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E&D 10 Hadrian: Greek Aesthete or Roman Bureaucrat?

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James Corke-Webster

on 14 December 2015

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Transcript of E&D 10 Hadrian: Greek Aesthete or Roman Bureaucrat?

formalisation - "top-down"
treatment of Senate?
early execution of 4 senators (Attianus)?
respectful in person
use of
not freedmen
quattuorviri consulares
codification of law
expanded to East?

““When he tried cases, he had in his council not only his friends and the members of his staff,
but also jurists, in particular Juventius Celsus, Salvus Julianus, Neratius Priscus
, and others, only those, however, whom the senate had in every instance approved.”

Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian 18.1

Spanish origins
consolidation not expansion
extensive travels (over half reign abroad)
121: via Gaul to Rhine, Raetia, Noricum
122: Britain, Gaul, Spain
123: Eastern frontier
128-33: Africa, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Black Sea, Greece again
while in Greece:
elected Archon in Athens
served as judge in games of Dionysus
initiated at Eleusis
widespread restoration programme
the beard...
why travel?
artistic habits [cf. Nero]
fostering urbanisation
fostering assimilation

Hadrian: Greek Aesthete or Roman Bureaucrat?
He built up the Tibur villa wonderfully, in such a way that he could apply to it the names of provinces and places most renowned, and would call parts of it, for example, the Lyceum, the Academy, the Prytany
… and so that he might omit nothing, he even fashioned a Hades.”

Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian

"Of his knowledge of flute playing and singing he even boasted openly. He ran to excess in the gratification of his desires, and wrote much verse
about the subjects of his passions
. He composed love-poems too."
Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian
“[Hadrian] grew rather deeply devoted to Greek studies, to which his natural tastes inclined so much that
some called him ‘Greekling
Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian

a) travelling
b) building projects
He was so fond of travelling that he wanted to learn everything at first hand about everything that he had read on different parts of the world
Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian

He also constructed theatres and held games as he travelled about from city to city, dispensing, however, with the imperial trappings
; for he never used these outside Rome.”
Cassius Dio 69.10.1
he first banished and later put to death Apollodorus, the architect, who had built the various creations of Trajan in Rome — the forum, the odeum and the gymnasium. The reason assigned was that he had been guilty of some misdemeanour; but the true reason was that once when Trajan was consulting him on some point about the buildings he had said to Hadrian, who had interrupted with some remark: "Be off, and draw your gourds. You don't understand any of these matters."
(It chanced that Hadrian at the time was pluming himself upon some such drawing.) When he became emperor, therefore, he remembered this slight and would not endure the man's freedom of speech.
He sent him the plan of the temple of Venus and Roma by way of showing him that a great work could be accomplished without his aid, and asked Apollodorus whether the proposed structure was satisfactory.
The architect in his reply stated, first, in regard to the temple, that it ought to have been built on high ground and that the earth should have been excavated beneath it, so that it might have stood out more conspicuously on the Sacred Way from its higher position, and might also have accommodated the machines in its basement, so that they could be put together unobserved and brought into the theatre without anyone's being aware of them beforehand. Secondly, in regard to the statues, he said that they had been made too tall for the height of the cella. "For now," he said, "if the goddesses wish to get up and go out, they will be unable to do so." When he wrote this so bluntly to Hadrian, the emperor was both vexed and exceedingly grieved because he had fallen into a mistake that could not be righted, and he restrained neither his anger nor his grief, but slew the man. Indeed, his nature was such that he was jealous not only of the living, but also of the dead; at any rate he abolished Homer and introduced in his stead Antimachus, whose very name had previously been unknown to many.”
Cassius Dio 69.4.1-6

c) Antinous
“In Egypt also he rebuilt the city named henceforth for Antinous.
Antinous was from Bithynium, a city of Bithynia, which we also call Claudiopolis; he had been a favourite of the emperor and had died in Egypt, either by falling into the Nile, as Hadrian writes, or, as the truth is, by being offered in sacrifice.
For Hadrian, as I have stated, was always very curious and employed divinations and incantations of all kinds.
Accordingly, he honoured. Antinous, either because of his love for him or because the youth had voluntarily undertaken to die (it being necessary that a life should be surrendered freely for the accomplishment of the ends Hadrian had in view), by building a city on the spot where he had suffered this fate and naming it after him; and he also set up statues, or rather sacred images, of him, practically all over the world.
Finally, he declared that he had seen a star which he took to be that of Antinous, and gladly lent an ear to the fictitious tales woven by his associates to the effect that the star had really come into being from the spirit of Antinous and had then appeared for the first time. On this account, then, he became the object of some ridicule, and also because at the death of his sister Paulina he had not immediately paid her any honour…”

