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I, Claudius (Claudius #1)

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  38,639 Ratings  ·  1,660 Reviews
From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54.

Set in the first century A.D. in Rome and written as an autobiographical memoir, this colorful story of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius stands as one of the modern classics of historical fiction.

Physically weak and afflicted with stuttering, Claudius is initially despised and di
Paperback, 468 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Vintage (first published 1934)
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Pete daPixie My opinion is it is mostly Graves' invention. The only accounts from posterity come from Suetonius, Tacitus and Plutarch...and their histories,…moreMy opinion is it is mostly Graves' invention. The only accounts from posterity come from Suetonius, Tacitus and Plutarch...and their histories, written many years after events, were very loosely based on actual facts with lots of their own invention. Although Claudius wrote histories himself, all his works are lost. So, for example, there is no evidence to convict Livia of all her supposed crimes.
Historical fiction at its finest.(less)
Brandon The Imperial Family and Nobles of Rome, and their struggles for power, both perceived or actual. Lots of backdoor deals, assassinations, breaches of…moreThe Imperial Family and Nobles of Rome, and their struggles for power, both perceived or actual. Lots of backdoor deals, assassinations, breaches of trust, etc. All from the perspective of Claudius, who is an absolute runt amongst many strong, powerful and cunning men and women. Or so they think...(less)
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Best Historical Fiction
26th out of 5,824 books — 22,288 voters
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1st out of 558 books — 891 voters

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Henry Avila
Nov 19, 2015 Henry Avila rated it it was amazing
Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (Claudius to his embarrassed family), born in Lyon, in what is now France, a sickly, lame, twitching, stutterer, a nonentity, thought an idiot by his relatives, the most prominent in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar began their more than century long reign, as the rulers of the vast, expanding, Roman Empire. But he survives the treacherous, deadly, byzantine atmosphere, where killing an enemy is common, all for power, influence and money, nothing else matters, ...more
Mar 15, 2011 Kemper rated it really liked it
Things had to have been boring in ancient Rome with no TV, internet or video games. But after reading I, Claudius, I think that the average Roman citizen’s chief entertainment probably came from watching what the imperial family did to each other. There was the crime and intrigue of a show like The Sopranos. All the narcissism and betrayal of a season of a reality TV show. More sex than cable on-demand porn channels and enough family dysfunction to make Jerry Springer’s guests look classy. You ...more
Paul Bryant
Feb 07, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing
I Claudius reviewed by Manny :

- Claudius, come here, sit down right by me, don't be shy.

- O o o o o oh, M-m-m-m-m-

- Yes?

- essalina!

I Claudius reviewed by Mariel :

All i can dream about is rabbits every day. every day rabbits. i can't tell you why.

I Claudius reviewed by Ian Graye :

You've seen The Sopranos, so you think you know about gangsters.

But Imperial Rome didn't get its reputation by organising knitting circles.

No, it didn't.

Claudius became emperor accidentally. They found him cowering in a
Sarah (Presto agitato)
Jul 17, 2012 Sarah (Presto agitato) rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those interested in the real Hunger Games
Poor Clau-Clau-Claudius. He stuttered, had a limp, and was deaf in one ear. Considered the family idiot, he had the misfortune to be born into a family that suffered from a congenital lack of compassion.

Robert Graves’s choice of the hapless Claudius as the narrator for this work of historical fiction was ingenious. Seen as dull-witted and harmless by his ruthless relatives, Claudius managed to avoid (view spoiler) the poisoning, banishment, starvation, stabbing, and suici
Jr Bacdayan
Jun 06, 2015 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Game of Romes

History is the lie of the victors. Or so that’s what they say. But in the case of I, Claudius hailed as one of the best pieces of historical fiction written to date, the so-called lie is either heightened or degraded, depends on how you see it, into a dramatic tale of cunning, deceit, depravity and the glories of ancient Rome chalked with enough back-stabbing, affairs, incest, assassinations, and debauchery you’d doubt whether you’ve unearthed an ancient tabloid. Granted there are c
Riku Sayuj
Sep 07, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, r-r-rs

Yo, Claudio

The review I really have in mind will be attempted for this book only after I finish reading Claudius the God (to quench the burning curiosity of how this ‘Clau-Clau-Claudius’, a man, who in the first shock of being made emperor had this outrageous thought come rushing to his mind - "So, I'm Emperor, am I? What nonsense! But at least I'll be able to make people read my books now.”, will conduct himself as a God-Emperor), The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Rubicon: The Last Y
Jan 10, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it
Compelling, humorous, entertaining and even at time times deeply disturbing, this traces the peripheral rise of an unlikely Caeser.

