Architecture that has withstood the test of time gives us an insight into the culture and values of civilizations from the past. Ancient Roman architecture is widely known to be some of the most suggestive and prominent works because the Emperors who ruled used building designs to convey their strength and enrich the pride of their people. Hadrian was not a man of war like the emperors who preceded him. Instead, he dedicated his time to fortifying his nation’s infrastructure and politicking his way into the hearts of provinces far beyond the walls of Rome. I fell in love with the story of Hadrian for two reasons: his architectural contributions have withstood the test of time, and even though he is so well studied there is so much about his life we do not know. This research paper will zero in on the life of Roman Emperor Hadrian and how his upbringing and experiences influenced his architectural works. Hadrian struggled during his reign as well as within his own mind due to his enthusiasm for Classical Greek culture that was fused with the Roman pride his mentors had instilled in him. A description and discussion of Hadrian’s architectural works that I have found most interesting will illustrate this fusion even more.
Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born in Italica, Spain on the 24th of January, year 76 A.D. He was born to a family that was proud to be one of the original Roman colonists in the province that was considered to be one of Rome’s prized possessions. The land offered gold, silver, and olive oil of higher quality than that of Italy. Additionally, Hadrian was born during a period where Italica dominated the Roman literacy scene. The city also boasted being the birthplace of Hadrian’s predecessor, mentor, and guardian Trajan. Hadrian’s upbringing in Italica gave him a very unique perspective on Rome’s ruling of expansive territory as well as the artistic and intellectual qualities of Roman tradition. While growing up his “gaze would fall upon statues of Alexander, of the great Augustus, and on other works of art, which…were all of the highest quality.” He developed a sense of pride for being Roman, and this would translate into his future actions as emperor and architect.
Hadrian was strong in both mind and body. He was built tall and handsome, and kept in shape through his love for hunting. In the words of H.A.L Fisher, Hadrian was also “the universal genius.” He was a poet, singer, sculptor, and lover of the classics so he became known by many of his peers as a Greekling. The synergy between Greek and Roman ideals within Hadrian made him able to approach his nation’s opportunities and struggles from multiple angles, which is also why he would become such a successful emperor. By the time he came to power “Hadrian had seen more of the Roman dominion than any former emperor had done at the time of his accession. He knew not only Spain, but France and Germany, the Danube lands, Asia Minor, the Levant and Mesopotamia, and thus had a personal acquaintance with the imperial patrimony that no one else in Rome could rival.”
During Hadrian’s reign as emperor, he aligned himself with a military policy that was controversial at the time, but inspired by his upbringing in the province of Italica. He believed that the provinces should be guarded by a locally recruited military, while his Roman legions would stay in a single region for decades. The personal interest of provincial residents to protect themselves was his goal. The only Roman descendants that would aid in the protection of provinces were part of the corps d’elite – the best of the best – and would be sent only to train the recruited military-men. During his reign, however, Hadrian experienced a loss of two full legions. The thinning of his military meant he would rely heavily on recruited provincial men as well as physical barriers. One of which – his most famous – was located in Britain: Hadrian’s Wall.
Hadrian’s arrival in Britain was a spark that ignited a fire of progress and development. During the second century, much of London was destroyed by fire, and when the country was rebuilt to an area of about 325 acres, it became Rome’s largest northern territory by a long shot. Britons have historically always valued the countryside more than city life, as evident by their plain cities and attractive gardens, and for this reason many of the other cities that were rebuilt by the Romans ended up reducing in size, rather than expanding. The inhabitants simply wanted to live in the beauty of nature, and moved out of their towns exponentially as the countryside was developed. The most significant and long lasting accomplishment during the time that Rome rebuilt its English territory was the design and completion of Hadrian’s Wall.
Hadrian foresaw a symbiotic relationship that he and the British territory could share. It was based on his need for man power, which Britain had plenty to loan out. In return, Hadrian would fortify the territory and protect it from the northern savages. His past militarized protection experiences usually presented him with an expansive section of land to keep account of; but since Britain was surrounded by water in most directions his first inspiration was to build a wall. Looking back on his struggle at the Rhine-Danube region, Hadrian knew that if a military force were to be compromised a stronghold built for retreat would only lead them to death. His strategic mind led him to believe that mobility was crucial in remaining tactically offensive, so a system of fortifications spread out to increase the area of control and communication was his ideal option.
