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I, Claudius [Hardcover]

Robert Graves
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 18 1976 0413370704 978-0413370709 New edition
Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus lived from 10 B.C. to 54 A.D. Physically weak, a stammerer, Claudius was ignored. He survived because of his infirmities. Imagine his agenda when he became emperor!

Written in the form of Claudius's autobiography, this book recounts the events of a scandalous era. Public morality deteriorated and corruption flourished. Barbarians found Rome ripe for the picking.

Robert Graves speaks to us from another era. He survived the trenches of WW I to create books of uncommon diversity and insight.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Having never seen the famous 1970s television series based on Graves' historical novel of ancient Rome and being generally uneducated about matters both ancient and Roman, I wasn't prepared for such an engaging book. But it's a ripping good read, this fictional autobiography set in the Roman Empire's days of glory and decadence. As a history lesson, it's fabulous; as a novel it's also wonderful. Best is Claudius himself, the stutterer who let everyone think he was an idiot (to avoid getting poisoned) but who reveals himself in the narrative to be a wry and likable observer. His story continues in Claudius the God. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


I, CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD are an imaginative and hugely readable account of the early decades of the Roman Empire ... racy, inventive, often comic Daily Telegraph One of the really remarkable books of our day, a novel of learning and imagination, fortunately conceived and brilliantly executed New York Times Still an acknowledged masterpiece and a model for historical fiction ... sympathetic and intensely involving: a great feat of imagination -- Hilary Mantel --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles), who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as 'Claudius the Idiot', or 'That Claudius', or 'Claudius the Stammerer', a.d. 41 or 'Clau-Clau-Claudius', or at best as 'Poor Uncle Claudius', am now about to write this strange history of my life ; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the 'golden predicament' from which I have never since become disentangled. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book on an interesting topic. April 23 2005
All fans af historical fiction need look no further for an intersesting read. The book chronicles the reigns of the Roman Emperors Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula as seen through the eyes of Tiberius Claudius. The book reads in true roman fashion, with characters droping like flies from the very start. The odd thing is how the book makes you not cry but chuckle. The combination of ridiculusly evil characters and humerously unfourtunate events make for a story so tragic you just have to laugh. This is only added to by the way that Claudius records things like murder,war,assasination,divorce and mass executions in a trivial way. Claudius, who is considerd as an idiot due to his stutter and limp, plays up his stupidity in order to stay out of the constant political intrigues, while in fact he is one of the smartest romans of the lot and in the end, I couldn't help but feeling somewhat attached to Claudius.
This book is truley marvelous and succeeds perfectly in retelling an ancient tale. And as a plus, I am now extremly knowledgeable on this time of history after reading this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent July 4 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
A revealing work and very captivating. I found it hard at first to keep track of the names but Robert Graves constructed the story so cleverly that I soon felt like a family friend.

This was a very informative and entertaining read that I will likely re-read someday.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing! Oct. 21 2012
By Pierre Gauthier TOP 500 REVIEWER
This novel written in 1935 is set as the autobiography of Claudius, before he becomes Roman emperor and as he sees the various members of his family die off, mainly through mischief.

It is not particularly well written. How for example can Claudius report word for word conversations that were held hundreds of kilometers away?

Also, the characters' psychology is poorly developed and inconsistent. Why for instance would Livia suddenly decide to confide her wrongdoings to Claudius whom she has always despised?

Though not graphic by today's standards, violence is so pervasive throughout the work that it becomes tedious.

