Adrian, Publius Æliuvs

, the Roman emperor, was born at Rome Jan. 24, in the year of Christ 76. His father left him an orphan, at ten years of age, tinder the guardianship of Trajan, and Caelius Tatianus, a Roman knight. He began to serve very early in the armies, having been tribune of a legion before the death of Domitian. He was the person chosen by the army of Lower Mcesia, to carry the news of Nerva’s death to Trajan, successor to the empire. The extravagances of his youth deprived him of this emperor’s favour; but having recovered it by reforming his behaviour, he was married | to Sabina, a grand niece of Trajan, and the empress Plotina became his great friend and patroness. When he was quaestor, he delivered an oration in the senate; but his language was then so rough and unpolished, that he was hissed: this obliged him to apply to the study of the Latin tongue, in which he afterwards became a great proficient, and made a considerable figure for his eloquence. He accompanied Trajan in most of his expeditions, and particularly distinguished himself in the second war against the Daci; and having before been quaestor, as well as tribune of the people, he was now successively praetor, governor of Pannonia, and consul. After the siege of Atra in Arabia was raised, Trajan, who had already given him the government of Syria, left him the command of the army; and at length, when he found death approaching, it is said he adopted him. The reality of this adoption is by some disputed, and is thought to have been a contrivance of Plotina; however, Adrian, who was then in Antiochia, as soon as he received the news of that, and of Trajan’s death, declared himself emperor on the llth of August, 117. He then immediately made peace with the Persians, to whom he yielded up great part of the conquests of his predecessors; and from generosity, or policy, he remitted the debts of the Roman people, which, according to the calculation of those who have reduced them to modern money, amounted to 22,500,000 golden crowns; and he caused to be burnt all the bonds and obligations relating to those debts, that the people might be under no apprehension of being called to an account for them afterwards. He went to visit all the provinces, and did not return to Rome till the year 118, when the senate decreed him a triumph, and honoured him with the title of Father of his country; but he refused both, and desired that Trajan’s image might triumph. The following year he went to Mcesia to oppose the Sarmatce. In his absence several persons of great worth were put to death; and though he protested he had given no orders for that purpose, yet the odium fell chiefly upon him. No prince travelled more than Adrian; there being hardly one province in the empire which be did not visit. In 120 he went into Gaul, and thence to Britain, where he caused a wall or rampart to be built, as a defence against the Caledonians who would not submit to the Iloman government. In 121 he returned into France, and thence to Spain, to Mauritania, | and at length into the East, where he quieted the commotions raised by the Parthians. After having visited all the provinces of Asia, he returned to Athens in 125, where he passed the winter, and was initiated in the mysteries of Eleusinian Ceres. He went from thence, to Sicily, and saw mount Ætna. He returned to Rome the beginning of the year 129; and, according to some, he went again the same year to Africa; and after his return from thence, to the east. He was in Egypt in the year 132, revisited Syria the year following, returned to Athens in 134, and to Rome in 135. The persecution against the Christians was very violent under his reign; but it was at length suspended, in consequence of the remonstrances of Quadratus bishop of Athens, and Aristides, two Christian philosophers, who presented the emperor with some books in favour of their religion. He was more severe against the Jews; and, by way of insult, erected a temple to Jupiter on mount Calvary, and placed a statue of Adonis in the manger of Bethlehem he caused also the images of swine to be engraved on the gates of Jerusalem.

Adrian reigned 21 years, and died at Baiae in 139, in the 63d year of his age. The Latin verses he addressed to his soul on his death-bed, shew his uncertainty and doubts in regard to the other world. He was a prince adorned with great virtues, but they were mingled with great vices. He xvas generous, industrious, polite, and exact; he maintained order and discipline; he administered justice with indefatigable application, and punished rigorously all those who did not faithfully execute the offices with which they were entrusted: he had a great share of wit, and a surprising memory; he was well versed in most of the polite arts and sciences, and is said to have written several works. On the other hand, he was cruel, envious, lascivious, superstitious, and so weak as to give himself up to the study of magic.

Adrian having no children by Sabina, adopted Lucius Aurelius Annius Ceionius Commodus Verus; but Lucius dying the 1st of January 138, he then adopted Titus Antoninus, on condition that he should adopt Marcus Annius Verus, and the son of Lucius Verus. 1

1 Crevier’s Roman Emperors. Gen. Dict. —Saxii Onomasticon. Milner’s Church history, vol. I. p. 199, et seqq.