Living up to expectations. Hadrian's military representation in freestanding sculpture
Number of pages
SourceBabesch, 95, (2020), pp. 195-212
Article / Letter to editor
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Oude en Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis
SubjectEurope in a Changing World; The Ancient World
Hadrian is the first emperor to be almost exclusively represented in military costume in surviving sculpture. In this paper, it is argued that this development can be linked to the changing military role of the emperor in this period: from conqueror to protector. This theory is substantiated by a series of statues that employ a traditional, military motif to anchor events relating to Hadrian’s new foreign policy. Such depictions promoted the virtus of Hadrian not by referring to victories abroad but by highlighting his ability to maintain peace. This reading may provide us with a different lens to look at the military-styled images of Hadrian.
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