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I, Claudius (1934)

by Robert Graves

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Claudius (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,921144799 (4.25)377
Based on the life of Claudius, Emperor of Rome.
  1. 120
    Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar (bertilak)
  2. 50
    Julian by Gore Vidal (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: Both classical Roman subjects, and they share the style of an "autobiographical novel."
  3. 20
    Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (sirparsifal)
  4. 20
    Homer's Daughter by Robert Graves (longway)
  5. 20
    Augustus: First Emperor of Rome by Adrian Goldsworthy (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: I, Claudius can be at times be a bit weird (maybe "overly romanticized" would be a better description). Goldsworthy's biography can be a good corrective, at least for the first half of I, Claudius (the portion dealing with the lifetime of Augustus), and definitely presents a different (and probably much more balanced) image of Livia, the long-time wife of Augustus.… (more)
  6. 10
    Augustus by John Edward Williams (rahkan)
  7. 10
    The Annals by P. Cornelius Tacitus (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Non-fiction view into the same period, and a probable reference for Mr. Graves.
  8. 21
    Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Historical fiction set in the Classical Mediterranean
  9. 10
    The Egyptian: A Novel by Mika Waltari (mcenroeucsb)
  10. 11
    Tiberius by Allan Massie (celtic)
  11. 11
    An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54 BC - AD 409 by David Mattingly (John_Vaughan)
  12. 11
    Pride of Carthage: A Novel of Hannibal by David Anthony Durham (mcenroeucsb)
  13. 12
    Empire by Steven Saylor (JGolomb)
    JGolomb: "I, Claudius" is the standard bearer for Imperial Roman fiction. It's more richly detailed and emotional than Saylor, but comparable it's broad historical scope.
  14. 34
    I, Claudius [1976 TV miniseries] by Herbert Wise (longway)
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» See also 377 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
I picked up I Claudius and Claudius the God, because I remembered really liking the BBC Series, which we watched in Latin Class. I approached the first book with some caution, not sure if they would live up to the TV series, after all, these books were written almost 80 years ago. I was not disappointed. They're great. Really great. It is written in a manner that projects a lot of authenticity, yet very pleasant to read.

'I Claudius' deals with Claudius' childhood up until Caligula's assassination, in the form of an autobiography. 'Claudius the God' describes Claudius' life as emperor of Rome until his death.

It's obvious that Graves knows his stuff and that he has done a lot of research. Granted, he does portray some of the wild stories that Suetonius and the like wrote about as being true, and most historians will tell you to take this with a pinch of salt. But hey, I remember loving those stories in my Latin classes, the crazier the better. I adored Caligula, he was just awesome. Horse elected senator, war against Neptune, oh man. Good stuff.

So many times while reading these, I came upon facts, or names or whatever and I would have an 'ohhhh yeah!' moment and remember things that I'd been taught years ago. These two books are a must-read for people who are interested in Roman stuff. Graves does tend to go into a lot of detail, so make sure you're a total geek before you start. Myself, nine times out of ten, I was very interested. And there's always epic battles, murder, deceit, banishment and adultery to mix things up.

Personally, I enjoyed the first book a little more than the second one, but that might be because the first one has historical V.I.P.'s such as Caligula and Augustus (who is, by the way, probably a little slower and a little more pussywhipped than the real Augustus was), but they are both still very much recommended. By me. ( )
1 vote superpeer | Feb 1, 2021 |
I, Claudius is an utterly unputdownable historical fiction about Imperial Ancient Rome in all its political gore and glory. Packed with political machinations and scheming straight from the (fictional) autobiography written by Roman Emperor Claudius, the famed The Idiot/Roman mythology's Vulcan, this novel is engrossingly twisty and sneaky. More than a telling of his life and his absurdly incidental nomination to power—with a feign of stupidity used as one of his advantages—this also covers Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula's reign. To say the manipulations and betrayals are driven by personal interests alone is only dust on the surface. The insistence of these plots necessary for the good of the Roman Empire reexamines the characters' actions and decisions. Graves' I, Claudius has no pause for any dry or dull moment either; everything is written in exact humour and wit. And due to the superb quality of the novel, there are times when its historical inaccuracies become incontestable and difficult to separate from the historical truths of one of the most sweeping and influential civilisations of humankind. Sumptuously controversial and pleasurably conniving, how there is brutality, horror, and greed in such an advance culture also absolutely magnifies society's glaring regressions and stagnancies. And by god, it's not in any way shocking at all but still a note to take: the senators then haven't got a hair's width of difference with the senators of today. You kind of wish we still have the Stairs of Mourning. ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
It hasn't really taken me 16 months to read this...

The first book I've finished in our brand new year is I Claudius, the fictional autobiography of the accidental emperor of Ancient Rome, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (10BC-AD54). I wanted to read it because of my interest in Ancient Rome (which I studied at university when I did Classics.)

For those of us of a certain age, it's impossible to read this book without remembering the characters from the 1976 BBC series starring Derek Jacobi. It's still available in various re-mastered editions, and it's still good entertainment despite showing its age in terms of special effects, scenery and costuming.

The book, however, is a bit arduous to read. My edition comes in at 395 pages, but the font is small and dense, and most modern editions are 450+ pages. Robert Graves (1895-1985) based his historical novel on real events in the early Roman Empire using Tacitus and Suetonius as sources, and he spares his readers no detail. Since the participants in the history of the Julio-Claudian dynasty were an ambitious lot, much given to disposing of rivals in a variety of duplicitous ways, they adopted alternative heirs and successors willy-nilly and made things harder to follow by being wilfully unimaginative in naming offspring with the same old names over and over again. Which is why, when I started this book way back in August 2019, I abandoned it at page 67 and watched the TV series on DVD to clarify who was what and which ones had been bumped off and why. I then progressed to page 177 but the book got moved off the coffee table to make way for 2019 Christmas revelry (which we were allowed to have in those pre-Covid days, remember?) And then I forgot about it, except when I looked at my Goodreads 'currently reading' status, where it dropped down lower and lower as other shiny new books took its place.

So in very late 2020 I had to start at the beginning again...

The take-home message, cleared of all the murders and plots and depravity, is that somehow Rome was by and large a stable society. Yes there were assorted 'barbarians' at the borders that needed to be quelled, but the enthusiasm for that was largely because soldiers and their leaders were handsomely rewarded. It's telling that when Claudius slinks off to his estate to avoid the horror of Caligula's lunatic reign, his slave Calpurnia is able to help him restore his financial fortunes. She hasn't needed to spend the money he gave her in return for her wise advice; it's there to help him out after Caligula has bled him dry. While the Senate is too craven to rein in any emperor's excesses, the ordinary people went on farming and selling produce and paying their taxes, largely free of the shenanigans in Rome.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/01/05/i-claudius-by-robert-graves/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jan 4, 2021 |
I think for its time it was an achievement to put voice to this ancient cast of depraved tyrants, but I found it rather impersonal, repetitive. and dry. The narrative is clear, but there isn't much lyricism, humour, or dramatic detail. There are also a number of historical side bars that bog things down. Diagramming the complex royal family tree was the fun part. Published today, I doubt something like this would do very well. ( )
  Misprint | Aug 31, 2020 |
Written in first person with Claudius, the stutterer, as the narrator. This book portrayed the increasingly brutal and mad reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. The least "impressive" of the caesars was Claudius. With several important people named Tiberias and Nero, it was a bit difficult to keep people straight. I actually had to pull a family tree off the net to follow along intelligently. Most of the time I don't really like to work that hard to follow along. 472 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Aug 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
It is not enough for us to form any judgment of his merits as a historian or his qualities as a stylist. It is Graves that gives him a voice, and what a voice it is, garrulous, digressive, spiced with gossip and scandal, at the same time strangely dispassionate and sober. There is a range of tone here that enables Claudius, in his persona as professional historian, to deal with matters widely diverse, to be equally convincing whether talking about the waste and excess of military triumphs, the fate of Varus and his regiments in the forests of Germany, or the endless intriguing for power and influence among the members of the imperial family.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Guardian, Barry Unsworth
 
Supuesta "autobiografía" de Claudio, singular emperador romano predestinado a serlo a pesar de que sus deseos fueran por otros caminos. Graves dibuja sin concesiones un espeluznante retrato sobre la depravación, las sangrientas purgas y las intrigas cainitas llevadas hasta el crimen durante los reinados de Augusto y Tiberio. Pero Yo, Claudio es también Calígula y su etapa sádica, Mesalina, Livia y, cómo no, Roma, un decorado único para esta trama argumental apasionante que se llevó a la pequeña pantalla con rotundo éxito.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
 

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graves, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hill, Tom GoodmanNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobi, DerekNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cohen, Mark J.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martinez, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mazía, FlorealTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, SusanArt directorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Renner, LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
. . . A story that was the subject of every variety of misrepresentation, not only by those who then lived but likewise in succeeding times: so true is it that all transactions of pre-eminent importance are wrapt in doubt and obscurity; while some hold for certain facts the most precarious hearsays, others turn facts into falsehood; and both are exaggerated by posterity.

TACITUS
Dedication
First words
I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot", or "That Claudius", or "Claudius the Stammerer", or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius", am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled.
Quotations
You refuse to see that one can no more reintroduce republican government at this stage than one can reimpose primitive feelings of chastity on modern wives and husbands. It's like trying to turn the shadow back on a sundial: it can't be done.
Tiberius will make him his successor. No question of it. Why? Because Tiberius is like that. He has the same vanity as poor Augustus had: he can't bear the idea of a successor who will be more popular than himself. But at the same time he does all he can to make himself hated and feared. So, when he feels that his time's nearly up, he'll search for someone just a little worse than himself to succeed him. And he'll find Caligula.
Germanicus has told me about you. He says that you are loyal to three things—to your friends, to Rome, and to the truth. I would be very proud if Germanicus thought the same of me.
To recommend a monarchy on account of the prosperity it gives the provinces seems to me like recommending that a man should have liberty to treat his children as slaves, if at the same time he treats his slaves with reasonable consideration.
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Based on the life of Claudius, Emperor of Rome.

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Haiku summary
Becomes emperor
with death of Caligula.
Where have good times gone?
(leboeuf)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141188596, 0143566393

 

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