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Key information:


Birthdate: January 24, 76 CE.

(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.23) (Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 1)

Birthplace: Hadrian’s birthplace is disputed. Cassius Dio states that he was born in the city of Italica, in the province of Hispania (modern-day Seville, Spain). However, the Historia Augusta claims that he was born in Rome. 

(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.1) (Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 1)

Reign: Hadrian was named emperor in the will of his predecessor, Trajan. He became emperor on August 10, 117 CE. 

(Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 4) (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.1)

Marriages: Hadrian married Vibia Sabina, Trajan’s niece, in 100 CE. Their marriage was not a happy one, as Hadrian preferred the company of men and considered his wife to be a headache. Nevertheless, they remained married until Sabina’s death in 136 or 137 CE. 

(Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 1 & 11)

Death: Hadrian died of natural causes at his villa in the city of Baiae, Italy. He died on July 10, 138 CE.

(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.23) (Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 25)

Bust of Hadrian, British Museum, London, December 2021
Relief of Hadrian entering Rome, Musei Capitolini, Rome, November 2018
Statue of Hadrian as Pontifex Maximus, Musei Capitolini, Rome, May 2019

Famous facts and dates

Hadrian was a lover of Greek culture and promoted it throughout the empire. In accordance with Greek tradition, Hadrian became the first emperor to wear a beard.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 1)
Unlike his predecessors, who mainly ruled from Rome, Hadrian traveled across the provinces while emperor. During his reign, he visited: Britannia (Britain), Gaul (France), Hispania (Spain), Mauretania (North Africa), Anatolia (Turkey), Achaia (Greece), Aegyptus (Egypt), and Judea (Israel/Palestine).
(Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 10-14)
Hadrian loved all kinds of art, and considered himself to be an amateur architect. He was responsible for designing famous structures such as the Pantheon, the Temple of Venus and Roma, and Hadrian’s Wall.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 10 & 19)
Hadrian fell in love with a Greek youth named Antinous and lived with him for several years. After he drowned in the Nile River in 130 CE, Hadrian declared Antinous a god and founded a city (Antinoöpolis) in his name.
(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.11) (Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian, 13)

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Hadrian” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 09/02/2022.


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