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Claudius the God - and His Wife Messalina Unknown Binding – 1972

4.7 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Unknown Binding, 1972
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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ISBN-10: 0140004211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140004212
  • ASIN: B0016ZMDC6
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,770,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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By A Customer on 30 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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