4. Two Emperors Caught a Lucky Break
When the earthquake struck Antioch, the Roman emperor Trajan and his chief deputy and successor, the future emperor Hadrian, were wintering in the city, overseeing preparations for a military campaign against Parthia. Because Antioch served as headquarters for the war against Parthia, the city and the surrounding region were even more crowded than usual. The presence of legions encamped nearby, as well as the camp followers and other civilians engaged in support activities for the Roman army, swelled Antioch’s population.
Trajan managed to escape via a window from the building in which he had been housed, and was fortunate to suffer only light injuries. As buildings and debris kept falling due to aftershocks, the emperor and his entourage relocated to the open hippodrome, or race track, where they erected tents and set up house. His deputy Hadrian also escaped with only slight injuries. Both oversaw the recovery and rebuilding process, which was begun by Trajan, and after his death in 117, was continued and completed by his successor, Hadrian.