The Emperor Hadrian: A Character Study

History Lover's Delight

The Emperor Hadrian has become known to modern audiences as one of the Five Good Emperors, who reigned over the Roman Empire at its height.  However, there has been some amount of scholarly disagreement about his actual character (as much as such a thing can be known from this great historical distance).  What are we to make of this man who has become well-known for his passionate love of the youth Antinous, yet may have been responsible for his death, this friend of the Senate who ultimately put several of them to death?

To start with, it is important to recognize the complexity that must of necessity be a part of any ruler’s personality, especially those of the Roman Emperors.  While Frank McLynn, in his masterful biography of Marcus Aurelius, suggests that Hadrian was just short of being a psychopath, Anthony Everitt offers us a more nuanced portrait of the…

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