Re-viewing Hadrian

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A cherished image of the Roman emperor Hadrian as a gentle, philosophical man wearing the robes of a Greek citizen has been shattered with one blow of a conservator's chisel at the British Museum.

The head, with its neatly trimmed beard and fringe of exquisitely crimped curls, is certainly Hadrian but it seems the body it has been attached to for almost 150 years belongs to somebody else. The statue, a unique piece that has been cited in many biographies of Hadrian as proof of his love for Greek culture and customs, and illustrated countless times, is an ingenious Victorian confection.

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