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Everitt finishes his trilogy/triptych on the Roman Empire with this biography of Hadrian. His biography on Cicero describes the end of the Roman Republic, his biography of Augustus centers on the consolidation and expansion of Roman empirial power. The biography of Hadrian shows the peak, maturity of Roman emperial expansion.
Historically, Hadrian has always been an under-appreciated emperor, so I was glad to see his biography tackled by Everitt. It also makes sense to try and bookend Everitt's trilogy with Hadrian. However, whether it is due to the lack of abundant historical information on Hadrian (as Everitt notes himself) or due to Everitt trying too hard to make Hadrian's reign fit into his neat (1.2.3.) pattern, this biography just sags and disappoints given Everitt's claim that Hadrian "has a good claim to have been the most successful of Rome's leaders."
In the end, it feels like Everitt was trying to do too much (Bio of Hadrian, triptych of the Roman Empire, etc) with too little. It reminded me of the architect Apollodorus' critique of Hadrian's own temple of Venus and Rome, the book was simply "too tall for the height of the cella."
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
If you like Roman history, this book is another great slice of the big picture. Hadrian himself is not the most interesting emperor; certainly a great one for his peaceful, learned, and benevolent nature. But the book also paints a vivid picture of the time and place - when Rome was at its greatest height. Everitt's book "Augustus" is another winner.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful