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Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome [Anglais] [Broché]

Anthony Everitt

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Description de l'ouvrage

14 septembre 2010
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 how a monarchy can be compatible with good governance.

What distinguished Hadrian’s rule, according to Everitt, were two insights that inevitably ensured the empire’s long and prosperous future: He ended Rome’s territorial expansion, which had become strategically and economically untenable, by fortifying her boundaries (the many famed Walls of Hadrian), and he effectively “Hellenized” Rome by anointing Athens the empire’s cultural center, thereby making Greek learning and art vastly more prominent in Roman life.

By making splendid use of recently discovered archaeological materials and his own exhaustive research, Everitt sheds new light on one of the most important figures of the ancient world.

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Extrait

Chapter One


Invaders from the West

. . .

This is a tale of two families and an orphaned boy.

The Aelii and the Ulpii had the usual share of irritations and friendships, marriages and estrangements, and their influence on the child lasted for his entire life. He was called Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer, and he was born on the ninth day before the Kalends of February in the year when the consuls were the emperor Vespasian and his son Titus—that is to say, January 24, a.d. 76. Hadrian (for this is the English version of his name) first saw the light of day in Rome, but his hometown was far away, on the extreme edge of the Roman empire.

Andalusia, in southern Spain, is well sited, for it is the bridge between Europe and Africa and its coastline joins the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. For many centuries it has been among the poorest regions of Europe. Farm laborers there are still among the worst paid in the Continent.

Barren lands and snowcapped mountains alternate with fertile fields watered by the Guadalquivir River, which rolls down the wide valley it wore away from rock through prehistoric millennia and pours itself into the main. A few miles upstream of the fine city of Seville is the undistinguished little settlement of Santiponce. Here, way below tarmac, apartment buildings, and roadside cafes, below the feet of its more than seven thousand inhabitants, lie hidden from view the unexcavated remains of Roman Italica. The population then was about the same as that of today, and the Aelii were among the leading families of this provincial backwater. This was little Hadrian’s patria, his place of origin.

On an eminence overlooking Santiponce, the splendid ruins of New Italica, added on to the original town by the adult Hadrian much later in his life, bake in the sun. Wide avenues, lined with the footings of vanished shady colonnades, crisscross a vast scrubby field, once an opulent and busy urban center but now populated only by a few dusty, undecided butterflies. Along a main street are the foundations of a public baths complex and the mosaic floor, displaying the signs of the zodiac, of a rich man’s villa. Through tall trees, the visitor glimpses one of the empire’s largest amphitheaters, all of it still in place except for some fallen upper arches.

Today’s Andalusia is beginning to recover its long-vanished prosperity, thanks to a revived democracy and membership in the European Union. From a viewing platform over which a nude statue of the emperor Trajan presides, new, snaking motorways look as if they are tying a knot around the ancient monuments; and nearby yet another Italica, this time “Nueva,” is rising from the ground. Blinding white high-rises and empty streets await their first occupants.

Two thousand years ago the region was among the wealthiest of the Roman empire. The Latin name for the Guadalquivir was the Baetis, and the province was called Baetica after it. The great geographer Strabo, writing in the first quarter of the first century a.d., had little time for most of Spain, which he found rugged, inhospitable, and an “exceedingly miserable place to live.” But Baetica was a different story.

Turdetania [another name for Baetica, after its aboriginal inhabitants] is marvelously blessed by nature; and while it produces all things, and in large quantities, these blessings are doubled by the facilities for exporting goods, [including] large quantities of grain and wine, and also olive oil, not only in large quantities, but also of the best quality.

Olive oil sold exceptionally well. A staple of the ancient world, it was part of everyone’s diet as well as being used for indoor lighting, cosmetics, soap equivalents, and medicine. Demand from a large city such as Rome was huge (perhaps as many as 5 million gallons a year were consumed), and Baetican landowners sold as much as they could produce.

