hadrian abandoned several of his predecessor's conquests as indefensible. Traveling the empire, he shored up its defenses, which included building Hadrian's Wall in England and another across Germany. Nearing the end of a prosperous, mostly peaceful reign, he adopted two men who also ruled successfully: Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Everitt presents the Roman Empire, in what he calls "tempestuous and thrilling times," as an almost ungovernable collection of polyglot nations dominated by ambitious, frequently bloodthirsty and unscrupulous men. Readers will wonder how Rome lasted so long, but they will enjoy this skillful portrait of a good leader during its last golden age. 2 maps.