Following Hadrian: A Second-Century Journey through the Roman Empire

Following Hadrian: A Second-Century Journey through the Roman Empire

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One of the greatest--and most enigmatic--Roman emperors, Hadrian stabilized the imperial borders, established peace throughout the empire, patronized the arts, and built an architectural legacy that lasts to this day: the great villa at Tivoli, the domed wonder of the Pantheon, and the eponymous wall that stretches across Britain. Yet the story of his reign is also a tale of intrigue, domestic discord, and murder. In Following Hadrian, Elizabeth Speller captures the fascinating life of Hadrian, ruler of the most powerful empire on earth at the peak of its glory. Speller displays a superb gift for narrative as she traces the intrigue of Hadrian's rise: his calculated marriage to Emperor Trajan's closest female relative, a woman he privately tormented; Trajan's suspicious deathbed adoption of Hadrian as his heir, a stroke some thought to be a post-mortem forgery; and the ensuing slaughter of potential rivals by an ally of Hadrian's. Speller makes brilliant use of her sources, vividly depicting Hadrian's bouts of melancholy, his intellectual passions, his love for a beautiful boy (whose death sent him into a spiral), and the paradox of his general policies of peace and religious tolerance even as he conducted a bitter, three-year war with Judea. Most important, the author captures the emperor as both a builder and an inveterate traveler, guiding readers on a grand tour of the Roman Empire at the moment of its greatest extent and accomplishment, from the barren, windswept frontiers of Britain to the teeming streets of Antioch, from the dangers of the German forest to the urban splendor of Rome itself.The answers to the inevitable questions of how to rule, how to measure up to his predecessors, how to continue the central process of the ... can perhaps be defined as the invention of power: all seemed to be found, for Hadrian, most readily when he was away from Rome. ... who pursued the advantages of peace within his borders and was fascinated by the latest techniques of engineering and design.

Title:Following Hadrian: A Second-Century Journey through the Roman Empire
Author:Elizabeth Speller
Publisher:Oxford University Press - 2003-04-21


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