Roman Empire

Hadrian, Emperor AD 117-138

RIC 168d; BMC 378; Calicó 1209, Superb Extremely Fine

Rome, ca. AD 124-128. HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, laureate bust of Hadrian right, slight drapery on far shoulder. Reverse: COS III, Sol driving quadriga left, holding whip.

Ex LHS 95 (25 October 2005), 809

Despite questions about his legitimacy, Hadrian succeeded Trajan with the recognition of the army and Senate. However, he quickly offended the senators by ordering the execution of four of their number who had been close friends of Trajan and who might challenge his reign. Hadrian’s personal interests, particularly his love of Greek culture, led him to spend much of his reign traveling through the provinces. In stark contrast to Trajan, Hadrian had far more interest in preserving the Empire than in expanding it, ordering the erection of frontier fortifications like the famous wall in Britannia and abandoning indefensible provinces like Trajan’s Mesopotamia. The generally tranquil character of Hadrian’s reign was seriously marred by the Bar Kokhba Revolt that engulfed Judaea in AD 132-136, largely because of the Emperor’s refounding of Jerusalem as the pagan city of Aelia Capitolina. When he died in AD 138, imperial power was transferred to his adoptive heir, Antoninus Pius without incident.