I, Claudius Hardcover – Nov 18 1976
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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.
* Makes a ripping yarn. The Guardian --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.See all Product Description
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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 Browse Sample Pages
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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!
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on July 4 2013 by Faded Blue
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... Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2012 by Pierre Gauthier
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. Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by Patricia Graham
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 morePublished on May 26 2004
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 14 2004
***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
While Robert Graves' second story on Emperor Claudius, called 'Claudius the God', is full of historical facts, this tale is not as trustworthy. Read morePublished on Dec 23 2003 by hjonkers
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 morePublished on Dec 11 2003 by D. W. Casey