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Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina [Paperback]

Robert Graves
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 23 1989 0679725733 978-0679725732
Robert Graves begins anew the tumultuous life of the Roman who became emporer in spite of himself. Captures the vitality, splendor, and decadence of the Roman world at the point of its decline.

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Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina + I, Claudius + Julian: A Novel
Price For All Three: CDN$ 43.96

  • I, Claudius CDN$ 14.40
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Picking up where the extraordinarily interesting I, Claudius ends, Claudius the God tells the tale of Claudius' 13-year reign as Emperor of Rome. Naturally, it ends when Claudius is murdered--believe me, it's not giving anything away to say this; the surprise is when someone doesn't get poisoned. While Claudius spends most of his time before becoming emperor tending to his books and his writings and trying to stay out of the general line of corruption and killings, his life on the throne puts him into the center of the political maelstrom.

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First Sentence
Two years have gone by since I finished writing the long story of how I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, the cripple, the stammerer, the fool of the family, whom none of his ambitious and bloody-minded relatives considered worth the trouble of executing, poisoning, forcing to suicide, banishing to a desert island or starving to death-which was how they one by one got rid of each other-how I survived them all, even my insane nephew Gaius Caligula, and was one day unexpectedly acclaimed Emperor by the corporals and sergeants of the Palace Guard. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explaining history Dec 23 2003
Format:Paperback
Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54) has long been regarded as a so-called 'bad emperor', standing in the line of notorious guys like Caligula, Nero and Domitianus. The main reasons for this image were the books of Latin authors like Seneca, Suetonius and Tacitus. These writers all shared the same image on Claudius: a messy guy 'who was not a master, but rather a servant', as Suetonius puts it. Apparently there are some reviewers on this page who regard these 'original' sources as genuine reports on this emperor. According to them, Graves, who paints a quite sympathetic image of the emperor, is just making a funny story and not offering the facts. But those aforementioned Latin writers were not very objective either, if you look at the facts.
Seneca was a relative of Claudius, and had many personal conflicts with the emperor. Additionally, he was the one responsible for the education of cruel Nero, who would become emperor after Claudius. So I don't think you could trust Seneca. The other two authors, Suetonius and Tacitus, were both senators. They were men of the highest rank, and these people had the tradition to look down at emperors who listened more to their freedmen than to the Senate. Claudius was such an emperor: he gave many important bureaucratic jobs to his freedmen, because he could trust them better than those wolves from the Senate. Not a very bad idea, is it? But being senators themselves, Suetonius and Tacitus didn't like this attitude and so they disliked Claudius as well. What I mean to say with this is that the image we get of Claudius in this book is not less important than the one we see in the old sources: if Suetonius is called 'objective', so should Graves be.
It's also quite interesting to compare the Roman writers with Graves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine sequel to an excellent book... Sept. 5 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Taking up where "I, Claudius" left off, "Claudius the God" chronicles the reign of one of the most unlikely Emperors in Roman history: the lame, stuttering, and hardly stupid Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus. Having spent his entire life trying to *avoid* any political office, mostly by letting his family think he's a hopeless idiot (intelligence tends to get weeded out rather rapidly among the Julio-Claudians, usually with the help of some poison), Claudius finds himself catapulted to the throne at the age of fifty-one when his nephew, the mad Emperor Caligula, is assassinated. He doesn't want to be Emperor-he is in fact a staunch believer in restoring the Roman Republic-but eventually is forced to accept the job and thus begins the ill-fated rule of one of the most interesting Emperors of all time.
Of course he's doomed from the start-there's hardly an Emperor who *wasn't* murdered, and poison probably qualifies as death by natural causes when you're Roman aristocracy-and his wife Messalina is quite a piece of work, but that doesn't stop the book from being a good read, especially in the earlier parts of the story where Claudius shows an unexpected capacity for efficient administration. The same wry humor and political intrigue that characterized "I, Claudius" are present here as well, and the cast-of-thousands are all distinguished quite well from each other. While "Claudius the God" is not as captivating as its predecessor, and is in fact quite a bit more depressing, it's a book worth reading. There is only one drawback to reading these two tales of intrigue and Imperial families: you'll find yourself wanting to go out and get a food taster afterwards...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Historical Narrative March 24 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The second volume to Robert Grave's best fictional works. A convincing portrayal of what life was like at the core of the early Roman empire. While the first novel dealt with Claudius' childhood through the reign of Caligula, the sequel starts during his own reign until his death.
