A new exhibition at the British Museum in London about the life of the gay roman emperor Hadrian is set to highlight his sexuality.
The exhibition, titled Hadrian: Empire and Conflict, only opens towards the end of July but is already causing a stir in the British media because of its openness about its subject’s love life.
Hadrian’s empire comprised much of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. He is described as a “capable and, at times, ruthless military leader.”
“Objects from 31 museums worldwide and finds from recent excavations will be shown together for the first time to reassess his legacy, which remains strikingly relevant today,” says the Museum on its website.
A number of these items, including busts, statues and poems, will deal with his male Greek lover and consort Antinous.
While it was common for Roman men to have male lovers, Hadrian was unique for actually making his relationship official.
“Hadrian was gay – we can say it now but the Victorians had problems with it,” Thorsten Opper, curator of the exhibition told the Telegraph.
While Hadrian was married to the great-niece of the former emperor Trajan this is seen as a politically arranged union.
Hadrian was also known for his great passion for architecture and Greek culture. His extensive building programme included the Pantheon in Rome, his villa in Tivoli and the city of Antinoopolis, which he founded and named after Antinous.
After Antinous died Hadrian declared him a god.