Memoirs of Hadrian is a novel by the Belgian-born French writer Marguerite Yourcenar about the life and death of Roman Emperor Hadrian. First published in France in French in 1951 as Mémoires d’Hadrien, the book was an immediate success, meeting with enormous critical acclaim. Although the historical Hadrian wrote an autobiography, it has been lost.
The book takes the form of a letter to Hadrian’s adoptive grandson and eventual successor “Mark” (Marcus Aurelius). The emperor meditates on military triumphs, love of poetry and music, philosophy, and his passion for his lover Antinous, all in a manner similar to Gustave Flaubert’s “melancholy of the antique world.”
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