To potential readers interested in an analogous approach to Roman Antiquity, Marguerite Yourcenar's `Memoirs of Hadrian' constitutes a far superior option.
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I was introduced to Robert Graves through the work of Gene Wolfe, whom I noticed was a fan of I, Claudius. So I gathered my wits and a mug of coffee, and proceeded to read the book. Frankly, most of the events of Claudius' life are astonishing, from a scheming Livia to a decadent Caligula, depicted almost surrealistically. Yet Roman history attests for all that happened and more. The writing is vivid and insightful, neither too urbane nor witty for its own sake. Exellent prose, and an exellent story which could only be played out by real human actors and their machinations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I was very excited to read "I, Claudius" because of the almost unanimous praise it has received by Amazon readers. I'm sorry to say that I was disappointed in it.
It's by no means a bad book, but I found that Robert Graves' cold historical voice kept me at a distance emotionally from the story and characters. Graves relates the story in a "first this happened, then that happened" kind of way, which has the benefit of explaining the history surrounding Claudius's rise to Roman Emperor in a clear and non-convoluted way. However, Graves' approach to the story also succeeds in keeping the reader uninvolved in the proceedings, because characters never become alive, but instead remain as about as engaging as the people you read about in high school history books.
In short, I would recommend this book if you're in the mood for a plot-driven novel---and believe me, there's plenty of plot to sink your teeth into.
But if you're in the mood to wrap your mind around fully developed characters and psychological complexity, I would read something besides this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Black Comedy At Its Best July 7 2004
I, Claudius has just made its way onto my Netlfix queue, and I can only hope that the mini-series based on the Robert Graves novels are played as a black comedy! Robert Graves has managed to write a wickedly funny portrayal of the "royal family" from the reign of Augustus Ceaser through the wanton debauchery of Caligula. All three reigns are told through the eyes of the seemingly idiotic Claudius, whom ends the book on the shoulders of his countrymen as their new Ceaser.
Graves, who is a true literary giant in his own right, colorfully fills in the blanks of the historical Roman record. Whether his interpretations of events are factual or not is left up for debate, but the genius of his narrative through Claudius is not. You'll need to draw a map of how all the various characters are related since marriage, divorce and adoption within the same family is rampant. Claudius' grandmother Livia is a real force whose product ends up being the sordid reign of Caligula. Augustus and Tiberius are "interesting" in their own way, and the stories attached to each Ceaser's reign or one part tragic and 10 parts black comedy. That Claudius is able to survive by playing the embicile shows his true genius. Can't want to see what the DVDs have in store!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quite unexpectedly Good June 9 2004
Usually I hate historical fiction preferring my history to be history and fiction to be fiction, but this book confounded me because I loved it. It was a good overview of the first five Caesars but I kept wondering what was fiction and what was truth {don't say I didn't warn you}. But soon into it, the ambivalence quieted and it was just a good gripping tale. Your family does wonder when you go around muttering about Livia and Caligula and the stupidity of Augustus but that is the effect it has, almost like a soap opera. It so inspired me that I have ordered the sequel along with a few other books of the same era but somehow, I know this one will be hard to top. It is a winner if one can get over the insistance on separating history from fiction. But what the hey, you only live once, so try it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars From historian to emperor
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... Read more
Published on June 1 2004 by Matthew M. Yau
1.0 out of 5 stars painful. couldn't get past page 50. What book was I reading?
Not the same book as everyone else, I guess. My entire book club had the same experience- we had to skip this month's meeting because none of us could get through this book. Read more
Published on May 26 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!
Never dull (amazingly) -- brilliant, fast-paced and deliciously scandalous. Exactly the sort of book to get a reluctant/apprehensive reader interested in the classics(...)
Published on May 15 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Few Classics I Actually Loved
***One of the TWO best books I read in 2003***
My favorite author, George R. R. Martin, recommended this book on his website, so I grabbed the audiobook off the shelf at the... Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Dan Dean
5.0 out of 5 stars An unbelievable story
While Robert Graves' second story on Emperor Claudius, called 'Claudius the God', is full of historical facts, this tale is not as trustworthy. Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003 by hjonkers
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of Historical Fiction
I had been meaning to read this book for many years, and having just completed it, I wish I had never put it off. This is a superb work of historical fiction. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by D. W. Casey
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest historical novel ever written
I have read both I CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD three times. Once as a teen, in my early 30s and again just recently. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2003 by Dr. William H. Moore
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