I, Claudius

by Robert Graves

Paperback, 1965

Call number

FIC GRA

Collection

Publication

Time Inc. (1965), Edition: Time Reading Program Special Edition, 453 pages

Description

Once a rather bookish young man with a limp and a stammer, a man who spent most of his time trying to stay away from the danger and risk of the line of ascension, Claudius seemed an unlikely candidate for Emperor. Yet, on the death of Caligula, Claudius finds himself next in line for the throne, and must stay alive as well as keep control. Drawing on the histories of Plutarch, Suetonius, and Tacitus, noted historian and classicist Robert Graves tells the story of the much-maligned Emperor Claudius with both skill and compassion. Weaving important themes throughout about the nature of freedom and safety possible in a monarchy, Graves' Claudius is both more effective and more tragic than history typically remembers him. A bestselling novel and one of Graves' most successful, I, Claudius has been adapted to television, film, theatre, and audio.… (more)

Media reviews

Young Claudius is such an unlikely protagonist, and the story covers his childhood as the family embarrassment, with a stammer and a limp. Readers know from the start that he’s going to become emperor, there’s not really any suspense on that account, but what a ridiculously wild route. Claudius
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survives the reigns of Augustus (and Livia), Tiberius, and then insane Caligula, and is finally appointed to Imperial power, despite his not-so-secret republican leanings and basically his best efforts to stay away from becoming emperor. I’ve read this book 5 or 6 times now, and every time I notice another historical detail. I, Claudius reimagines historical figures as complicated characters, and retells actual events with Claudius’ commentary and spin. It’s this compelling mix of careful research and details from Suetonius, and scenes that, well, no Roman historian said it DIDN’T happen that way, so why not?
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2 more
The Guardian
It is not enough for us to form any judgment of his merits as a historian or his qualities as a stylist. It is Graves that gives him a voice, and what a voice it is, garrulous, digressive, spiced with gossip and scandal, at the same time strangely dispassionate and sober. There is a range of tone
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here that enables Claudius, in his persona as professional historian, to deal with matters widely diverse, to be equally convincing whether talking about the waste and excess of military triumphs, the fate of Varus and his regiments in the forests of Germany, or the endless intriguing for power and influence among the members of the imperial family.
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Lecturalia
Supuesta "autobiografía" de Claudio, singular emperador romano predestinado a serlo a pesar de que sus deseos fueran por otros caminos. Graves dibuja sin concesiones un espeluznante retrato sobre la depravación, las sangrientas purgas y las intrigas cainitas llevadas hasta el crimen durante los
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reinados de Augusto y Tiberio. Pero Yo, Claudio es también Calígula y su etapa sádica, Mesalina, Livia y, cómo no, Roma, un decorado único para esta trama argumental apasionante que se llevó a la pequeña pantalla con rotundo éxito.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Cecrow
Claudius, fourth Emperor of Rome, is said to have composed an autobiography now lost to history. In the 1930s a cash-strapped Robert Graves decided to try filling in this blank with a two-volume fictional work. In this first volume, he has Claudius describe the rule of the first three Emperors, all
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of whom he knew during his lifetime. It is as wonderful a companion to Tacitus' Annals as I had hoped. It fills in the story of Augustus which Tacitus spent little time on, and clarifies the crimes of Tiberias (whom I'd found at least somewhat sympathetic, but not at all now). Tacitus' coverage of Caligula has been lost but it's all here. I doubt whether Graves selected Claudius as his narrator so much for the purpose of redeeming his image (although in this first volume at least he certainly does that), as much as because he could tell the story of the early Roman Empire from an ideal point of view.

This fictional memoir approach makes it comparable to Yourcenar's account of Hadrian. This is not as dense, but both heavily rely on telling more than showing, and feature an enormous amount of detailed family relationships, military maneuvers and political machinations. They differ in two significant respects. For one, Robert Graves waxes more poetic than Yourcenar - literally, in his recounting of invented prophecies, quoting from Homer, etc. Secondly, Graves in particular is a wizard at completing our knowledge of events beyond what's recorded. I was too often forgetting that I was reading fiction, wondering in surprise about some astonishing fact before I had to remember that it wasn't (necessarily) how events actually occurred. Graves writes a very plausible and often exciting story, one that makes an enormous villain out of Livia and a victim out of Julia, swaps Postumus with his impersonator, attributes definitive blame for various deaths, and does various other tricks. I picked up on a few of these thanks to other reading (e.g. Tacitus) and by referring to the internet, but I'm sure I missed a few gems. An annotated edition of this novel would be brilliant, if it could cite through endnotes which parts of the narrative can be found in contemporary sources and which appear to be invented.

