Torch: WI - Page 12

a look at hadrian

An obscure second-century A.D. author named Florus—the rest of his name is disputed—dedicated the following poem to the emperor Hadrian, in admiration of his friend’s travels, which had brought him to the empire’s most remote regions:

I don't want to be Caesar, please,

to tramp round the Britons, weak at the knees,

[one line lost]

in the Scythian frosts to freeze. [trans. A. Birley]

Hadrian replied:

I don't want to be Florus, please,

to tramp round pubs, into bars to squeeze,

to lurk about eating pies and peas,

to get myself infested with fleas. [trans. A. Birley]

Hardly the most regal or conventional conduct—but that typifies Hadrian. Always one for the spotlight, Hadrian defied traditional politics and largely reinvented his role as sovereign. While he was, at once, a generous patron and a beloved emperor, his administration of the empire on occasion appeared callous and short-sighted. Regardless, he certainly merits a closer study.

Pre-Principate

From Italica in Spain, the cousin and eventual adopted son of Trajan, the future emperor was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father, Afer, was a senator of Praetorian rank, while his elder

by michael kearney

sister, Domitia Paulina, was married to the triple consul Servianus. Although his parents died in 86, when he was only ten, he became a ward of Acilius Attianus, the man to whom he would later credit his rise to the principate. As a child, Hadrian received the education typical of a young noble, and grew so fond of Greek literature that he was nicknamed Graeculus—”Greekling”. It was a mantle he bore his entire life. (continued on page thirteen)

at right: A bust of Emperor Hadrian. Photo

page twelve

from Google Images.