Nerva–Antonine dynasty

Felix Dies Natalis, Luci Aeli!

On this day (13th January) in AD 101, Lucius Aelius, Hadrian’s first intended successor, was born. Aelius, born with the name Lucius Ceionius Commodus, was the son of a powerful senatorial family. He served as consul in AD 136 and was officially adopted by Hadrian as his heir in AD 137. However Aelius never attained the throne. He died of tuberculosis a few months before Hadrian on January 1st 138. Hadrian was therefore forced to choose a new heir; Antoninus Pius.

 Lucius Aelius Caesar, intended successor of Hadrian who died prematurely, 2nd century AD, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Lucius Aelius Caesar, intended successor of Hadrian who died prematurely, 2nd century AD, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

“He was a man of joyous life and well versed in letters, and he was endeared to Hadrian, as the malicious say, rather by his beauty than by his character.” Historia Augusta

Heroic statue of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Louvre
Heroic statue of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Louvre

“He was considerate of his family, well-dressed, elegant in appearance, a man of regal beauty, with a countenance that commanded respect, a speaker of unusual eloquence, deft at writing verse, and, moreover, not altogether a failure in public life.” Historia Augusta

Heroic statue of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Louvre
Heroic statue of Lucius Aelius Caesar, Louvre

If you want to learn more about Lucius Aelius, I highly recommend you to read Gareth Harney’s excellent article Aelius – Forgotten Prince.

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