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August 10, 2017


I, Claudius

by N@ncy



  1. The elderly Roman emperor Claudius writes his memoirs.
  2. He tells of the history of the Roman empire through his own period of rule.
  3. It chronicles the reigns of  emperors
  4. Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and finally Claudius.
  5. It begins as Augustus is emperor and his scheming wife Livia.
  6. She will stop at nothing to make her son
  7. …from a previous marriage Tiberius the next emperor.

  1. This is a long period of intrigue, deaths by poison and double-crosses.
  2. History is witnessed by Claudius.
  3. He limps and stammers which  cause everyone to think him simple-minded.
  4. But Claudius in fact possesses a very keen intellect.
  5. Claudius accentuates his deficiencies.
  6. That way he will not be seen as a threat in the murderous world.
  7. He has a greater chance of survival.
  8. He is determined to see justice be done and Rome returned to a Republic.



  1. I, Claudius….I was addicted to this series in the 1970’s!
  2. Do you remember the snake slithering across the mosaic of Claudius’ face?
  3. For old times sake…I wanted to read the classic by Robert Graves.
  4. Strong point: Graves mixes history with irresistible  juicy details
  5. …that gives this book a ‘soap-opera’ feel.
  6. The reader gets wrapped up in the live of these historical figures.
  7. Ch 9: Graves includes a discussion about the ethics of writing history
  8. with Claudius, Livy and Pollio.
  9. Strong point: Claudius tells the reader that Livy “…makes the people of Ancient Rome
  10. behave and talk as if they were alive now.
  11. That is what Robert Graves has done in his best-seller I, Claudius.
  12. I could not stop reading even after the book was ended.
  13. The marriages of Claudius and his 2 wives
  14. Messalina and Agrippina the Younger (his niece)
  15. …were fascinating! (reading in Wikipedia)

Last thoughts:

  1. If you watched the TV series (1976) the book offered no surprises.
  2. Still I needed Wikipedia to keep me informed ‘who’s who’
  3. …during the reading! (so many births, marriages, adoptions etc)
  4. I don’t why is  book is included on the
  5. Modern Library  TOP 100 novels of 20th C list.
  6. It was good
  7. but not to be compared with Faulkner, Joyce or Conrad!
7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 10 2017

    You’re indulging some wonderful nostalgic reads! Sounds fascinating and I have to laugh, our cat is named Livia, however she bears few of the traits of this one!


  2. Aug 10 2017

    This is a book I would like to read. I did see the series way back when, but I don’t remember much so I would still be surprised mostly.


    • Aug 11 2017

      Thanks to the TV series I could put ‘faces on the names’ and the book just came alive.
      Who can forget Derek Jacobi’s limp and speech impediment: “So-so-sometimes”.
      The last part of the book is the famous lewd Caligula. The series really used this part for a shock effect, but if it get’s too raunchy…you can just skim the pages. It’s history, we know what happened! Summer is always beautiful in Santa Barbara (love your shops on the quaint Main Street)…here we are chilly (have my Fall sweater on already) and lots of rain. Maybe I can hope for an Indian summer. 🙂



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #20BooksOfSummer | NancyElin
  2. Wrap-up #20BooksOfSummer 2017 | NancyElin

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