Physically weak and afflicted with stuttering, Claudius is initially despised and dismissed as an idiot. Shunted to the background of imperial affairs by his embarrassed royal family, he becomes a scholar and historian, while palace intrigues and murders surround him. Observing these dramas from beyond the public eye, Claudius escapes the cruelties inflicted on the rest of the royal family by its own members and survives to become emperor of Rome in A.D. 41.
©1934 Robert Graves; (P)1994 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"One of the really remarkable books of our day, a novel of learning and imagination, fortunately conceived and brilliantly executed." (The New York Times)
"[A] ripping good read....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." - Amazon.com
Frederick Davidson's performance is a wonderful match to the material. He makes Claudius likeable and delivers the text, which moves forward and backward through time, with enthusiasm and zeal. His female voices are aptly suited to the wicked female characters, and I found his interpretations left me laughing out loud in places where I felt had I read the text, I would not. An enjoyable encounter with Graves' masterpiece.
I have always loved a great story teller and wonderful books. Audible books is the best of both worlds.
I always loved storytime when I was a child. The narrator and story made this book great!!! I looked forward to listening on my way home from work...it relaxed me. Couldn't wait for Claudius to become Ceasar. Thank you for great story telling...I have missed it.
St. Louis, Missouri
Because it's fiction written by a man with a deep understanding of Roman ways, culture, myth and history. Whether the essentially sympathetic portrait of Claudius which Graves paints is historically accurate or not, the up and coming emperor is certainly a boon companion and reliable guide through the banquets and backstreets of Early Imperial Rome.
My one regret is that as a teenager I absorbed the BBC TV series starring Derek Jacoby as Claudius, so knew ahead of time some of the more frightful or surprising plot twists. More, the series sometimes went into more graphic detail than the book ever does, Claudius being a basically decent who man spends as little time as possible delving into the seamier side of his story. Still, as a piece of writing the book stands on it's own and is very enjoyable, though toward the end the taut narrative thread seems to go somewhat slack and we are treated to a mere catalog--a long, almost endless catalog--of Caligula's misdeeds and misrule. It is a relief when finally...but you'll want to find out on your own.
Meanwhile Claudius, while sympathetic, is still a Roman who lived 2,000 years ago. So while more humane than most of the figures who surround him, he finds nothing amiss in slavery, animal fights or the conquest distant tribes. In our politically correct era this is infinitely refreshing. While acutely critical of what he sees around him, Claudius still believes in the essential soundness and superiority of the ideals of Rome--a cultural confidence we don't seem able to muster these days.
As always, Frederick Davidson is simply superb. For the recording it almost sounds like he replicates Jacoby's voice characterization of Claudius. His ability to get all the nuance or sarcasm or irony out of a sentence serves this book (and all the books he reads) very well.
I suspect there is a good story here but, after an hour I could no longer tolerate the narrators tone of voice and the prospect of listening for endless hours more is intolerable.
I would not recommend this *audible* book to a friend, even though I would recommend the *book*. I found the narrator's style to get in the way of the story, with a ridiculously affected manner that made the characters sound comical even when they should not (particularly when reading the parts of Augustus and Livia).
The book itself is good, although I didn't think it was as good as the books in the "Masters of Rome" series by Colleen McCullough or "Imperium" by Robert Harris.
I listened to the sequel, "Claudius the God" read by Nelson Runger (also from Audible.com) and found it vastly superior. "I, Claudius" is also available by Runger, so I highly recommend that instead.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
Claudius writes about his life, targeting an audience centuries later as instructed by a fortune teller. It was interesting.
I admire Robert Graves. But while I quite enjoyed this book, I was a little disappointed. The narration is very good. My criticism is that the narrative starts to become a bit tedious in places. Much of it is a chronology of crimes, intrigues, and brutalities involving the Roman ruling class from Augustus through to Caligula. Horrible though these are, I found myself indifferent to what is related. There's no real emotional charge to the narrative. Sometimes it lapses into: "and then so and so was poisoned, and then so and so was forced to commit suicide, and then so and so was starved to death......" The character of Claudius is fairly endearing, though, and I'll probably listen to the sequel.
I just achieved App Scholar!! 1000 hours in 1 yr 7 mo and 10 days!!! I never thought I would make it this far!! Thanks Audible
Yes, it was recommend to me.great story.
How every roman emperor was cursed, and know one is safe. In those everyone has it coming.
Claudius, he made it through time after time and came out on top!!!!
The man who was thought to be a idiot was the smartest of them all.
the narrative. the historical sweep.
no scenes need to be cut.
I tried to deal with the narrator's style and voice.
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