One of the greatest - and most enigmatic - Roman emperors, Hadrian stabilized the imperial borders, established peace throughout the empire, patronized the arts, and built an architectural legacy that lasts to this day: the great villa at Tivoli, the domed wonder of the Pantheon, and the eponymous wall that stretches across Britain. Yet the story of his reign is also a tale of intrigue, domestic discord, and murder. In Following Hadrian, Elizabeth Speller illuminates the fascinating life of Hadrian, rule of the most powerful empire on earth at the peak of its glory. Speller displays a superb gift for narrative as she traces the intrigue of Hadrian's rise, making brilliant use of her sources and vividly depicting Hadrian's bouts of melancholy, his intellectual passions, his love for a beautiful boy (whose death sent him into a spiral), and the paradox of his general policies of peace and religious tolerance even as he conducted a bitter, three-year war with Judea. Most important, the author captures the emperor as both a builder and an inveterate traveler, guiding readers on a grand tour of the Roman Empire at the moment of its greatest extent and accomplishment.
Elizabeth Speller is a freelance writer and lecturer. Long fascinated with the ancient world, she has pursued this interest in both undergraduate and graduate work in the classics at Cambridge University as well as in independent research. She wrote the libretto to "Farewell," which was commissioned by Paul McCartney to commemorate his late wife Linda. She lives in the U.K.