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Longing for Death and Unable to Die

Contributed by David Verne

In January of this year, Hadrian's heir, Lucius Aelius, died from his poor health, forcing Hadrian to look for a new heir. The Senate was hoping Hadrian would finally pick a capable and popular man, but Hadrian offered to adopt Titus Antoninus, a senator of above average capability who had been a member of Hadrian's court but had no ambition to become Emperor. The only condition to the deal was that Antoninus had to adopt Lucius Verus, the son of Lucius Aelius, and Marcus Aurelius. Antonius decided to accept and adopted the two boys as his heirs. This was none too soon as Hadrian became bedridden with what is suspected to have been congestive heart failure. He was in great pain and tried to smuggle poison and daggers into his room but was thwarted every time. It seems Servianus' curse that Hadrian, "long for death and be unable to die," was in full force. Eventually, Hadrian gave up on his suicide attempts, and on July 10th he finally died after ruling the Empire for 21 years. [1]

My Take by David Verne
Since Antoninus was in his 50s, Hadrian was probably expecting him to die in a decade or so, leaving the throne to Marcus and Lucius. Antoninus would surprise everyone and would rule 23 years that saw no military campaigns or major disasters. It would be the Golden Age of the Roman Empire.

See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (February 15, 2010). 84- Longing For Death.

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