one of the best historical novels i've ever read. robert graves is a master with this genre. he slao wrote a follow up book that wasa not as good.
if you keep looking,one day PBS will re-run the series, I,Claudius. it was run in the days before we could tape things, watch it, the acting is terrific.
I just could not get into the I, Claudius mini series but the book took me back to a Rome so unpredictable and strange that I doubt if I could have survived. Claudius survives bloody Rome and its mad, vindictive leaders by hiding beneath his limp, stammer and the image his family and acquaintances have cast upon him. The butt of jokes everywhere, he buries himself in nonpolitical historical research and writes books about what he discovers while his friends and family members are murdered and/or exiled. I truly believe that this is a book everyone should take time to read.
The uncle of the psychopathic and frightening Roman Emperor Caligula, Claudius was 'elected' by Roman soldiers after they (at last) murdered Caligula - who was that time's Idi Amin. Only far worse.
Cladius didn't want to be Emperor and tried to hide, but his terror of the soldiers' rage was greater than his fear of the spotlight, and her served modestly and well until the end of his life. His story illuminates the the life of a man who was unprepared to rule but did an admirable job and was loved by his people. The PBS series was as excellent as Graves book.
tani reviewed I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius on
I enjoyed this book about the Roman Emperor Claudius (lived 10 B.C.--54 A.D.)immensely. The jacket calls it the best fictional reconstruction of Rome ever written. It is one of the classics of modern fiction, written in the form of Cladius' autobiography. Despised as a weakling and considered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, he survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D.
Sandra (Piper) reviewed I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius on
I, Claudius_ chronicles the reign of the Caesars in Rome from the perspective of the 4th Caesar. Julius is dead by the time Claudius is born, but our hero is intimately acquainted with Augustus and his wife Livia, Tiberius, and finally Caligula. Claudius plays the fool and manages to survive these turbulent years of Rome's history, filled with poisonings, treachery, and the deaths of many honest men and women. Especially during Caligula's reign, Claudius lives on a knife's edge, fearful everyday for his life, playing along with the mad emperor and trying to prevent him from doing Rome irreversible damage.
Stunted from birth, Claudius is a sickly, stuttering child and young man. Ironically, this is the only thing that saves him. Most of his family believes he is an imbecile too unimportant to kill. Ignored by Augustus and Tiberius, tormented by his mother and by Livia, Claudius managed his last hurdle by entertaining Caligula with pert quotes from Homer and flattery. Claudius is a scholar-the only pastime he can manage in his crippled body. His knowledge of history serves him well during this period, providing him with examples from the past to guide his actions during a frightening childhood and youth.
The book follows him up to the point of Caligula's death when Claudius finds himself suddenly the only surviving Caesar, hurled into the office by a dangerous mob of soldiers. He makes his peace with the senate and begins his long reign.
Robert Graves tells the story in first person and provides the necessary guesswork details of Claudius's thoughts and feelings.
At the time, this wasn't one of my "usual reads;" in retrospect, this may have been the book that expanded my taste to include historical fiction. Well-written and well-paced, I not only couldn't put it down, I immediately read the sequel, which I enjoyed as well.