Hadrian was an Emperor of Rome from 117-138 CE. He is perhaps most well known for the construction of a defensive wall in Britain which is known as Hadrian's Wall; the wall was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1987. Hadrian has numerous other accomplishments to his name, however, leading people to classify him among the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome.
Hadrian's full name is Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus, and he was born in 76 CE. There is some dispute over the place of his birth, with most historians agreeing that he was born in Hispania, now known as Spain, while Hadrian himself contended that he was born in Rome. Hadrian's insistence on Roman birth may have been more related to his desire to appear as Roman as possible, however, as many Romans discriminated against people born in the far-flung reaches of the Empire.
He succeeded to the throne as a result of a deathbed request by the previous emperor, Trajan. Historians believe that Hadrian may owe his succession to Trajan's wife, who was allegedly fond of Hadrian, and it is certainly possible that she smoothed the way to the throne. As a ruler, Hadrian turned out to be relatively peaceful, with a defensive approach to caring for the Roman Empire, rather than an offensive one, and the period of Roman history which he oversaw is marked by a remarkable flowering of the arts and a general sense of peace.
Hadrian was certainly among the best educated and most cultured of the Roman emperors, and he was a great patron of the arts, especially architecture. His intense interest in Greek culture manifested in a fondness for classical statues and architecture, and he supervised the construction of an assortment buildings, including the Pantheon in Rome and numerous temples. He also spent a great deal of time traveling during his time as Emperor, spending more time outside of Rome than in it.
Although Hadrian had a consort, Vibia Sabina, the couple had no children, and historical accounts suggest that their relationship was rather tempestuous. Hadrian preferred the company of a male companion, Antinous, who drowned under mysterious circumstances on the Nile in 130 CE. Ultimately, Hadrian settled on Antonius Pius as a successor, after Aelius Caeser, his first choice, died. Antonius Pius was also known for being a relatively peaceful ruler with a great deal of loyalty to Hadrian, as his sobriquet “Pius” implies.