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Roman Art Under The Empor Publius Aelius

Hadrian Essay, Research Paper Throughout the history of the Roman Empire there have been countless buildings and monuments erected. Each emperor had their own structures built for a variety of reasons. The Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrian was no different, during his reign he commissioned the building of such structures as Hadrian’s wall, his magnificent villa, the famous Hadrian’s arch as well as many portraits and coins that have with stood the test of time.

Hadrian Essay, Research Paper

Throughout the history of the Roman Empire there have been countless buildings and monuments erected. Each emperor had their own structures built for a variety of reasons. The Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrian was no different, during his reign he commissioned the building of such structures as Hadrian’s wall, his magnificent villa, the famous Hadrian’s arch as well as many portraits and coins that have with stood the test of time. Hadrian’s villa was constructed on a site twice the size of Pompeii, near Tivoil, between 118 AD and the 130’s. It was considered a major achievement in Western art because of its novel forms and planning and brilliant visual and allusive invention . The construction of the great villa started in 118 A.D. and stopped in the mid 130s, just prior to Hadrian’s death. The villa was never fully completed, which is one reason that it appears disorderly with building randomly placed about. The villa was modeled after many of the luxurious villas in Pompeii, but most experts agree that Hadrian’s villa is far superior to any of it’s Pompeii counterparts. During Hadrian’s day the Greek influence gained its lost momentum and was again in Roman frame. This revival is evident in the many Doric monuments and temples dictated to Greek gods. Many of the building are thought to be duplications of ones that Hadrian saw in his extensive travels, but this has never been proven . Some of the structures included are a library, a theater, 2 different baths, numerous galleries ,including a subterranean one, countless residential buildings, a wall enclosing the entire villa and over 100 different water associated structures (pools, fountains, aqueducts, etc.). Hadrian’s villa has been as inspiration for many architects, artists, writers, and poets, since its construction and continues to be even after almost 19 centuries. Hadrian’s Arch was built in 131 A.D. by Athenians to honor their benefactor emperor (fig.1). It lies on an ancient street that led from the old city of Athens to the new, Roman section, built by Hadrian. There were two inscriptions on it, one on each side, that read: “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus”, and, “This is the city of Hadrian and not to Theseus.” The whole monument is made of Pentelic Marble. The arch opening is supported with Corinthian capitals. The arch is crowned by a series of Corinthian columns and pilasters. Most of the circular tablets that were once a part of this arch can now be seen on the arch of Constantine. The arch, as a result of standing for so many years is in bad repair. Recently it was under reconstruction (fig. 2).

Hadrian had a variety of coins made, some have survived many have not. Some of the coins bear the likeness of Pompeia Plotina (fig. 3) who was responsible for the adoption of Hadrian as a heir to her late Husband, Trajan. There are roughly about 150 sculptures of Hadrian left. His facial features are very distinct (fig. 4-5) he had a long slender nose, close set eyes and was the first emperor to wear a full beard. His beard is thought to represent his close association with the Greece, especially Greek intellectuals, or maybe cover up natural blemishes or show he is in mourning, perhaps for his adoptive father, Trajan. Regardless of the reason for the beard, it became the fashion for emperors as well as ordinary men for years to come. One of the most outstanding structures built during Hadrian’s reign was, Hadrian’s wall (fig 6-7). The wall represented the northern most boundary of the Roman Empire, it was built in attempt to keep the unconquered barbarians out of Britain. Hadrian commissioned its building in 122 A.D., it was rebuilt several times throughout the 200s and 300s and used as a fortification until 400. The wall was 122 km long stretching from Solway Firth in the west to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the east. The wall was roughly 20 feet high and 8 feet wide, with a military road on the south side and a defensive ditch on the north side(fig. 8). There was a fort placed every 1.6 km (fig.9) and a watch tower every .5 km. Not much of the wall is left today, but many of the surrounding houses and churches contain stones originally from the wall. Hadrian only ruled for about 22 years but he succeeded in building countless monuments and structures. Works from Hadrian’s reign as well as Hadrian him self influenced a lot of what we classify as Greco-Roman architecture. The Legacy of Hadrian has with stood the test of time and will continue to do so for generations to come. Bibliography Grafton, Anthony. Rome Reborn. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. Kubach, Hans E. Romanesque Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1975. Macdonald, William L. Hadrian’s Villa and its Legacy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995. Perowne, Steward. Caesars and Saints. New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1962. Toynbee, J.M.C. Art in Roman Britain. Great Britain: Phaidon, 1962. Woolfitt, Adam. “Hadrian’s Wall.” Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. 1997 ed. Adam Lukens A.P. Art HistoryOctober 18, 1998 Roman Art Under the Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrian

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