Subject Area



Reigning during the ‘Golden Age’ of Rome, Emperor Hadrian is remembered mostly for his excessive travel and magnificent building projects such as the Roman Pantheon, his villa at Tivoli, and the famous Hadrian’s Wall. Despite his attention to the city of Rome, however, Hadrian was also very involved in providing for the needs of the Roman provinces. This research explores Hadrian’s legacy as a ‘good’ and philhellenic emperor while also noting his imperial proactivity. This is accomplished by a thorough examination of his aqueducts in Roman Greece, especially his aqueduct in Athens through archaeological and literary sources. This research specifically considers the climatological situation of second century Athens with special attention to the implications for Hadrian’s motive in building this construction. If Hadrian were merely reacting to a drought in this city, his legacy as a hellenophile would be significantly threatened. The manner in which he chose to respond, however, reaffirmed the emperor’s philhellenism and the fact that this construction was far from utilitarian. By bringing magnificent amounts of water to a historically dry region of Greece, Hadrian allowed the people of Athens to experience water the way the Romans did—a luxury brought to them via a monumental subterranean aqueduct. No longer considered a simple provision, water now contributed to the people’s comfort and quality of life. Yet instead of merely building a Roman aqueduct in Greece, Hadrian reaffirmed his philhellenism by incorporating many Hellenistic building techniques within this construction. By combining Roman and Greek engineering methods and designs, Hadrian demonstrated his great knowledge of both cultures. This aqueduct as well as his aqueducts in Corinth and Argos exemplify the cultural hybridization of the empire under the ‘good’ and philhellenic Hadrian.


Providence College

Academic Year



Fall 2020





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