Evidence for this is provided by the largest rubbish dump of the classical world, Monte Testaccio in Rome—an artificial hill 165 feet high and 1,100 yards wide composed entirely of broken-up amphorae, or earthenware storage jars, perhaps 45 million in all. They were often stamped with their contents and exporters’ names; most of those from Baetica contained oil, and it has been estimated that 130,000 of them, having contained not less than 2 million gallons, were deposited on the hill every year. Among the largest oil producers of southern Spain were the Aelii.

An Aelius first came to Italica when it was founded during Rome’s second long war with the merchant city-state of Carthage; strategically located on the coast of what is now Tunisia, in northern Africa, Carthage had dominated trade in the western Mediterranean for centuries.

For a long time the struggle went very badly. Hannibal, the Carthaginian general and one of history’s great commanders, spent more than ten years marching up and down Italy, winning battle after battle. At the time southern Spain was a Carthaginian colony, and the twenty-four-year-old Publius Cornelius Scipio led an expeditionary force there. After a masterly campaign, the young commander provoked a battle a few miles from Italica. Despite being outnumbered, he won a complete victory, interrupted only by a downpour. The battered and drenched Carthaginians tried to escape, but Scipio followed after and butchered them. Only six thousand men survived from a force of more than fifty thousand.

Scipio went on to invade Carthage itself, where he routed Hannibal on his home ground. The war was over, and the triumphant general was honored with a title to add to his ordinary names—Africanus.

A large number of sick and wounded legionaries were left behind in Spain and were settled in the new town of Italica, named after Italy. This was not, or not just, a case of convenient abandonment of veterans who had become a liability; once recovered, they would make themselves useful by keeping an eye on the locals, introducing them to the Roman way of life, and, in case of unrest, using military force.

Our Aelius, whose hometown was Hadria, about ten miles from the sea on Italy’s eastern coast, was among the human detritus of the war. How happy he was to be deposited permanently in a foreign land far from home cannot be determined. However, his children and his children’s children settled into the agreeable task of making money and rising in the world.

For about 150 years we have no news of the Aelii. Baetica prospered and, attracted by economic opportunity, immigrants from Italy poured in. Then in 49 b.c. civil war broke out in Rome. This was a struggle to the death between a charming, unscrupulous, and farsighted politician and general, Gaius Julius Caesar, and the aristocratic establishment that ran the Roman Republic. Most of the leading personalities in Italica had the ill judgment or the ill luck to choose the losing side. More than ten thousand men with an Italian background joined up to serve in the Republican army. Roman legions twice fought each other on Spanish soil and twice Caesar won; the second of these campaigns won him the war, too.

At about this time Hadrian’s great-great-great-grandfather, a certain Aelius Marullinus, was the first member of the family to become a senator. He was more astute than his compatriots, for the promotion can only have been at the victorious Caesar’s behest, a reward for loyalty.

Hadrian’s father—like him, named Publius Aelius Hadrianus Afer—was born a century later and married a woman from Gades, Domitia Paulina. Gades had been founded and colonized by Phoenicians from Tyre and Sidon on the Palestinian coast, just as Carthage had been. Some passing member of the great Roman clan of the Domitii must have conferred Roman citizenship on an ancestor, but Paulina’s origins were most likely to have been Punic (a Roman term for Carthaginian). The couple had two children, Hadrian and an elder daughter.

Aelius Hadrianus was among the growing number of wealthy Baeticans who decided to pursue political ambitions in Rome. Little has come down to us about his career, but he was evidently intelligent and able. He served in the senior post of praetor, probably in the year of his son’s birth. The authorities must have thought well of him, for he was probably only about twenty-nine or thirty years old, the minimum qualifying age for the praetorship. As praetor he either acted as a judge in Rome or received a commission to command a legion. This may have been followed by a provincial governorship (possibly in Baetica itself).

The Aelii were friendly with the Ulpii, another of Italica’s leading clans. The historian Dio Cassius, writing in the third century a.d., claimed dismissively that the Ulpii were of Spanish origin; they did not even have Italian or Greek blood from southern Italy in their veins, let alone Roman. But they, too, were probably among the town’s first settlers and originated from Tuder (today’s Todi), a hill town in northern Umbria, in those days celebrated for its martial valor.

