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The Story of the Romans by  H. A. Guerber

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THE GREAT WALL

[243] TRAJAN was succeeded by his cousin Hadrian, a good and true man, who had received an excellent education, and was very talented. Hadrian had fought with Trajan in most of his campaigns, and gladly accepted the title of emperor, which the legions gave him, and which was confirmed by the Roman senate.

The first act of the new emperor was to reward his soldiers for their devotion, and his next, to pardon all who had ever injured him. Thus, we are told that on meeting an enemy he said: "My good friend, you have escaped, for I am made emperor."

Hadrian was very affable, and always ready to serve others. When asked why he, an emperor, troubled himself thus about others, he replied: "I have been made emperor for the benefit of mankind and not for my own good."

Instead of continuing to enlarge the Roman Empire, as Trajan had done, Hadrian now said that it was large enough; so he did all that he could to have it governed properly. He did not always remain at Rome, but made a grand journey through all his vast realm.

Accompanied by able men of every kind, he first visited Gaul, Germany, Holland, and Britain. Everywhere he went he inspected the buildings, ordered the construction of new aqueducts, temples, etc., and paid particular attention to the training of his armies. He shared the soldiers' fatigues, marched at their head twenty miles a day in the burning sun, and lived on their scanty fare of bread, [244] lard, and sour wine; so none of his men every dared complain.

Wherever he went, Hadrian planned great improvements; and in Britain he built a rampart, or wall, seventy-three miles long, to protect the Britons from the barbarians who at that time lived in Scotland. Then, passing through the western part of Gaul, Hadrian went up into Spain, and from thence into Africa.

He also visited the East, and made a long stay in Athens, where he took part for the first time in a religious ceremony called the Eleusinian Mysteries. During his stay there, he ordered that the Temple of Jupiter should be finished, and heard much about the new religion which the Christians taught.

Although he had at first objected greatly to the Christians, Hadrian now began to like them, and even proposed to place Christ among the Roman gods, as Tiberius is said to have done many years before.


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