Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A multi-faceted look into the life of one of the 5 good emperors who ruled Rome for close to 100 years. This book details Hadrian's rise to power through the military and civil administration, his early years as emperor of "the world", middle age (where he loved and lost), and his final years as the most powerful man in the world. Two themes prevalent through Hadrian's life (with the exception of his final years) were the pursuit of pleasure and meaning, which I believe with his Hellenistic leanings, was trying to find one through the other. Throughout the book his actions probably seem strange or base when viewed from a Christian morality that had not yet permeated Western civilization, but in the context of the times, I can only guess that his actions were seen as normal for someone in the upper class of Rome.
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