I would suggest that nothing Graves speculated is entirely implausible. He adheres to the known history, and what makes this so fascinating is that quite possibly he's guessed right on all counts. Who can say now?
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LibraryThing member BenDV
I, Claudius is the first part of the supposed autobiography of Claudius, who was an historian who (actually) ended up becoming the 4th Emperor of Rome. It consists mostly of him recounting the massive amount of political intrigue and backstabbing that occurred during the rule of the first three
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Emperors (Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula), and ends with Claudius himself being made Emperor basically by default (at least this is how it occurs in the book, apparently Graves wasn't too concerned with historical accuracy). Claudius managed to survive all this because he was seen as a 'stammering fool'; apparently he is now thought to have had cerebral palsy. So no one needed to try to kill him, since he was never a threat.

The content of I, Claudius is certainly rather engaging as most of the characters are pretty interesting. The first half of the book consists of the long rule of Augustus, who is portrayed as a kind but naive man who is controlled by his devious wife Livia (Claudius' grandmother). Livia initially seems completely evil but as the characters that surround her become more and more awful, she stops seeming so bad; she is actually quite an effective leader- just one who is obsessed with being in control and assuring the successors are all her descendants. Then there's the sadistic rapist pedophile (no really) Tiberius (Claudius' uncle), who is completely paranoid and has most of the Senators of Rome killed supposedly because of treason and just wants to be on his island with his sex slaves living peacefully. And then most insane of all is Caligula (Claudius' nephew), who is basically the ultimate spoiled narcissistic little s***. He declares himself a God during his brief 4-year rule and will do absolutely anything to get what he wants all the time (and no one dares to defy him until he's assassinated). He also seems to enjoy killing people just because he can, tries to start a war with the God Neptune and is basically completely bats*** insane.

The nuttiness and evil of these rulers, and the many, many other characters who come and go (most end up being executed or committing suicide out of fear of execution) are certainly what keep I, Claudius entertaining for its entire length. The problem with the book comes from the fact that Graves chooses to write it as the actual autobiography as Claudius; rather than have any sort of really interesting narrative structure, the book is just one gigantic info-dump where event a happens followed by b, c, d etc etc. It really is like reading an actual piece of narrative history, rather than a novel. This means that, much like reading real history (in my experience of that anyway), the book is entertaining to read while your reading it, but it's harder to motivate yourself to read it when the narrative is so broad, there's no suspense or climax and all the events are portrayed in a detached manner because Claudius is not involved most of the time. The writing style is very plain as well so you can't really enjoy that either.

This approach just isn't very interesting, and it also seems rather silly when you consider that the book cannot be read as a piece of history in any sense because Graves constantly manipulated known history to make his characters behave in the way he wanted them to. So though this is nominally a novel, it feels like it's supposed to be primarily educational, but it can't be taken as educational because it's largely fictionalised. I don't know about you, but that strikes me as silly- if you're going to write a novel, write a novel dammit. I mean yeah it's still entertaining, as I said, but it's not exactly enthralling. But perhaps the choice to write the book in the autobiographical style rather than any other way was because Graves reportedly did not like the books (there's a sequel called Claudius the God covering Claudius' actual time as Emperor) and only wrote them for the money- seeing as the books were bestsellers I imagine this worked out rather well for him.

My mild disappointment with I, Claudius only makes me more keen to watch the supposedly excellent BBC adaptation of the two novels, because this material could be made into something really special. I'm also pleased to hear that HBO are intending to do their own version; this is the sort of story perfectly suited for one of their expensive and complex ensemble dramas.
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LibraryThing member Marse
I loved, loved, loved this book! Claudius, grandnephew of Augustus Caesar, a stutterer, a gimp, thought to be an idiot--tells his story, and that of his grandmother Livia (Augustus Caesar's last wife) and granduncle Augustus Ceasar, as well as his uncle Tiberius Caesar's and his nephew Caligula's
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lives and reigns. And what an amazing, horrific, exciting, unbelievable story it is. Modern-day politics and scandals are nothing compared to Rome in all its glory. I vaguely remember (I was in high school then) that there was a PBS series based on "I, Claudius" starring Derek Jacobi during the 1970s. I would love to see this series, and see what the makers of the series "Rome" would do with this novel in the present.
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
A very good read. It is not an easy read unless you know a fair amount about Roman history and is not likely to appeal to someone who just likes the odd Lindsey Davies murder mystery. Indeed, despite having a great interest and fair knowledge about it, and having owned my copy for some eight years,
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I may never have read it, had it not been for seeing the superb TV series on the UKTV History channel recently. Some of the text leaves a nasty taste in the mouth but that is inevitable with this subject matter and parts of it also read to me like Suetonius's Twelve Caesars chapters on Tiberius and Caligula. I made regular reference to the family tree at the back.