Hadrian’s Wall began near the River Tyne and stretched all the way to the Solway. It wasn’t meant to be manned at every point along its length, but rather act as a system that would drive the traffic of his enemies. “Because its course was plotted from one natural advantage to the next, the wall seems to have chosen the most difficult route across the English countryside.” It climbs to steep crags and clings to dangerous ridges. Enemy forces would not only deal with a man-made wall in their path, but in many cases they found themselves faced with natural structures that made traversing the wall even more difficult; not to mention the ditch on the north side of the wall that was twenty seven feet wide and nine feet deep. “The gateways allowed the passage of troops for operations to the north and were points where civilian traffic between north and south could be controlled.” The wall was intended to be made of mortared masonry up until the River Irving, where limestone was no longer available locally. The wall continued on made of turf. Gates were built along the wall roughly every one Roman Mile (1.5 km). Behind each gate was a reinforced guard tower that would house the patrol.
Another one of the reasons Hadrian’s construction of the wall is such an astonishing feat is because the entire project was done by hand. Roman legionaries would spend time completing a pre-specified length of the wall, and then allow the next legion to come along and continue where they left off. Unlike most Roman architecture, the stones used to build the wall were small, about eight inches in width and nine inches in length. Historians attribute the use of small stones to the work that was required to get them to the wall. Every stone would have to be carried by the backs of men or animals, and cross a distance of eight miles all the way from a quarry in Cumberland. Then, without the aid of pulleys or ropes, legionaries would place each stone one by one.
As time went on, the wall was rebuilt and fortified by Hadrian’s successors and became a permanent fixture in the British provincial landscape; far more than just a military structure. Romanesque townships were built along the wall situated near the guard forts. The townships would be fully equipped with bath houses, temples, and even full marketplaces.
In the modern world, we do not see Hadrian’s Wall as it was during the height of Roman rule, though it is clear that influential proprietors of the wall overtime tried their best to maintain the “symbolism and materiality of the Roman remains.” The years of the walls existence have allowed man and weather to tear down the wall so that its stones could be used to build churches, roads and farmhouses. Experienced architects have worked to rebuild the wall overtime and John Clayton is responsible for one of the most significant rebuilds. He purchased a long stretch of farms along the central portion of the wall, and used the original stones that had fallen over time to reconstruct it. Clayton also moved many of the inhabitants and communities that were built near the wall to locations further away so as to increase the walls visibility.
It is refreshing to know though that modern day Roman enthusiasts can see a virtually untouched portion of the wall between Chollerford and Greenhead known as “Britain’s Wall Country.” It is “an unspoiled region of open fields, moors and lakes in the country of Northumberland.” Chesters, a city about half mile west of Chollerford is home to one of the best excavated wall forts. It touts remains of towers, gates, steam rooms, cold baths, the commandant’s house, and chambers where soldiers relaxed. The most well preserved wall fort in all of Europe to date is located at Housesteads in the same region. The fort is in the shape of a rectangle with rounded edges, and “along its grid of streets are foundations marking the commandant’s house, administrative buildings, workshops, granaries, barracks, hospitals” and more. One of the most Romanesque features of the fort is the presence of latrines; complete with wooden seats, running water, and a flushing system to carry waste away. Britain would not see these luxuries again until the 19th century as Roman standards were not equaled again until that time. Modern museums along the wall feature many artifacts from the original dwellers and attract tourists from all around the world.
At the ripe age of ten years old, Hadrian’s father passed away. Ancient documentation lends us virtually no details about his mother, but a father figure would have been the most important in Hadrian’s upbringing. Fortunately for him, he had two men that would play that role in his life. The first was Acilius Attianus, with whom Hadrian would spend the next five years with and have his first introduction to the capital city. Attianus also introduced Hadrian to his first formal education. He would return home to Italica for a year or two only to be summoned back by his other guardian Trajan.
In order to truly understand the character and reasoning behind more of Hadrian’s architectural works, one must look closely at the influence his cousin, mentor and guardian, Trajan, had on him. From an objective point of view, Trajan paved the way for Hadrian by becoming the first emperor to ever be born outside of Italy, and proved to the people of Rome that “loyalty and ability were of more importance than birth.” Trajan also moved young Hadrian from place to place whenever he saw his perspective become too narrow or close-minded.
