Rome, SPQR

Happy birthday, Roma!

Today (April 21) is the traditional date given for the founding of Rome. According to Roman mythology, the founders were Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and sons of the god Mars and Rhea Silvia. The twins were then abandoned by their parents as babies (because of a prophecy that they would overthrow their great-uncle Amulius)… Continue reading Happy birthday, Roma!

Gladiator, Hadrian1900, Rome, SPQR

24 January AD 119 – Hadrian celebrates his 43rd birthday in Rome with gladiatorial games (#Hadrian1900)

One thousand nine hundred years ago, Hadrian celebrated his 43rd birthday in Rome, the first he spent in the capital as emperor. To mark the occasion, the emperor put on a gladiatorial show which lasted for six successive days. As reported by Dio Cassius and the Historia Augusta, many wild animals were slaughtered, including one… Continue reading 24 January AD 119 – Hadrian celebrates his 43rd birthday in Rome with gladiatorial games (#Hadrian1900)

Epigraphy, Hadrian1900, Rome, SPQR

January AD 119 – Hadrian inaugurates the new year in Rome (#Hadrian1900)

One thousand nine hundred years ago, Hadrian celebrated the new year (year 872 Ab urbe condita) in Rome as consul for the third time (COS III) and appointed Publius Dasumius Rusticus as ordinary consul. Rusticus is known only from his consulship and the reason why he received this prestigious honour is not known. It may… Continue reading January AD 119 – Hadrian inaugurates the new year in Rome (#Hadrian1900)

Hadrian1900, Rome, SPQR

The early reforms and economic policies of Hadrian (#Hadrian1900)

Upon his return to Rome (see previous post here), Hadrian’s first task was to regain the people’s favours after the killing of four ex-consuls who were accused of plotting against him. To boost his popularity and win over public opinion in Rome, the new princeps introduced a number of important financial reforms such as distributing largesses and remitting… Continue reading The early reforms and economic policies of Hadrian (#Hadrian1900)

Hadrian, Rome, SPQR

Felix dies natalis, Roma!

Today (21 April) is the traditional date given for the founding of Rome. According to Roman mythology, the founders were Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and supposed sons of the god Mars and the priestess Rhea Silvia. The twins were then abandoned by their parents as babies (because of a prophecy that they would overthrow… Continue reading Felix dies natalis, Roma!

Archaeology Travel, Epigraphy, Hadrian, Israel, Judaea, Photography, Roman Army, SPQR

Exploring Aelia Capitolina, Hadrian’s Jerusalem

With thousands of archaeological sites, Jerusalem is one of the most excavated cities on the planet and to walk its streets is to walk through a thousand years of history. This ancient city has been fought over more than any other place. It has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt many times and Hadrian played a… Continue reading Exploring Aelia Capitolina, Hadrian’s Jerusalem

Epigraphy, Hadrian, Israel, Judaea, Museum, SPQR

The inscription dedicated to Hadrian from the Tel Shalem arch

About a year and a half after the discovery of the bronze statue of Hadrian (see previous post here) in 1977, six fragments of a monumental Latin inscription – the largest ever found in Israel – were discovered near the camp of the Sixth Legion in Tel Shalem. The inscription, inscribed in three lines, had belonged… Continue reading The inscription dedicated to Hadrian from the Tel Shalem arch

Augustus, Museum, Photography, Roman Portraiture, SPQR

A tribute to Augustus

This week marks the bimillennial anniversary of the death of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. He died on 19th August AD 14 at the age of 75 after a 41-year reign, the longest in Roman history. Augustus left his mark on Rome and western civilisation like few others. He vastly expanded the Roman Empire, established… Continue reading A tribute to Augustus

Marcus Aurelius, SPQR

Felix dies natalis, Marce Aureli!

 

Marcus Aurelius was born Marcus Annius Verus on 26 April AD 121 of an aristocratic family of Spanish origin (from Ucubi, a small town southeast of Cordoba in Baetica). He was the last of the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome and a major Stoic philosopher.

Portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius as a boy. Musei Capitolini, Rome.

When Marcus Aurelius was a young child, he gained the attention and favour of Hadrian by the frankness of his character. Hadrian nicknamed him Verissimus, meaning most truthful or sincere.

In AD 127, at the age of six, Hadrian gave him equestrian honours and made him a priest of the Salii at the age of eight. In February of AD 138, Hadrian adopted as his heir Antoninus Pius, the uncle of Marcus. In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus that same year. Marcus Annius Verus then took the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. This succession of adoptions became known as the Antonine Dynasty. This era of more than 80 years was described by the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon as the height of Roman power and glory, and ‘the happiest times of humanity’.

Portrait of Marcus Aurelius as a young man, from the Area of San Teodoro on the Palatine. Palatine Museum, Rome.

On the death of Antoninus Pius in 161, Marcus Aurelius made Lucius Verus, another adopter son of his uncle, his colleague in government. They ruled jointly until Lucius’ death in January 169. During their reign, the Empire entered a period troubled by natural disasters, plague and floods, and by invasions of barbarians. To console himself, Marcus Aurelius recorded his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. These are now known as his Meditations, and they reveal a mind of great humanity and natural humility.

Marble bust of Marcus Aurelius in a fringed cloak, circa 160-170, found in the House of Jason Magnus in Cyrene (Libya). British Museum, London.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Cuirassed statue of Marcus Aurelius. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

“All is ephemeral — fame and the famous as well.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Cuirassed statue of Marcus Aurelius. Capitoline Museums, Rome.

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Marcus Aurelius, from the Mausoleum of Hadrian, Rome, AD 170-180. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you foresee the future too.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius. Musei Capitolini, Rome.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Portrait of emperor Marcus Aurelius, from Rome, after AD 169. Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main.

“Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Young Marcus Aurelius. Venice Museo Archeologico, Italy.

“Often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Marcus Aurelius, between AD 180 and 183, from the villa of Marcus Aurelius daughter Lucilla at Acqua Traversa, near Rome. Louvre Museum, Paris.

Further portraits of Marcus Aurelius can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Links and further reading:

FOLLOWING HADRIAN

Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was born Marcus Annius Verus on April 26, 121 A.D. of a distinguished family of Spanish origin. He was the last of the five “good” emperors of Rome and a major Stoic philosopher. When Marcus Aurelius was a young child he gained the attention and favor of Hadrian by the frankness of his character. Hadrian nicknamed him Verissimus, meaning most truthful or sincere.  In 127, at the age of six, Hadrian gave him equestrian honors, and made him a priest of the Salii at the age of eight.  After the death of Aelius Caesar (the adopted son and intended successor of Hadrian), Hadrian adopted as his heir Antoninus Pius, Marcus’ uncle, on condition that he in turn adopt Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Ceionius Commodus (Lucius Verus), son of Aelius Caesar. This became know as the Antonine Dynasty. Their reigns were considered as the height of Roman…

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Archaeology Travel, Britannia, Frontiers of the Roman Empire, Hadrian, Hadrian's Wall, Photography, Roman Army, SPQR

Walking Hadrian’s Wall – images from milecastle 42 to milecastle 37

Hadrian's Wall has long attracted hikers and history fans and is now the heart of an 84-mile-long (135 km) National Trail through some of Britain's most beautiful countryside. Hadrian's Wall stretches coast to coast across northern England, from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast. Three years ago, I set out to explore… Continue reading Walking Hadrian’s Wall – images from milecastle 42 to milecastle 37