My only minor criticism was the consistent use of modern names for towns and countries, e.g. France, not Gaul, which grated somewhat.
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LibraryThing member harrietbrown
I have three absolute top favorite books of all time. This is Number One, with a bullet. This historical fiction novel of ancient Rome has it all: murder, family dysfunction, regicide, incest, gossip, debauchery, loyalty, love, lust, deceit, good intentions gone awry, good people, very, very bad
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people, and just about anything else you could possibly want in a novel.

Robert Graves tells the story of the unlikely Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius and how he came to be ruler of the vast Roman Empire. This novel takes us from the earliest beginnings of his life in the Claudian dynasty, up to "that fateful point of change," when apparently by the sheer dumb luck of having outlived his relatives, he ascends to the throne.
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LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
A good balance of historical fiction and action, with a misunderstood historian-emperor at its center. Claudius, lame and a stutterer, naturally retreats to his books, but this is where some of the best character building shines through (especially the two scenes with Livy). The contrast with
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Caligula couldn't be more extreme, and it is amazing to think than anything resembling this ever really happened.
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LibraryThing member BrynDahlquis
I'm not a historical fiction fan, mostly because it confuses me as to what is fact and what is fiction, but I, Claudius is pretty darn good. It's nice because no one really knows for sure what DID happen way back then, plus Robert Graves was a respectable historian of this era, so I pretty much
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trust him.

I greatly enjoyed reading I, Claudius despite the fact that I had to write an essay on the most boring parts of the book. My ability to still like the book says a lot. The writing is very good and Claudius is very likable. For some reason the misery of the plot doesn't make me want to stop reading, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.
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LibraryThing member siew
Changes to posterity aside, this is one absorbing piece of work. Although I had studied this period back to front, even I tended to forget that Claudius was witness to all the upheavals and achievements of his predecessors. Infamously known to have lived unscathed in these tenuous times by aping
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idiocy (like the first Brutus who successfully overthrew Tarquinius to bring in the republican age), he ended up being the best of the bunch in many ways (his weakness towards freedmen and wives aside). It was thus refreshing to see things written from his point of view, while he was still mired in obscurity. It’s no surprise that Graves depicted him as an erudite personage, nor is it surprising that his keen intelligence was so easily overlooked due to his unfortunate stutter. In such an era, imperfections as these could only point to defects in the mind and soul, a mark of the gods’ disfavour, and could consequently blind people to evidence to the contrary.

My one chief quibble is that Graves chose to depict Tiberius in the conventional manner - a dirty old man with cankers on his body and in his soul (Livia no less being one of them). For some (possibly unnatural) reason, I had always seen Tiberius as greatly misunderstood. Certainly, Tacitus, writing decades after his reign but still able to remember the apparently chilling period of imperial informers (and the rampaging Sejanus, and the numerous treason trials), was extremely derisive in his Tiberian depiction, and Graves conventionally follows suit. Why, for example, is it necessary to interpret his reluctance to rule or be celebrated, as dissimulation? He was notoriously at odds with the Senatorial class because according to Tacitus (and Graves), he said one thing but meant another. But was this necessarily the case? I would find an exploration of this situation would have made Tiberius a more compelling (rather than repellent) character.

I’m glad to see at least, that Graves tips his hat to the fact that most of the time the average Roman couldn’t care less what was happening at the top end of town; even if heads were rolling, they were on too-lofty shoulders anyway, and life for the most part was good. And all in all, like I said, while history plays a part in this novel, it is at times a bit part, as Graves assembles everything into a neat, compelling package. The changes to the true story serve the narrative well (I particularly enjoyed Caligula’s evilly bratty participation in his own father’s downfall and death), and leads me to the conclusion that I can forgive poetic license in historical fiction, provided it is done well and offers alternative scopes for (creative) observation.
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LibraryThing member superpeer
I picked up I Claudius and Claudius the God, because I remembered really liking the BBC Series, which we watched in Latin Class. I approached the first book with some caution, not sure if they would live up to the TV series, after all, these books were written almost 80 years ago. I was not
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disappointed. They're great. Really great. It is written in a manner that projects a lot of authenticity, yet very pleasant to read.

