I, Claudius

( 29 )

Overview

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 41 A.D. A masterpiece.
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Overview

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 41 A.D. A masterpiece.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Graves's legendary tale of Claudius, a nobleman in the corrupt and cruel world of ancient Rome during the rule of Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula, is a truly compelling listening experience. Derek Jacobi returns to the role that defined his career when he starred in the 1976 Masterpiece Theatre miniseries I, Claudius. Jacobi is so strong in this role, it seems created especially for him. Jacobi's compelling voice demands his audience's undivided attention from start to finish and in doing so delivers an unforgettable performance as Claudius yet again. So incredibly personal is Jacobi's performance that listeners feel almost as if eavesdropping on someone's private life, which only draws us deeper into this gem of modern literature. (Aug.)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679724773
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/1989
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Vintage International Edition
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 82,573
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Graves (1895-1985) was a British poet, novelist, and critic. He is the author of Goodbye to All That, and the critical study of myth and poetry, The White Goddess.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2001

    The Idiot's Guide to Becoming Emperor?

    I, Claudius as a book is much like the life of the man it details: it gives a slow appearance to start but comes to a raging climax at the end. Told in the first person, it chronicles the Roman Empire from its conception with the reign of Augustus(who is so frequently overshadowed by Marc Antony and Julius Caesar in our day) through the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula to Claudius' reluctant ascent. What a fun read! Graves, as the voice of 'Poor Uncle Claudius,' is witty and eloquent, and while his tireless attention to detail could border on suffocating in any other story, 'I, Claudius' demands it. Our unassuming title character is more a window to the world that surrounds him than to his own life. Most of the book is devoted to early Roman imperial history, with plenty of anecdotes to take away from the notion that history is boring. Graves, as Claudius, is informal with the reader, allowing us to enter the hearts, minds, and bedrooms of Rome's greatest citizens. Our Claudius, when referring to himself, is modest and dismissive, qualities that add to his charm. The only things that could deter a reader are the exhaustingly detailed military accounts and the Latin character names, which are too numerous to keep track of. This book is a gem; I found myself sneaking away at work just to read a few pages. Anyone who is even mildly interested in ancient history and politics will find 'I, Claudius' a worthwhile and memorable read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Incredible Historical Fiction

    As part of my "advance reading" for a trip to Rome this past summer, I read Robert Graves' "I, Claudius". I found Roman history rather intimidating - it's so rich and varied, and the sources are so many, that it was hard to find the right place to jump in. And so I began with history "lite" - historical fiction. I started with "Claudius" to tap into this key period of Roman History - the early Empire and the first emperors. I sought history "lite", though there's nothing particularly light-weight about Graves' masterpiece.

    Graves' seminal work, which is also well known from its British TV offering, is dense. It's not for those looking for nice light beach reading. "I, Claudius" is an exceedingly well-crafted history of the first four Emperors of the Roman Empire - roughly 30 B.C. when Augustus rose to sole power, through Tiberius and Caligula, to 41 A.D. when Caligula is murdered, and Claudius is declared emperor.

    Graves gives voice to his story by writing through a series of Claudius' own memoirs. The bulk of the book focuses on the empire's first two emperors - Augustus and Tiberius - and the rather strong willed, smart, and devious Livia, Augustus' wife and Tiberius' mother. Much of the story's perspective is naturally biased however much Claudius (and Graves) posit alternative opinions on who murdered whom, by what method, and whether or not anyone really cared.

    One must keep in mind how much of the story is "history" and how much is "fiction". I've dug into a good bit of Roman Empire non-fiction and have found many of the stories to be consistent with at least some of the ancient sources. Even in the non-fiction realm, there's plenty of room for debate over facts and details.

    The book contains an inordinate amount of detail around historic names and relationships, but I realized about half-way through that this was a necessary evil considering the topic.

    "I, Claudius" is beautifully written, and creatively conveys the nature of lives lived in near omnipotence, as well as fear and paranoia. Claudius comes across as erudite, insightful, rational and caring. His musings on palace intrigue run from humorous to serious to sad. "I, Claudius" is one of those rare epic tales that will drift into your consciousness well after you've finished. It's also one of those stories that will push you into wanting more. And fortunately there is more.

    Grave's "Claudius the God" covers his reign and unfortunate taste in spouses (Messalina and Agrippina, who ultimately poisoned him). While not as strong as "I, Claudius", it'll feed your need for Roman intrigue.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

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    So many names!

    I decided to read this book based off a Sparknotes recommendation. I've always been interested in Ancient Rome and historical-fiction, and this seemed to be a perfect combination.

