From British daily The Independent:
Hadrian the gay emperor
His attempt to fortify the Roman Empire is well known. But an exhibition focuses on another side of the man
By Arifa Akbar
Published: 11 January 2008
The bust is classically Roman, the face imperious. But this is no ordinary emperor. As a major new exhibition at the British Museum makes clear, Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus was not only a peacemaker who pulled his soldiers out of modern-day Iraq. He was also the first leader of Rome to make it clear that he was gay.
Hadrian: Empire and Conflict will see the bust make pilgrimages to both ends of Hadrian’s Wall, the first time it has left the British Museum since being found in the Thames 200 years ago. But it is the singular life-story of the gay emperor that is likely to capture the interest of most visitors. …
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said: “The exhibition will provide an opportunity to assess the important legacy of the emperor Hadrian, a classical figure whose reign has telling relevance to our lives today.”
Mr Opper said there were similarities between second-century Mesopotamia and present-day Iraq, with the Roman occupiers finding themselves in a hotbed of violence and resistance.
“We must not mistake [Hadrian’s] motives for pulling his troops out of Mesopotamia,” Mr Opper said. “He didn’t really have a choice. It had just been conquered by his predecessor and there was a lot of guerrilla warfare, which is eerily just like modern times. What he did was give the empire breathing space and while he was a very experienced military leader, we also get the impression he was very cultured and he fostered Greek identity and made them partners in leadership.”
Wall in ancient Iran, bigger than Hadrian’s: here.