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Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.

Ancient Roman coins of Hadrian for sale in the Forum Ancient Coins consignment shop.

Hadrian, one of the “Five Good Emperors,” abandoned the expansionist policy of Trajan and established a policy of defense and consolidation during which Hadrian's Wall in Britain was constructed. He traveled to nearly every province of the Empire, more than any other emperor, often ordering grandiose building programs to improve infrastructure and the quality of life in those regions. An ardent admirer of Greece, he sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the Empire and ordered the construction of many opulent temples in the city. He spent much of his time with the military; usually wore military attire and even dined and slept amongst the soldiers. He ordered military training and drilling to be more rigorous and made use of false reports of attack to keep the army alert. He suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judaea, renaming the province Syria Palaestina.

Average well preserved denarius weight 3.34 grams.

Roman Empire 125 AD

Also see ERIC - Hadrian.


Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Blum, G. "Numismatique D'Antinoos" in JIAN 16. (Athens, 1914). pp. 33 - 70.
Calicó, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 2: Nerva to Antoninus Pius. (Paris, 1883).
Hill, P.V. The Dating and Arrangement of the Undated Coins of Rome, A.D. 98-148. (London, 1970).
Mattingly H. & E. Sydenham. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. II: Vespasian to Hadrian. (London, 1926).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 3: Nerva to Hadrian. (London, 1936).
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Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
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Beast Coins Website: Roman Imperial: Hadrian (117-138 AD) - http://www.beastcoins.com/RomanImperial/II/Hadrian/Hadrian.htm


Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.

HADRIANUS (Publius Aelius), born at Rome, according to some; according to others, at Italica, a colonial city of Spain, where his family, originally of Hadria in Italy, was established from the time of the Scipios - that is to say, from about two centuries before Christ. His father was Aelius Hadrianus After, his mother Domitia Paulina; and he was born in A.D.76 (year of Rome 829) on the 9th of February. Losing his father at the age of ten, he was placed under the guardianship of Trajan, his cousin and fellow countryman (afterwards emperor), at that time holding the office of praetor. After discharging the first offices usually conferred upon a youth, he was sent into Maesia; and having subsequently set out to greet Trajan, as the new Caesar by adoption, and to convey to him the congratulations of the army, he was ordered to remain in Germania Superiror. Being from the first a great favorite with Trajan, on account if his handsome person and captivating manners, he afterwards drew closer the bonds of friendship by marrying (it is not known in what year) the emperor's niece Sabina, daughter of Marciana; and thus opened the path to his future greatness. In 854 (A.D. 101), he became questor, and at the expiration of that office, followed Trajan to the Dacian war. --- In 858 (105) he was tribune of the plebs; and having, about the same epoch, entered upon another campaign in Dacia, he was appointed to the command of Legio I. Minervia; and gave signal proofs of his valor. At the termination of this war, he celebrated games at Rome, with great magnificence, as pretor. After this he was sent as pro-pretor into Pannonia Inferior, where he defeated the Sarmatians, and earned his consulate; which, however, was not of the ordinary kind, but by substitution (sufectus). This consulate took place in A.D.109. Growing more and more in favor with Trajan, he was appointed, as legatus, to conduct the war then impending with Parthia.
 In A.D.117, when Trajan was preparing to return from the East, due to ill-health, he left Hadrian the command of the army in Syria, after the latter had been nominated, at the instigation of Plotina, as consul for the ensuing year. Shortly afterwards Trajan died at Selinus in Cilicia and Hadrian, by virtue of letters of adoption which were signed by Plotina and forwarded to Rome, took the title of Augustus at Antioch without waiting for Senatorial confirmation. It was on the fifth day before the ides of August that Hadrian received his letters of adoption, and henceforth kept that day as his birthday by adoption.
 On the third day before the ides of August, the death of Trajan was publicly announced, and this was afterwards reckoned as the natal day of Hadrian's reign. In the same year Hadrian withdrew the legions from Armenia, Assyria and Mesopotamia, giving as his reason for doing so, the difficulty of keeping those regions under subjugation and fixing the Euphrates as the eastern boundary of the Empire. He sent the ashes of Trajan to Rome and in the same year, from August to January, he was elected consul for the first time.
 In A.D.118 Hadrian made his public entry into Rome, paid divine honors to Trajan and whilst consul for the second time he remitted to the people all debts due to taxation.

 In A.D.119 Hadrian was consul for the third and last time and was victorious over the Sarmatians through his lieutenants.

 In circa A.D.120 Hadrian commenced his tour through the different provinces of the Empire, visiting first the Galliae, and then Germania.

