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Hadrian: Empire and Conflict

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

A SPECIAL exhibition exploring the life, love and legacy of Rome’s most enigmatic emperor, Hadrian: Empire and Conflict, is on display at the British Museum until October 26, 2008.

Ruling an empire (from AD 117–138) that comprised much of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East, Hadrian was a capable and, at times, ruthless military leader. He realigned borders and quashed revolt, stabilising a territory critically overstretched by his predecessor, Trajan.

Hadrian had a great passion for architecture and Greek culture. His extensive building programme included the Pantheon in Rome, his villa in Tivoli and the city of Antinoopolis, which he founded and named after his male lover Antinous.

This unprecedented exhibition provides a fresh insight into the sharp contradictions of Hadrian’s character and the challenges faced during his reign.

Objects from 28 museums worldwide and finds from recent excavations will be shown together for the first time to reassess his legacy, which remains strikingly relevant today.

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