Above all Hadrian patronized the arts: Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, recreating a sacred landscape. In Rome, the Pantheon built by Agrippa was enriched and took on the form in which it has survived.
Hadrian was a humanist, deeply Hellenophile in all his tastes. Hadrian was especially famous for his love affair with a young Greek, Antinous. While touring Egypt, Antinous mysteriously drowned in the Nile (130 CE). Stricken with grief, Hadrian founded the Egyptian city of Antinopolis. Hadrian drew the whole Empire into his mourning, making Antinous the last new god of antiquity. For the rest of his life, Hadrian commissioned many hundred (thousands) of sculptures of Antinous in the manner of a Greek youth. The passion and depth of Hadrian's love for the boy was shown in busts and statues to be found all over Europe, featuring the boy's full lips and round cheeks.
A fragment from the Roman History of Dio Cassius as translated by Earnest Cary in 1925:
- "After Hadrian's death there was erected to him a huge equestrian statue representing him with a four-horse chariot. It was so large that the bulkiest man could walk through the eye of each horse, yet because of the extreme height of the foundation persons passing along on the ground below believe that the horses themselves as well as Hadrian are very small."
Trajan (98 - 117)
Antoninus Pius (138 - 161)