Page 0949

949

ROME-FROM NERVA TO ANTONINUS.

prudence, and devotion to the interests of the state. His liberality and

generous conduct well deserved the fame which was accorded to him by his

own and after times, and his title of the Best was a not undeserved

recognition of his great merits as a ruler.

The Empire passed peaceably to Publius Aelius Hadrianus, commonly called

Hadrian. He was a son of the late Emperor's cousin, and the favorite of the

Empress Plotina, through whose influence he was preferred as the heir and

successor of her husband. People and Senate readily accepted the choice,

though there had been much expectancy that the lot would fall on Lusius

Quietus, the ablest of Trajan's generals. In the mean time the body of the

dead Emperor was brought home from the East and deposited under the

beautiful column, bearing his name.

At the time of his election to the throne Hadrian was with the army in

Asia. Less ambitious and perhaps more wise than his predecessor, he

determined to withdraw his forces from the fields of recent conquest and

revive the policy of Augustus. For some time he was occupied in the

settlement of affairs according to his notions of what was demanded by the

interests of the state, and then in 117 repaired to Rome, where he was

received with great enthusiasm.

The beginning of the new reign was auspicious. The popularity of the

monarch was enhanced by a remission of tribute, and by the modesty of the

pretensions of the prince. He had on the whole greater abilities and

acquirements than any of his predecessors since Julius Caesar. His activity

was tireless and wisely directed. He traversed all parts of the Empire, and

left behind him the tokens of his good will in the shape of public

buildings and improvements. Meanwhile the conquests of the late Emperor

began to bear their legitimate fruits in the hostility of the barbarians.

On the frontiers of the Dacian province, so lately wrested from savagery,

the nomads of Sarmatia made daring incursions, which were stayed rather by

gifts and subsidies than by the terror of the Roman arms. In order to

repress these dangerous movements Hadrian began an expedition into the

disturbed region, but hardly had he left the capital when a conspiracy was

formed against him by some disaffected senators and he was obliged to

suppress the plot by force. The legions were soon afterwards recalled, and

the wave of barbarism rolled hitherward again to the banks of the Danube.

Even the bridge of Severin was broken down lest the hordes beyond should

precipitate themselves into the Empire.

As soon as tranquillity was restored at the capital the Emperor set out for

Britain. In the north of that island the Caledonians were making havoc

along the frontier established by Agricola. To plant a barrier against the

encroachments of this warlike people Hadrian built a wall across the

country from the Tyne to the Solway firth. The seat of government was

transferred to Eburacum, the modern York, and additional fortresses were

built for the protection of the border. Having accomplished these works in

Britain the Emperor next proceeded into Gaul and Spain. He then visited

Africa, and finally repaired to Asia. There he compelled Chosroes in a

personal interview to pledge himself that his acts of hostility and

intriguing schemes should end forever. Hadrian then returned to Athens,

which even yet was in some sense the mistress of the human mind. Afterwards

we find him at the capital, enjoying for a season the applause of the

Senate and people. Again he made a tour of the East, going by way of Athens

to Antioch and Alexandria, where he arrived in A. D. 131.

At this epoch a revolt of the Jews broke out with great violence. One might

well think