Hadrian was an accomplished military ruler, but owes his fame more to his success as a wise and civilized leader and administrator, who helped to stabilize the Roman Empire - and for his renowned devotion to his lover, Antinous. After his young lover drowned in the Nile in 130, the Emperor was publicly overcome with grief, and declared the young man to be a god, and founded an Egytpian city, Antinoopolis, in his honour. The new cult was happily taken up bright across the empire, with and at least 2000 bronze and marble busts and statues made to honour him. In Greece at alone, thirty one cities minted coins with his portrait.
Bust of Hadrian’s beloved, Antinous
In total contradiction to some modern stereotypes, there is no sense in which Hadrian could be considered in any way wimpish or effeminate:
Hadrian was a brave, resourceful soldier and an intrepid hunter of bears, boars, and lions. He bore cold and bad weather with stolid endurance. He was bearded and dressed simply. He allowed no ornaments on his sword belt or jewels on the clasp.
His sexual taste, like that of Trajan, a cousin of his father and his predecessor as emperor, was predominantly for teenage boys, though ill-wishers accused him also of affairs with grown men (adultorum amor) and of adulteries with married women. He had no children. He often said that had he been a private citizen he would have sent away his ill-tempered wife Sabina.