Roman Empire was one of the greatest and mightiest states the world had ever known. Its achievements and influence on the development of our history could not be overestimated. Being an empire, a state where one person has absolute power, it was dependent on decisions of that man. That is why, it is not surprising that a lot of historians devoted a great number of their works to description and analysis of lives of emperors. Hadrian is not an exception.
He started his life as a common roman citizen that is why his becoming a leader of the great state seems even more miraculous. He inherited power from Trajan, however, he did not continue his policy. That is why, it is possible to suggest that this shift became one of the most important reasons of his popularity. Describing his person, Spartianus outlines only positive qualities and actions. This description serves as a good evidence of Hadrians reputation.
First of all, the author underlines the fact that Hadrian was a very wise ruler, which cared about all aspects of his giant empire. He outlines Hadrians desire to save borders of the state “In many places where he visited the frontiers, which were not separated from the Barbarians by rivers, Hadrian raised a kind of wall, by driving into the ground great piles” (Spartianus 1). Results of these actions can be seen even nowadays in Hadrians Wall. Moreover, Hadrian travelled across his country, trying to take part in different processes in order to understand and rule his state better.
The author of the work also appreciates this fact, showing directly his great admiration “Never did a Prince traverse over the Empire with such celerity!” (Spartianus 1). Besides, the author also underlines diplomatic abilities of Hadrian. Travelling across his country, Hadrian managed to conclude an alliance with a great number of Romes opponents. His predecessor, Trajan, was famous for his military expeditions against these rulers, while Hadrian managed to solve this problem with the help of diplomacy.
Admiring Hadrians diplomacy and wisdom, the author also stresses his fairness. Hadrian punished governors and procurators, sorting out the mess in provinces. Moreover, very often Hadrian was present at trials as a judge and he was severe but fair. He prohibited killing of slaves by their masters, underlining necessity of trials and judges. Describing these facts, the author could not but admire Hadrians activity as a ruler of the state.
Another fact which admires Spartianus is Hadrians interest for art and science. “This ruler loved poetry, and cultivated carefully all branches of literature. He understood likewise arithmetic, geometry, and painting” (Spartianus 4) He erected different monuments and loved literary discussions. Moreover, he enjoyed philosophy. Showing comprehensiveness of Hadrians character, the author also manifests his own positive attitude to Hadrian, saying “this Emperor seemed never the same” (Spartianus 4).
Roman Empire was a military state, that is why it was very important for its ruler to be informed in this field. Spartianus says that the emperor “handled weapons with much skill, and was a master of the military art” (Spartianus 4). Moreover, Hadrian remembered almost all his veterans who fought with him.
Having analyzed this work, it is possible to say that the author admired the rule of Hadrian, underlining his comprehensive character. “He wrote, dictated, heard others, and conversed with his friends; and all at the same time!” (Spartianus 8).