Hadrian’s paternal grandfather married an Ulpia. This was an excellent match, for her brother was Marcus Ulpius Traianus (the cognomen doubtless derived from a marriage with one of the Traii, a Baetican clan with an interest in the mass production of amphorae). Traianus had once been governor of Baetica, and at the time of Hadrian’s birth was serving as governor of Syria, one of Rome’s most senior provincial posts. He had with him on his staff his talented and affable son—in the Roman way, also Marcus Ulpius Traianus, whom we know as Trajan.

The Ulpii were rich and grand, and Traianus was not the first member of his family to enter the Senate, the necessary but not sufficient qualification for which was a fortune of at least 1 million sesterces. Access to the Senate lay in the emperor’s hands, and conferred membership of the senatorial class, ...

Revue de presse

 
“Excellent . . . highly recommended . . . a skillfully analyzed and well-researched narrative.”
Library Journal
 

“One gets a clear and compelling sense of Hadrian’s times.”
The New Yorker
 
“[A] skillful portrait . . . The author of biographies of Augustus and Cicero, British scholar Everitt now combines academic expertise with lively prose in a satisfying account of the emperor.”
Publishers Weekly

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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  44 commentaires
61 internautes sur 67 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Hadrian Finally Gets the Biography He's Been Sorely Lacking 20 septembre 2009
Par Arch Stanton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Hadrian is an emperor who seems to slip through the cracks. Most people remember him as 'that guy who built the wall.' There aren't many biographies on the man and none of the ones that I know of are very good at revealing his personality. His best representation comes through fiction with the popular book Memoirs of Hadrian, so it's nice to see someone finally try to capture the man. Everitt's previous books on the Romans (Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor and Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician) have been successful, and now he turns to the 2nd Century. A great deal of time is spent giving the background to Hadrian's rule. Hadrian doesn't even become emperor until 150 pages in. This wealth of background knowledge is something that I really appreciate in biographies. Too often they just become a dull chronicle of the facts. Everitt's stated goal is to 'make the unfamiliar familiar' and in that he succeeds. By the end you feel as if you understand Hadrian's distant world. If you liked Everitt's previous books then you'll probably like this one. If you haven't read them then I recommend you do. One point though; this book is not a scholarly biography. I don't believe that there are any major errors of fact, but the book is written with the intention of entertaining. If you want a book that only gives you the facts I'd recommend Hadrian: The Restless Emperor by Anthony Birley.
32 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An interesting history, but a mediocre biography 21 décembre 2009
Par Enjolras - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I loved Anthony' Everitt's Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician and Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor and hoped he would work the same magic with Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome. However, I came away from this book with mixed feelings. Like many of the other reviewers on Amazon.com, I thought Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome was an entertaining history of the historical era slightly before and during Hadrian's reign. Everitt gives fascinating accounts of Roman hunting parties, Hadrian's villa at Tibur, and features of daily Roman life (including a fascinating discussion of Roman attitudes toward homosexuality). He also describes some of Hadrian's most important political and cultural decisions, including the fateful decision to permanently halt the expansion of the empire and his promotion of Greek culture.

However, Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome doesn't quite work as a biography. Too many times, Everitt is forced to qualify his narrative with assumptions or suppositions, while Hadrian himself is far in the background. I appreciate that Everitt warns his readers when he ventures off what is definitely known about Hadrian's life, but it becomes a bit too much. For example, Everitt tries to relate the life of Hadrian's Bythinian lover, Antinous, but all we seem to know for certain is that the two hunted together once and Hadrian grieved over his death. In other parts of the book, pages are taken up describing towns Hadrian might have visited or schools he might have attended, but then again might have skipped entirely.

This lack of certainty isn't Everitt's fault - although he is one of the most important emperors, Hadrian left behind a fleetingly small paper trail for historians (his memoirs are unfortunately lost to history. Still, I wonder if Everitt picked the right subject for a biography. One of the highlights of his previous books was seeing Cicero and Augustus as men and politicians, not merely statues. Everitt's book is probably as good a biography as we'll get, but Hadrian still seems like a statue and not a man. Perhaps he should have reworked the book into double-biography of Trajan and Hadrian.

