Hadrian (Latin: Miximus Cementus "Beardie" Hadrianus; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138), commonly known as Hadrian and after his apotheosis Divus Hadrianus, was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best-known for his addiction to building bathroom extensions in Ancient Rome and was one of the first in a long line of the 'fungus featured' imperial rulers.
I Can Do it for 3000 Denarii
Hadrian claimed he was a distant cousin of Trajan and been working on installing a Imperial sized shower unit when the old Emperor suddenly died. Hadrian then produced an unpaid bill and said that if the Roman Senate didn't immediately agree he should be the next emperor, he would charge the Roman Empire millions of denarii and was willing to bankrupt everyone. He alo threatened to get all the plumbers and builders in Rome out on strike but industrial action was averted when the senate agreed Hadrian seemed to be the best 'brickie' to be the next emperor. The next day , Hadrian was proclaimed emperor.
Bricks, Beards and Boy Scouts
Though he looked like a typical ancient world builder - Hadrian also had 'haspirations' to be an builder with brains as well. So he quickly grew a beard, learned Greek and read a lot of dull Greek philosophical books so he can discuss the nature of life for hours on end. Also, as a philosophical emperor, Hadrian was told he needed a boy to moon about; so Hadrian chose Antinous Antondekus, a well known Greek speaker from Geordia (a Roman province in Britannia) and Colosseum TV reality reporter who was a regular catwalk attraction for the fashion label Versacius. Everyone adored 'Tony Pecs' (as he was also called) but as Hadrian was emperor, he had first dibs on the youth.
I am On My Travels
Hadrian decided that as Emperor, he could do what he liked. So he decided to leave Rome and go on a 'Round the Ancient World Tour' with 'Tony'. He also thought that some of the Roman frontiers needed a bit of fixing as well - especially the border with the Caledonians in Britannia where there had been reports that they were causing trouble and had weapons made out of strange food that was making everyone up there very ill. So the emperor authorised the building of Hadrian's Wall in Britannia, Hadrian's Garden Shed in Gaul and Hadrian's Barbecue Patio in Egypt amongst completed projects. In fact Hadrian was just one of the annoying people who would come round to your house and start knocking down walls and installing new heating systems before you could prophetically say Constantinople.
Just Mad About the Boy
Hadrian and Antinous had meanwhile had become lovers - though Hadrian brought along his wife Stoica for 'imperial propaganda' purposes. Everywhere in the Roman Empire Hadrian with his wife and male lover were given the usual honours: bloody games of combat, extreme execution entertainment, banquets and the unveiling of statues showing lots of intimate male bonding. However in Jerusalem the Jews said this was all an abomination and decided to have another rebellion (the sequel is known as 'Jewish Revolt 2') . It was a critical and commercial failure but has achieved a modest cult following. The rebels were crushed with Jerusalem levelled and renamed 'Ade-Tony Town'. This move also upset the Christians as Hadrian decided to have the 'Venus Pole Dancing Club' built on the site where Jesus had been hung out to die by the Roman authorities.
So perhaps it wasn't surprising that God decided to punish Hadrian and had his 'Tony' divinely drowned in the Nile . Hadrian was very upset and even stopped his hobby of building to mourn his lost lover. Eventually Hadrian recovered his wits and turned his attention to building a huge pleasure garden outside Rome. Called originally 'Hadrianland' - it is now known as the Ravioli Gardens.
The Christians could hardly approve of either Hadrian's sexual preferences or him building a sleazy sex club on their most sacred place but they were surprisingly restrained. No doubt some of the Christians were happy to see Jerusalem get a drastic makeover as it would fulfill their prophesies.
Let's Go Big! Big !! Big !!!
Hadrian was happiest mixing cement and showing off his 'builder's cleavage' to passing Roman senators. When they objected - he had a few killed to discourage discontent. His wife Stoica had given up on Hadrian as he never seemed to finish her bathroom tiling so she died as a protest.
By now Hadrian had decided to build a tomb that would feature all the best 2nd Century Roman Design could offer. When it was finished - it was one of the wonders of Rome and bathroom design. Alas in the dirtier Middle Ages it was taken over the Church who decided it was too clean and reinstalled cesspits to give it the right whiff of decrepitude.
But that was for the future. The great Emperor-Builder died before he could see his new edifice. Hadrian died when he fell off a wall whilst moving the funeral urn of his late wife Stoica out of the bedroom and into the garden. However the writer Juvenile says Hadrian died at the hands of a deranged barber called 'Bythinian Bic'.
Hadrian's Wall is still standing if you want to see it though these days it wouldn't keep out a hurdling band of killer sheep. The English and Scots took most of it away to rebuild their driveways and build house extensions.
Other buildings started by Hadrian but still unfinished:-
- Hadrian's Villa near Rome
- Hadrian's loft extension in Cologne.
- Hadrian's Jacuzzi.
- According to the historian Porkus Pious, Hadrian was also working on the first ever water jet bath to be powered by the bowel exhalations of slaves fed on beans.
- Juvenile. (Collected Junk . Volume 4 - just after a poem about oysters.)
- Hadrian's love for Antinous was to be the subject of a very witty play by Oscar Wilde. However he did wonder how a pretty boy like Antinous could fall for a bearded builder. He put it down to the attraction of 'Imperial Rough Trade'.
- When the Romans left Britannia in the 5th century, the British still hadn't finished building the wall. This was put down to excessively long tea breaks enjoyed by the local workforce
- Roman plumbing owes a lot to Hadrian.
- If this was how Hadrian died according to Juvenile, then it explains the sudden execution of Bic by his arch rival Gilettus.