The Library of Hadrian is located in Athens, Greece and lies beyond the Roman Agora. An immense structure, the Library was funded by Emperor Hadrian in 132 CE. The incredible size of the structure paired with the amount of materials that were imported for its decoration – Phrygian marble from Asia Minor, alabaster from Egypt, just to name a couple – show us just how important this building was to both the Romans and the Athenians. Behind the Phrygian marble-covered front façade was a large peristyle enclosed within a large central courtyard that contained a garden and a pool, as well as the library chamber, two lecture halls for public speaking, and four reading rooms that were situated against the east wall. The library chamber was a large room which contained an apse against the back wall as well as 66 niches that were spread throughout the supposed 3 levels. These niches were used to store the scrolls, and I have calculated an estimate as to how many scrolls the Library of Hadrian was able to hold. All of these aspects of the library – the style and design of the complex, the materials used, the number of scrolls it held – all help uncover just how important intellectual development was to the ancient Athenians. By analyzing the relationship between the Romans and Athenians during the era the library was built, along with the ways in which the space within the library complex was used, we can prove that the Library of Hadrian was a symbol for Athenian and Roman cooperation in the ancient world.
Caitlin Conlon, ’17
Sponsor: John Gruber-Miller