Introducing Hadrian

10th September 2013

News, Alumni news

The contradictory Roman emperor Hadrian, who lived from 76 to 138 AD, is the focus of a new book by Wadham Emeritus Fellow, James Morwood. 

Introducing Hadrian

The contradictory Roman emperor Hadrian, who lived from 76 to 138 AD, is the focus of a new book by Wadham Emeritus Fellow, James Morwood. 

In Hadrian, published by Bloomsbury, Morwood explores the contradictions and complexities of this hugely influential Roman emperor, piecing together a picture of the man and his momentous life.

Bloomsbury website

Hadrian was a hugely influential figure whose architectural legacy is obvious even today. However, he was also contradictory and mysterious: he was a Spaniard who became emperor in Rome; he was a popular, successful soldier who aimed to be a man of peace. Hadrian also dabbled in black magic, and he courted scandal: as well as his bitterly unhappy marriage, he had a very public love affair with Greek boy, who died in mysterious circumstances surrounded by rumours of human sacrifice.

Key themes of the book include Hadrian’s life and Spanish background; his military service and initiatives of peace; his architectural legacy such as the Pantheon; his villa at Tivoli; his love of Athens and Athenian culture; his relationship with Antinous; and how he dealt with Christians and Jews. Morwood also examines social aspects of life in the Roman empire in the second century: slavery, Roman baths and hygiene, the public spectacles of circus races, gladiatorial fights and animal hunts.

James Morwood's Hadrian is the perfect introduction to this fascinating and elusive emperor. Morwood has given us a wonderful panorama of the Roman empire at its zenith, based on complete mastery of the modern scholarship. Lucid, accessible, and beautifully written, this book deserves the widest possible readership.

Peter Thonemann, Tutorial Fellow in Ancient History at Wadham College

More about James Morwood