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Publius Aelius Trajan Hadrian (C.E.76 – 138), Roman emperor.

Quotes from Hadrian:[edit]

  • [On the tomb of the poet Voconius] You were lascivious in your verses, modest in your heart. Quoted in Apuleius, On magic and in its defense, EDIPEM, C.E.1973.
  • [Last words] O little soul, wandering, joking, | host and companion of the body, | where will you go now, | pale, cold, naked, | deprived of the usual entertainment?[1]
Animula, vagula, blandula, | Hospes, comesque corporis, | Quæ nunc abibis in loca | Pallidula, rigid, nudula | Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos.

Quotes about Hadrian:[edit]

  • Hadrian was the Philhellene Roman Emperor par excellence, the enlightened ruler who chose Athens as the cultural capital of the Empire, as well as his homeland of choice, in which he chose to spend long periods of his life. His figure calls for reflection, aimed above all at young people and focused on the harmony between Western tradition and Eastern tradition; on the achievement of peace as a necessary condition for the pursuit of prosperity; on study and reflection to fully understand the complex world around us. It is therefore not a question of the celebration of a man but rather of the value of the trend of which he became the protagonist. That of interpreting one's times, evaluating its dynamics and setting a strategy. (Sergio Mattarella)
  • It is perhaps very difficult to find in all of Roman history a politician who, like Hadrian, encloses in his own thoughts a meaning and a concept of life, in which together, and almost organically and perfectly, the ideal of life is based Greek and that of Roman life, the pagan soul and the Christian soul, the spiritual tendencies of the old age and those of the new age; a man who has equally united in himself the multiplicity of the most varied talents. (Corrado Barbagallo)
  • Poet and prose writer, Latinist and Greek scholar, painter and enthusiast of plastic arts, philosopher and orator, artist and scientist, mystic and realist, superstitious and sceptical, generous and implacable, man of thought and man of action, he stopped his foot on all fields of knowledge, he welcomed and underwent all the suggestions of which the great human soul is capable, and from every discipline, from every inspiration, he struck a spark for his ingenuity, he revealed a trait for his complex personality. (Corrado Barbagallo)

Edward Gibbon:[edit]

  • The inconstant character of this Emperor, capable of both the lowest and the most generous feelings, may give some color to the suspicion. However, he could not have put the superiority of his predecessor in a brighter light than if he had thus confessed himself incapable of defending what Trajan had conquered.
  • Hadrian's life was almost a continuous journey; and since he possessed the different talents of soldier, politician and man of letters, so he satisfied his curiosity, fulfilling his duty. Regardless of the difference of seasons and climates, he went on foot and bareheaded over the snows of Caledonia, and over the scorching plains of Upper Egypt; nor was there a province of the Empire which, during his reign, was not honored by the presence of his monarch.
  • Under his reign [...] the Empire flourished in peace and prosperity. He encouraged the arts, reformed the laws, ensured military discipline, and visited all the provinces in person. His vast and active intellect knew how to equally rise to the most extensive aims and descend to the most minute particularities of civil government; but his dominant passions were curiosity and vanity. According to which these prevailed in him, and according to the different objects which excited them, Hadrian showed himself, alternately, an excellent prince, a ridiculous sophist, and a jealous tyrant.

Related entries:[edit]


  1. Quoted in Aelio Sparziano, Life of Emperor Hadrian, in Scriptores historiae Augustae; quoted in Giuseppe Fumagalli, Who said it?, Hoepli, Milan, 1921, p. 281. Spartian, as reported by Fumagalli, introduces Hadrian's quote with: «And in fact it is said that as he was dying he wrote these verses (Et moriens quidem hos versus codicisse dicitur)».

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