Hadrian’s Error

There was once a Roman emperor named Hadrian.  He ruled over the Roman Empire near its peak and went down in history as a gifted administrator and prolific builder.  He had the good sense to consolidate the gains of his huge empire rather than overextend it.  He is usually portrayed as a good emperor but rarely as a great one.

Once, as I was wandering around the basement of my University’s library, I found a book by a historian who addressed history’s judgment of Hadrian.  He portrayed Hadrian as a particularly able bureaucrat, but lacking in strong personal convictions and ability to inspire people.  He worked tirelessly to improve the system while having scarcely any sense of what it all stood for.  I doubted the historian could be so certain that Hadrian was as he described, but this opinion stuck with me.

The lesson was clear.

Progress, improvement, efficiency for its own sake is hollow.


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