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Publius Aelius Hadrianus[1][2] (24 January 76 – 10 July 138), commonly known as Hadrian and after his apotheosis Divus Hadrianus, was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best-known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman territory in Britain. In Rome, he built the Pantheon and the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and deeply Hellenophile in all his tastes. A member of the gens Aelia, Hadrian was the third of the so-called Five Good Emperors.

Hadrian was born Publius Aelius Hadrianus to a Hispano-Roman family, probably in Italica (near Seville). His predecessor Trajan was a maternal cousin of Hadrian's father.[3] Trajan never officially designated an heir, but according to his wife Pompeia Plotina, Trajan named Hadrian emperor immediately before his death. Trajan's wife and his friend Licinius Sura were well-disposed towards Hadrian, and he may well have owed his succession to them.[4]

During his reign, Hadrian traveled to nearly every province of the empire. An ardent Philhellene, Hadrian sought to make Athens the cultural capital of the empire - ordering the construction of many opulent temples in the city. Hadrian spent extensive amounts of his time with the military; he usually wore military attire and even dined and slept amongst the soldiers. He ordered military training and drilling to be more rigorous and even made use of false reports of attack to keep the army alert. Despite his fondness for the army, Hadrian's reign is marked by a lack of military activity throughout the empire. Upon his ascension to the throne, Hadrian withdrew from Trajan's conquests in Mesopotamia and Armenia, and even considered abandoning Dacia. Late in his reign he suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt in Judaea, renaming the province Syria Palaestina. In 136 an ailing Hadrian adopted Lucius Aelius as his heir, but he died suddenly two years later. In 138, Hadrian resolved to adopt Antoninus Pius if he would in turn adopt Marcus Aurelius and Aelius' son Lucius Verus as his own eventual successors. Antoninus agreed, and soon afterward Hadrian died at his villa near Tibur.


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