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Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  725 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Acclaimed author Anthony Everitt, whose Augustus was praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a narrative of sustained drama and skillful analysis,” is the rare writer whose work both informs and enthralls. In Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome–the first major account of the emperor in nearly a century–Everitt presents a compelling, richly researched biography of the man whom ...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Random House (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,638)
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Mathew Crawford
If you are looking for a book to skim for quotes to put in your Roman History paper, keep looking. This book consists of a lot of guesswork and a lot of information not necessarily of any specific interest. However if you want to read an excellent biography that not only gives you a sense of the man, but the time he lived in, this is the book for you. The beginning of the book gives much information on the emperors preceding Hadrian and any information about Hadrian's activities during his early ...more
To be fair, very well researched, but there's so little that's actually known about Hadrian Everitt didn't have much to say and it seemed both confusing and flat. A lot of "we think" or "we can surmise", again, what else was the guy to do, but I left without knowing anything about him that I couldn't read in the Hadrian wikipedia page. It actually made me wish I could read a fictionalized account of his life, which I will now do! But I mean a gay Spanish guy who hated his wife and deified his bo ...more
The weakest of the Everitt's three books about great Romans, "Hadrian" suffers from a lack of historical data about this last great emperor. Too often, the text suffers from guessing and extrapolation.
Mark Russell
An occasionally engrossing portrait of one of Rome's most controversial but capable emperors, this book nonetheless pales in comparison to Everitt's biography of Cicero, so in sum and total, I personally considered Hadrian to be a disappointment.

The most interesting part of the book, in my opinion, comes during his early life as Hadrian comes in and out of favor as Trajan's heir apparent. In fact, the first third was so much more intriguing than the rest that I kind of wish Everitt had simply wr
Jeremy Perron
Antony Everitt's biography of the Emperor Hadrian is very different from his earlier biographies on the Emperor Augustus and the orator Cicero. The reason is the difference of subjects' time periods. In the two earlier books, one system, the Republic, is coming to an end, while a new system, the Principate of the Roman Empire, is established. Cicero tries to save the Republic and dies in the attempt, while Augustus creates the Principate and rules until his seventies. When Hadrian was born the P ...more
R.S. Gompertz

Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire between AD 117 - AD 138. He's famous for his great wall across northern England, building the Pantheon at Rome (still one of the world's largest free-standing concrete domes!), and presiding over the empire at its peak.

He's less famous for suppressing a Jewish revolt in Judea, a rebellion that was nearly successful and cost Rome dearly. In my personal view, this brutal war, known as the Second Roman-Jewish War or the Bar Kokhba Revolt, sowed the seeds of our curren
Nick Ohrn
I loved this book even more than the author's previous work, Augustus. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that many more records exist from the day's of Hadrian and his patron, Trajan, then exist from the time of the first emperor.

I learned a lot, not just about an individual, but about the circumstances in Rome at the time of his rule and the lengths to which some would go to ensure that rule was maintained. The author did a great job with the overall narrative and paints Hadrian as
John Craik
Apr 30, 2010 John Craik rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ancient history enthusiasts who know little about 2nd Century Rome
Everitt's "Augustus" was wonderful and captivating, but the subject matter was much more interesting. Hadrian was one of the "5 Good Emperors," and this book portrays Hadrian as a competent, fair-minded and effective emperor who wasn't terribly popular -- not exactly page-turning stuff. Everitt is very easy to read, and he provides some good background and descriptions of Rome during Hadrian's lifetime. While there are a few slightly interesting facts about Hadrian (end of expasionist policy, hi ...more
Joseph Dispenza
I'm just finishing up on this biography...thinking of abandoning it, but will probably see it through. It's very heavy on the Roman military -- I learned more about the legions than I did about the complex psychology of the emperor, which is what I was looking for -- and hoping for. It is also sketchy on Antinous, calling him at one point "the imperial boy friend." He was much more than that to Hadrian, of course, and therefore to history. However, this is beautifully researched and amply suppor ...more
Italo Italophiles
In Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome the author attempts to show that the Roman monarchy was combined, under Hadrian, with good governance. The 400+ page book extends the story beyond Hadrian's reign to explain, briefly, how Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius fared as emperors.

