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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 story of Claudius' reign as Caesar, his attempts to conquer Britain, his tragic marriage to the perfidious Messalina and his eventual death. In order to survive he plays up his image of the amiable idiot, never quite dangerous 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, especially when the cruel deceptions practiced by Messalina are revealed. The story is put forward in a clear and compelling fashion. Covering almost 20 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 book is a sequel to the equally great `I, Claudius', which details the Claudian family history, and Claudius' life up to being declared emperor.

These are absolute classics of English literature. Erudite, beautifully written, but also enthralling adventure stories that are highly accessible. Highly recommended to all.
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on 30 October 2001
Robert Graves' Claudius novels are a fantastic rendering of Roman life. It is sometimes difficult to keep up in the early parts of 'I, Claudius' because of the complexity of Claudius' family structure (which Graves does not shy away from explaining to the full!). However, once the family tree is out of the way, and a couple of relatively uninteresting wars have been fought, you're on to an engrossing read, filled with twists and turns.
Caligula's excesses make particularly entertaining reading, whilst providing modern readers with a stark portrait of what excessive power can lead to.
If you survive the first 150 pages without falling asleep, you're there. This jewel of a book is definitely worth the archaelogical dig!
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In this novel Robert Graves continues Claudius’ fictional autobiography. At the end of ‘I, Claudius’ Claudius had just been proclaimed Emperor by the Palace Guard, and the story continues from then, but we also take a look back, as Claudius tells us of Herod Agrippa (the King Herod in the Bible) who was a contemporary of his. In fact we do not know how much of a role Herod played in Claudius’ succession to becoming Emperor and Graves probably makes their friendship much greater than it was in real life, but within the frame of this story it does work.

Graves was well informed of the period he was writing about and although scholarly he does play around with things where there are conflicting accounts and where there is room to mess about with historical accuracy. So as with all great historical fiction, the framework is accurate, it is just the finer details that have been played about with. As with the first novel this is still a compelling read and you are quickly drawn back into the story even if you have had a break between reading the two books.

As Claudius takes up the reigns of Emperor things are never going to be that easy and initially it is the backing of the Palace Guard that gives him the impetus to succeed. Of course there will always be the risk of assassination, and there are always others waiting to manipulate the Emperor to get their own way in certain matters. Whilst all know what Claudius’ wife, Messalina is like it takes Claudius a very long while to come to the discovery himself, and how he has been cuckolded and played for a fool. Taking in his conquest of Britain and his public works this is gripping and full of high politics, but at the same time laced throughout with humour.

In this edition you also will find at the rear of the book three different accounts of Claudius’ death as well as a satire by Seneca. Along with the first book this makes on the whole a deeply engrossing read that is full of warmth and humour despite the amount of bloodshed and political strife. Seamlessly blending fact and fiction Robert Graves also reminds us of one sure thing, that no matter the difference in years, the way we have become more modernized with communications, gadgets and comfort, human nature always remains the same. So although we can vote for our leader in this country and many others, and they don’t go around physically exterminating each other there are always character assassinations, spin and propaganda going on, and even if you are a leader there will always be a lot of work to do to keep others satisfied and maintain popularity with the public.
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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 story of Claudius' reign as Caesar, his attempts to conquer Britain, his tragic marriage to the perfidious Messalina and his eventual death. In order to survive he plays up his image of the amiable idiot, never quite dangerous 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, especially when the cruel deceptions practiced by Messalina are revealed. The story is put forward in a clear and compelling fashion. Covering almost 20 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 book is a sequel to the equally great `I, Claudius', which details the Claudian family history, and Claudius' life up to being declared emperor.

These are absolute classics of English literature. Erudite, beautifully written, but also enthralling adventure stories that are highly accessible. Highly recommended to all.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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 wierd and wonderful occurrences driven by the powerlust, greed and pure madness of the ruling family.

Telling the tale from an insider's perspective, these two books tell 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, especially when the cruel deceptions practiced by the perfidious Messalina are revealed. 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.

The edition contains I, Claudius and the sequel Claudius the God. The first book details the Claudian family history and the events leading up to Claudius being proclaimed Emperor. The second book tells the tale of his rule, his demise and some of the future of the Empire under the rule of Nero.

These are absolute classics of English literature. Erudite, beautifully written, but also enthralling adventure stories that are highly accessible. Highly recommended to all.
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on 2 June 2010
This was an excellent book to read. The only problems that I found were those which are common to many of the older paperback publications. 1. The inner margins were too small which limits the ease of reading at the edge of the pages. 2. On a nuimber of parts the type used is too small (no doubt to save on the number of pages), this was particularly noticeable where Claudius had received letters from other people. These comments apart though it is an excellent, and necessary follow up to I Claudius.
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on 28 April 2011
I read this directly after reading I, Claudius.

