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Ancient Rome
Hadrian



Hadrian
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.27

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    co-rulers, frontlines, grandniece, irrelevant, milecastle, non-Italian, rotunda, wedlock, well-connected, succession, unsolved, latter, forged, successor, portico, apex
     content words:    Roman Empire, Acilius Attianus, Emperor Nerva, Good Emperors, As Trajan, Vibia Sabina, Matidia Augusta, Pompeia Plotina, Great Eye, Emperors Nerva


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Hadrian
By Vickie Chao
  

1     The Roman Empire had its fair share of bad emperors, but it also had several good ones. From 96 A.D. to 180 A.D., for example, there were five good emperors in a row who reigned over the vast kingdom. Hadrian was one of them.
 
2     Hadrian was born to a rich and well-connected family on January 24, 76 A.D. When he was about ten years old, his father suddenly fell ill and passed away. After that Hadrian became the ward of Acilius Attianus and Trajan. The former was his father's friend. The latter was his father's cousin.
 
3     Growing up, Hadrian never did anything notable. Like most ambitious men of his time, he joined the military. He fought at the frontlines. He ran for public office. And he held several government posts. Throughout them all, his performance was fair. But it was not remarkable. Then, a big break came in 97 A.D. During the fall of that year, Emperor Nerva (the first of the so-called "Five Good Emperors") adopted Trajan as his son. He also made the young man his successor. As Trajan was away from Rome then, Hadrian was sent to deliver the message. Merely a few months later, Hadrian would repeat the same journey again. This time, he acted on his own will. He wanted to be the first person to tell Trajan about Emperor Nerva's death. He wanted to be the first person to congratulate Trajan on being the next emperor. Riding tirelessly for days and even walking the last few miles, Hadrian did beat out the competition. He reached Trajan before anyone else and relayed the news. In the early months of 98 A.D., Trajan ascended the throne. He became the first non-Italian ruler of the Roman Empire. He was also the second of the "Five Good Emperors."
 
4     Trajan was obviously impressed by Hadrian's devotion. So he did everything he could to advance his ward's career. He even let Hadrian marry his grandniece, Vibia Sabina. While the marriage was not a happy one, Hadrian was on very good terms with his mother-in-law, Matidia Augusta. He was on even better terms with the empress, Pompeia Plotina. Years later, his close ties with Trajan's wife would come to help him a great deal.
 
5     In early August of 117 A.D., Trajan was sick. As he lay dying, he adopted Hadrian as his son. Shortly after that, he died, and the empress broke the news about the adoption. Because everything took place so fast and so suddenly, many people had doubts. They wondered if Trajan really adopted Hadrian or if Plotina simply forged the will. The answer to that question would forever remain unsolved.

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