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Hadrian by Joseph Kleinman

When we consider the careers of the Roman Emperors, most of us might conger up in our imagination images of people who we would rather not associate with. Emperors such as Caligula, Nero and Commodus to name just a few. However, there were quite a number of good emperors, gifted men such as Vespasian, Titus and Nerva and his successor Trajan. It was Trajan who brought the empire to its greatest size in terms of territory or lands conquered.

Hadrian, the subject of this article, was in my opinion the greatest of all emperors. Why you might ask would I subscribe to that opinion. Because it was Hadrian who transformed the empire from a society of rank and privilege as far as the provinces were concerned into a commonwealth of equal districts. Upon becoming emperor as a consequence of Trajanís death in AD 117, he began a program of reforms which touch our lives even to this day. He was the first emperor to codify Roman law and eliminated some of the abuses of the slave system. For example, a slave owner could no longer sell a slave to a gladiatorial school. However, some of his reforms were not popular with the Senate as they felt that their privileges were undermined. It is important to remember that Hadrian like his uncle Trajan before him was a Spaniard. This would explain his more favorable treatment toward his non-Italian subjects.

Hadrian considered himself another Augustus in that he created a new world order. He was a tireless worker on behalf of the welfare of the empire and made two separate tours of the provinces to see that his reforms were carried out. One of those reforms was in the realm of military policy. For centuries Rome had been an aggressive conquering state. It was Hadrian who made the decision to consolidate rather then to expand the frontiers of empire. When I visited England a number of years ago, I had the privilege of walking on part of the wall he ordered built across that island. This new policy led to an era of piece and prosperity the world had never known.

Hadrian was a man of many talents, Statesman, Philosopher, Architect, Soldier and even Poet. Had I been in Rome on the occasion of one of his returns to that city, I would have greeted him together with the rest of the populace in the salute, hale Caesar, hale Hadrian.

The coin available for viewing (previously on another web site) is a Silver Denarius showing the bust of the emperor and the personification Fortuna on the reverse holding a rudder and cornucopia. This to celebrate the fortunate return of the emperor to Rome. The coinage of Hadrian is quite reasonable in cost and makes an excellent theme for a collection.

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