Who Am I?

Salvete, cives! I am the Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Augustus Antoninus Pius, but you can call me Toni with an "I." I hail from the charming Latium hillside town of Lanuvium, just a half-day's ride from Rome. Why do you think they call me "Pius"? Well, I always knew I was destined for greatness. "Augustus, may the Gods save you," were the greetings I received from my fellow Romans in the Forum, long before I took the throne. It was the Senate - and the Gods! - who anointed me "the devout Antoninus." My subjects disagree as to why. Was it because I, dutiful son-in-law, guided my dear Faustina's aged father to his seat in the Curia? Or that I stopped my divine father Hadrian from executing his enemies? Or, when Hadrian wished to commit suicide I prevented him from doing so and thus saved our Emperor, and the state? How much he suffered! Or that upon his death I had him made a god, and then built a magnificent temple in his honor in the Campus Martius? Or was it just that I was a devoted servant of the respublica? I think it was a little bit of each, don't you?

My official portraitist has captured the essence of the Imperator, I think. Well, nearly so. I am, as you know, "a handsome man," "tall in stature" and "aristocratic in bearing." He might have done better with my nose, though; it's not nearly as thin and pointy as he has portrayed it.

There's talk of naming the months that follow that of Augustus, named for the Pater Patriae, after me and my dear departed Faustina. I really must decline, though we are both terribly flattered. I should reward my subjects appropriately. Perhaps I'll provide magnificent games, with elephants and tigers and rhinoceroses. Maybe I'll throw in some crocodiles and hippopotami!


This fictional recreation of Augustus is based on the ancient sources and was composed by Michael Arnush, Skidmore College