Republication from Carole Raddato‘s superb website:  Following hadrian

The Danube in spring. Kazan gorge at its narrowest point.


Soon after suppressing the disturbances that had broken out in Moesia Inferior (see previous post here), Hadrian embarked on a quick inspection of the military bases along the lower and middle Danube frontier. The new emperor knew the area well through his appointment as governor of the province of Pannonia Inferior in 106 AD, also on the Danube frontier, where he took command of Legio II Adiutrix, the very legion with which he had begun his military career (AD 94-95).

Evidence of his presence in the area is explicitly attested by a poem inscribed on the tombstone of one of Hadrian’s personal horse guards (CIL 3.3676). A Batavian soldier called Soranus impressed the emperor by swimming across the vast waters of the Danube with all his weapons. Speaking in the first person, Soranus declares in his epitaph:

” I am the man who, once well-known to the river banks in Pannonia, brave and foremost among a thousand Batavi, who, with Hadrian as my judge, could swim the wide waters of the deep Danube in full battle kit. From my bow I shot an arrow which, while it hung in the air and fell back, I hit and broke with another. Whom no Roman or foreigner ever outdid, no soldier with the spear, no Parthian with a bow, here I lie, on this ever-mindful stone have I bequeathed my deeds to memory. Let anyone see if after me he can match my deeds. I set my own standard, being the first to bring off such deeds.”  Translation by Davies (1968c) and M.P. Speidel (1994b: 46)

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