 In A.D.121 he crossed the channel into Britain, where he began the construction of a wall from one sea to the other to keep the Caledonian tribes within bounds. He then returned to Gaul and proceeded to Spain.
 A.D.123. It is uncertain in wwhich direction Hadrian went on leaving Spain, but it is possible that he spent a portion of this year in Greece at Athens.
 In A.D.124 he is believed to have  journeyed into Asia, making an inspection of its provinces.
 In A.D.125, after having visited the islands of the Archipelago, he returned to Athens and, it is thought, then made a voyage to Sicily.
 A.D.127. It is uncertain where he went this year but it is supposed that he returned from Sicily and journeyed to Rome.
 A.D.128 Hadrian accepted the title of Pater Patriae and conferred the title of Augusta on to his wife, Sabina.
 A.D.129 - It is inferred from the proceedings of the following year, when he visited Egypt, that at the end of this year the emperor was in Arabia. That he went there from Syria, Eckhel gathers from Dion and from the coins of Gaza, which established in A.D.130 a fresh aera in honor of his visit. A temple of Rome, and another of Venus, were built there in memory of the same event. The succeeding year Hadrian returned from Egypt into Syria.
 A.D.132 – Eckhel thinks it probable that the Jewish war began in this year, set on foot by Barchocebas, though Tillemont dates it two years later. The events of the two following years are uncertain.
 A.D.135 – Hadrian returned to Athens, and was initiated into the mysteries of  Eleusis. He also completed a temple of  Jupiter Olympius, at Athens, which had been commenced many ages before. Finding himself in a declining state of health, Hadrian adopted Lucius Aelius. It is probable that the Jewish war was brought to a conclusion in this year by Julius Severus.
A.D.136 – His strength being exhausted by repeated bleeding at the nose, and his teper in consequence becoming morose, Hadrian caused several individuals to be put to death on charges of  attempted usurpation.
A.D.138 – Lucius Aelius, whom Hadrian had adopted, being dead, on the 25th of February  Antoninus (later Pius) was adopted in his place; Antoninus at the same time adopting Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. After protracted suffering, and having lost Sabina, Hadrian died of dropsy, at Baiae, on the 10th of July, at the age of 62 years and nearly six months. He had reigned for 20 years and 11 months.

The subjoined character of this celebrated prince is by a master-hand for fidelity, discrimination, and judgement in the province of biographical writing

"Hadrian's name deserves to be handed down to posterity among those of the greatest benefactors of the Roman empire; though his merits were tarnished by crimes of great magnitude, and by vices of the worst description. If we credit the accounts of his life, furnished by his biographer Spartianus, and Dion Cassius, we shall find that there was no emperor who entered more into the most minute details, as well as into the highest concerns of government. How indefatigable he was in visiting all the provinces of the empire, and investigating in person their respective grievances; how severe an exactor of military discipline, and how ready to share the duties, not only of a general, but a private soldier, a reference to his coins affords frequent opportunities of proving,[as has already been shewn, and will continue to be shewn, in this dictionary.]  Courteous in his demeanour to all persons he was is the constant habit of joining the social meetings of his friends; the sick, though of much lower rank, he used to visit two or three times a day, and cheer them with much encouragement; in short, conducted himself in all respects as private individual. As in social life, so in public, his liberrality was displayed is his remitting to the nation, a.u.c. 871 (A.D. 118), an enormous debt to the treasury, and relieving the provinces which had suffered loss, by money supplied from his private resources; also in the erection of temples of the greatest splendor, especially at  Athens, of which city he was very fond, and in the construction of aqueducts and ports, by which he consulted both the ornament and the utility of the different cities. There is still to be seen at Rome a mausoleum of vast proportions, built by him near the Tiber, accurately described by Procopius (now well-known under the name of the castle of St. Angelo); also the remains of the town of Tibur, a lasting monument of his magnificence, where, as Spartian relates, he built himself a villa, and introduced the novelty of inscribing on its several parts the names of the most celebrated provinces and localities, such as the Lyceum, the Academia, the Prytaneum, Canopus, Paecile, and Tempe. Although, from the moment of his accession to empire, he devoted his whole attention to the preservation of peace throughout the world, in pursuance of which policy he voluntarily  ceded Armenia and the other regions beyond the Euphrates, as being a perpetual hot-bed of war, yet he did not permit the soldiers te become enervated by inaction, but kept them ever on the alert and in the practice of arms; a circumstance which rendered him constantly formidable to foreign powers, and the more ready to suppress aggression, that he never himself took the initiative.   "Amidst these weighty cares of state, he still found time to bestow on his bodily exercise and intellectual pursuits. His coins bear witness to his untiring love of the chace. To Grecian literature he was, from his boyhood, so devoted that he was called by many Graeculus. He was a proficient not only in a arithmetic, geometry, painting, and music, but even in the arts of moulding in brass and chiseling in marble; whether, indeed, in such a manner as to rival the Polyeleti and Euphranors, we have only the testimony of victor to assure us. He was so fond of traveling, that he  wished to verify, by personal inspection, all the accounts which he had read of different parts of the world. His extreme addiction to sensual pleasures to the extent of indulgence in propensities not to be named, nor, even to be alluded to, was a foul and detestable blot upon his character. The infatuated attachment which he manifested for Antinous, and his ill-treatment of an amiable wife, cannot be too severely reprobated. It is a matter of history, that his love of peace carried him beyond bounds at all consistent with the honour of the empire. For, that he was in the habit of bribing foreign powers to forego their offensive designs, is stated not only by Dion, but Victor also more openly charges him with boasting, after purchasing pacific relations from many kings, that he had gained more without stirring foot, than others had by their campaigns. But, much more fatal in its effects was the spirit

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