July 10, 138: On in this day in 138 AD the Emperor Hadrian died in the town of Baiae in southern Italy. He had ruled for 21 years in one of the most successful reigns in Roman imperial history. Hadrian’s reign was characterised by an extended tour of all of the Roman provinces which he undertook over many years in order to reform various military, administrative and social matters. This resulted in him spending considerable amounts of time in the camps of many Roman legions. During the course of these sojourns he would often drink posca, as related in the Historia Augusta, a collection of biographies of the Roman emperors written in the fourth century. This was a type of poor man’s wine in ancient times, one which was made from wine which had started to turn vinegary and which was subsequently watered down and infused with herbs such as cumin, anise, fennel, and thyme. This alternative wine beverage of the Romans was drank in vast quantities across the empire and was particularly popular amongst the Roman legionaries. For more information, see Danny Danzinger and Nicholas Purcell’s Hadrian’s Empire: When Rome Ruled the World (London, 2006). See also the entry on Posca, in Andrew Dalby’s Food in the Ancient World From A To Z (London, 2013), p. 270; Anthony Everitt, Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome (London, 2009)
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