'I Claudius' deals with Claudius' childhood up until Caligula's assassination, in the form of an autobiography. 'Claudius the God' describes Claudius' life as emperor of Rome until his death.

It's obvious that Graves knows his stuff and that he has done a lot of research. Granted, he does portray some of the wild stories that Suetonius and the like wrote about as being true, and most historians will tell you to take this with a pinch of salt. But hey, I remember loving those stories in my Latin classes, the crazier the better. I adored Caligula, he was just awesome. Horse elected senator, war against Neptune, oh man. Good stuff.

So many times while reading these, I came upon facts, or names or whatever and I would have an 'ohhhh yeah!' moment and remember things that I'd been taught years ago. These two books are a must-read for people who are interested in Roman stuff. Graves does tend to go into a lot of detail, so make sure you're a total geek before you start. Myself, nine times out of ten, I was very interested. And there's always epic battles, murder, deceit, banishment and adultery to mix things up.

Personally, I enjoyed the first book a little more than the second one, but that might be because the first one has historical V.I.P.'s such as Caligula and Augustus (who is, by the way, probably a little slower and a little more pussywhipped than the real Augustus was), but they are both still very much recommended. By me.
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LibraryThing member jeaneva
I saw the TV series first and for once, I am glad. The title role was portrayed so well that I almost heard that stuttering, slobbering "fool" throughout the book. What a brilliant way to convince those mad despots of his harmlessness!! (I seem to remember David in the Bible surviving among HIS
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enemies by feigning madness.)

Surely the aim of the author of historical fiction is to make the reader forget he/she is reading a novel. This book succeeds magnificently.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
Over the years I’ve read I, Claudius probably a half-dozen times. It’s a ruthless tale of greed, backstabbing, political intrigue and murder laced with liberal doses of humor. What’s not to love? Those with little patience for keeping track of Roman names and customs would do well to just
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watch the mini-series, although it is quite dated and needs to be remastered ASAP. Love Patrick Stewart as Sejanus. Claudius the God is an excellent follow-up, but lacks the presence of Livia and thus most of the jaw-dropping quality is absent.
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LibraryThing member charlie68
Listening to an audio book was an interesting experience for me. But a rewarding on in this case. With the time I have driving to work, I can put it to good use. A good work to start on. A descent into madness of the early Roman Empire. From poisonings and murder to the insanity of Caligula and the
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rise of Claudius to Emperor its quite a trip.
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LibraryThing member mkschoen
This, and the sequel, are on my "all time favorite books ever" and "books I would take on a desert island." Murder, sex, intrigue, conquests -- it's Dynasty with a literary, historical coat.
LibraryThing member Benedict8
I liked this book because the author seemed to understand what it was like to be a reluctant Caesar in Roman times. So this book appealed to me because I understand what it would be like to be an absolute leader.

Robert Graves is a superlative writer and can really turn a phrase when he had to.

As
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usual, I listened to a reading of this book from Audible.com. The reader did a terrific job of portraying the characters and the lisp Claudius had (but without disturbing the listener).
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LibraryThing member lyzadanger
Strange how this book seemed such an obvious fit for me but I struggled through the first two-thirds of it. Perhaps the structure chased me off. The narrative is so linear-feeling, with lots of passages about the spawn and incests of various Imperial family members, with scant dialogue or
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digression. Also challenging was the genealogy: If I can give one bit of advice, it's to let go of trying to follow the family connections too seriously. Remember that someone is related to another character is good enough, no need to remember that they are brothers through a common aunt or whatever.

The last hundred or so pages did manage to suck me in, once we got to the debaucheries of Caligula and things got downright bizarre. The evils of various powerful characters are a bit hard to take, though, both in that they do horrible things consistently (braining children against walls, executing someone for mentioning the emperor, slaughtering entire provinces at little provocation) and that their motives seem a bit one-dimensional.

The historical research that Graves must have done for this book seems extensive: details seem correct as far as my rudimentary knowledge of Roman history goes. I thought I had him on one point: he consistently talks about the "corn supply" in Rome, even though corn (maize) is a new world plant. But apparently Europeans use the term "corn" to refer to generic grain. So no dice there.

