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Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  900 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Born in A.D. 76, Hadrian lived through and ruled during a tempestuous era, a time when the Colosseum was opened to the public and Pompeii was buried under a mountain of lava and ash. Acclaimed author Anthony Everitt vividly recounts Hadrian’s thrilling life, in which the emperor brings a century of disorder and costly warfare to a peaceful conclusion while demonstrating ho ...more
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
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Sep 30, 2015 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Everitt writes well and gives the reader a great sense of the Age of Rome, however, he freely speculates on people and events far too much for my taste. I compare him with contemporary Roman historian, Adrian Goldsworthy, whom I admire tremendously, and Everitt falls short. I understand that Emperor Hadrian's life is not as well documented as are the lives of other leaders of Rome; but still. Perhaps it is the topics of which he seems endlessly fascinated with such as Hadrian's loveless ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2010 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mathew Crawford
Nov 24, 2012 Mathew Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Carter McKnight
I adored Everitt's _Cicero_, and had high expectations for his work on a favorite subject of mine. The book's fine, and it's difficult to put a finger on just why it didn't meet up to my expectations. It feels a little too breezy, mostly. Part of the challenge comes from the story mostly being about Hadrian's peripatetic emperor-ship: where _Cicero_ was able to place the subject in a well-detailed and lively context of late Republican Rome, _Hadrian_ is necessarily the story of a man on the move ...more
Mark Russell
Jul 03, 2011 Mark Russell rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Nov 24, 2012 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2011 R.S. Gompertz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jun 28, 2015 Nick Ohrn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 18, 2012 Joseph Dispenza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Bird
The best biographers find a tone that matches the personalities of their respective subjects. As I perservered through this volume, I could not quite take what seemed to me a mismatch here. Everitt's tone often seems cheeky and shallow to me, and I don't think that matches this particular emperor very well. Perhaps that tone is an effort to appeal to the casual reader.

The casual reader, however, faces another peril (I write as someone with a bit of professional training on ancient Rome). For Eve
Jan 05, 2016 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am unabashedly in the bag for Anthony Everitt, and I’ve always wanted to know more about The Five Good Emperors, so this was a perfect fit. Everitt also wrote Augustus, which was about 3 times as long as Team of Rivals, and I loved every second of it. Hadrian was almost as long, but I enjoyed it so much I was sad when it was over.

The book chronicle’s Hadrian’s pretty unlikely rise; orphans from Spain don’t often end up as Roman emperors. At the time of Hadrian’s birth, Nero had been dead for l
Michael Lewyn
Aug 29, 2015 Michael Lewyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tries to bring Hadrian and his times to life, and it did seem to me to do so (albeit at the cost of being a little speculative). Although it doesn't explain the Jewish War as much as I would have liked, Everitt does explain Hadrian's historical significance from the Roman point of view: by putting a halt to Roman expansionism, he stabilized the Empire for a few decades. Some other interesting points:

1. Everitt points out that Roman mothers sought out wet nurses because infant mortality
Italo Italophiles
Aug 31, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 26, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 29, 2013 Windsor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient
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.
Jul 21, 2015 Fiona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior to reading this book all I knew about Hadrian was there were remains of an ancient wall in Northern Britain that bore his name. I would not have been able to tell you who ruled Rome before or after him so this book has been useful in filling that gap in my knowledge. The book also covers the life of Trajan, Hadrian's predecesor and details Hadrian's rise through the military ranks under Trajan. Hadrian's greatest accomplishments during his rule was ending Romes territorial expansion which ...more
Daniel Kukwa
A case of too much information. This isn't a biography of Hadrian so much as a look at a giant swath of Roman history, which just happens to coincide with Hardrian's life. The information itself represents some fantastic research, in a surprisingly concise format. But it leans more towards textbook than biography, and the writing style isn't the most inviting that I've read in recent times. As an examination of Rome, from the Flavians to the days after Hadrian's death, it's certainly epic...but ...more
Sean DeLauder
Jan 03, 2016 Sean DeLauder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TL;DR: A book written largely by inference and padded by digression.


That Hadrian proved one of Rome's greatest emperors is hard point to contest, but in detail it may prove difficult to get excited about. Hadrian was sensible, consolidating the empire rather than indulging in the untenable imperatum sine infinitum that promoted ongoing warfare and expansion. When compared to those leaders of note leading up to and through the Roman civil war who transformed the Republic into an Empire, o
Dec 16, 2014 Joshua rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2010 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-world
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
Aug 23, 2012 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
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
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Anthony Everitt is a British academic. He studied English literature at the University of Cambridge. He publishes regularly in The Guardian and The Financial Times. He worked in literature and visual arts. He was Secretary-General of the Arts Council of Great Britain. He is a visiting professor in the performing and visual arts at Nottingham Trent University. Everitt is a companion of the Liverpoo ...more
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