Journal of Roman Studies

Research Article

Hadrian and Lucius Verus

T. D. Barnesa1*

a1 The Queen's College, Oxford.

At the age of sixty the emperor Hadrian cast about for a successor. His first choice was L. Ceionius Commodus, his second T. Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus. Both being adopted in turn by the ailing emperor, the former died before Hadrian while the latter survived to succeed him. Modern scholarship has indulged in long speculations about the motives of Hadrian and the political intrigues of his final years. This paper will not attempt to add to such speculations but will examine the precise details of the dynastic settlements of 136 and 138 upon which they are based. For due weight has not been given to certain relevant and important statements in the Historia Augusta, and as a result the facts have been misrepresented. Moreover, since some of these statements occur in the Vita Veri, the excellent worth of which has too often been denigrated, an analysis of that will be necessary. The partial interdependence of the historical and the literary problems dictates the separate yet combined treatment adopted here. The first part of this paper will discuss the biography of Lucius Verus in the Historia Augusta, the second the dynastic plans of Hadrian. The evidence and arguments employed in each part will, it is hoped, both confirm and be confirmed by the thesis advanced in the other.


* I am grateful to Professor Syme and Dr. F. G. B. Millar for their help and criticisms throughout and to Professor Bowersock for reading the first part of this paper. The following abbreviations will be used : Birley = A. R. Birley, Marcus Aurelius (1966); Lécrivain = Ch. Lécrivain, Études sur l'Histoire Auguste (1904); Lessing = K. Lessing, Scriptorum Historiae Augustae Lexicon (1901–6); Schwendemann = J. Schwendemann, Der historische Wert der Vita Marci bei den Scriptores Historiae Augustae (1923); BMC (simp.) = H. Mattingly, BMC Roman Empire IV (1940).