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Claudius the God: And His Wife, Messalina Audio CD – Jan 1 2010

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio; Retail CD edition (Jan. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441715134
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441715135
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 13.3 x 15.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,235,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This novel, like its antecedent I, Claudius, will mesmerize those who love classical history, although casual readers may find it tedious. The two works together form a fictional autobiography of the Roman emperor Claudius, who - at least in this literary incarnation - is both an astute observer of first century Roman political society and an extraordinary character in his own right. Born into the Roman imperial family but repelled by the violence and treachery surrounding it, Claudius retreats from power for much of his adult life. He buries himself in obscure academic pursuits and hides, for what he believes to be his own safety, behind array of weird physical disabilities. When his nephew, the mad emperor Caligula, meets his just reward, the middle-aged Claudius is literally dragged against his will onto the Imperial throne. I, Claudius ends with this bizarre scene and Claudius the God takes up from there with the improbable emperor's own account of his reign up to point of his death. Much to everyone's surprise, Claudius emerges into the public eye as an energetic, able and just ruler. And while the great pride he takes in his enterprise is evident, both the style of his rule and the tone of his narrative is characterized by a wry and self-deprecating humor. Much of the book consists of a detailed recounting of the administrative, judicial and military minutia in which Claudius immersed himself. However, there is a deeper theme at work too, which is the inevitability that innocence in a corrupt world will be betrayed. Claudius's closest friend for much of his life is Herod Agrippa, the grandson of the biblical Herod the Great.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f461f30) out of 5 stars 487 reviews
217 of 225 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f63d930) out of 5 stars I, Claudius - this book changed how I read forever Aug. 1 2001
By C. Sellers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Instead of going into gory detail about the particulars of this text, as I'm sure you've read a few summaries already, I will merely say that this book changed my reading habits forever. I read this book, simply out of curiousity, because the title was familiar and from the first page of Graves' novel I was gripped. Written in an excellent, half-comic, half-tragic style, the novel flows, and keeps you reading until it abruptly (and I'd say quite cruelly ends). The moment which will stick in my mind forever is when I first read the scene when Claudius is called into the chamber of Caligula. Caligula mad intends to kill Claudius, but Claudius quickly picks up on the emperor's madness...and well read the book. This book changed it all for me, the next book I read was Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, then The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire..and so on. This book lit a passionate flame of curiousity about Roman History and then eventually world history, ever since reading this book 3 years ago, I have read only ancient classics, greek, roman and world histories, at the pace of at least one a month. For that reason alone I must rate this book highly and maybe it will light that curiousity in you too.
247 of 262 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ef572a0) out of 5 stars Arguably the great historical novel of the 20th century Aug. 10 2004
By Robert Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This novel by Robert Graves represents the supreme instance in the twentieth century to write a literarily serious historical novel. There has, of course, been no shortage of historical novels during the past century, but for the most part "historical" fiction has become a species of genre fiction, like Sci-Fi, detective fiction, spy fiction, and Westerns. I, CLAUDIUS, on the other hand, is a historical novel composed by someone otherwise regarded as a serious writer. This relationship between serious writers and the genre of historical fiction has not always been the case. Until the mid-19th century, a host of novels attempted to recreate a historical era, not least Dickens in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, William Thackeray in HENRY ESMOND, Flaubert in SALAMBO, Tolstoy in WAR AND PEACE, and Pynchon's GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. But for the most part, writers in the latter half of the nineteenth century and all of the twentieth century have forsaken historical fiction to write in the present tense, or at the latest of their childhood, as with Marcel Proust or Anthony Powell or Harper Lee.

Because of his success in the writing of I, CLAUDIUS and its sequel CLAUDIUS THE GOD, many today think of Robert Graves as primarily a novelist, but in fact most of his writing falls into the nonfiction realm, much of that with a historical bent. Graves was a passionate student of antiquity, both the Greeks and the Romans, and his goal in writing I, CLAUDIUS was to chronicle the period in Roman history immediately after the collapse of the republic and near the beginning of the rule of the Caesars. On the one hand, he wanted to adhere as closely to the documentary evidence for the events in the period as is compatible with a work of fiction, and on the other produced a first rate historical novel. He succeeds splendidly on both counts. His history is not pristine, but it is very close, with imaginative additions only for the sake of making sense of the narrative. The historical details are sufficiently solid and comprehensive for this novel to serve an excellent introduction to the early days of Imperial Rome.

In order to tell his story of Imperial Rome, Graves chooses as his narrator and eyewitnesses none other than the future emperor Claudius, once considered to be one of the weakest and most inept of the early Roman emperors, if also the least corrupt and ruthless. In the early 20th century several historians of Ancient Rome began revising their assessment of Claudius, not least the great Italian classicist (who relocated to England and America) Arnaldo Momigliano. Following the lead of these scholars, Graves presents Claudius as a cautious, sagacious, humble, unambitious, and scholarly soul, one who is simultaneously a gifted survivor and a closeted adherent to republican values. Though a stutterer and physically deficient, Grave's Claudius is a highly eloquent and intelligent observer of his world, a sage analyst of the personalities populating his Rome, and a gifted student of human nature. He also emerges as a highly likable and even admirable soul. One of the great achievements of Graves's novel has been to re-enforce on the popular level that reassessment of Claudius undertaken by the scholars mentioned above.

