Even in the panoply of Roman history, Hadrian stands out. Emperor from 117 to 138 AD, he was at once a benevolent ruler and a ruthless military leader, known for his restless and ambitious nature, his interest in architecture, and his passion for Greek culture. This book moves beyond the familiar image of Hadrian to offer a new appraisal of this Emperor’s contradictory personality, his exploits and accomplishments, his rule, and his military role, against the backdrop of his twenty-one-year reign.
Lavishly illustrated with key works of art and objects, celebrated and little-known sculptures, bronzes, coins and medals, drawings, and watercolors from museums around the globe, the book conveys a vivid sense of the world Hadrian inhabited. Thorsten Opper shows the emperor from many angles—as a complex individual, as a military leader and strategist, as the amateur architect who created magnificent buildings such as his villa at Tivoli (an empire in miniature), as the lover who deified his male lover Antinous after his mysterious death in the Nile, and, finally, as the traveler who tirelessly roamed his empire and its boundaries.
From his place in Roman history to his legacy, which even makes its way into the popular culture of our day, the Hadrian who emerges from these pages is no longer larger than life; rather, he has all the depth and complexity, the color and shadings and detail of life itself.