Monday, July 21, 2008

THE HADRIAN EXHIBITION is featured in the Scotsman:
The exhibition also reminds us that Rome was an empire based not just on law and trade, but also on bloodshed – for among Hadrian's legacies was his brutal suppression of a huge Jewish revolt, leading to the banning of Judaism and the deaths of perhaps half a million people.

Modern politicians often struggle to come across as recognisable human beings yet Hadrian comes over as a painfully human, flesh-and-blood figure. And the most fascinating part of the exhibition is the section on his personal life.
The London Times discusses the Emperor's coronary health:
Hadrian, the Roman Emperor, is returning to conquer London again. Installed as emperor in AD117, he came to Britain to crush a revolt and around AD122, as part of his campaign, he initiated the building of a 73-mile wall to keep out the troublesome Scots. This week he will be on show at the British Museum. Fortunately, as his face is carved in stone, he can't express the horror at finding that his old enemies, the Scots, are now governing England and controlling its purse-strings.

Many will know of Hadrian only because of his wall, but medical students have another reason. They have been looking at pictures of his busts for years - focusing on his ear lobes. Hadrian's lobes display marked lobar creases. These are pronounced creases running diagonally across the lobe of the ear. They are not disfiguring, but are an intriguing early sign that all may not be well with a person's coronary arterial system.

Also, Dan Snow had a special on Channel 4 last night on Hadrian, which I missed.
Snow delivered his presentation at breathless pace, but then he can't have had a lot of time left over from the travelling, given an itinerary that stretched from the Roman granite mines in Africa to sites in Turkey and Jerusalem. Hadrian, incidentally, might have been big on infrastructure projects, but he wasn't much interested in multicultural outreach. He provoked a rebellion in Judaea by outlawing circumcision and planning to build a new capital on the Temple Mount. So great were the quantities of blood shed when he finally put down the resulting insurrection that farmers didn't need to use fertiliser for seven years, though one had the feeling that this fact hadn't actually been verified by independent experts. Despite his administrative and imperial success, things started going downhill for Hadrian after his lover, Antinous, drowned in the Nile and the end of his life was marked by ill health and paranoia. Having built what may have been the biggest retirement home in history, a villa complex two-thirds the size of Rome, he died without ever getting time to enjoy it.
Background here.