7.25.2008

Hadrian and Holocaust

I love Hadrian's Philhellenism and the great things he did in terms of art and architecture. I like that he was sensible enough to pull out of Iraq as soon as he became emperor. I'm less keen on the ... well the bloodbaths, for example in Jerusalem. Many were crucified as a result of the Second Jewish Revolt. Cassius Dio described the events in Israel [69.13-4]:
... he was able, rather slowly, to be sure, but with comparatively little danger, to crush, exhaust and exterminate them. Very few of them in fact survived. Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, "If you and our children are in health, it is well; I and the legions are in health."
Hadrian must have an amazing PR given the recent press coverage of an exhibition on him at the British Museum - I have not seen the show yet, as the invitation they extended to me seems to have gotten lost in the post ... but I will soon.

The only negative press coverage has been one letter to The Times - Hadrian was worse than Hitler

This article by William Napier -
Emperor of the first holocaust: How the death of his male lover left Hadrian a tyrant - Daily Mail:
The elderly, distinguished-looking Israelite is thrown to the ground by a group of hard-faced soldiers who spit on him, kick him and call him a filthy old Jew.
His name is Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph, one of the greatest scholars of his day. But that means nothing to these ruthless military men who continue to beat and insult him as their senior officer looks on approvingly.
An appalling scene from Nazi Germany, perhaps?
No. The scene took place in the Roman Province of Judea, in AD135. And the senior officer is none other than the Emperor Hadrian himself, witnessing the torture and death of the rabbi with grim satisfaction. [continue reading]

And of course Mary Beard's post Hadrian -- some myths busted
from A Don's Life - Times Online - WBLG, as well as her article:
A very modern emperor - Guardian:
He pulled his troops out of Iraq, was an avid art collector and had an intriguing, and tragic, sex life - of all the Roman emperors, Hadrian seems the most recognisable. But, as the British Museum explores his legacy in a new exhibition, Mary Beard asks to what extent he is our own creation
Within hours of taking the throne, in August AD117, the emperor Hadrian made one major strategic decision. He issued the order to withdraw the Roman troops from Iraq (or Mesopotamia, as he would have called it). His succession had been a messy one, in the usual Roman way. Despite a well-earned reputation for effective administration in most areas, the Romans never really sorted out the transfer of imperial power. Hadrian's leadership bid was more reminiscent of what goes on in the Labour party than in the House of Windsor. It involved a good deal of manipulation, double-dealing, back-stabbing (in Rome this was real, not metaphorical) and perfect timing. A couple of rivals had made their bid too soon, leaving Hadrian as the only plausible candidate to be adopted by his elderly predecessor Trajan, just a few days before he died. [continue reading]

No comments:

Post a Comment

I do not moderate comments, but I remove spam, overt self-promotion ("read [link] my much better post on this") and what I consider hate speech (racism, homophobia etc).

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.