Wednesday, December 23, 2015

More on the Israel Museum's Hadrian exhibition

ANOTHER REVIEW: Busting Out All Over: Hadrian 'Conquers' Jerusalem Once Again. A new Israel Museum show, centering around 3 bronze portraits, takes on yet another controversial figure in Jewish history, addressing the paradox between his image as a 'bone-grinder' and as enlightened Roman ruler (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
In Jewish historiography, the Roman emperor Hadrian – or, "Hadrian the bone-grinder,” as traditional religious sources called him – has a “place of honor” on the list of those considered to be the most hated and bitter enemies of the Jewish people over the generations.

Publius Aelius Hadrianus Augustus, as he was known, was emperor from 117 to 138 C.E., and is best remembered in Israel for crushing the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans and for the ensuing holocaust, including destruction of the Jewish community in Judea and the razing of Jerusalem, upon whose ruins he built a pagan city named Aelia Capitolina.

In world historiography, however, Hadrian has a completely different image: He is considered to be one of the most enlightened and important of Roman rulers, the man responsible for the golden age of the empire. He is said to have been a gifted general and politician, a patron of the arts and a man of letters, as well as a builder who left important monuments behind in his wake.

In a new exhibition opening on Tuesday, the Israel Museum is attempting to present – and possibly resolve – this paradox.

Background here.

As the article and the one noted previously mention, this exhibition is the final one associated with the celebration of the Israel Museum's 50th anniversary, on which more here and links.