Customer Reviews


75 Reviews
5 star:
 (50)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (4)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best.
Re-reading old favourites has become a bit of a habit with me lately - simply because there are few new authors with half the talent of Robert Graves.

As one reviewer points out, quite rightly, this isn't history, but the reader can't help but wish it to be true. The character of Claudius is so well drawn and accounts so well for the paradoxies evident in the...
Published on 19 April 2008 by Iphidaimos

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Captures the brutality and sophistication of the Roman Empire
A fine historical novel that gives an entertaining overview of life in the Roman Empire, written in the first person by Claudius, grandson of the emperor Augustus. The story captures the intrigues and plots, the sophistication and brutality of life in this ancient society, and brings Roman times vividly to life. Claudius is dismissed and overlooked by his family due to...
Published 5 months ago by BookWorm


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the best., 19 April 2008
Re-reading old favourites has become a bit of a habit with me lately - simply because there are few new authors with half the talent of Robert Graves.

As one reviewer points out, quite rightly, this isn't history, but the reader can't help but wish it to be true. The character of Claudius is so well drawn and accounts so well for the paradoxies evident in the historical accounts of him that you feel it must be right. There is nothing in the story that cannot be verified in Suetonius or Tacitus and Graves' handling of the material leaves the reader with nothing but admiration for his explanation of those facts.

Truly magnificent.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "How many twisted stories still remain to be straightened out?", 26 July 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Published in 1934, poet Robert Graves's _I, Claudius_ tells the story of Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, known in Roman history as Claudius--an historian, a crippled stutterer, and widely regarded as an idiot. Claudius is isolated from the treachery of the Roman court during the years immediately after the death of Christ, protected by the fact that no one takes him seriously enough to want to assassinate him. Ultimately, however, Claudius ascends to the throne of the Roman Empire in 41 A.D. and rules brilliantly until he is assassinated in 54 A.D.

Through the first person narrative of Claudius, Graves tells the story from the beginning of the Christian era until Claudius's death fifty years later, recording the horrors visited on the Roman people by his family's rulers. Claudius's grandmother Livia, widow of Caesar Augustus--and one of the most treacherous women in history--manipulates the imperial succession through poisonings, assassinations, marriages, and secret alliances. The reign of her son Tiberius is bloody, murderous, and corrupt. His brother, the good soldier Drusus, is kept in foreign lands until he can be assassinated. Tiberius's succession by Caligula, his grandson and the protégé of Livia, takes Rome into even more terrifying debauchery. Claudius's ultimate succession to the throne upon the death of Caligula, his insane nephew, is regarded as a joke by the court--the installation of an idiot who will not challenge the imperialists. Ironically, Claudius is discovered to be a republican.

This first person account, with virtually no scenes of direct action, defies the first rule of novel-writing: to recreate, not "tell about" actions. Here every aspect of Roman history is filtered through the mind of Claudius, who "tells about" all the action as he knows it. Claudius, however, is so perceptive and so full of fascinating information about the characters and their motivations, that the reader creates his/her own action scenes from the information revealed by Claudius. Through Claudius, whom the reader comes to admire, the reader is able to evaluate what is happening in ways that direct-action scenes, with all their superficial excitement, do not allow.

Characters are complex, fully developed humans, instead of cardboard, costumed "ancients," and their machinations, though extremely bloody, show the conflicts that occur when absolute rule and republican sentiments contend for dominance, a conflict in which Graves says he saw parallels to World War I and its aftermath. Giving a new view of Claudius from what had traditionally been accepted, Graves's portrayal is historically accurate (based on then-new information) and psychologically perceptive, a brilliant novel which sets the standard for historical fiction. Mary Whipple
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History coming alive, 24 Oct 2007
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
"I, Claudius" and its sequel "Claudius the God" are definitely amongst the best books ever written on Imperial Rome, and quite probably amongst the best historical novels on any age or subject. No novelist could have devised a better plot than the actual events in those days, with fascinating characters such as Augustus, Livia, Germanicus, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius himself, and an empireal court rife with intrigue and plotting, but I've never known it told better than Graves does.

It's a book that demands your full attention and concentration, just to keep track of the countless family ties, feuds and plots, but in fact that's part of the attraction. A breath-taking story, by a master storyteller who knows his subject matter extremely well!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This really is compelling reading, 27 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: I, Claudius (Paperback)
I, Claudius by Robert Graves really is what they say it is, the best historical novel of our time. The brutal reality of power politics is splendidly portrayed by Graves against the rich and inspiring backdrop of ancient Rome. The story is told from the perspective of a nobly born, but disadvantaged spectator who stands by as those around him destroy each other until, inevitably, he is drawn into the role of participant in the glorious game that was Roman politics.
An excellent read, you won't be able to put it down.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I, Claudius, Robert Graves - Historic fiction at its best, 2 Feb 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Why bother going to the trouble of inventing a decent plot and characters when history has already done it for you? The reigns of the Caesars in ancient Rome were full of memorable people and weird and wonderful occurrences driven by the power lust, greed and pure madness of the ruling family.

Telling the tale from an insider's perspective, this book tells the family history of Claudius, the stuttering `idiot' who managed to survive the rather bloody politics of the day long enough to become Emperor himself. Populated with memorable characters such as the mad Caligula, the paranoid Tiberius, the scheming Livia and the quick tempered Augustus, Claudius has a family history full of murder and intrigue. In order to survive he plays up his image of the amiable idiot, never quite important enough to be worth killing. But behind the mask was a quick and observant man, fascinated with establishing the truth for his history books.