The precise period covered by Grave's novel begins roughly midway through Augustus's (formerly Octavian) career, the reign of Tiberius, and the shorter but extraordinarily horrid (though immensely entertaining) rule by Caligula. A host of other characters populate the story, but two above all others. One is, not surprisingly, Claudius himself, but the other is in many ways the dominant personality in the entire book, Claudius's grandmother, Tiberius's mother, and Augustus's wife Livia. She emerges as one of the great villains in modern literature, larger than life and exceptionally vile. One of the most brilliant moments in the novel is when Livia confesses to Claudius what motivates and drives her wretched behavior.

I, CLAUDIUS did not inspire a host of imitations among the other top fictional writers in the past century, but Graves did prove that it is a genre that still has potential to inspire, entertain, and educate. It also graphically illustrates the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The world of Claudius may be long past, but the motives driving the actions of novel's characters are as alive now as then, and though the events of the novel took place two thousand years ago, Claudius feels very much our contemporary.
86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f070648) out of 5 stars Masterful depiction of Roman politics Aug. 8 2000
By Chris Green - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Roman history, with its conquests, technical advancements, and impact on our modern world can be one of the most facinating subjects known to man. Roman politics, however, is usually one of the most boring. What Graves does with "I, Claudius" is present all the complex political intrigues of the early empire and make them not only bearable, but extremely involving.
Told through the eyes of Tiberius Claudius, the intellectually gifted but physically deformed relation to a series of emperors, the book winds from the last half of Augustus' (the first emperor after Julius Caesar) reign through the notorious times of Caligula, all the while keeping the reader enthralled.
The most remarkable thing about this book is simply that so much HAPPENS. Unlike most works of fiction, Graves' work does not busy itself with flowing descriptions of scenery, beautiful women, or romantic philosophy. Instead, the plot moves from event to event in a fast-paced but still rich combination of history and literary skill. Graves is able to strike an impressive balance between massive amounts of raw information (the history part) and uniquely adept storytelling prowess. Never have I read a book so full of historical fact and yet so utterly enjoyable.
You need NO prior knowledge of Roman history to appreciate this novel. Highly recommended.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ffd157c) out of 5 stars Those naughty Romans Aug. 5 2002
By Ritesh Laud - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After you finish "I, Claudius" you'll probably be sighing in relief that you weren't born into Roman nobility at the end of the first century BC. Because that would mean you'd have had wealth and political influence during the time of Augustus's scheming wife Livia and the tyrannical reigns of Emperors Tiberius and Caligula, which could have easily meant total loss of wealth and quite possibly death (and the deaths of all members of your family) if you so much as looked at any of them cross-eyed. Claudius is the nervous stammering weakling in the background, ridiculed by nearly all the royal family but relatively safe on account of those same shortcomings. He witnesses and lives through the many terrors and murders that the helpless upper crust of Rome suffers at the hands of the Caesars and their families and friends. The few noble-hearted members of the family are systematically wiped out as well, to prevent them from returning power to the Senate and making Rome a republic again.
Graves based this work (and the sequel Claudius the God) on Claudius's actual autobiography. Clearly many of the details must be fictional (i.e. what was on the menu on such and such night, words said during conversations, etc.), but all major events and many of the minor plot elements are ostensibly substantiated by historical text and hence are probably true to fact. That's scary. How can politics within a single city get as ridiculously inane and out of touch with regard for human life as portrayed in this work? Then again we need to remember that the Roman people condoned the spectacle of people killing each other for sport, so their thought patterns were obviously different from ours today. The Roman empire was a civilization, certainly. A *modern* civilization (with regard to Western core values as taught today), no.
Replete with wit and humor, "I, Claudius" is undoubtedly one of last century's masterworks in literature. Step into Claudius's shoes and warp back two thousand years to the epicenter of the largest ancient empire ever created. Enter the royal palace and be privy to secret plotting of heinous crimes necessary to retain power within the family. And shudder. Because you can't do anything about it, you're just a camera and microphone. You can't help the victims of the plots, even when you know that they could prevent or at least slow the decline of the empire.
It's all about power. Wait until you discover Livia's true purpose in all her scheming! Or read about how the insane Caligula handles the reins of the empire. A must read for all fans of history and anyone who just likes a good story.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f076234) out of 5 stars Mad But Interesting April 24 2008
By Daniel Myers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's not much I can say here or desire to say here that hasn't been covered by the other reviewers. Just to reiterate though: The character of Livia, as presented here in Graves's novel, is NOT based on any sound scholarship, new or otherwise. It's true that she COULD have poisoned her way to power as depicted here. But bear in mind that Claudius himself COULD have just as well done so himself, with this first person narration serving as a cover up. - Be it remembered that Claudius (the actual emperor) did write an actual first person Autobiography, now lost to us. - Who knows what ulterior motives he might have harboured in doing so? In any event, altogether too many untimely deaths of all sorts pile up to attribute to any one person. It also seems clear to me that Graves, in describing the Germans, was certainly drawing a parallel to the Germans he fought against in WWI.

But, laying historical accuracy to one side, this is a clever and interesting read. It is not, to my mind, the masterpiece some reviewers here make it out to be. But I enjoyed it. The impression one has on closing the book and reflecting on the murders, mayhem and madness that occur on almost every page leaves one feeling about the book as Claudius felt about the last, ebrious conversation he had with Livia:

"The conversation was like the sort one has in dreams - mad but interesting."