Emperor Hadrian: 3 Ways He Changed Roman Culture Forever

Born24th of January, 76 AD
Died10th of July, 138 AD
Famous Quote“You don’t win battles with hate.”
Known ForInvesting in fortification of the Roman Empire, responsible for a cultural explosion, traveled across the Roman Empire visiting provinces
Region of WorldRoman Empire, 1st-2nd century AD
Further ReadingThe 5 Elements Which Defined The Early Roman Empire

Towards the end of his life Trajan would look to adopt an heir to the Roman Empire. Instead of looking to his generals Trajan would instead adopt a close advisor known today as Hadrian. Over the course of Emperor Hadrian’s career he would radically change Roman culture forever in 3 distinct ways.

There are 3 ways that Emperor Hadrian changed Roman culture forever. First, Hadrian loved fusing Greek and Roman architecture and built many buildings around the empire. Second, Emperor Hadrian took up writing as a way to communicate his actions to the Romans. Third, Hadrian would successfully integrate ancient Greece into the Roman political state.

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Without further ado, here are the 3 ways Emperor Hadrian changed Roman culture forever.

Hadrian Combined Greek and Roman Architecture And Built Many Public Buildings

Emperor Hadrian loved architecture. When Hadrian became emperor he would begin a series of building projects around the empire.

These building projects were unique however. They were designed to fuse Roman and Greek culture in a way never before seen. The above image comes from Turkey. Here you can see a Roman gateway with vaulted ceilings. However, on the outside there are Greek pillars holding up the marble roof.

While Rome had been heavily inspired by Greek culture and religion for nearly 400 years before Hadrian there was always a clear distinction between Greek and Roman culture.

Hadrian is remembered today for fusing the two architecture styles of Rome and Greek into one style of architecture that would come to dominate the Mediterranean. Modern architecture historians state that the Hadrian style of architecture was the pinnacle of western architecture for nearly 1500 years until the Baroque period.

While there are hundreds of buildings dedicated to Hadrian some of the most amazing come out of Rome herself. After the fire of 80 AD the Roman Pantheon was destroyed. Hadrian would rebuild it to its modern state.

Here Hadrian would create one of the Roman wonders of the world. The dome that goes over the Pantheon today still stands as the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.

Hadrian forever changed Roman culture by fusing Greek and Roman architecture. With this new Greco-Roman style Hadrian would begin to build temples and public buildings around the Empire.

Hadrian Took Up Writing As A Way To Communicate His Actions To The Romans

Another way that Emperor Hadrian forever changed Roman culture was by picking up writing as a way to communicate his actions with his Roman subjects.

Hadrian is reported to have written extensively on everything from Greek poetry to Roman history. Sometimes near his death Hadrian would write an autobiography which does not survive to this day.

This autobiography however was designed to explain in simple terms why Hadrian chose some of his most controversial actions. This book was published under the name of one of Hadrian’s freedmen so that it would appear more genuine.

This book supposedly had a good effect upon Hadrian’s reputation and subsequent emperors such as Marcus Aurelius would adopt the habit of writing books to explain their actions.

Further, Hadrian had a love of Greek poetry. Ancient sources depict Hadrian as being fiercely protective of his art and poetry. Even banishing at one point a critic from the city of Rome.

Today only poem survives from Hadrian. This poem reportedly was the last thing that Hadrian spoke. Back in Rome this poem would be received with massive popularity. Ancient sources depict that this poem was much like the other poems that Hadrian had written in Greek.

However, the real reason that Hadrian changed Roman culture forever was because of his inspiration in subsequent emperors all picking up writing as a means of explaining their actions to their subjects.

Hadrian Would Successfully Integrate Greece Into The Roman Political State

A.Savin (WikiCommons) - Own work
Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens (Attica, Greece)

Another way in which Hadrian forever changed Roman culture was by successfully integrating Greece into the Roman state.

While Rome had been controlling Greece for nearly 300 years before Hadrian it remained a client kingdom or province. Here Greece would only pay tribute to Roman hegemony in the region.

However, in 124 AD Hadrian would travel to Greece and tour around the different states. While in Greece Hadrian would begin to commit substantial Roman resources to rebuilding several ancient temples and public buildings.

An example of this can be seen in the city of Athens. In order to support Athens’s growing population Hadrian would build two major public fountains built over several years.

Over the next couple months Hadrian toured Greece and started to convince local leaders to join the Roman Senate back in Rome. By 125 Hadrian had successfully convinced the Spartan leader Eurycles Herculanus and the Athenian aristocrat Herodes Atticus the Elder.

This forever changed Roman Culture due to the fact that now the two most powerful families in Greece had agreed to take part in Roman political life. This marked a shift in Roman power towards Greece. As a result the culture of Greece came to heavily influence Roman culture.

As such one of the ways in which Hadrian forever changed Roman culture was by successfully integrating Greece into the Roman political state.


There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the 3 ways in which Hadrian changed roman culture forever.

The study of Emperor Hadrian is fascinating. Historians have long debated on how much influence Hadrian had upon the Roman empire. Recent scholarship however has begun to demonstrate that Hadrian was a high point in what we see today as Roman culture.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

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