In retrospect, I'm surprised I didn't cotton to this book more. It had the elements I like: history, narrative, forward momentum, that I like, but something felt a bit too, dare I say, masculine about it, too brute force, too military history for me.
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LibraryThing member megmo07
This books is absolutely fantastic. A better review to come.
LibraryThing member Helenliz
A brilliant piece of imagination. Claudius is an unlikely author of the kiss & tell memoir, but that's what Graves creates, a kiss & tell of the roman period. Told in the style of a personal memior, it is very direct and first person, which makes it feel very modern. Tells of his family history
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through the reign of Augustys through to his birth, youth, adult hood & on into a potential declining old age, when he suddenly gets plucked from obscurity and made emperor - much against his will. Goes to show that there really is nothing new in the world, with sex scandals galore (although they did have a few more options concerning punishment that the courts have at their disposal now!). finishes as he is proclaimed Emperor. To someone with only a passing familiarity with the Romans, it all hangs together and rings true - if there are any historical inaccuracies, they don't stand out to spoil a rip roaring tale.
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LibraryThing member mattviews
I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius is an account of the life of Tiberius Claudius and, as the title has stated in a self-explanatory manner, is written in the form of Claudius's autobiography. Claudius narrates events relevant to the Roman Empire and his family from about 4 BC
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all the way to his crowning in 41 AD. While the book stands as one of the modern classics of historical fiction, references to characters, events, places, and architectural structure are factual.
Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (10 BC-54 AD) was a member of the royal Julian House: son of Drusus and Antonia, grandson of Augustus (Octavian) and Lavia, down the line of Julius Caesar. Fate had destined Claudius to be a loner in the Julian House, alienated and was deprived of all opportunities for advancement. His family, even his mother Atonia, who only took care of his practical needs but did not love him, despised him as a weakling and dismissed him as an idiot. Not only was the family ashamed of his stammering, it consistently feared of Claudius's committing a solecism upon which the public would comment. Claudius's closest companions included his tutor Athenodorus who encouraged him to become a historian and his own brother Germanius, who never stopped defending his brother .

Though eventually Claudius became the family priest, Claudius still felt most keenly the family's disappointment in him and the slights he met everywhere. Under the tutelage of Pollio and encouragement of Athenodorus, Claudius gathered materials for a life of his father and grandfather, the poisoning of whom had greatly perplexed and haunted Claudius.

Pollio's advice to Claudius had been proved sound and perspicacious throughout the tempestuous years as Claudius survived the intrigues, manipulation, bitter contention for power, lampoons, caprices and poisonings that marked the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius (uncle of Claudius whom Livia contrived to enthrone at the expense of ridding her great-grandsons), and the mad, capricious Caligula. Always a great disappointment to his mother, ironically, it was Claudius's half-wit, feebleness, temerity, and outward incompetence that saved him from the conspiracy, murder, the wickedness, the sufferings, and the wrath that had so ineluctably befallen his brother Germanicus, his nephews Nero, Drusus, and Gemellas.

I, Claudius tells the amazing tale of one man's exaltation from a historian to the emperor, a tale that magnifies Claudius's loyalty to his friends, his loyalty to his cruel family, his loyalty to Rome, and his loyalty to the truth (and defending of the truth) and how the virtue had rewarded him with the greatest honor and done him justice for the slights he had met all his life. The account celebrates Claudius's untroubled spirit and power of discernment in all his duties, both human and sacred. The characters are delineated to the full etch and nuance which lend verisimilitude of the historical period. The book is one of the most fun, interesting, behuiling book I have read that I almost reads like history.
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LibraryThing member datrappert
A must read book. Graves takes the known facts about Emperor Claudius of Rome, who was reputed to be an idiot, and turns them into a compelling first person narrative where he emerges as not quite such an idiot after all. A great novel of political intrigue, as Claudius is surrounded by people he
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can't trust, and for good reason. This is followed by Claudius the God, which completes the story.
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LibraryThing member soniaandree
For some reason, I always assumed that historical books/novels were dull in general (apart from a few exceptions, in my library), because historians were not always very good novelists and vice versa. However, I was pleasantly suprised by this one, well written, engaging and, in spite of all the
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poisoning and murders, funny in places. It reads like an historical account of the genealogy of the family, keeping track of all the events surrounding every death and political alliances. Claudius' narrative voice in the first person takes us closer to the action, following the gens Claudii's (mis)fortunes and, while we could easily be feeling paranoid about such a family (how come they did not use personal tasters for avoiding those numerous food 'poisonings', I wonder?), Claudius is the one member who is approachable and sympathetic. The historical events are roughly chronological, apart from some digressions by Claudius. I read it many times over and I do recommend this book to classicists and the general public with an interest in the Roman empire.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
The Roman emperor Claudius presents a record of his family and his life. Known as the idiot child of the imperial family due to nervousness and an unfortunate stutter (as well as a tendency to ill health), Claudius manages to escape much of the backstabbings, poisonings, and nefarious intrigues
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that plague the rest of his far-reaching family.