    This classic account by Robert Graves takes the form of Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus's autobiography. Claudius is dismissed as a lame simpleton since his birth. Surprisingly, this is why Claudius manages to survive the murders and betrayals that surround him during the reign of three emperors, only to become emperor himself.

    This is a good book. I realize that and repsect that. It just wasn't for me. The endless lists of characters were confusing, and their relationships to each other were very difficult to keep track of. Since there were so many characters, none of them were very much developed. The whole thing just seemed a little impersonal. My favorite parts were when Claudius actually had a conversation with people instead of just describing distant wars.

    I did like the humor that was sprinkled in, and some of the characters were delightfully evil (I love you, Livia!). I read this very slowly, only reading around 60 pages a day. I think I absorbed it better that way. I wonder how accurate Graves was. I won't be checking out the sequel to this book, but I'm gonna get the miniseries on Netflix and see if I like it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2009

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    A real roman genius with heart

    This, the first of Robert Graves works about Claudius and the emperors of his time. You will not want to miss Claudius the God and his wife Messalina nor would you want to miss the BBC CD serius titled "I, Claudius," The three are simply outstanding in every way about lives in Rome of the little peop;e up to and including the members of the senate and royal family. This gets into the real grit of family members toward the Imperial seat even through the murder of oppositon family members with a stronger claim. The political intigues against each other are laughable but deadly. This a set for permanent status in any library. Note specifically the gross lack of information coming out of the middle east about and rise of Christians, who Paul or Peter were and what they had accomplished, if anything One must remember that Herod Agrippa and Claudius were good friends. It is highly unlike that Agrippa would have hidden information just to make Claudius feel good about it. Don't miss thesebooks. You will not regret your purchase. Robert Graves passed, I believe, in 1985 or 6. I thought he was one of the greatest writers of all time and that has not been anyone like him since. Weall miss your finest works. Peace be with you

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

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    I Also Recommend:

    Psychopathic Rome

    Once one penetrates the geneological thicket that that is the Claudian family and learns who is who (and who did what to whom over two generations of fratricidal family dealings), the story of Claudius' unlikely road to the Roman Imperium is a simply fabulous tale of psychopathy, absurd excess and appetite witnessed by a man who is normal, modest and unambitious. As he posits at the end, the only good thing about being emperor is that he at last has a unique opportunity to become the historian he always wanted to be.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

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    Oh my, a book from college I actually liked!

    Most of the books you're forced to purchase in college are absolutely boring and hardly used! But, I very much enjoyed this read. I found this book interesting and intellectually stimulating.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2007

    Essential

    I, Claudius, along with Claudius the God, are 2 books every student interested in Roman historical culture should read. Insightful and addictive. Also by Graves, his translation of The Golden Ass -

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    A must have!

    A must have if you are into Roman history or just want to get lost into a great book. This book is pretty much direct to you vey easy to understand.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2005

    I'll burn your German house down!

    Robert Grave's I, Claudius is undoubtedly one of the greatest works of literature I have read to date. As a student of both the Latin language and Roman culture, I had a great appreciation for this book. Highly recommended, the action - and sometimes even comedy! - will enthrall you. I loved the character of Caligulia in the beginning, hence the title. READ THIS BOOK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2004

    A Masterpiece of Historical Fiction

    This by far the best of Robert Grave's fictional works. A convincing portrayal of what life was like at the core of the early Roman empire. Graves masterfully develops the character of Claudius as he ponders his life and impresses his thoughts on to his 'autobiography.' The reader is then taken through the ambitions and intrigues of the Julio-Claudian dynasty from the reign of Augustus to Nero's. Through the eyes of Claudius, the reader is given a bird's eye view into the dynastic contests with wit and humor as well as the evolution of the empire from the remnants of a crumbled republic. With this insight, Claudius is soon appreciated by the reader as having a keen intellect as opposed to being dull and slow of wit. His desire for truth and his loathing of the imperial struggle gives his story clarity and impartiality. All of the characters are well developed; their actions and motivations all come to light in the course of the story. Along with Gore Vidal's 'Julian' this is one of the greatest works in historical fiction in this genre or any genre. A must read for anyone who enjoys history or just a good story full of intrigue and suspense.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2002

    great book

    i really liked this book. it made me really appreciate the lesser person and roman history

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Classic and Entertaining

    Graves wrote a lauded translation of The 12 Caesars, he was recognized for presenting the content honestly, free of 19th century conventions and fetters. Here he gets more room to expand on character commentary through the eyes of Claudius, witness to the ceaseless intrigue and decadence of Rome.

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