Claudius the God - and His Wife Messalina Unknown Binding – 1972
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|Unknown Binding, 1972||
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Robert Graves recreates the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius, as if Claudius were writing his biography in secret. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Martin Jones
A well written historical work about one of the less well known emperor, at least until this book came out. Historically very accurate and very readable.Published 3 months ago by grenville knowles
I could never sit through I, Claudius on television in the 70's, as there was far too much violence for me. Read morePublished 3 months ago by blossom
The book is extraordinary, but I love it so much, because of Mr Jacobi great interpretation.Published 6 months ago by Piotr Zarzycki
Passed on from my mother - read it after watching I, Claudius series on tv which was also very good.Published 10 months ago by Lindsey Clare Gee-Turner