Historical fiction at its best, Graves provides an in-depth, behind the scenes look at early Roman Imperial intrigue. First published in 1934, this has been selected as one of the finest English language works in the twentieth century.

Sep 16, 2014 Aubrey rated it really liked it
There have been multiple periods of time in my life during which I developed a fascination for different historical families, usually of infamous repute. Elementary school was devoted to the Tudors, focusing heavily on the Princess Elizabeth, while middle through high school was preoccupied with the Borgias, an interest more balanced between its equally intriguing members. Every so often those fascinations will spark up again, and I will find myself consuming relevant impressively rendered ficti ...more
- Ave, Imperator!

- A-a-a-a-ave Manny. Heri o-o-o-ccurabamus?

- Parodis Paulii Bryantii erat.

- A-a-a-absit invidia. Latinam loquitis?

- Googlam Translatam utiliso.

- Non i-i-i-intelligo.

- Malefice! Logicus coprae est.

- P-p-parodis Bryantii melius erat.

- Bastarde!
Luke Peterson
Feb 20, 2007 Luke Peterson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
Best book I'd read in years. I, Claudius is a brilliantly written piece of historical fiction from the perspective of a hapless-yet-intelligent black sheep of the Julio-Claudian house during the Augustan era of the Roman Empire who stumbles his way through to survive the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula only to be made emperor himself.

At times hilarious, others disturbing, very interesting all the way through, Robert Graves wrote a masterpiece with this. I challenge anyone to read 'I,
Elijah Kinch Spector
Nov 19, 2015 Elijah Kinch Spector rated it it was amazing
[Cross-posted on my blog, but with pretty pictures!]
I decided that I had to read I, Claudius as soon as possible because of Brian Blessed.

I was watching a documentary about the famous BBC miniseries based on the book (which I desperately want to watch) and saw Mr. Blessed -- one of my favorite people to ever exist, who should really be a "Sir Blessed" -- discuss his reaction to being offered the role of Augustus: he basically (I am paraphrasing) went "oh no, I can't see myself as Augustus... m
David Sarkies
Apr 02, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Roman Empire buffs
Recommended to David by: Sariah
Shelves: historical
A fictional autobiography of a Roman Emperor
23 February 2015

Well, here is another historical novel that I actually quite enjoyed, but that may be because, unlike most historical novels that deal with fictional characters placed in an historical time period, this deals with real characters, namely the Imperial Family from the establishment of the empire to the ascension of Claudius to the throne. As can be seen by the title, the main character is the emperor Claudius before he became emperor (th
Sep 16, 2016 Sinem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tarih kitabı olmasına rağmen öğretici ama sıkıcı değil ve kurgu olmasına rağmen yavan bir kitap değil. Kitap boyunca - özellikle konuya merakı olanların ilgisini ayakta tutmayı başarıyor. Yazarın mizahi anlatımı da oldukça etkileyici.
Dec 07, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
I like I, Claudius a lot, but what is it?

It's a slow character study of subtle, canny Claudius, who's one of the most likable protagonists I've read recently. Self-deprecating and brilliant, he's more proactive than he chooses to mention.

It's a history lesson, but not a trustworthy one. This is a good example of something I think of as the Nero Rule. Nero, see, put cages on poles and set Christians on fire in them and used them as streetlights. He probably didn't, actually, but that's a cool sto
I was going to write that Graves having translated The Twelve Caesars recycled the Suetonius with a dash of Tacitus and some added murders to create I Claudius - ostensibly the memoirs of the Emperor Claudius.

This, however, seems to be entirely false as Graves wrote I, Claudius more than twenty years before he made that translation. He was though living on Majorca, which is not quite Capri and if isolated and obsessing over his muse not quite in Tiberian style.

In my imagination then I have to p
Jul 17, 2016 Kiwi rated it it was amazing
A work of historical fiction as it should be: entertaining but based on solid research, including accurate dates and places.