Overall, the middle-empire is still far more unfamiliar to the modern public than the later republic or early empire, the subjects of Everitt's other two biographies. Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome is a great introduction to this period of the Roman Empire's glory days. However, don't be disappointed if you feel like Hadrian himself remains a distant figure.
34 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Some Great Insights 13 septembre 2009
Par Patrick Sullivan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I rather enjoyed Everitt`s two other Roman books Cicero, and Augustus. So I was fairly quick to pick up a copy of Hadrain. Everitt starts off with an introduction into the Roman world of Emperor Domitiaon, and later Trajan. I thought this was the best part of the book. The reader gets a great feel for the politics and general lifestyle the Romans had at that time. Hadrian is growing up during this period. He is learning the lessons of roman life. The military, the arts, Greek culture, Roman history, Hadrain seems to take it all in.
This book also has some great insights into leadership. Hadrain is a great observer of both current events and historical events. His political hero was the great Augustus. He takes many of Augustus`s policies, and makes them his own. He uses the lessons of his two military heroes, to whip a peace time military into shape. He also identifies the evils of Domitian, and how Trajan does such a better job of managing the different parts of government. But he also realizes Trajan is making a mistake by over extending the Empire. Soon after taking over power, Hadrian reverses Trajan`s policy of never ending conquest. This was not a popular decision, but Hadrain has the fortitude to go through with the policy. Hadrain almost always attempts to reach a peaceful agreement on political matters. However, he would use over whelming force if need be, to crush a rebellion.
Many of Hadrain`s policies are still being felt in the modern world. The border of France and Germany, and turning Judea into Palestine, are just two examples.
There was one weak area of the book. When Hadrian comes into power, he begins to travel all over the Empire. Everitt lists all sorts of building details. Everywhere Hadrain goes, he seems to build large monuments. I was left wondering how the Senate back in Rome felt about this. Where did all the huge sums of money come from? The political backroom details seem to be left out, of this part of the book.
Over all, there were some good insights into the Roman world of management, and not the Roman world of conquest. The Empire is at its peak. You can`t help but compare things to the era of Eisenhower and Kennedy. Things just could not be any better, and the decay has not yet started.
14 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Decent on post-Julio-Claudian Emperors but very slim on Hadrian 15 septembre 2011
Par Juan-Pablo Caceres - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
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, the author tries to "guess" what was Hadrian doing. There are so many "we can only guess", "the most probable", "it's infuriating the lack of sources", etc, that one wonders why the author think he is focusing on Hadrian and not on the period itself. Granted, there's a (little) more detail on the life and government of Hadrian compared to the other emperors, but it doesn't justify a biography.

I picked the book to read about Hadrian and his time. Instead, I got a lot of "his time" but not so much on the man himself. Maybe that's why there aren't many biographies of Hadrian, the lack of sources makes it almost impossible, and Everitt's effort is not the exception.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A worthwhile read for the amateur historian interested in the life and times of Hadrian 4 décembre 2009
Par G. Zilly - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Having read and enjoyed Everitt's previous biography of Cicero I quickly picked up a copy of his latest biography of Hadrian. I am in agreement with the other reviewers that this is a "life and times" biography and covers alot more than just the life of Hadrian (and in many ways this is welcome). The book covers in varying amounts of detail the period from the end of the reign of Nero (68 AD) to just after Hadrian's death (138 AD) with an obvious emphasis on the life and reign of Hadrian.

As with all Roman figures, Everitt must rely almost entirely on the near contemporary secondary accounts of Roman historians. This means that many of the details are somewhat speculative and Everitt for the most part does a good job of navigating the reader through the available written accounts and relevant scholarly evidence. Everitt also weaves in a large amount of general political, cultural, and historical information regarding the Romans of the period and throws in enough interesting details to keep the reader already familiar with Roman history engaged.

All in all I think most readers with an interest in the subject and period of history will enjoy this book, although the more advanced reader may find it a bit lacking in in depth analysis. I personally did not enjoy this book as much as "Cicero" and Everitt is never fully successful at weaving biography and general history as he was previously. That said, "Hadrian" is still a solid effot and recommended to the casual reader of Roman history.
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