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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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on 11 July 2015
Of course I should start by saying I've readed this before, way back (weigh Bach? I picture him being a larger man but accept I may well be wrong) in 2000, which still sounds like the future to me, for the most part on a caravan lavatory in Southerness, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, where I was fortunate enough to spend a week during the June of that year with several homosexual pals of mine (and I'm not one myself, read on), at least several or less of whom were either/or Asian or Black, five differently abled, one extremely small, extremely, another utterly limbless and blind, his brother deaf and hopelessly addicted to the mind-boggling anti-depressant Venlafackinell, his half sister, Mildred, so bland as to be veritably invisible (see, or better hear, Bob Dylan's 'Wallflower' on whatever album that was, 'Hodgepodge' or 'Self-Flagellation'), their father, Frunk, almost compotally bald, their mother unmoored, adrift in a world not of her making (or mine).

And what a week it was, what a week, to paraphrase the late David, icon he was with his bloody knows though no one never nose till their gone. Look at at at Wyvil, I mean Evlis, after all, no one give a stuff about what a fat mess he'd become till he become such a fat mess he couldn't even poo without dying. Poo!? Who am I, Una bleeding Stubbs!? H.E. frazzling Bates or whoever!? Lesley the Goose whose work it was to abide by the steam hammer until it had cooled sufficiently to be put away (Hey)? You in your old Renault 5 and me in my bathing suit? A dead dog biscuit and a brandy snap for seventeen, silver plate!? Brenda Blethyn's rectum splayed all over Peckham Rye!!?An old man in his birthday suit molesting a mirror!?!?

And why was I on the bog so much, long enough (lozenge), that is, to read not one but two fairly weighty tomes borrowed out of off Morley Library, Leeds, and god (Claudius the ...) help who had it after, fecal matter and all!? Well, despite the company, in spite, that is, of a good many (many good!) offers, it was simply due to my penchant for strong alcohol and spicy food. All of which said, the book/s is/are brilliant, Graves a great guy, writer, this a blinking masterpiece by anyone's standards. Guus Hiddink only knows how he done it but he did, which is why I'm retreading in again, by the wayside, that and age, the urge to revisit not only my own past but man's, rerevisit, even so. Yes, 'There's more to life than books you know, but not much more', as someone once said. But not much more.
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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.
0Comment1 of 1 people 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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 September 2015
The perfect companion for all Roman enthusiasts is the ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKER Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

"Claudius, the God" continues Robert Graves' story of the Emperor Claudius beginning just after he is crowned emperor and continues to his death. It is, like the prior book "I, Claudius", a first-person narrative. The fascinating story continues and though not quite as exciting as the first novel (Claudius was not as wild and depraved as Tiberius or Caligula), the story keeps moving, the conspiracies keep mounting and his end, though not unexpected, was presented with a twist that catches our breath.

Claudius' friendship with Herod Agrippa who was the King Herod in the Acts of the Apostles, grandson of Herod the Great and nephew of Herod Antipas who had John the Baptist beheaded, is a truly wonderful tale. I knew nothing about this Herod and the history of Judea and the surrounding kingdoms during the Roman empire, but I want to know more now. Though this is a book of fiction (Claudius did not write this autobiography), Graves tells us in the introduction that none of the characters or events are made up, only his interpretation of the events are speculative. Amazing!!
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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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