Hadrian also joined Trajan’s expedition to Parthia as a legate, where Trajan fell deathly ill. The emperor attempted to return to Rome, but only made it as far as Selinus, on the Western coast of Sicily. Some theorize that Trajan designated Hadrian as his heir on his deathbed, but it is more likely that Plotina, Trajan’s wife, arranged the succession after her husband’s death—leaving a permanent cloud of suspicion over Hadrian’s legitimacy.
Hadrian was, moreover, an important patron of the arts and a remarkably cultured man. His reconstruction of the Pantheon must be recalled, but to this should be added his villa at Tibur, the best Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, and innumerable libraries, aqueducts, baths, and theatres. He also contributed literarily, composing an epigram on the tomb of Pompey, a lost “Medley,” and numerous poems—one of which we have already seen. Perhaps his most famous is this one, composed shortly before his death:
Roving amiable little soul,
Body's companion and guest,
Now descending for parts
Colourless, unbending, and bare
Your usual distractions no more shall be there...
(continued on page fourteen)
a look at hadrian, cont.
Hadrian served three spells of military service, mostly in Germany—Trajan wanted his potential heir within reach. In fact, when Nerva died in 98, Hadrian beat the official envoy in informing Trajan of the news. He soon achieved a precipitous advancement to the heights of power when, within eight years, he married Trajan’s grandniece Sabina and was successively elected quaestor, tribune, praetor, governor of Pannonia, and consul. Participating in Trajan’s Dacian campaigns, Hadrian achieved real, though limited success, but grew all the while more closer to the royal family, which proved crucial to his later ascension.
at left: A bust of Emperor Trajan. Photo from Google Images.