I, Claudius

I, Claudius

by Robert Graves

Paperback(Vintage International Edition)

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I, Claudius by Robert Graves

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.

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: 63,503
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Robert Graves (1895–1985) was a poet, novelist, and critic. His first volume of poems, Over the Brazier (1916), reflects his experiences in the trenches, and was followed by many works of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. He is best known for his novel, I, Claudius (1934), which won the Hawthornden and James Tait Black Memorial prizes, and for his influential The White Goddess (1948).

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I, Claudius 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
JGolomb More than 1 year ago
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.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
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.
EugeneTX More than 1 year ago
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
Gothenberg More than 1 year ago
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.
Athena01 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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 -
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really liked this book. it made me really appreciate the lesser person and roman history
gtmusashi on LibraryThing 5 days ago
This is without a doubt the BEST work of historical fiction i have read to date. It exemplifies what can be done with the genre by truly placing the reader into the mind of a Roman emperor. Too many works of historical fiction have a very modern feel to them, they reflect opinions, attitudes, morals and conventions of our contemporary period. Graves' novel however eschews all that in favor of something truly in keeping with its time (though of course one can't be sure if that was exactly how it went at all, or the attitudes of people at the time but i think this is far more realistic than most). The book moves at a rapid pace and though there are many names and entangled kinships, it is not as hard to follow as it could be, the pace is perfect for the introduction of various characters. It is a gripping tale full of intrigue violence and a fair amount of suspense.I highly reccomend this book to anyone with a historical bent to their fiction reading, especially if they are interested in Roman history at all.
mattviews on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius is an account of the life of Tiberius Claudius and, as the title has stated in a self-explanatory manner, is written in the form of Claudius's autobiography. Claudius narrates events relevant to the Roman Empire and his family from about 4 BC all the way to his crowning in 41 AD. While the book stands as one of the modern classics of historical fiction, references to characters, events, places, and architectural structure are factual.Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (10 BC-54 AD) was a member of the royal Julian House: son of Drusus and Antonia, grandson of Augustus (Octavian) and Lavia, down the line of Julius Caesar. Fate had destined Claudius to be a loner in the Julian House, alienated and was deprived of all opportunities for advancement. His family, even his mother Atonia, who only took care of his practical needs but did not love him, despised him as a weakling and dismissed him as an idiot. Not only was the family ashamed of his stammering, it consistently feared of Claudius's committing a solecism upon which the public would comment. Claudius's closest companions included his tutor Athenodorus who encouraged him to become a historian and his own brother Germanius, who never stopped defending his brother .Though eventually Claudius became the family priest, Claudius still felt most keenly the family's disappointment in him and the slights he met everywhere. Under the tutelage of Pollio and encouragement of Athenodorus, Claudius gathered materials for a life of his father and grandfather, the poisoning of whom had greatly perplexed and haunted Claudius. Pollio's advice to Claudius had been proved sound and perspicacious throughout the tempestuous years as Claudius survived the intrigues, manipulation, bitter contention for power, lampoons, caprices and poisonings that marked the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius (uncle of Claudius whom Livia contrived to enthrone at the expense of ridding her great-grandsons), and the mad, capricious Caligula. Always a great disappointment to his mother, ironically, it was Claudius's half-wit, feebleness, temerity, and outward incompetence that saved him from the conspiracy, murder, the wickedness, the sufferings, and the wrath that had so ineluctably befallen his brother Germanicus, his nephews Nero, Drusus, and Gemellas. I, Claudius tells the amazing tale of one man's exaltation from a historian to the emperor, a tale that magnifies Claudius's loyalty to his friends, his loyalty to his cruel family, his loyalty to Rome, and his loyalty to the truth (and defending of the truth) and how the virtue had rewarded him with the greatest honor and done him justice for the slights he had met all his life. The account celebrates Claudius's untroubled spirit and power of discernment in all his duties, both human and sacred. The characters are delineated to the full etch and nuance which lend verisimilitude of the historical period. The book is one of the most fun, interesting, behuiling book I have read that I almost reads like history.
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jamesgate More than 1 year ago
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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