At the age of forty and prior to becoming an emperor, Trajan developed relationships with men like Domitian and his predecessor Nerva. The latter would eventually adopt him as his own heir. His status allowed him to usher Hadrian into political positions that would give him the opportunity to interact with powerful people and make a positive impression. Trajan led both Hadrian and Rome into the light as a positive example. Moderation and Justice were at the forefront of all of his decision making, and is exemplified in his declaring that all honest men were not to be put to death or disfranchised without trial. Trajan brought Hadrian along with him to fight the Dacian wars, and it is here that Hadrian learned how the Roman army was organized and led. He witnessed Trajan tearing “up his own clothes to supply dressing for the wounded when the supply of bandages ran out.” During the outbreak of the second Dacian war, he granted Hadrian the gift of serving as commanding officer. After Hadrian proved his worth to his uncle and Rome, Trajan granted him a gift of even more importance – a diamond ring originally owned by Trajan’s predecessor Nerva, and symbolized the fact that Hadrian would absolutely be his successor.
At the age of forty two, Hadrian for the first time showed Rome that he was an innovator and a man who lived by the beat of his own drum: he wore a beard. In the later days of the Roman Republic, beards had gone out of style. In fact, no emperor prior to Hadrian had worn a beard. Some historians credit his beard to wanting to look like a philosopher, while others think he did so to hide a scar running from his chin to the left corner of his mouth. The real reason is that Hadrian realized there was no point in carrying on with the custom without reason. During his lifetime, shaving was practically torture for men, because they had no access to soap or to steel. Hadrian’s reintroduction of the beard among Roman’s would also foreshadow his eventual distaste in all things Roman.
Hadrian adopted Trajan’s sense of modesty and moderation. He did not except titles bestowed upon him immediately, and would only accept it for himself when he had felt he truly earned it. One of the best examples of this is demonstrated by the titles he chose for himself to be printed on Roman currency during his reign. Historical records from the period that document Hadrian’s reign would incorporate each and every one of the titles that he was ever given. “But on the emperor’s own coins the full official titulature occurs only in the first year. After that, first imperator was dropped, then even Caesar. Up to the year 123, he is pontifex maximus…holder of the tribunician power…For the next five years his coins proclaim him simply as Hadrianus Augustus.”
As if paying homage to Augustus, the founder of the empire and title that he had come to honor, Hadrian set off to see that the infrastructure of his roman state was intact and fortified under his direction. After five years of travel to improve the cities of Corinth, Manteca, and Sicily, Hadrian returned to Rome. He had laid down excellent groundwork for his governmental policy, so he finally had time to improve the infrastructure in his nation’s capital. He would soon realize his visions for structures like the Temple of Venus, and his most significant architectural accomplishment of all: The Pantheon.
Rome’s Pantheon was originally built by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. Destroyed by fire during Nero’s reign in year 80, Hadrian had it completely redesigned and reconstructed. “The very character of the Pantheon suggests that Hadrian himself was its architect…an impassioned admirer of Greek culture and art and daring innovator in the field of Roman architecture, could have conceived this union of a great pedimental porch in the Greek manner and of a vast circular hall, a masterpiece of architecture typically Roman in its treatment of curvilinear space, and roofed with the largest dome ever seen.” In lieu of his inherent modesty, he decided not to even put his own name on the façade of the building. Instead he would give credit to the original designer, by inscribing it with M. Agrippa. Though there is no hard proof that Hadrian was its only designer, it is only reasonable to believe that his mind, infused with Roman and Greek culture, could conjure its design – that which is one of the most renowned structural feats in human history. The most significant difference between typical Roman and Greek architecture was the importance of height. Romans believed in reaching for the heavens with their architecture. The bigger and more grandiose a building or monument was the better.
It is unusual that we do not find much ancient documentation on the building despite its historical importance. In fact, the only written report from the time is from Dio Cassius who thought the building was constructed by its original designer, M. Agrippa. He referred to the building as a temple of many gods. “A rectangular forecourt to the north provided the traditional approach, its long colonnades making the brick rotunda, so conspicuous today, appear less dominating; a tall, octastyle pedimented porch on a high podium with marble steps also created the impression of a traditional Roman temple.” The building’s southern exposure would reveal to an onlooker the Baths of Agrippa, to the east lie the Saepta Julia, and to the west the Baths of Nero.
