- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Methuen Publishing Ltd (November 18, 1976)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0413370704
- ISBN-13: 978-0413370709
- Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 697 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,142,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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 Library Binding edition.
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While you did get all the intrigue surrounding Claudius, it wasn’t at the expense of the quality of information in this “autobiography” by Claudius. This book may be about Claudius’ life and his account of the major events and people in his life, but the wealth of information about Roman life is impressive. Through Claudius, Graves provided details of what happened behind the scenes of the Senate and the various Emperors that have reign during his life. You get insight into the culture and political scene of the times. Reading Claudius’ narrative, I was really drawn into the intricate web of lies and conspiracies that were prevalent and by those who were the main perpetrators such as Livia, Claudius’ grandmother. While this is a historical account of Claudius’ time, you never get the sense that you’re reading a history book. Having the book be an “autobiography” of Claudius’ enable Graves to tell historical events as if Claudius was telling a story. It prevented the book from having a stale and monotonous tone which would’ve made it difficult for me to keep my attention.
I appreciated the depth of information involved in this book. You can tell that time and research went into putting this book together. And to have it all told in such a way that you were able to learn while being entertained is what made this book an enjoyable read for me. With all the scheming and determined cast of characters, it’s easy to forget these are actual historical figures. I suppose it’s easy to read books such as these when those involved do things that make it difficult for you to turn away.
Because of Claudius' stutter and clubfoot, he was usually ignored and thus blended into the every day life of his grandfather, Augustus Caesar and his infamous grandmother, Livia. Because of Claudius' infirmities, he was invisible to all but his brother Germanicus. Often warned to play the fool, Claudius was anything but. He was a keen student, read heavily and because of such was a well rounded historian.
Claudius' ascension to Emperor was neither easy nor desired. Claudius was well known as being a loner and wished to stay that way out of the limelight. Claudius was very much for the Republic and the people unlike his many predecessors who were in it for themselves and their families. Claudius believed himself to be the beginning of the restoration of the great Roman Republic.
When I came across I Claudius while browsing one morning, I decided to compare Mr. Graves' work to the television series. I felt I had to read the work behind the movie I love some so much. This really isn't fair, of course, since movies and literature are entirely separate forms of art, but they are closely related. I was curious.
What I like most about the movie is the characterization of the main players and the interplay between them. Somehow, this did not come off as well in Mr. Graves' book. He tells a great story, and he tells it well. But then the entire history of the Roman culture from Julius Caesar through Romulus Agustulus is a great story even when told by a clinical historian. And the Claudian period has to be one of the juiciest parts of this entire story. To his credit, Mr. Graves brings an already great story wonderfully alive.
I give I Claudius four stars only because somehow the television series was able to bring the characters of this story unforgettably alive, beating Mr. Graves at his own game. This is not to denigrate I Claudius. It is a great read. I give it what is for me the highest form of praise: it is well worth your time.
It must have been terrifying to live in Rome with Caligula as a near relative. Claudius took the smart way out, playing up his stutter and apparent stupidity, for all that he was a gifted scholar and historian. Through being constantly overlooked and underestimated, he survived to live to the end of this book, where he is declared emperor.
I'm looking forward to the sequel to see how he manages on the throne he never wanted.