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The City of the World A. D. 117 – A. D. 138

hadrian

ROME was no longer just a city — it was a world. In the reign of Hadrian, the blaring trumpets that announced the comings and goings of the emperor echoed in Spain, Syria and Britain as often as in Italy. Hadrian wanted to know what was going on in all of his empire. He wanted to inspect the troops and forts that held the frontiers and to judge for himself the wisdom of the governors he had sent to rule the provinces. He wanted to visit the towns and cities, to see their ancient buildings, to plan new buildings where they were needed and to build new towns in the frontier provinces. He wanted to meet the people. They were citizens of Rome, even though their homes were hundreds of miles from Italy and they had never seen the Forum. Hadrian’s journey through the empire took eight years. He followed the Roman roads and the sea routes Rome had freed from pirates, until he had visited every part of the world of which he was the sole, all-powerful ruler. He met many other travelers on the roads. Travel was easy now and safe. Rich Romans, imitating the emperor, had become eager tourists. They flocked to Greece; to them it was a quaint place out of another age. They studied its famous buildings, bought statues and pottery for souvenirs and paced out the old battlefields which they had read about in Plutarch’s histories. In Egypt, they went shopping in Alexandria, still handsome and a bustling center of trade. They rode in elegant comfort on sightseeing barges that took them up the Nile to Memphis and Thebes. There they admired the oldest buildings known to man and scratched their initials in the stonework. This eastern area was Rome’s “Old World.” It had …

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