The Pantheon is basically composed of a columned porch and cylindrical space, called a cella, covered by a dome. Some would argue that the cella is the most essential aspect of the Pantheon, while the porch is only present in order to give the building a façade. “Between these is a transitional rectangular structure, which contains a pair of large niches flanking the bronze doors. These niches probably housed the statues of Augustus and Agrippa and provided a pious and political association with the original Pantheon.” Once inside the dome, a worshipper would find himself in a magnificently large space illuminated only by a large oculus centered on the ceiling. The walls of the chamber are punctuated with eight deep recesses alternating between semicircular and rectangular in shape. At the south end of the interior is the most elaborate recess complete with a barrel-vaulted entrance. “The six simple recesses are screened off from the chamber by pairs of marble columns, while aediculae (small pedimented shrines) raised on tall podia project in front of the curving wall between the recesses.” Encircling the entire room just above the recesses is an elaborate classically styled entablature. The upper portion of the dome was decorated as well, but what remains is mostly from an 18th century restoration. “The original decoration of the upper zone was a row of closely spaced, thin porphyry pilasters on a continuous white marble plinth.” The dome floor is decorated in a checkerboard pattern of squares and circles within squares. The tiles are made of porphyry, marbles, and granites while the circles are made of gilt bronze.
The pantheon was built almost entirely of concrete, save the porch which was also constructed of marble. From the outside of the domed section, it would appear to an onlooker to be made out of brick, but this is not the case. The bricks in this section are only a veneer, or thin decorative layer. Simple lime mortar that was popular during the period was made by combining sand, quicklime, and water. When the water evaporated, the concrete was set. Roman concrete used in the construction of the Pantheon, called pozzolana, acted quite like modern Portland cement and would set even when the mixture was still wet. Hadrian designed the Pantheon’s domed top to be 43.3 meters in diameter, which is also the exact height of the interior room. A cross section of the rotunda would reveal that it was based off of the dimensions of a perfect circle, and that is what makes the interior space seem so majestic. The sheer size of the dome was never replicated or surpassed until the adoption of steel and other modern reinforcements. What made Hadrian’s dome possible though was his use of concentric rings laid down one after the other over a wooden framework to create the basic shape of the dome during construction. The rings would apply pressure to one another, thus stabilizing the structure. The lower portion of the dome was thick and made of heavy concrete and bricks, while the upper portion was built thin and utilized pumice to make it lightweight.
The exact purpose of the front porch is unknown, and as mentioned before, may have only been added in order to give the building a façade. “It consists of a pedimented roof, supported by no less than sixteen monolithic columns, eight of grey Egyptian granite across the front, three on either flank, and two behind them on each side.” By adding this colonnade Hadrian had proven that he saw past what man had originally used it’s temples for. Traditionally, the temple cella would never be entered by the public, and so architects would hone and focus their craft on the exterior elements of the temple. Hadrian had effectively anticipated the Christian church by several centuries in the design of his “House of Many Gods.”
The Pantheon embodies everything Hadrian was as a person during the early portion of his ruling. It was very much a fusion of Greek and Roman principles that mirrored Hadrian’s inner character. He shared grand Roman pride with the people he served, and they would forever see the Pantheon as a symbol of that pride. However, as Hadrian matured as a ruler, saw more of the world, and returned to Rome for short periods at a time, there was a monumental shift in his opinions of his own capital.
Not unlike Trajan, there was another man who played an integral role in Hadrian’s life. His name was Antinous, and although not many specifics are known about his life and relationship with Hadrian, we do know that he was from Bythnia. The two met there when critics believe Antinous was the age of eighteen. “To say that he was \”like a son\” to Hadrian is to put a charitable slant on their rapport. It was customary for a Roman emperor to assume the airs, if not the divine status, of the Olympian god Jupiter.” Though it was never explicitly stated or denied, it is widely believed that Hadrian and Antinous were more than just friends, but lovers.
As a part of Hadrian’s entourage, Antinous naturally went on all of the quests that led him to see the world. It was on one of these expeditions along the Nile River that Antinous lost his life, and forever plagued the mind of the now devastated emperor. Some say Antinous was murdered by his ship mates, while others even speculate that Hadrian may have sacrificed him in a testament to Egyptian mystery cults that involved Antinous’ sacrifice as a way for Hadrian to gain immortality. Nevertheless, Hadrian went on to express his admiration for the boy to the world at large. He ordered the production of his image in full scale statues, busts, and miniature printings on coins and other various items. “Full lips, slightly pouting; a fetching cascade of curls around his soft yet squared-off face; somewhat pigeon-breasted, but winningly athletic, his backside making an S-curve that begs to be stroked… one could rhapsodise further, but it is more telling to stress the sheer quantity of production.”