The book narrative is in the first-person, as if Claudius were writing his autobiography, complete with Homeric references and Latin vocabulary. Although its stated purpose is of a biography, the story is rich with many historical figures related to the Julio-Claudian family line. Claudius’ observations on these characters provide interesting behind-the-scene information o
I am a fan of anything to do with the Roman Empire. I find it endlessly fascinating how much of their systems of law and politics we continue to use and the amount of their language that is still a part of our lives.

As the intention must obviously have been, seeing as the point of view is from Claudius writing a history, this book is heavy on the facts and chronicles of events. Though it is written with a personal opinion on the characters, as Claudius is their contemporary.

I found the style o
Maryana Pinchuk
This is a re-read for me; I found it at my parents' house while visiting over Thanksgiving — the same dog-eared copy I had first read in high school — and just like the first time, despite the heavy subject matter, it was a pretty easy and breezy read. I devoured it in less than 2 days.

While it was less of a page-turner knowing all the twists and intrigues that were to come, the second reading gave me a new appreciation for the tension Graves strikes, on the one hand titillating the reader with
Andy Dowling
Mar 10, 2012 Andy Dowling rated it liked it
This thing is basically 'The Wire' in togas. It has much of the complex plotting, political positioning, warring and double crossing of that show, with a bit of incest and poisoning thrown in for good measure. A lot of poisoning actually. If the amount of poisoning in this book is at all historically accurate, then the Romans must have experienced the same abject terror sitting down to every meal, which we in modern life are thankfully now only exposed to when faced with no option but to use a K ...more
Jul 05, 2007 David rated it it was amazing
The first book that convinced me that history could be engrossing. Ridiculously fun to read - it delivers a thrill on a level with the first time you saw "The Mikado", heard the Saint-Saens cello concerto, Callas singing 'Casta Diva'. You get the picture

It is a stroke of genius for Graves to choose Claudius, the drooling 'halfwit' among the Caesars, overlooked and ridiculed by his more ambitious relatives, as his mouthpiece. In a voice that is irresistibly gossipy and remarkably shrewd, he draws
Jul 21, 2015 Emily rated it liked it
Robert Graves does a remarkable job bringing the various Caesars to life in this book. But, oddly enough, the least compelling Caesar is Claudius. That's crazy, because Claudius--due to his lameness, his stutter, and his assumed idiocy--managed to survive most of his family (and the reign of his insane nephew Caligula) to become emperor in 41 A.D. And he was a good emperor--definitely the best and most capable of the Caesars since Augustus.

That makes Claudius a particularly enticing figure to s
Jul 26, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, rome-fiction
Having just read Everitt's recent bio of Augustus, and being glued to HBO's Rome, I turned to this classic novel to get a better feel for Augustus and his times. The first two thirds of this novel, covering the administrations of Augustus and Tiberius, are dominated by the influence of Livia, an influence that extends into the Caligula era.

In contrast, the Everitt bio downplays Livia saying that she's shrewd businesswoman and loving advisor (if not much of a sexual partner) to Augustus. With car

Endlich fertig! Ich dachte schon das wird nix mehr. Dieses Buch sollte man auf jeden Fall so gut es geht am Stück lesen, sonst ist es die reine Qual, denn "I,Claudius" ist eigentlich keine Geschichte sondern eher eine endlose Aneinanderreihung von geschichtlichen Anekdoten, die teilweise historisch belegt und teilweise fiktiv sind. Auf knapp 400 Seiten kommen und gehen mehrere Hundert Charaktere mit komplizierten lateinischen Namen. Es wird gemeuchelt und vergiftet, intrigiert und gefoltert was
Mar 31, 2008 Heidi rated it really liked it
I read this over the course of three weeks and blogged about it along with several other writers. (The Big Read II) That kind of slow, reflective read is perfect for this book. There are many historical characters to keep track of, and just who is going to be poisoned by whom.

