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I, Claudius From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 (Vintage International) Paperback – October 23, 1989


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I, Claudius From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 (Vintage International) + Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina + I, Claudius (35th Anniversary Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (October 23, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067972477X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679724773
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Having never seen the famous 1970s television series based on Graves' historical novel of ancient Rome and being generally uneducated about matters both ancient and Roman, I wasn't prepared for such an engaging book. But it's a ripping good read, this fictional autobiography set in the Roman Empire's days of glory and decadence. As a history lesson, it's fabulous; as a novel it's also wonderful. Best is Claudius himself, the stutterer who let everyone think he was an idiot (to avoid getting poisoned) but who reveals himself in the narrative to be a wry and likable observer. His story continues in Claudius the God.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

More About the Author

ROBERT GRAVES (1895-1985) was an English poet, translator, and novelist, one of the leading English men of letters in the twentieth century. He fought in World War I and won international acclaim in 1929 with the publication of his memoir of the First World War, Good-bye to All That. After the war, he was granted a classical scholarship at Oxford and subsequently went to Egypt as the first professor of English at the University of Cairo. He is most noted for his series of novels about the Roman emperor Claudius and his works on mythology, such as The White Goddess.

Customer Reviews

Graves does a remarkable job of bringing all this to life in an understandable fashion.
gammyraye
The book chronicles the reigns of the Roman Emperors Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula as seen through the eyes of Tiberius Claudius.
Tom MacMillan
Excellent for anyone who enjoys historical fiction that is based on a great amount of fact.
Louis Stanfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

200 of 208 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
This novel by Robert Graves represents the supreme instance in the twentieth century to write a literarily serious historical novel. There has, of course, been no shortage of historical novels during the past century, but for the most part "historical" fiction has become a species of genre fiction, like Sci-Fi, detective fiction, spy fiction, and Westerns. I, CLAUDIUS, on the other hand, is a historical novel composed by someone otherwise regarded as a serious writer. This relationship between serious writers and the genre of historical fiction has not always been the case. Until the mid-19th century, a host of novels attempted to recreate a historical era, not least Dickens in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, William Thackeray in HENRY ESMOND, Flaubert in SALAMBO, Tolstoy in WAR AND PEACE, and Pynchon's GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. But for the most part, writers in the latter half of the nineteenth century and all of the twentieth century have forsaken historical fiction to write in the present tense, or at the latest of their childhood, as with Marcel Proust or Anthony Powell or Harper Lee.

Because of his success in the writing of I, CLAUDIUS and its sequel CLAUDIUS THE GOD, many today think of Robert Graves as primarily a novelist, but in fact most of his writing falls into the nonfiction realm, much of that with a historical bent. Graves was a passionate student of antiquity, both the Greeks and the Romans, and his goal in writing I, CLAUDIUS was to chronicle the period in Roman history immediately after the collapse of the republic and near the beginning of the rule of the Caesars. On the one hand, he wanted to adhere as closely to the documentary evidence for the events in the period as is compatible with a work of fiction, and on the other produced a first rate historical novel.
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By C. Sellers on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Instead of going into gory detail about the particulars of this text, as I'm sure you've read a few summaries already, I will merely say that this book changed my reading habits forever. I read this book, simply out of curiousity, because the title was familiar and from the first page of Graves' novel I was gripped. Written in an excellent, half-comic, half-tragic style, the novel flows, and keeps you reading until it abruptly (and I'd say quite cruelly ends). The moment which will stick in my mind forever is when I first read the scene when Claudius is called into the chamber of Caligula. Caligula mad intends to kill Claudius, but Claudius quickly picks up on the emperor's madness...and well read the book. This book changed it all for me, the next book I read was Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, then The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire..and so on. This book lit a passionate flame of curiousity about Roman History and then eventually world history, ever since reading this book 3 years ago, I have read only ancient classics, greek, roman and world histories, at the pace of at least one a month. For that reason alone I must rate this book highly and maybe it will light that curiousity in you too.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Chris Green on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Roman history, with its conquests, technical advancements, and impact on our modern world can be one of the most facinating subjects known to man. Roman politics, however, is usually one of the most boring. What Graves does with "I, Claudius" is present all the complex political intrigues of the early empire and make them not only bearable, but extremely involving.
Told through the eyes of Tiberius Claudius, the intellectually gifted but physically deformed relation to a series of emperors, the book winds from the last half of Augustus' (the first emperor after Julius Caesar) reign through the notorious times of Caligula, all the while keeping the reader enthralled.
The most remarkable thing about this book is simply that so much HAPPENS. Unlike most works of fiction, Graves' work does not busy itself with flowing descriptions of scenery, beautiful women, or romantic philosophy. Instead, the plot moves from event to event in a fast-paced but still rich combination of history and literary skill. Graves is able to strike an impressive balance between massive amounts of raw information (the history part) and uniquely adept storytelling prowess. Never have I read a book so full of historical fact and yet so utterly enjoyable.
You need NO prior knowledge of Roman history to appreciate this novel. Highly recommended.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By wonderrat on May 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
"I Claudius." The name conjurs intrigue, violence, good emperors, evil emperors, and above them all an individual who rose to become emperor of Rome in spite of physical handicaps and prejudices. Robert Graves' classic is an insight into the history of the Claudian family and in particular Claudius, the despised idiot and stutterer who outlives all of his relatives to ascend to the throne, a position which he assumes with reluctance.
If you thought classical history is dull, read this book and find out that the ancients were just as corrupt and venal as our modern day politicians. I suppose the movie Gladiator will rekindle some interest in Rome. Read I Claudius and forget Gladiator. The book is historically accurate, well written (I am of the opinion that Robert Graves is the only decent modern English writer-why did he never win the Nobel in literature?) and despite its length, is a pretty quick lead. Take your time though, and savor the characters: Claudius' brother Germanicus, a brilliant general and noble spirit who probably would have been an emperor the equal of Augustus had he lived, Agrippa Posthumous, Augustus' grandson who was another possible pretender to the throne (who Graves portrays in a positive light- Suetonius and other Roman writers considered Posthumous a boor), the Emperor Tiberius, who was both ruthless and capable, and Livia, Augustus' wife and the true power behind the throne. Livia is the glue which holds the story together and conjures up images of powerful women who are the real powers (and this book was written in the 1930s!). Marie Antoinette, Imelda Marcos, and the present First Lady couldn't compare with Livia, who is self assured, ruthless, calculating and cared only for the survival of Rome and the Imperial succession.
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