This turned out to be a fun read, although it sometimes comes off sounding like a history book (not surprising since Claudius is a historian much of his life). I don't know how much the infighting between family members and the general lust for power is based on actual history (my guess is Graves fudged quite a bit), but it is rather entertaining for the most part.
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LibraryThing member yamad
Now certainly one of my top favorite books. Graves is astonishingly clever in his delivery of this masterwork.Should be required reading to young students of history (I am not one). Not to teach them these historical facts, but to convince them of the lush stories that can be culled from studying
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the past.
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LibraryThing member wildbill
I read this book about 25 years ago and also remember watching the PBS series. It is a very entertaining behind the scenes version of the lives of the first three Roman Emperors which covers the period of Claudius life up until he became Emperor. It is done in first person narration as a book
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written by Claudius that according to prophecy would be discovered in 1900 years. The primary source for the facts in the book is The Twelve Caesars which was written approximately eighty years after Claudius' death.
The villain in the book is Livia, the second wife of Augustus. She manipulates Augustus against the members of his own family and murders a number of people with poison to insure that her son, Tiberius, would succeed Augustus as Emperor of Rome. There is an interesting scene where she spends four hours answering all of Claudius's questions about her evil doings.
Tiberius spent many years leading the armies of Rome in numerous campaigns at the order of Augustus. After Tiberius became Emperor he retreated to the island of Capri where he divided his time between philosophical discussions and sexual perversion.
Tiberius appoints Caligula as his successor thinking that Caligula is so cruel and corrupt history will not notice the evil of Tiberius. Caligula proves him right.
In the second year of his reign Caligula became very ill and many historians hypothesize that he suffered a massive nervous breakdown or organic brain damage that accounted for his insane cruelty. In the book Caligula kills his sister when she is pregnant with his child and has relationships with his other two sisters. He proclaims himself a god and makes his horse a member of the Senate. His pattern of theft and murder made him such a threat to the members of the ruling class that he is finally assassinated and Claudius becomes Emperor.
Claudius was afflicted with numerous disabilities from birth and was excluded from public office by his family. He limped and was not fit to join the army. He stammered and never was able to speak in public. His disabilities saved his life as everyone else that was seen as a threat to the Emperors was killed one way or another.
The book is more fiction than history but it is a good story. These were the people that ruled the world and this depiction of their personal lives, even if it is not all true, brings them to life as people, and like most powerful people not really nice people.
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LibraryThing member rsplenda477
Since I studies history in college, it was only natural that I would eventually find myself reading this masterpiece. Recently, I have been slipping in my Ancient history, which is why I decided to give this book a shot.

Robert Graves does the impossible: he makes very dense material lively and
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interesting. As one reads this book, there is no possible way that he or she can remain bored. It is constant, non-stop action...some of which is impossible to comprehend.

The characters are thoroughly described and very rich in depth. Plus, I think that I have encountered one of the most devious AND fascinating characters of all time: Livia. I'm not going to give anything away, but trust me when I say that she is one of the most rich female characters ever presented. Although this is historical fiction, Graves does a wonderful job of recounting historical events, which is why I think this book is an excellent read for anyone studying/interested in Ancient Rome.
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LibraryThing member Sean_RMIT
This is a remarkably well written fictional account of life at the upper limits of ancient Roman society. The fumbling, clumsy and shy but highly intelligent uncle of the perversely nutty Caligula proves to be a winner as emperor after Caligula is done away with. Poor Claudius takes over after
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being found hiding behind a curtain by the Praetorian Guard.
If you havn't the time for the book track down a copy of the BBC's 70's TV series, its equally impressive with top quality acting you only find in the UK.
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Pages

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