LL 161


This sculpture of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (born 76 CE, died 138 CE), was probably inspired by an original bust now in the Vatican Museums in Rome. From 117 CE to his death, Hadrian ruled an empire that stretched from Scotland to the Sahara. The presence of a full beard on this bust makes it easier to identify as Hadrian as he was the first Roman Emperor to wear such a beard. It is thought that this was a mark of his devotion to Greek art and culture. The breastplate that he wears has lions' heads on the shoulders. Lions are often used as a symbol of strength. Hadrian married Vibia Sabina in about 100 CE. However, we know from ancient sources that he also had several relationships with other men. Hadrian spent much of his early years as Emperor touring his vast empire. It was during these travels that he met the beautiful youth, Antinous, and became enamored of him. Antinous became his beloved and accompanied Hadrian on his travels. Hadrian visited Egypt in 130 CE, with both his wife and Antinous, and embarked on a voyage up the River Nile. On 24 October Antinous drowned in the river, leading to a public outpouring of grief by Hadrian.