The remains of the Temple of Hadrian

Temple of Hadrian
This is all that remains of the Temple of Hadrian

Another treasure to be found at Ephesus is the remains of the Temple of Hadrian. It is quite spectacular that any of this beautiful temple has survived through the destructive history of what once was a magnificent city.

Temple of Hadrian
It is one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street.
Temple of Hadrian
Temple of Hadrian

An inscription shows that the Temple of Hadrian  was erected around 118 AD but underwent repairs in the 4th century and has been re-erected from surviving fragments. The facade of the temple has four Corinthian square columns supporting a curved arch.  It was during the course of restorations that the four decorative reliefs were added to the lintels of the interior of the porch. In the arch over the main portalon the the keystone is a carving of a half-nude woman surrounded by acanthus leaves. Some identify the figure as Medusa, symbolically keeping evil spirits away others say it is Tyche, goddess of victory.

 

Tyche, goddess of victory
Tyche, goddess of victory

The name “Temple of Hadrian” is not really accurate: it is more a monument than a temple, and was dedicated not only to Hadrian but also Artemis and the people of Ephesus. The temple was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 20 million lira banknote of 2001–2005 and of the 20 new lira banknote of 2005–2009.

Temple of Hadrian
The pillars of the Temple of Hadrian

The interior of the monument is decorated with panels of reliefs along the top. The reliefs in the upper sections are casts, the originals now being exhibited in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. A number of figures are depicted in the reliefs, including the emperor Theodosius I with his wife and eldest son.  It is said that Emperor Hadrian was one of the Five of Good Emperors. The Five Good Emperors is a term that refers to five consecutive emperors of the Roman Empire— Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.

Temple of Hadrian
The interior reliefs of the Temple of Hadrian

Hadrian was active in the wars against the Dacians and reputedly won awards from Trajan for his successes. Due to an absence of military action in his reign, Hadrian’s military skill is not well attested, however his keen interest and knowledge of the army and his demonstrated skill of administration show possible strategic talent.

Hadrian appears to have been a man of mixed sexual interests. The Historia Augusta criticizes both his liking of goodlooking young men as well as his adulteries with married women.It is belived that he tried to poison his wife. When it comes to Hadrian’s homosexuality, then the accounts remain vague and unclear. Most of the attention centres on the young Antinous, whom Hadrian grew very fond of. Statues of Antinous have survived, showing that imperial patronage of this youth extended to having sculptures made of him. In AD 130 Antinous accompanied Hadrian to Egypt. It was on a trip on the Nile when Antinous met with an early and somewhat mysterious death. Officially, he fell from the boat and drowned.

Temple of Hadrian
Sad that this is all that is left of this temple

Hadrian died in 138 on the tenth day of July, in his villa at Baiae at age 62. However, the man who had spent so much of his life traveling had not yet reached his journey’s end. He was buried first at Puteoli, near Baiae, on an estate which had once belonged to Cicero. Soon after, his remains were transferred to Rome and buried in the Gardens of Domitia, close by the almost-complete mausoleum. Upon the completion of the Tomb of Hadrian in Rome in 139 by his successor Antoninus Pius, his body was cremated, and his ashes were placed there together with those of his wife Vibia Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Sounds like he is spending eternity with the woman he tried to poison.

 

 

 

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