The most fascinated reason I have come to discover about Hadrian’s mass production of Antinous’ image is that of classical religious revival. “Hadrian knew about the Christians, whom he regarded as harmless idiots; he waged war against the Jews, who challenged his authority.” He presented Antinous as Dionysos, Pan, and as a second Apollo. Each of these disguises are intricately portrayed on images of Antinous in order to reinstall his personal views to the people he ruled.
Today the image of Antinous has survived even in Western culture. What we perceive as beauty in both men and women has been absolute for millennia; symmetrical features and calibrated proportions that Antinous embodied so thoroughly. Across other world cultures, the same holds true. Even populations completely secluded from the western world will perceive beauty as we do. As one inspects the image of Antinous methodically, they can only deduce that Hadrian was a man of fine taste.
After a stint in Africa, Hadrian returned to Rome for a short period of time, but felt as if he belonged there no more. “In Rome he hated the court etiquette, at the same time as he insisted on it: the wearing of the toga, the formal greetings, the ceremonies, the endless pressure of business.” So he left for Athens, and felt at home there. His distaste for the capital of his country foreshadowed his political decline and eventual downfall, but his positive contributions to the Roman society and historical architecture were far from over.
While in Athens, Hadrian had the opportunity to express his inner Greekling in a manner that was stronger than ever. He could talk the talk and walk the walk so well in Athens that he undertook the last round of initiation at Eleusis. The Panhellenic council offered him a place to continue leading the people who so dearly looked up to him. Though the Panhellenic council did not have formal political power, it unified the public because it was the only society that could grant a new territory to be truly Hellenic. While serving the council, and being referred to as Panhellenios, Hadrian was constantly immersing himself in the local culture, and enjoyed watching the best Athletes in Greece perform at the Panhellenic games. The Athenians even granted Hadrian the title of “Olympian.”
At this point in Hadrian’s reign, he seems to forget the lessons of moderation and justice taught to him by Trajan. He was once an emperor reluctant to accept praise from his people, but in Athens he did just the opposite. He designed and ordered the building of a new city called Hadrianopolis. As a testament to his distaste of Rome, a statue was erected of Hadrian at Olympia. The statue adorns a lorica, or breastplate that is engraved with symbols that depict the character of one who wears it. “Hadrian’s lorica shows Athene, flanked by her owl and her snake, being crowned by two graces, and standing atop the Wolf of Rome which suckles Romulus and Remus.” Clearly Hadrian believed deep down that Athens was a city superior to Rome, and the sight of the statue would surely leave a bitter taste in the mouth of any Roman who traveled to Olympia and gazed upon it.
Even after all Hadrian had done for the welfare and protection of Rome, he failed his people in one great aspect. He began his rule as an outsider, and remained so because he spent so little time in the capital city. Near the end of his days, the tension was amounting to a great amount of stress. So much so, that he became a tyrant. Hadrian would not have mercy on anyone who stepped on his toes as their leader. On one hand, the senate understood that he had outsmarted them, and the Italian members were fully aware that they were outnumbered by provincially born citizens. They had additional reasoning to dislike him because he had intentionally expensed Roman resources in order to benefit the provinces he would visit. On the other hand, “he had given them a fine new city, purged of old abuses, enriched and embellished with magnificent buildings…He had given them cleaner airier houses.” In the eyes of the Romans though, Hadrian had crossed a line. It was no secret that he had come to shy away from Rome, and that he preferred Athens. Fortunately for him, he had seen this end to his reign coming. Eight years prior, he began building a Villa in Tivoli, the classic Tibur, so that he would be able to spend the end of his days in his own version of paradise.
The most extensive architectural work of Hadrian’s is without a doubt his Villa at Rome. His villa was built at the base of Tivoli on a plain about 18 miles from Rome. Critics argue as to why Hadrian chose this spot for his Villa. He had an entire empire to choose from, and places like the Town of Tivoli offered fantastic views as well as better weather. Though Hadrian’s choice of location is criticized from a picturesque point of view, he chose it for more logical reasons. For one, he built his villa on the healthiest spot of land he could find – located on the breezy lowlands of the Apennines, within reach of wind from the west, and protected by hills. The plane was naturally unleveled, but the architect made it so by excavating obstacles in some places and paving others. All eight to ten square miles were eventually completely level, partially natural and partial of poured masonry. Another reason why Hadrian may have chosen the location is because the land belonged to his wife Sabina – albeit she played a very negligible part in his life. For all logical reasons, Hadrian chose the spot because he would be so easily able to make the land into anything he wanted with little effort.