As a young man, Hadrian was groomed to take over the throne on the death of Emperor Trajan. Hadrian was forty years old when he finally inherited the throne. Hadrian was not all sweetness and light.

Hadrian is an excuse for t
I'll admit it: all I knew of the emperor Hadrian before reading this book was that he built the famous Wall in the north of England and that he had a male lover named Antinous, whom he deified after his death. I couldn't even have told you which century he lived in. So almost everything in this book was new to me - and yet, despite the plethora of Romans with ridiculously long names and archaic names for familiar places, I was never lost or confused reading this, which is a real testament to the ...more
Avis Black
Although the author doesn't have the benefit of a huge number of resources, this is an interesting biography. Hadrian was a lover of Greek culture (and boys), a fanatical builder, a poet, a successful soldier, a relentless traveler who made other emperors look like homebodies (he apparently detested the city of Rome), and a very capable emperor. Unlike many of his predecessors, he had a better grasp of the basic realities of empire, and he decided that Rome had gone beyond its spacial limits of ...more
Excellent for about 1/2-2/3 until Hadrian ascends to the throne - the description of the Flavian Rome, Spain and Trajan's reign are great and the young Hadrian comes much better to life than the Emperor who remains an enigma.

Better read Yourcenar's novel for insights about the Emperor himself plus some good Encyclopedia for the facts but the book is still worth for the gripping first part.
Jeni Enjaian
I don't have much to say about this fairly average book. Everitt avoids excessive speculation, a common temptation for writers of ancient history he has a unique approach to the topic, studying Rome by studying the life and surroundings of one of it's more well known leaders. At the same time, Everitt spends a disproportionate amount of time setting the stage compared to the denoumont aka the time after Hadrian's death. Additionally, Everitt spends what little speculation he does indulge in on H ...more
This book is in some ways better than the emperor series book on Hadrian. Definitely worth reading if you love the good emperors. It's not all green fields and white picket fences, which is part of the reason I respected the author so much.
Carol Smith
Should perhaps be titled "Trajan and Hadrian". Fully half the book takes place during Trajan's reign and leans heavily on coverage of Trajan since details of Hadrian's life are sparse at best prior to his "assuming the purple".

Still, despite the heavy reliance on supposition in the absence of historical details, Everitt provides plenty of engaging Hadrian anecdotes and sidebar history to entertain. Coverage of the Jewish revolts, the practice of peradasty and how it fit within Roman culture, an
A good biography of an philosophic and enigmatic emperor. Suffers a bit from the comparative lack of sources, but does a remarkable job at filling in with some good context.
Ok. I understand that in order to fully understand Hadrian you must first understand Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Trajan, and (to a lesser extent) Nerva. But the book spent so much time on these other backstories, and Hadrian spent so much time sitting on the sidelines, the second we really began to get to know him as a real person, the book was finished. Overall: too much exposition along the lines of "Hadrian went here, then Hadrian went there" and not enough of what I was hoping for: a gutsy e ...more
Review title: Decent on post-Julio-Claudian Emperors but very slim on Hadrian

The main problem with this book is the title and the intended focus. There’s a lot of history on the Emperors and the Roman Empire after the Julio-Claudian dynasty (basically, after Nero). In this respect the book is successful, although nothing out of the ordinary in terms of style. The ascension of Vespasian and Titus and the reign of Domitian are covered with decent detail.

