Could he ever make it to Canadian Emperor?
Hadrian's wall, at least the ruins
I couldn’t figure out all weekend why Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire chose "Hadrian" as the name for their latest newborn.
"Adrien" would have understandable. It’s a good old-fashioned, French-Canadian name. And “Adrian" is popular enough in English.
But "Hadrian" (with an "H" ) is the diminutive of the Latin "Hadrianus." It’s rare in Canada, both in English as well as French.
The register of births in Quebec shows that there was not a single "Hadrian" born in Quebec between 2007 and 2012.
In Ontario there was not a single “Hadrian” born between 1917 and 2010.
And in the United States, where there are all sorts of unusual names, there was not a single "Hadrian" born last year.
The least we can say is that if Trudeau and Grégoire wanted a rare, yet elegant and easy to pronounce first name in both official languages, they certainly picked a winner. He’ll be the only one. At least for now.
The original Hadrian was a Spanish-born Roman military administrator unparalleled in his time. He wasn’t a fighter, but he won fame from the military travelling with his soldiers, dressing up in military garb to please them, having lunch with them and even sleeping in military barracks. A real regular guy by all accounts.
Hadrian is remembered not for his fighting, but for the great Roman buildings that he restored and repaired in Rome. He was the original Mr. Fix-it emperor.
He’s gone down in history as one of the five best emperors Rome ever had.
He repaired the Parthenon, which had undergone a disastrous fire. Even today it is still one of the finest antique structures in the world as rated by UNESCO. I was there last year. It’s fantastic.
Make a comparison between Nero and Hadrian. One guy set fire to Rome and the citizens burned alive. Hadrian repaired their ruined buildings. Mr. Popularity.
Before his death in 138 AD, Hadrian built "Hadrian’s tomb" -- a magnificent mausoleum as his final resting place, such a great building that Catholic Popes took it over as their residence for a while.
The British world knows Hadrian for his “ Hadrian’s Wall" built in stone on his orders in the year 122 AD across the entire width of England to keep out wild Celtic tribes coming down from the north.
In addition to being a fortification against Scots, there were little doors here and there in “Hadrian’s Wall” that served as checkpoints to collect taxes on goods leaving Roman England. A true politician that Hadrian!
Pierre Trudeau and his three sons - yes , including Justin - visited the border area in England near the wall when the boys were young. They were searching for the "Elliotts," their Scottish ancestors on dad’s mother’s side.
Who knows, that visit might have inspired Justin.
Someday he may tell us all about it.