Julius Caesar is merely the backstory, the real story here is about a sickly cripple that manages not to get assassinated before he becomes the Emperor at the ripe old age of 50 something. (That is not a spoiler...we learn
I bought this paperback after reading his wonderful autobiography "Goodbye to All That"; however, I thought I would never finish reading this seemingly formidable historical fiction due to its 34 chapters, lengthy narration (e.g. two full pages, pp. 222-223, without any paragraph), those innumerable names unfamiliar to me, etc. Incidentally, we can see Graves has understood his readers by adding lively, amusing or informative dialogs as appropriate. This fiction on ancient Rome has definitely su ...more
Rustom Davar
Jan 28, 2008 Rustom Davar rated it it was amazing
If you think your family is bad, wait till you see what Emperor "Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other" had to put up with! This historical novel is written from the point of view of Claudius, a stammering, lame, benign man who is taken for a fool by everyone who knows him (which happens to works in his favour). Claudius starts his tale with the reign of Augustus and ends the book with his own ascension to power. There is a sequel to the book called "The God Claudius" ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I'm applying the 50-page text here, and abandoning it at least for now. I'm just not into it; it's too much a history lesson, without bringing its characters to life enough to draw me in regardless. Also, it rubbed me the wrong way by spending what felt like the majority of those first 50 pages slamming the only major female character. Maybe Livia really was a terrible person, but books - like people - have to make a good impression if they want my company, and who wants to hang out with a new a ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Eirini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Είναι ένα εξαιρετικό ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα,μια καταπληκτική τοιχογραφία της ρωμαϊκής κοινωνίας στα πρώτα χρόνια της αυτοκρατορίας.Καλύπτει την περίοδο απο τη δολοφονία του Ιούλιου Καίσαρα μεχρι και την ανάρρηση του Κλαύδιου στο θρόνο.Ίντριγκες,πάθη,φιλοδοξίες,δολοφονίες ξετυλίγονται μπροστά μας.Η ιστορική ακρίβεια και η μυθοπλασία είναι στενά συνδεδεμένα και δημιουργούν ένα υπέροχο,ολοζώντανο και πολύ ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο που με συνεπήρε.
Το μόνο του πρόβλημα είναι τα πολλά ονόματα και οι μπερδεμένες
Updated Review - Reheard after listening to Holland's book about the family. So fun.

A very good dramatization. If you are a fan of the series, this does not detract from it. It is also interesting to listen to Derek Jacobi as Augustus. It makes a nice bookend.
Jun 08, 2016 Kirsty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: june-2016
I, Not Really A Fan.
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Read Runners: HF October 2016 - I, Claudius 8 8 Oct 03, 2016 08:57AM  
Classic Trash: I, Claudius: In Progress (No Spoilers) 18 19 Mar 24, 2016 12:56PM  
Classic Trash: I, Claudius: Finished (Spoilers) 10 13 Mar 24, 2016 12:54PM  
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Robert Ranke Graves, born in Wimbledon, received his early education at King's College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon & Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford. While at Charterhouse in 1912, he fell in love with G. H. Johnstone, a boy of fourteen ("Dick" in Goodbye to All That) When challenged by the headmaster he defended himself by citing Plato, G ...more
More about Robert Graves...

Other Books in the Series

Claudius (2 books)
  • Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina (Claudius, #2)

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“I was thinking, "So, I’m Emperor, am I? What nonsense! But at least I'll be able to make people read my books now.” 42 likes
“And what thoughts or memories, would you guess, were passing through my mind on this extraordinary occasion? Was I thinking of the Sibyl's prophecy, of the omen of the wolf-cub, of Pollio's advice, or of Briseis's dream? Of my grandfather and liberty? Of my grandfather and liberty? Of my three Imperial predecessors, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, their lives and deaths? Of the great danger I was still in from the conspirators, and from the Senate, and from the Gaurds battalions at the Camp? Of Messalina and our unborn child? Of my grandmother Livia and my promise to deify her if I ever became Emperor? Of Postumus and Germanicus? Of Agrippina and Nero? Of Camilla? No, you would never guess what was passing through my mind. But I shall be frank and tell you what it was, though the confession is a shameful one. I was thinking, 'So, I'm Emperor, am I? What nonsense! But at least I'll be able to make people read my books now. Public recitals to large audiences. And good books too, thirty-five years' hard work in them. It wont be unfair. Pollio used to get attentive audiences by giving expensive dinners. He was a very sound historian, and the last of the Romans. My history of Carthage is full of amusing anecdotes. I'm sure that they'll enjoy it.” 17 likes
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