©1934, 1961 Robert Graves; (P)1987 Recorded Books
These are both well written - I,Claudius first and then this one. Great detail, excellent story and narration. My only note is that they are long and sometimes slow and too much story and details and you wish they would get one with it but overall great period piece.
Don't you just love a great story well told?
I'm writing this long past when I read it to mention that it was SO good and so interesting that it had a lasting impact on me. Any book that does that has to be worth enjoying. This man led an amazing life and describes epic events in Roman history, an amazingly clever intelligent person even though he was looked down upon because of his physical problems and lack of noble birth. Well narrated and edited, a worthy addition to anyone who loves non-fiction and knows that indeed truth can be far more wonderful than fiction.
QUESTION : DOES LISTENING TO AUDIO BOOKS MAKE YOU SMARTER? If so, I'm. Freakin Genius!
I have had book my Audible Library for sometime, but for some reason or another I hadn't listen to it.
I didn't realize what a interesting book it was.
Those crazy Romans. You name it they did it, twice sometimes.
FYI: Even though this book is based on actual historical events. It is a book of fiction. It is very well written and the narrator was great.
I would recommend this book.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Robert Graves wrote this book in 1934. His first book “Goodbye to All That” was his memoirs of the First World War. Graves and the American poet Laura Riding went to Majorca to live. He wrote the Claudius books while living on the Island. The book is ranked 14th on the Modern Library’s list of top 100 books.
Graves chose Claudius as the narrator to recount the first half century of Imperial Rome, a chronicler who lived at the very center of activity. His grand-uncle Augustus, founder of the Empire, Uncle Tiberius was very secretive and demented Caligula believed himself a God. Claudius childhood illness left him with a permanent limp, a speech impediment, and acute abdominal pains all his life. “Cripple, stammerer, fool of the family” as he called himself. Claudius took to study and learns history encouraged by historian Livy, wife of Augustus. Claudius wrote 20 volumes of Etruscan history and 8 volumes of Carthaginian history. He wrote in Greek. He also wrote his autobiography and a treatise on the Roman alphabet, and an essay on dice-playing.
The bulk of the book focuses on the Empires’ first two Emperors, Augustus and Tiberius. Also playing a key role is the strong willed, smart and devious Livy, Augustus’ wife and Tiberius’ mother. One must keep in mind how much of the story is history and how much is fiction. Graves did a beautiful job writing this fascinating tale. Graves seamlessly moves through the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Graves’s deep understanding of the complexities of the Roman political system adds credibility to what can, at times, seem like an impossible tale. His treatment of the psychology of Senator and Caesar, the fear of power absolute, and the motives behind the plots, and counterplots of assassination are skillfully handled.
“I Claudius” is one of those rare epic tales that will drift into your consciousness will after you’ve finished the book. Nelson Runger did an excellent job narrating the tale. I remember a T.V. series so I hunted on Amazon Video and obtain the 1976 BBC series “I Claudius” starring Derek Jacobi and Patrick Stewart. Now that I am finished the book I will watch it.
I, Claudius is a fictionalised autobiography of Claudius, the fourth Roman emperor. The timeline covers the first fifty years of his life, starting in reign of his grandfather, the first emperor Augustus, and continuing through Tiberius and Caligula and up to the point Claudius becomes emperor. Interestingly, Claudius was a historian and did write an autobiography, now lost, covering this same period.
The book paints an entertaining picture of the sort of wanton violence and wicked scheming that seems to be inspired in those close to and hungry for great power. The bad folks are very bad and largely conscience-less. The good folks are likeable and engaging. [SPOILER ALERT:] But the good folks all get killed off by the baddies sooner or later, save Claudius whose infirmities provide him with a perverse sort of shield against most of the deadlier plots. Actually, the baddies pretty much all get killed off, too. So that’s fair.
It’s not all blood and poisons (fast- and slow-acting), though. The story is occasionally funny and even poignant. It’s all strangely believable, too. The horribleness of the struggle for power in that early superpower seemed intuitively credible to me. I imagine stuff like that happens every day in companies and countries around the world today, albeit with a bit less poison and violence.
As other commentators have noted, it can be very challenging to keep track of who’s who, especially with all the adopting and intermarrying. I wonder if it would have been easier if I’d watched the BBC miniseries first, to have a mental picture of the characters. Having seen HBO’s Rome did help me out in the first few chapters.
I really enjoyed this book. The moment I reached the end, I went to Audible to buy the next book, Claudius the God, so I could continue to follow the story.
The narration is perfect, btw.
World Champion Parallel Parker
It's astounding how horrible the Romans were. This book explains the reasons well and makes the listener, identifying with Claudius, feel safe from the violent family rivalries, since we know he's going to last until the end. Very entertaining.
It's easy to see why this is a classic. We learned so much about ancient Rome, and the story is fascinating. After hearing this book, we promptly bought Claudius, the God, with the same narrator, to hear the rest of the story.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Graves does an absolutely brilliant thing here. He pretends to unearth Claudius's lost memoir, and recreates it as the most enjoyable exposition of Roman history you will ever come across. Claudius as a chatty overlooked figure in his own time is just the sort of friendly gossip you would love to have tell you about the current events of his own life and times. I mean 'gossip' in the nicest way possible. Yes, there is plenty of tabloid interest here, but that only serves to remind us that all times have had tabloid stories. And everyone knows the Romans certainly had their share. This book only takes us up to the moment when Claudius is declared emperor, so it's told as an outsider looking on at all the power struggles with no serious vested interest of his own. And up until the end he has no reason to think that he ever will be an important player in the political happenings of his time. Graves's ability to bring all these characters to life in a believable way and stay true to the historical facts is an incredible feat and thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end.
This is a gripping tale of suspense and intrigue about the lives of the first Roman Emperors. Told from the perspective of the fourth emperor - Claudius - this historical fiction is a spectacular review of Roman history described in contemporary terms.
Every since Robert Graves first published this in 1961, it has been considered one of the best historical fictions. I remember rushing back home every Sunday in the 1980's to watch the BBC/PBS version that was being broadcast. I have a copy of the book and the TV series, but listening to this copy of the book reminded me just how much I enjoyed the story. Mr. Graves was a talented story teller, and from the beginning you are drawn completely into his historical world.
The narration is wonderful, and I highly recommend this as worth anyone's time. And don't forget the second half of the story - Claudius, The God
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
No. I would never listen to a book twice because life is too short - but the first time was great
I suppose that would be Claudius - just because he survived massively against the odds and used his wits to escape several incredibly close shaves. He became emperor even though he did not want it at all
When Claudius interviewed his grandmother, the poisoner
The Original Stammerer
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