I, Claudius (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Aug 2006
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I, CLAUDIUS and CLAUDIUS THE GOD are an imaginative and hugely readable account of the early decades of the Roman Empire ... racy, inventive, often comic (Daily Telegraph)
One of the really remarkable books of our day, a novel of learning and imagination, fortunately conceived and brilliantly executed (New York Times)
Still an acknowledged masterpiece and a model for historical fiction ... sympathetic and intensely involving: a great feat of imagination (Hilary Mantel)
First published in 1934, and written in the form of Claudius' autobiography, the audio is read by Derek Jacobi. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
In what was a very turbulent period in Roman history with regards to its leadership, Claudius was an ideal person to use, as he lived through some major events, and due to his infirmities managed to avoid assassination unlike a lot of his relatives. After all an Emperor doesn't want family and others around him who could usurp him with legitimate claims to the throne.
In this book Claudius takes us back to before he was born so that we get a feel for the age, and then after his birth he shows what was going on with all the political and family machinations. By using modern place names this makes it an easy read for those who aren't as well versed on the history of the period as others, and whether you are quite well informed on the era or not this makes for some great reading. Although there is a lot of plotting and killing here this is also full of comedy and is a joy to read. We are taken up to the assassination of Caligula and Claudius being announced Emperor, with what happened next coming in the second volume `Claudius the God'.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bringing ancient Rome to life, with believable motives and characters in this fascinating period of history this is a book that can change your life. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Recent visitor to Pompeii
It took quite a while to plough my way through this. I still have the image of Derek Jacobi play the title role many years ago.Published 10 days ago by Sue
I Claudius and the sequel Claudius the God have been among my favourite novels since I first read them almost 50 years ago. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mike Heron
I Claudius is a work of recreated autobiography, telling the life story of a reluctant Roman emperor, who introduces himself as “Tiberius, Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Martin Jones