Robert Graves provides Claudius with a compassionate personality, ill suited to his times. But this makes the narrating voice one with which we have much sympathy. The story is put forward in a clear and compelling fashion. Covering almost 200 years, and with a host of characters, it is epic in scale, yet centres around a very human story of just one man. Graves draws each character well, and provides them with distinctive mannerisms and voices, making each stand out clearly.

This first book details the Claudian family history and the events leading up to Claudius being proclaimed Emperor. An equally worthy sequel, `Claudius the God' tells the tale of his rule, his demise and some of the future of the Empire under the rule of Nero.

This is an absolute classic of English literature. Erudite, beautifully written, but also an enthralling adventure story that is highly accessible. Highly recommended to all.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I, Claudius - what a family!!, 26 Sep 2003
This review is from: I, Claudius (Hardcover)
I first picked up this book on Holiday in Holland in the 80's, along with the follow up "Claudius the God". Both are good pieces of fiction but I feel there is something even worse hidden beneath the words which just cannot be written about. Having read the book I was driven to research the age in which it is set - and I was right. This is but half the story and tells only what could be published without pushing the book into the pornography or the sado-masochism sections.
It is true what they say you can choose your friends but beware of your family - and don't get to close to the friends either! The chronology is a bit hard to follow but the story is basically accurate in the major historical points and the characters - watered down as they are - are definitely believable.
Told from the first person viewpoint it paints a fairly accurate life of Rome of the time though it is spoilt a little by the geographical information which has, of necessity I suspect, been written with the modern map in mind. A thoroughly enjoyable read which I have come back to time and again and- like Tolkein & Dillman - have gained new insights and shocks from each time I have read it. I would recommend it to students of history for its insights as well as the leisure reader for its good storyline of intrigue, murder, incest. Anything seems possible and probable in this decadent time in Rome's History. My final comment, to paraphrase Julia, daughter of Augustus - "Yeah Gods, what a family!!"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and compelling but not necessarily historically accurate, 18 Oct 2006
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
For so many people I, Claudius is THE novel about the first years of the Roman Empire and so has conditioned our whole reception of Rome and the rule of the emperors - and how Robert Graves would have laughed if he could have predicted that! Written as a 'pot-boiler' because he needed the cash, Graves deliberately fashions a decadent, immoral and corrupt milieu that has now passed into historical fact.

As a translator of Suetonius and Tacitus, two of the major sources he uses for his fictions, Graves is completely aware that both men had political agendas of their own when they chose to portray Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula etc in the way he did. Livia hardly gets a mention, along with the other imperial women, and Suetonius' portrait of Claudius himself is far less avuncular than Graves'.

Having said that, both this and the sequel Claudius the God are excellent novels: but just don't automatically assume they're also history because they're not.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Captures the brutality and sophistication of the Roman Empire, 5 July 2014
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A fine historical novel that gives an entertaining overview of life in the Roman Empire, written in the first person by Claudius, grandson of the emperor Augustus. The story captures the intrigues and plots, the sophistication and brutality of life in this ancient society, and brings Roman times vividly to life. Claudius is dismissed and overlooked by his family due to his stammer, physical imperfections, and supposed low intelligence. This puts him in a unique position to witness their villainous behaviour towards each other, as they vie for power.

At times it gets a bit over wordy and confusing, and I struggled to keep track of all the various plots and relations between the many characters, a lot of whom have very similar names. However it also has extremely gripping sections, and I managed to keep track of all the most important parts. Readers more familiar with the history of this period would probably find it easier anyway. It's certainly interesting, and I particularly enjoyed the parts that gave an insight into the daily life of the Romans, such as the games and the festivals.

Claudius is an interesting character, mostly sympathetic, and an effective choice of narrator. His interest in history and his position in the family enable him to have a great deal of knowledge of the actions of others. Although the book is written as though it were his autobiography, by his own admission he features in it relatively little. So it generally reads more like a third person account of all the key events in the reigns of the Emperors Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula. It's a surprisingly dispassionate account given that the people portrayed are Claudius' relatives and friends and these are the key events of his life, however his real affection for certain characters is clear. Many of the characters are thoroughly, almost implausibly horrible. However I liked that the characters seemed genuinely Roman and acted by the values and beliefs of society back then, rather than seeming like modern people in togas.

It's quite a bloodthirsty book with a lot of murders and torture. There are sexual references but nothing explicit, and it would be fine for teenagers to read as a primer to the history of the time. I enjoyed it despite finding it a bit long and dry in parts. Readers with an interest in the Romans or of historical fiction generally should definitely read it. It's also a good book to read if you're visiting Roman sites on holiday and want an insight into the people of the time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roman soap opera, 2 April 2003
This review is from: I, Claudius (Paperback)
The pleasure I got from this book was mainly due to Robert Graves' style of making Roman historical events come alive with an almost soap-opera like quality. Although he never veers into sensationalism, I was always lead from page to page wanting to know the next extraordinary event in the life and times of Augustus et al. Although a vast and complex array of characters are introduced I never felt lost due to the author's logical style and his ability to remind the reader of ground already covered. Overall, I knew little about this period of history before I read this book and the author made my education very enjoyable!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dynasty for Real, 2 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: I, Claudius (Paperback)
there's alot of blood and gore, lust and greed, power and murder in this; and as it's based on fact, it's very revealing on what the Roman Empire's leading figures got up to in the decline of the empire. From Augustus to Claudius, the book unfolds a gruesome history, as an "auto-biography" of Claudius. Great stuff.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

I, Claudius
I, Claudius by Robert Graves (Paperback - 1 Sep 1969)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews