I like I, Claudius a lot, but what is it It s a slow character study of subtle, canny Claudius, who s one of the most likable protagonists I ve read recently Self deprecating and brilliant, he s proactive than he chooses to mention.It s a history lesson, but not a trustworthy one This is a good example of something I think of as the Nero Rule Nero, see, put cages on poles and set Christians on fire in them and used them as streetlights He probably didn t, actually, but that s a cool story There are lots of cool stories in history did you know how Alexander the Great died Aristotle poisoned him and most of them aren t true or at least can t be verified So responsible history tends to be a little boring, but if you want to be sure about what happened, there you go I, Claudius is like a master class in Nero Rule History if it probably didn t happen, it s in here.It s basically impossible to keep all the characters straight, and after trying really hard to do so I guess my advice to you would be don t bother You ll learn the major characters Livia, Tiberius, Germanicus, Claudius himself and the restwhatever Here s a chart I referred to constantly, but it did me no good I found it best to enjoy it without overthinking it Loads of exciting things happen Claudius is a master of the soft approach redirecting attacks instead of countering them It s not great history, but it s great fun. Game of RomesHistory is the lie of the victors Or so that s what they say But in the case of I, Claudius hailed as one of the best pieces of historical fiction written to date, the so called lie is either heightened or degraded, depends on how you see it, into a dramatic tale of cunning, deceit, depravity and the glories of ancient Rome chalked with enough back stabbing, affairs, incest, assassinations, and debauchery you d doubt whether you ve unearthed an ancient tabloid Granted there are certain truths that only a tabloid can tell Of course, in this case it is idiotic to look for historical accuracy in fiction but certain things that happen are just so wicked that you have to wonder whether these lies are just that This review aims to take on the impossible task of diluting the deceitful mixture to separate the lies of the writer from the essential lies of the victors There s actually very little in I, Claudius that s entirely unattested But the thing is Robert Graves based on historical works that are biased and unreliable and he portrays the characters in a way to fit his underlying narrative Graves relied most heavily on Suetonius and Tacitus He drew on Suetonius and a host of late Roman authors who are inaccurate at best, particularly for his narration of the earlier emperors to provide all sorts of juicy gossip that those works are full of But then he had a problem There was a sharp division among writers of the 1st and 2nd Centuries, A.D as regards Claudius Many of his contemporaries, and particularly the Neronians, saw Claudius as the bumbling old idiot that you can find in the pages of Seneca and Suetonius However, under the Flavians Claudius became a model emperor, who was a struggling intellectual and who expanded Roman power militarily and through his public works, rather than the idiot who let everyone else do all the work for him and eventually had to rely on his wife so much that he fell into her trap easily Graves chooses the Flavian view of Claudius, and attempts to explain away the aspects of his character seen negatively by Suetonius and Seneca by various means Graves claimed that it occurred to him while reading through Suetonius and Tacitus that perhaps Claudius was not really as stupid as everyone else thought and that he was cleverly trying to stay alive in a time of intrigue and plotting that undoubtedly would have killed him otherwise As a result, the works are highly sifted and selected to provide particular, no matter how unlikely, versions of the events that took place.There s nothing to suggest that Claudius, Livia, Augustus, or any of the other characters thought many of the things that Graves puts in their minds We know they did certain things, and there are a number of reasons why they might have done so Graves picks the reasons he particularly likes and crafts a very good story from it, imagining that it is true, whether it is or not The other thing that Graves fabricates is holes in the record Graves is very fond of linking events together that probably didn t have any connection the famous example is the important character of Cassius Chaerea, who appears all over the place and is a major plot driver The historical Cassius Chaerea is only known as the prefect of the Praetorian Guard who was hated and teased by Caligula and eventually was one of the leaders of the plot to murder him Whenever Chaerea appears elsewhere in I, Claudius Graves is in fact imposing his character on a historical person Basically, whenever Chaerea appears before then he s actually playing someone who the record says was named Cassius, and that Graves assumes or pretends was Chaerea, for plot purposes There s no reason to suggest, for example, that the same Cassius who led the survivors out of the Teutoburg was the guy who killed Caligula Cassius was, after all, the name of one of the largest families in Rome As I end, let me entertain you a bit If you ve ever watched Game of Thrones then you should know never to underestimate the weak, repulsive ones What they lack in strength or in beauty, they make up for in cunning and intelligence Permit me to say this but I do think Grave s version of Claudius is, in a certain sense, the true Tyrion Of course he s not a dwarf, but he s deformed in his own way He s lame, bowlegged, and a chronic stammerer He comes from a family that comes to power because of a deceitful but nevertheless remarkable woman Livia aka Cersei then becomes the steward of sorts to his insane nephew Geoffrey or Caligula rather Not that I m trying to say Game of Thrones is based on I, Claudius or Roman history, or that Tyrion will become king of the seven realms I m just saying that they re both entertaining, they re both fiction, but that doesn t mean they re both trash Sometimes you need a lie to get to the truth Immediately after the book was published the classical community exploded, with some denouncing the book and condemning Graves who explicitly states that he was not attempting any sort of historical or professional publication with the book, merely his own fancy , but it also initiated scholars to go back and revisit the textual material In general the book prompted a mass re reading of all the material on Claudius, if only to fact check Graves, and a great deal of things that were overlooked until then popped out This coincided with a revisiting of the emperors in general So it did have some sort of significance for academics, and it did and continues to awaken the layman s curiosity about roman emperors and consequently about ancient roman history And for Game of Thrones, well the truth is, it s just awesome. Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus Lived From BC To AD Despised As A Weakling And Considered An Idiot Because Of His Physical Infirmities, Claudius Survived The Intrigues And Poisonings Of The Reigns Of Augustus, Tiberius, And The Mad Caligula To Become Emperor In AD I, Claudius Is Written In The Form Of Claudius Autobiography And Is One Of The Classics Of Modern Fiction, The Best Fictional Reconstruction Of Rome Ever Written Compelling, humorous, entertaining and even at time times deeply disturbing, this traces the peripheral rise of an unlikely Caeser Historical fiction at its best, Graves provides an in depth, behind the scenes look at early Roman Imperial intrigue First published in 1934, this has been selected as one of the finest English language works in the twentieth century. Yo, ClaudioThe review I really have in mind will be attempted for this book only after I finish reading Claudius the God to quench the burning curiosity of how this Clau Clau Claudius , a man, who in the first shock of being made emperor had this outrageous thought come rushing to his mindSo, I m Emperor, am I What nonsense But at least I ll be able to make people read my books now , will conduct himself as a God Emperor , The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Rubicon The Last Years of the Roman Republic, so that I can apply the same criteria for reviewing any work of history, as suggested by Claudius original source for much of Pliny s work himself, through Livius and Pollio all works unfortunately lost.Meanwhile, have a short and enjoyable snapshot sampling of the book by going through the easy to follow family tree given below Ah, the tales that can be told while tracing those lines I was going to write that Graves having translated The Twelve Caesars recycled the Suetonius with a dash of Tacitus and some added murders to create I Claudius ostensibly the memoirs of the Emperor Claudius This, however, seems to be entirely false as Graves wrote I, Claudius than twenty years before he made that translation He was though living on Majorca, which is not quite Capri, and if isolated and obsessing over his muse, not quite in Tiberian style.In my imagination then I have to place I, Claudius back in the 1930s, a few years after this memoir of the First World War Goodbye to all that and put this portrait of an imagined secret life of an Imperial family with its incest, non normative elective sexual activities some of which remain illegal in various countries, and family murders to gain or maintain power mentally in the context of the official rigid Victorianism of the Britain of George V.Is I, Claudius just a fictional interpretation of the really already quite turbulent Julio Claudian dynasty, or is it worth thinking about it as the continuation of Goodbye to all that Is this Graves drawing back the Imperial curtain and showing us the archetypal family life of all Emperors Don t be fooled by the noble faces on the coins he says, they may not smell view spoiler as Vespasian said to Titus about the money raised by a urine tax hide spoiler Poor Clau Clau Claudius He stuttered, had a limp, and was deaf in one ear Considered the family idiot, he had the misfortune to be born into a family that suffered from a congenital lack of compassion Robert Graves s choice of the hapless Claudius as the narrator for this work of historical fiction was ingenious Seen as dull witted and harmless by his ruthless relatives, Claudius managed to avoid view spoiler almost hide spoiler There have been multiple periods of time in my life during which I developed a fascination for different historical families, usually of infamous repute Elementary school was devoted to the Tudors, focusing heavily on the Princess Elizabeth, while middle through high school was preoccupied with the Borgias, an interest balanced between its equally intriguing members Every so often those fascinations will spark up again, and I will find myself consuming relevant impressively rendered fiction and biographically accurate nonfiction with equal fervor I would not be able to tell you why these subjects had attracted me while I was young, but I do have a hypothesis as to why they continue to interest me today.Both the Tudors and the Borgias were at the center of major confluences in their day, and both rested in the eyes of storms largely fueled by religion While the Borgias clawed their way to the top of the papal throne amidst vicious rumors of debauched blasphemy, the Tudors with Henry VIII as their figurehead rejected that system of belief completely in favor of one that would serve their own ends And it is this intersection of human figures in places of immense power with religious forces, and what results, that makes for truly spellbinding tales, fictional or no I, Claudius is an example of this theological maelstrom, but is even striking when taken into consideration that the Emperors of Rome could be deified, whether by popular plea by the public or by the crazed hysterics of the ruler himself Not a king in consultation with powerful people both religious and otherwise, nor a pope equipped with papal infallibility in the spiritual sense A god The effect that this mentality must have had on its believers is not fully explored, as Claudius is not one for psychological profiles or sociocultural analysis His two interests throughout the story are largely restricted to the realms of historical recountal and simple survival, as his family discredits, banishes, poisons, and pushes to suicide any member they deem in their way I do not blame him in the slightest, but I cannot help but wish that there was to the story than the bare facts and occasional personal inputs that Claudius limited himself to Or I suppose the matter would have fallen to Graves, seeing as this for all its evidence of substantial research is a work of fiction.For the potential of deification works its way into the heart of every major player, beginning with Augustus boasts of his relations to the deified Julius Caeser, and ending with Caligula s assumption of the role of any god or goddess, a decision dictated only by his increasingly errant and murderous behavior Of special note is Livia Drusilla, the wife of Augustus, who of all the characters proved to be the most controversially engaging Her first manipulation on a grand scale removes her from her first husband and places her at the side of Augustus, then called Octavian, an enemy of her family that drove her father to suicide From thereon out she is strongly present in the ruling of the Roman Empire, a time when women were banned from the senate and widowed mothers were placed under the guardianship of their own sons She goes to any lengths without any seeming sentiment in order to ensure the health of the Empire, a health that she believes can be maintained only by her line When considering her considerable prowess in ruling through Augustus, this was not a bad assumption to make at all view spoiler However, despite all her seemingly monstrous disregard for the members of her family, she calls the previously reviled and ignored Claudius to her deathbed and makes him promise that she, like her husband, will be deified upon her death She spent nearly her entire life working to bring the Empire out of bloody civil war and into an age of Emperor ruled peace and prosperity, but she does not believe that this will save her from the fires of the underworld The only thing that can save her from punishment for poisoning and banishing multitudes, many of them members of her own family, is to make her a god hide spoiler Things had to have been boring in ancient Rome with no TV, internet or video games But after reading I, Claudius, I think that the average Roman citizen s chief entertainment probably came from watching what the imperial family did to each other There was the crime and intrigue of a show likeThe Sopranos All the narcissism and betrayal of a season of a reality TV show More sex than cable on demand porn channels and enough family dysfunction to make Jerry Springer s guests look classy You could have kicked off your sandals, put your feet up and watched out the window as all kinds of people got married, divorced, betrayed, robbed, disgraced, exiled and murdered You can t put a dollar value on entertainment like that.The story is told from the perspective of Claudius, a member of the royal family who managed to survive because he was widely considered to be an idiot due to his stammer and bad leg, and because he never had enough money for anyone to bother killing him for his estate Shunned and forgotten by most of the family, Claudius becomes a historian and scholar who documents the terrible things that happen around him as everyone seeks to gain and keep power.Over his life, Claudius will have to deal with three emperors the noble Augustus, the sullen and paranoid Tiberius and the crazy Caligula His grandmother Livia, who married Augustus, would ruthlessly manipulate and destroy generations of her own family through various schemes and murders to make sure that her son, Tiberius, would one day inherit the throne Great book that really makes Roman history come alive Claudius is a sympathetic narrator and there s a streak of hilarious deadpan humor along with all the palace intrigue. I Claudius reviewed by Manny Claudius, come here, sit down right by me, don t be shy O o o o o oh, M m m m m Yes essalina I Claudius reviewed by Mariel All i can dream about is rabbits every day every day rabbits i can t tell you why.I Claudius reviewed by Ian Graye You ve seen The Sopranos, so you think you know about gangsters.But Imperial Rome didn t get its reputation by organising knitting circles.No, it didn t.Claudius became emperor accidentally They found him cowering in a cupboard and they dragged him kicking and screaming to the throne.That might be a metaphor.Or not.I Claudius reviewed by Bird Brian THE HARD CORE TRUTH Graves dishes up nothing less than the most incisive deconstruction of the Bush regime and by extension the entire ediface of oppression which perpetuates from one administration to the next If Hilary Clinton had beat Obama in the primaries in 2008 and had then won a second term this year America would have had two dynastic families running the whole shooting match from 1989 onwards do you see any difference with Ancient Rome I sure don t.I Claudius reviewed by Karen Brissette YOU GUYS, IT IS FINISHED I HAVE MADE FIFTY GRILLED CHEESES WHAT A FUN CHEESY TIME I HAVE HAD okay, i know you have all been waiting on the edge of your seat for what will karen do this summer to follow up her extraordinary summer of 23 pasta salads here is your answer, friends i claudius or i clavidvs if you check out the cover of the copy i have wooh here we go, eviscerations, deflorations and probably pasta fazool I Claudius reviewed by PrajProlonged use of both valium and absolute power may do unusual things to people s libido but who is going to draw such a moral from the romping morass which we can tinopen here in the untangleble tale of the nincompoop emperor Kings and lords and high spastic rulers and their horrid affairs, filthy fate, covetousness, allegiance, brutalities, treachery and chastisements metamorphosing from the coccoon of mighty power and disgusting love, such as it may be so called I not however Discordant waves of love and nastiness like bad songs sung loudly by good singers dangerously destabilizing romantic notions overwhelming morality and raison d tre all is destroyed where it is not altered beyond you ever noticing it was something that you loved A book for everyone that lives You got it.
Robert von Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King s College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John s College, Oxford While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G H Johnstone, a boy of fourteen Dick in Goodbye to All That When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing
- 432 pages
- I, Claudius
- Robert Graves
- 22 November 2019 Robert Graves