I, Claudius

I, Claudius

by Robert Graves

Paperback(Vintage International Edition)

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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: 89,803
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. 52 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
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This isn't just one of my favorite works of historical fiction, but a favorite novel, and it amazes me this was published in 1934 given the frank depictions of themes such as homosexuality, incest, etc. Themes not grafted on for lurid effect but true to the times depicted. After all, this novelized autobiography of Claudius, later Emperor of Rome (a period treated in the sequel, Claudius the God), takes in the reign of the infamous Caligula. Graves was a noted translator of Classical Latin and Ancient Greek texts and a respected poet. It shows in the novel which is first-rate literature. Graves creates a witty, cynical at times gossipy voice for Claudius--there's plenty of leavening humor in this first person narrative of a man of republican sentiments in Imperial Rome who only survived the machinations of his dangerous relatives because for a long time he was ignored because of his lameness and his stutter and was accounted a fool. Graves by the way, wrote a novel, King Jesus, positing a married Jesus in 1948. It is infinitely superior in every way to The Da Vinci Code. When I evaluate historical fiction, the works of Graves, along with Mary Renault, are my gold standard.
HenryGalvan on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of my favorite books of all times. Having read some of the passages multiple times I can say that this is a true work of art
jeaneva on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I saw the TV series first and for once, I am glad. The title role was portrayed so well that I almost heard that stuttering, slobbering "fool" throughout the book. What a brilliant way to convince those mad despots of his harmlessness!! (I seem to remember David in the Bible surviving among HIS enemies by feigning madness.)Surely the aim of the author of historical fiction is to make the reader forget he/she is reading a novel. This book succeeds magnificently.
chris_grossmann on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A good read, although very long. By the time it ended, I couldn't put it down.
csleh on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of my favorite books. Love roman historical fiction. Very well written and interesting story.
sgerbic on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Reviewed October 1999 Wow, what a history this man must have had, to have lived through so many emperors and to have such a lineage to brag about. He was the grandson of Cleopatra and the stepson to Emperor Agustus. this biography has little to do with his life but with the people and events he was a witness to. His grandmother, Livia was the center of the book as she was the most powerful person in Roman history at that time. She controlled everyone's lives but always from behind the scenes. Claudius survives all others and sees the reign of his nephew, Caligula, was was evil and insane. The names and constant deaths and births can make this confusing reading, but Claudius tries to remind you of who's who. For example a person might be introduced again named Cassis and you have forgotten who that is, Caludius will say..."remember he is the guard who faught against the Roman at the games and won." I really enjoyed this type of writing and may other writers could be helped with this style. In the end when Caligula is killing everyone off I was annoyed that people were still left to make Claudius Emperor. But is this fiction or a historical work? This book made it to the top 100 of the "100 best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century" according to the editorial board of the Modern Library.. 40-1999
technodiabla on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I really love this book-- but I'm a fan of Roman history and have studied this period fairly extensively, including in Latin. The story reads like a soap opera-- love, sex, murder, incest, power politics, you name it. It is an interesting blend of historical facts and fiction (that may well be close to the truth, but we'll never really know). I can imagine that a reader not familiar with the the period or the lineage of the characters would have a hard time keeping the characters straight-- it really should come with a family tree graph (thoguh even that would be complicated eye-sore).
shtove on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Made me feel I could sit down with a Roman emperor and have a good chat over a bottle of wine - then stab him with a gladius and seize power over the civilized world. I've read it many times, and my ambition hasn't changed.Great story.
Awesomeness1 on LibraryThing 5 months 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.
mkschoen on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This, and the sequel, are on my "all time favorite books ever" and "books I would take on a desert island." Murder, sex, intrigue, conquests -- it's Dynasty with a literary, historical coat.
RogueBelle on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of my favourite historical novels -- even if Graves does take certain liberties, they're all in the name of telling a more entertaining story. It's very easy to become completely engrossed with the drama of the Julio-Claudians.
mmillet on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Whoa. A bloody and intriguing history of Rome from the time of Ceaser Augustus until Claudius becomes emperor told by "pppp-poor Clauidus." A work of fiction based on fact, Claudius is introduced as an honest and reliable narrator who grabs you immediately with all the lurid details of who died and who was sleeping with who. Rome at it's best right?! This book was an amazing way to learn history in a very intimate way. Now I want to go and read "Claudius the God" since that book covers his time as emperor.
JGolomb on LibraryThing 5 months 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.
lyzadanger on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Strange how this book seemed such an obvious fit for me but I struggled through the first two-thirds of it. Perhaps the structure chased me off. The narrative is so linear-feeling, with lots of passages about the spawn and incests of various Imperial family members, with scant dialogue or digression. Also challenging was the genealogy: If I can give one bit of advice, it's to let go of trying to follow the family connections too seriously. Remember that someone is related to another character is good enough, no need to remember that they are brothers through a common aunt or whatever.The last hundred or so pages did manage to suck me in, once we got to the debaucheries of Caligula and things got downright bizarre. The evils of various powerful characters are a bit hard to take, though, both in that they do horrible things consistently (braining children against walls, executing someone for mentioning the emperor, slaughtering entire provinces at little provocation) and that their motives seem a bit one-dimensional. The historical research that Graves must have done for this book seems extensive: details seem correct as far as my rudimentary knowledge of Roman history goes. I thought I had him on one point: he consistently talks about the "corn supply" in Rome, even though corn (maize) is a new world plant. But apparently Europeans use the term "corn" to refer to generic grain. So no dice there.In retrospect, I'm surprised I didn't cotton to this book more. It had the elements I like: history, narrative, forward momentum, that I like, but something felt a bit too, dare I say, masculine about it, too brute force, too military history for me.