Ryan Holiday's Reviews > Memoirs of Hadrian

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
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's review
Jul 05, 2012

really liked it

This is fiction, very good fiction written from the perspective of Hadrian in the form of a long letter to Marcus Aurelius, who would eventually succeed him as emperor. Hadrian is near death and Marcus is too young to take the throne (so his father Antonius would rule in transition) and the book is a reflection on the life and responsibilities of a powerful man. If you read the Everett book first, you'll be able to see how historically accurate this book is, but even if it wasn't it would still be profoundly moving and worth having. In fact, I almost wish it was more firmly in one camp or the other, as I found so many passages I'd like to use for things but am not quite sure how to categorize them. Of course, if you like this book or this style, it does have a more scholarly sibling. The Letters of Marcus Aurelius and his mentor and rhetoric teacher Marcus Cornelius Fronto survived and are interesting to flip through.

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