Not unlike Versailles, Hadrian’s Villa imposes a formal order through a system of axes, so that the nature is dominated by geometry. The architecture is composed of spaces that are both closed and unclosed. The entire site was built on and around the north, west and south sides of a giant mound. In some cases, it cut well below ground level. A large multistoried wall superseded the mound, and contained cubicles that would house guards and slaves. As it has been well-established, Hadrian’s architectural mind drew from both Greek and Roman styles; it seems as though his villa is also illustrating a fusion of organic and man-made principles. “At Tivoli, it occurs, as it does perhaps even more powerfully on the arcades which form the face of the Palatine hill above the roman forum, that the scale of natural formations and of man-made structures coincides, so that the hills become in a sense man-made, and the structures take on the quality of natural formation.” For the representation of Canopus – a recreation of a resort near Alexandria – Hadrian designed a system of subterranean passages within a ravine to symbolize the River Styx. Hadrian truly felt that he had the control of the word in his hands, and felt no bound for what his works could be or represent.
A modern tourist would enter the villa through an area in the north moving toward the Poikele, yet Hadrian had intended his visitors to enter from an area between the Canopus and the Poikele so as to force them to walk under the huge mound walls filled with servants. The entrance into the Villa illustrates Hadrian’s juxtaposition of circles and squares that would be a recurring geometric theme in the rest of its architecture and layout. Canopus lies to the right of the entrance, with the Poikele to the left, and further on, two baths were in view. Although a further descriptive tour would help immensely in painting the picture of Hadrian’s Villa to the reader, it would take far too many words, so I am going to focus on only a few of the features that I find fascinating about the structure.
There is a space in Hadrian’s Villa known as a cryptoporticus. At its center there was a raised pool, about the size and shape of an average American swimming pool. Because the pool was raised, it seemed to hang in the middle of the court, while the double portico that surrounded it gave the structure a heavier feel. The Hall of Doric Pillars to its side are neither Roman or Greek in design, and feel as though Hadrian was experimenting with an architectural style all his own. The large field about the top of the hill is perfectly level up to the point where it drops off, and is supported by the Hundred Chambers before a vast valley. It is rectangular in shape with concave ends, and once again we find a pool at its center. Around that, what used to be a hippodrome, has been recreated as a garden.
The sculptures found at Hadrian’s Villa are so numerous that it is nearly impossible to study ancient sculpture without mention of the monument. Hadrian furnished his villa with not only all of the luxuries that Rome had to offer, but all of the best artwork. Egyptian figures and sculptures of his friends and family have been found in the ruins of his villa. Since each new excavation of the grounds reveals new artifacts, museums around the world have its works on display. Two statues of Antinous have been found in the ruins. One was created clearly by Greek design, while the other emanates Egyptian symbolism. Hadrian also had a curiosity for portraits, thus many were found in his ruins as well. He even went on to change Roman law and popularized self-portraits within the homes of Roman nobility and upper-class.
My overall goal with this paper was to dive headfirst into Hadrian’s life, and hopefully see why he built the things he did. Personally, seeing Rome through the eyes of Hadrian has given me a newfound appreciation for what inspires architects to design the things they do. All of Hadrian’s works mentioned in this document divulge both his inner and outer struggles as emperor, and more importantly have influenced the decisions of all architects beyond his time. Just like the emperors before him, Hadrian’s architecture made a statement about Roman strength and their everlasting objective to emulate their Gods. Hadrian’s title set him at the head of the Roman military, and his strategy and tactical senses were put forth by his design of his wall in Britain. He was not an emperor set on conquering as much land as possible, but of fortifying the land he already ruled over. I set out to illustrate two sides of Hadrian that were prominent in his works – his love for classical Greek culture and the Roman pride he was brought up with. We saw these two aspects outlined in his designs of the Pantheon and Hadrian’s Villa. The two designs also outline how at the beginning of his reign and directly after the influence of Trajan, Hadrian was still true to his Roman origin. By the end of his term, Hadrian had almost completely disregarded the culture of his capital city, and he fully embraced his Hellenistic tendencies. Hadrian’s Pantheon and Villa compare and contrast his Greco-Roman outlook within their own designs. What captivates me even more about Hadrian is that there are still so many mysteries about his life to uncover. Fortunately for us, he left behind artifacts and even entire monuments for us to interpret and imagine what life in ancient Rome would have been like.
...(download the rest of the essay above)