Cassius Dio
at Rome: Temples of Divine Trajan, and Matidia
rebuilding in Campus Martius
restoration of Baths of Agrippa
Hadrian's villa

a) military
“Hadrian travelled through one province after another, visiting the various regions and cities and inspecting all the garrisons and forts. Some of these he removed to more desirable places, some he abolished, and he also established some new ones.
He personally viewed and investigated absolutely everything, not merely the usual appurtenances of camps, such as weapons, engines, trenches, ramparts and palisades, but also the private affairs of every one, but of the men serving in the ranks and of the officers themselves
- their lives, their quarters and their habits - and he reformed and corrected in many cases practices and arrangements for living that had become too luxurious.
He drilled the men for every kind of battle, honouring some and reproving others, and he taught them all what should be done. And in order that they should be benefited by observing him, he everywhere led a rigorous life and either walked or rode on horseback on all occasions, never once at this period setting foot in either a chariot or a four-wheeled vehicle.
He covered his head neither in hot weather nor in cold, but alike amid German snows and under scorching Egyptian suns he went about with his head bare. In fine, both by his example and by his precepts he so trained and disciplined the whole military force throughout the entire empire that even today the methods then introduced by him are the soldiers’ law of campaigning.
This best explains why he lived for the most part at peace with foreign nations; for as they saw his state of preparation and were themselves not only free from aggression but received money besides, they made no uprising.
So excellently, indeed, had his soldiery been trained that the cavalry of the Batavians, as they were called, swam the Ister with their arms. Seeing all this, the barbarians stood in terror of the Romans, they employed Hadrian as an arbitrator of their differences.”
Cassius Dio 69.9

"I am the one who was formerly very well-known on the Pannonian shore,
first in bravery among 1,000 Batavians,
the one who with Hadrian as judge
was able across the vast
waters of the deep Danube to swim in full battle gear.
While an arrow from my bow was hanging in the air
and returning (to earth), I loosed another, struck it and split it in two.
No Roman or barbarian ever could beat me,
no soldier with his javelin, no Parthian with his bow.
Here is my place of rest, here have I enshrined my deeds on stone that never forgets
It remains to be seen whether anyone else will rival my deeds.
By example I am the first to have done such things."
2558 (in hexameters), near Danube (after AD 121)
“After his death Salvius Julianus seized the government, a man of noble birth, and eminently skilled in the law;
he was the grandson of that Salvius Julianus who composed the perpetual edict in the reign of the emperor Hadrian
. He was defeated by Severus at the Milvian bridge, and killed in the palace. He lived only eight months after he began to reign.”

Abridgement of Roman History

b) administration
“At any rate, once, when a woman made a request of him as he passed by on a journey, he at first said to her, ‘I haven't time,’ but afterwards, when she cried out, ‘
Cease, then, being emperor
,’ he turned about and granted her a hearing.”
Cassius Dio 69.6.3

'…he wished the children of the Antinoopolites to be nourished when registered by us
the parents within thirty days of their birth…’
SB 7602
The foremost members of the senate he admitted to close intimacy with the emperor's majesty.
All circus-games decreed in his honour he refused, except those held to celebrate his birthday. Both in meetings of the people and in the senate he used to say that he would so administer the commonwealth that men would know that it was not his own but the people's. Having himself been consul three times, he reappointed many to the consulship for the third time and men without number to a second term; his own third consulship he held for only four months, and during his term he often administered justice.
He always attended regular meetings of the senate if he was present in Rome or even in the neighbourhood. In the appointment of senators he showed the utmost caution and thereby greatly increased the dignity of the senate, and when he removed Attianus from the post of prefect of the guard and created him a senator with consular honours, he made it clear that he had no greater honour which he could bestow upon him.
Nor did he allow knights to try cases involving senators whether he was present at the trial or not. For at that time it was customary for the emperor, when he tried cases, to call to his council both senators and knights and give a verdict based on their joint decision. Finally, he denounced those emperors who had not shown this deference to the senators.”

Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian
“He always inquired into the actions of all his judges, and persisted in his inquiries until he satisfied himself of the truth about them.
He would not allow his freedmen to be prominent in public affairs or to have any influence over himself
, and he declared that all his predecessors were to blame for the faults of their freedmen;
he also punished all his freedmen who boasted of their influence over him

Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian

Hadrian enters Rome (probably after the Bar Kokhba revolt) and is greeted by Roma. Relief in the Capitoline Museum
Milne 1481: hemidrachm of Alexandria (AD 134-135). Obverse: bust of Antinous (ANTINOOY HPWOC); reverse: Antinous with caduceus of Hermes (Thoth?) on horseback, with date of year 19 of Hadrian
1. Greek Theatre
2. Temple of Venus
3. Court of the Libraries
4. Maritime Theatre
5. Latin library
6. Latin library
7. Poecile
8. Summer cenatio
9. Stadium
10. Piazza d’Oro
11. Academy
12. Canopus
13. Small baths
14. Large baths
15. Tower of Roccabruna
16. Vestibule
17. Republican villa and central area of the palace
18. Ospitali
RIC 12: denarius of Hadrian. Obverse: bust of Hadrian (IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO AVG DIVI TRA). Reverse: Pax (PAX) with branch and cornucopiae (PARTH DIVI NER NEP P M TR P COS)
Historia Augusta, ‘Augustan History’ (abbreviated as SHA + name of emperor)

series of biographies, including Caesars (sub-emperors) & usurpers
running to AD 285 (gap 244-260)
claims to be by 6 different authors writing under Diocletian and Constantine
written by one author in late 4th century
‘good’ / ‘major’ lives believed to be based on “fairly reliable” source, Marius Maximus (now lost)
Senatorial career late 2nd - early 3rd century
continued Suetonius
including Nerva and Trajan, running up to Elagabal
the later, ‘minor’ lives are mostly fiction; based on bogus sources & documents


Cassius Dio, Roman History 69
Historia Augusta
"Having completely transformed the soldiers, in royal fashion, he made for Britain (AD122), where he set right many things and - the first to do so -
drew a wall along the length of 80 miles to separate Barbarians and Romans

All Judaea had been stirred up
, and
the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance
, were gathering together, and giving evidence of great hostility to the Romans, partly by secret and partly by overt acts;
many outside nations, too, were joining them through eagerness for gain
, and
the whole earth, one might almost say, was being stirred up over the matter
. Then, indeed, Hadrian sent against them his best generals ... ..."
Cassius Dio,
Roman History
Relief perhaps commemorating victory over Bar Kochba (now in Liverpool)
RIC 938, BMC 1781: sestertius of Hadrian. Obverse: bust of Hadrian (HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P); reverse: Hadrian raising ‘Achaea’ RESTITVTOR ACHAEA)
RIC 858, BMC 1762: sestertius of Hadrian (AD 134-138). Obverse: bust of Hadrian (HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P); reverse: ‘Mauretania’ holding horse by its bridle (MAVRETANIA S C)

RIC 941, BMC 1787: sestertius of Hadrian. Obverse: bust of Hadrian (HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P); reverse: ‘Africa’, wearing elephant head, kneeling before Hadrian (RESTITVTORI AFRICAE S C)
RIC 955: as of Hadrian (AD 134-138). Obverse: bust of Hadrian (HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P); reverse: Hadrian raising ‘Hispania’, with rabbit in between (RESTITVTORI HISPANIAE S C)
RIC 296: denarius of Hadrian. Obverse: bust of Hadrian (HADRIANVS AVG COS III PP); reverse: ‘Egypt’ reclining, with left elbow on snake wrapped basket, sistrum in right hand, and ibis at feet (AEGYPTOS)
a. travelling
b. building projects
c. Antinous
a. military
b administration

“Other traits for which people found fault with him were his great strictness, his curiosity and his meddlesomeness. Yet
he balanced and atoned for these defects by his careful oversight, his prudence, his munificence and his skill
; furthermore,
he did not stir up any war, and he terminated those already in progress
; and he deprived no one of money unjustly, while
upon many — communities and private citizens, senators and knights — he bestowed large sums
. Indeed, he did not even wait to be asked, but acted in absolutely every case according to the individual needs.
He subjected the legions to the strictest discipline, so that, though strong, they were neither insubordinate nor insolent
; and
he aided the allied and subject cities most munificently
He had seen many of them, — more, in fact, than any other emperor
, — and he assisted practically all of them, giving to some a water supply, to others harbours, food, public works, money and various honours, differing the different cities.”
Cassius Dio 69.5.1-3
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