Hadrian’s travels

Hadrian was not the type of emperor to lock himself away in Rome, far from his subjects, and wait for the world to come to him. He ruled over what was possibly then the largest empire in history, and he was hellbent on seeing it – hunting lions in north Africa, soaking up the culture of Athens and surveying the frigid northern outpost of Britain. But, says Alison Cooley, Hadrian's travels weren't simply the result of a pleasure-seeking wanderlust. Here was a man determined to remind his provinces who was in charge...

A marble bust of the Emperor Hadrian who ruled from AD 117 to 138

This article was first published in the April 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine

Fortunately for historians of the Roman world, the emperor Hadrian and his courtiers could not resist the impulse to engrave their names, together with poems about their travels, upon the great monuments of Egypt. It was, you might say, the ancient equivalent of a selfie.

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