Graves masterfully develops the character of Claudius as he ponders his life and impresses his thoughts on to his "autobiography." The reader is then taken through the ambitions and palatial intrigues of his reign. Claudius reflects on the persons and events under his rule. He finds himself with a dwindling circle of friends and in the company of a devious young wife, Messalina. Claudius ponders his life with wit and humor. With this insight, Claudius is soon appreciated by the reader as having a keen intellect as opposed to being dull and slow of wit. His desire for truth and his loathing of the imperial struggle gives his story clarity and impartiality. All of the characters are well developed; their actions and motivations all come to light in the course of the story.
Along with Gore Vidal's "Julian" this is one of the greatest works in historical fiction in this genre or any genre. A must read for anyone who enjoys history or just a good story full of intrigue and suspense.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Successor to I, Claudius Jan. 2 2004
Format:Paperback
Claudius the God is the sequel to the legendary "I, Claudius". Though not quite as powerful as its predecessor, the book continues the story of Claudius after his ascension to the throne.
The book points out the many pitfalls of ruling a state; Claudius, sadly, is as much at the mercy of his wife as the Emperor Augustus was his -- a blind spot that nearly costs Claudius his throne. The advice Claudius receives from his friend Herod Agrippa in the beginning of the book -- to "trust no one", is indeed good advice.
As a character, Herod Agrippa steals the book -- the book's first seventy or so pages deal with his story, which form a very amusing and interesting digression -- and shows how Herod Agrippa's influence in Rome is instrumental in bringing the Senate around to recognizing Claudius.
Claudius introduces legal reforms; converts the harbor at Ostia into an all-season port to help secure Rome's food supply, conquers Britain, and revives the Roman religion. The book is a wealth of historical detail and interesting anecdotes.
The book is also engaging and entertaining; although one soon sees that the job of Emperor is no fun indeed -- Claudius has as much cause for paranoia as any of his predecessors.
The book is a must read for anyone who reads "I, Claudius", and is a very good work of literature that brings the Roman age to life.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Et tu, Claudius?
'Claudius the God' is actually part two of a two-part set, the second volume after the much-better-known 'I, Claudius'. Read more
Published on July 23 2003 by FrKurt Messick
5.0 out of 5 stars More Genius from Robert Graves
You must read "I, Claudius" first, but then you won't be able to stop, and you'll be so glad there's this second volume. A work of towering genius. Read more
Published on July 6 2003 by Douglas Keith McEwan
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, but read I, Claudius first
More diffuse and less focused than I, Claudius, despite covering a shorter time period and a smaller cast of characters, Claudius the God nevertheless succeeds brilliantly and in... Read more
Published on March 13 2003 by Gäddan
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, though not quite up to par with the first
This sequel to "I, Claudius" goes into depth about the actual reign of Claudius, as opposed to the reigns of his familial predecessors and his eventual "rise"... Read more
Published on March 4 2003 by Eric C. Erickson
5.0 out of 5 stars The sequel's just as good!
"Claudius the God" is the second of Graves' two-part story of the Roman Emperor Claudius, told in the form of an autobiography. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2002 by Ritesh Laud
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss the point
A lot of the reviews of this book fail to recognise the exercise in which Graves was engaged when writing this book. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by Cordless Iron Man
4.0 out of 5 stars Claudius a God? Deified, yes. But no God.
Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina is the second of Robert Graves' two part (fictional) account of the life of Tiberius Claudius. Read more
Published on May 19 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy second stab at the story
When I was half way through reading "I, Claudius," I decided that I had to pick up this book in order to finish the series. Read more
Published on Oct. 12 2001 by arye orona
5.0 out of 5 stars Graves is a stupendous writer!
Having read I, Claudius I was given the advice...to read the following title: Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina (Vintage International) by Robert Graves. Read more
Published on Oct. 9 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out!"
The first question is: is this book as good as it's predecessor? The answer is, of course: no. How could it be? Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2001 by JR Pinto
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