It is longer and more sedate perhaps and lacks the screw-tightening tension of the earlier book but is no less fascinating.

The various little stories Claudius tells are fantastic, like the Roman knight who woos his lover by pretending to be a God, or the sea battle Claudius sets up to celebrate his draining of the Fucine lake (and his ensuing tantrum); these stories seem to encapsulate the marvellous and terrifying glory of ancient Rome - it occurs to me that Graves is in no small part responsible for the image we carry of the Roman emperors. Graves has imagined and described events so well through Claudius that you remember them almost as if you were there - without the danger of summary execution hanging over your head...

Recommended reading.
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on 15 September 2005
How can a man, writing 1900 years after the event, with all the intervening history between, the rise and fall of great empires, nations and peoples transpiring, living in an age, so unlike any other that has preceded it, of modernity, of the motor car, of mass transport, of radio and advertisements, of mass democracy and mass culture be able to recreate a feel of one of the great civilizations of Antiquity, and to put living words into mouths of people long dead and have them not seem contrived or ridiculously grand and unreal, to not be blinded and dumbed by the reverence for the subject the passing of time usually bestows, to not be tempted into a petty judgemental posture of insance acts and grotesque gestures? I don't know. But Robert Graves achieves something I did not think possible anymore.
I have read the classics only in translation, and therefore I can only comment on what I know: there is a style and power to much of the classics that escapes many modern novels. Thousands of years later they are still more alive than much that can be read now, printed only last month. Robert Graves manages to achieve that same feel of directness, simplicity and power of Classical writing, which, in theory, should be so simple, but is actually extremely difficult.He gives us the dust of the Roman Empire, the flickering light of torches lighting marble corridors, and human interactions that decided the destiny of millions.
Written in the 1930s, the books, aside from their great artistic merit, have a profound and deeply moving message about the nature of tyranny and the people who uphold it. There is even a portrait of Caligula which is not entirely without sympathy (and some great comic scenes).
The reader warms to the narrator, Claudius, and the novel's plot is very interesting and at times gripping.
From my reading of Twentieth Century Literature these works along with Graves' other, Count Belisarius, as amongst the very greatest; and an incredible achievement.
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on 19 September 2003
Robert Graves writes a majestic, hilarious and moving portrayal of ancient Rome extending from the benevolent reign of Augustus, through the tyranny of Tiberius and the insanity of Caligula, to the triumphs and tribulations of Claudius. Drawing on a huge knowledge of ancient history to present a (largely) factual account of the times, Graves fills the gaps with a wonderful array of salacious events, and gives each character fullness, especially Claudius himself who is one of the great characters in modern fiction. These two books are never dry and stuffy, by contrast they are overflowing with freshness and vitality. As relevant to today's events as any contemporary work, I Claudius and Claudius the God are essential reading.
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on 4 April 2014
Told from the view of Claudius the fourth emperor of Rome born
With a lame leg,and grew up with a stutter and twitch he was treated
With contempt by his mother and grandmother ,although his siblings
And in-laws ,friends thought enough of him to advise him to exaggerate
More of his ailments so he would not be considered a threat to the more
Devious members of his clan. He was definitely on the sidelines
During Tiberius reign ,but took the brunt of Caligula s insanity
During his . In the series Claudius was astute enough to play
Along with Caligula s bouts of insanity not only saving him
Self but also countless others,after Caligula assassination
The praetorian guard elevated him to emperor ,to save himself
From certain assassination from the Senate if he refuses the guards
Protection he succumbs to pressure to become emperor.
He became the only emperor to subdue Britain(Julius Caesar
Was not an emperor) and this campaign gave him more
Credence with the Senate .unfortunately his marriage
To messalina was nearly his undoing. In the book/series
She and lover tried to commit a coup until the emperor s staff
Managed to put it down.devastated when he was tricked
Into signing her death warrant ,he later marrys Caligula
Younger sister,and adopts her son nero in favour of his own
Son to be next emperor,Claudius already thought that his son
Would be assassinated after his own demise. Claudius had
Already gathered that he would be murdered by Nero and
His wife and could or would not do any thing to prevent
It. Perhaps he thought that with Nero on the throne
The Senate would depose the emperor Nero revert to republic
And then Claudius s natural son would be safe........
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