THE EMPEROR AND THE CITY: A CASE STUDY ON THE LINK BETWEENHADRIAN AND PHILIPPOPOLIS, THRACE
(University of Shumen, Bulgaria)
This paper reviews evidence of one or two visits by Hadrian to the Thracian city of Philippopolis. This authorindicates that depsite a lack of
literary evidence for this emperor‟s permanence in Philippopolis, the extent of buildingduring Hadrian‟s reign, evidence of games in honor of Antinoos and statues of Sabina all point to at least one visit to the
city in the 120‟s or early 130‟s
“Indeed, no Roman emperor devoted as
much personal attention to cities throughout the empire asdid Hadrian, except perhaps Augustus himsel
f” writes M.
Boatwright and it seems she is quite right.
Thecomprehensive study she has made on the link betweenthe emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138) and the cities in theEmpire shows that more than 210 cities were affected byhis favor. It is not by chance that Hadrian was
commemorated on the coins as „
‟ of the
provinces. His influence is found in different aspects,such as the change of the city
intervention in the daily life of towns involved theappointment of high magistrates, priesthoods and
, land attribution, the determination of boundaries, the remission or exemption of taxes, theorganization of games and festivals, conferring titles andnames, as well as impressive building programs. Buildingprograms, which were indeed common, may haveconsisted of major engineering projects and newconstruction, completion of previously initiated work,renovation and decoration of older buildings andcomplexes and so forth.
The study reveals that mostcities on
list received just a token of the
s, which may or may not be simply due toscanty evidence. The list could be augmented with thenames of other cities for which we currently have no
proof of any emperor‟s presence or benefits.
II. Hadrian and Philippopolis
. One of these centers isthe primary city in Thrace - Philippopolis. The groundsfor such an assumption lie in the sudden change thatoccurred in the urban development of the city when onecompares the city under Trajan to that of Antoninus
Pius‟s time. In fact,
such change is clearly observed notonly in Philippopolis, but also throughout Thrace, whichmakes some scholars believe that the cities received
during Hadrian‟s time
. It is, therefore, theaim of this paper to combine the study of various sources(e.g., archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic) in order
Boatwright 2000, 12.
Cf. Boatwright 2000.
to reveal, if possible, the true nature of
benefactions to the city, which were the grounds for itsprosperity for over the next century and half. It seems thatthese changes were of consequence for the city,especially when one considers that the onlycommemorative arch in Philippopolis was devoted toHadrian.Before we begin our analysis of the given facts, it isnecessary to mention that until this moment we do nothave concrete historical proof of the empero
r‟s visit to
Philippopolis, as we do for other cities, especially thosein the provinces in Asia Minor.
The numismatic data andthe epigraphic material, however, indicate Hadrian
travels through Thrace during both of his easternprovincial tours in AD 124-125 and AD 128-132. Theprimary sources do not mention Ha
drian‟s visit in
Philippopolis, but Bulgarian scholarship based uponepigraphic and numismatic data accepts the thesis thatduring his first provincial tour Hadrian passed throughThrace at which time he renamed the indigenoussettlement
, andthen continued north to the military base
During his second provincial tour, on his way back toRome, it is presumed on the basis of ADVENTVS typecoins that the emperor visited Thrace once again.
Thiscoin type of AD 134-138,
combined with epigraphicevidence of the erection of the basilica in Pautalia,devoted to Hadrian in AD 135 as well as theestablishment of the new borderline between Thrace andLower Moesia in AD 136, clearly reveals his route fromAthens to the north at the
Юрукова 1987, 11
12; Велков 1991, 14; Колева 2005, 10;
Weber1904, 57, 148; Henderson 1923, 84, 283; Vladkova 2002, 32.
Birley 2000, 145.
Mattingly 1966, clxxi-clxxii.
Бешевлиев 1952, 60
-63; IGBulg. IV,
№ 2057; Топалилов 2005, 94