The problem is that through all those years,
Rob Atkinson
Well-written and fascinating account of Hadrian and his era, the high water mark of the Roman Empire. It would rate higher, but for a lack of detail and overdependance on speculation owing not to a lack of diligence on the author's part, but a surprising paucity of extant contemporary accounts. If only Hadrian's documented memoirs had survived, or he'd kept on the brilliant historian Suetonius as his amanuensis! One feels Everitt has done the best one could with the surviving material, and he in ...more
A disappointing book. Hadrian never comes into focus. His personality remains an enigma - this even though Everitt, despite being handicapped by the lack of reliable contemporary accounts of Hadrian's life, still manages to gather a wide ranging collection of facts - relies heavily on numismatic and archeological artifacts. Seemingly every coin minted during Hadrian's reign is given a sentence in the book, every monumental inscription a paragraph, every structure he built a page - all of which i ...more
Everitt finishes his trilogy/triptych on the Roman Empire with this biography of Hadrian. His biography on Cicero describes the end of the Roman Republic, his biography of Augustus centers on the consolidation and expansion of Roman empirial power. The biography of Hadrian shows the peak, maturity of Roman emperial expansion.

Historically, Hadrian has always been an under-appreciated emperor, so I was glad to see his biography tackled by Everitt. It also makes sense to try and bookend Everitt's
Elizabeth Sulzby
Everitt is an excellent historical writer. I had already read his biographies on Augustus (Octavian) and Cicero. Those books also dealt with the organization within Rome, how military leaders dealt with maintaining conquered territory, maintaining the Roman rulership, capturing loot and/or leaving parts of the booty to support the Roman overseers. Very important was how military leadership and the two bodies of representative leaders fit into and supported each other.

I like to vary between "r
Jason Golomb
Before I discovered a passion for the history of the Roman Empire, I found myself drawn to Emperor Hadrian – what he accomplished, who he was, and the significant romantic notion of his worldy, artistic, monument-building approach to leading the Roman Empire.

Anthony Everitt’s “Hadrian – and the Triumph of Rome” blends a fairly limited set of contemporary and near-contemporary resources with wonderfully portrayed color commentary of the times in which Hadrian lived.

In a recent visit to Rome and
The first 100 or so pages set the stage, with Hadrian appearing every now and then. I found the long introduction irritating in Everitt's "Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor" since the back story is so familiar, but for Hadrian I appreciated it since I knew little of the post Claudius emperors.

For the next 2/3 of the book Everitt writes about Hadrian but also tells how difficult it is to know about him with so little surviving material. Everitt brings his impressive knowledge of the era
Overall good. The author speculates a lot of details of this biography. Sometimes, they come in such rapid succession that you wonder whether you're reading anything worthwhile but you get used to it after a while. Hadrian was a good emperor for Rome judging his accomplishments but his personal life comes across as that of a mercurial, passionate and selfish man. His open homosexuality does not render empathy for many.

I found his succession planning quite interesting and involved. Hadrian first
I recently finished the earlier biography by this author of Augustus and found it interesting, but described it as a novel told as history. The reason being that not more than 10% of the book was about things actually known to have happened. The other 90% was speculation by either the author or some cited single source. This book has exactly the same problem, but Hadrian and his time are not interesting, while that of Augustus was. I did learn more about Hadrian's Wall than I knew before, but th ...more
Not nearly as good as his biography as Cicero, maybe because this book was not meant to be a biography. It tells the history of Rome from Vespasian through Hadrian, with about half of the book being focused on Hadrian's rule. Unfortunately, the underlying sources are relatively sparse and the book is filled with perhaps and maybes that link Hadrian to the world and events of his time. You don't feel like you know Hadrian and to the degree you do he doesn't seem particularly complex or interestin ...more
Dustin Simmons
I really like Anthony Everitt's writing, but I didn't like this book as much as his "Cicero" or "Augustus", but that's because I don't like Hadrian as much as the other people he's written about. Still, it's a solid biography of an important emperor, and provides a good glimpse into a period of Roman history that doesn't get as much attention as it should.
This well documented book on Hadrian paints the picture of a Renaissance man before his time. Hadrian was an architect, solder, poet and recreational traveler among many other pursuits. The book would be a challenging introduction to Roman history but flows well and contains many stories about Hadrian's political and personal life. The author relies heavily on documentation other than Hadrian's personal memoirs and takes some license to fill in events from sources that don't mention Hadrian by n ...more
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