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I, Claudius (Claudius, #1)
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I, Claudius (Claudius #1)

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  30,271 ratings  ·  1,298 reviews
From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54:
Considered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D. Historical novel set in 1st-century-AD Rome by Robert Graves, published in 1934. The book is wri
Paperback, 468 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Vintage Books USA (first published 1934)
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Best Historical Fiction
28th out of 4,626 books — 18,285 voters
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1st out of 425 books — 682 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
Jul 17, 2012 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
Riku Sayuj

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
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
Elijah Spector
[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... ma
- 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 5 of 5 stars
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,
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
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
Andy Dowling
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
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
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
Rustom Davar
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
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
I found I, Claudius to be really hard to get through. I just wasn't gripped by the story. There were no characters that I could identify with, including Claudius himself as the narrator. While there were a few tidbits here and there that held my attention, overall, the book seemed like a hopeless jaunt through decadent and debauched Rome with no upside to balance it out. In short, this book read like a modern day soap opera but with better use of language. I did commit myself to complete the boo ...more
K.M. Weiland
I don't know what I expecting when I started in on this. Something dull as tombs, a la some of the other classics I've been reading lately. Or something ostentatious, based solely on my familiarity with Graves as a poet (which makes no sense, because he's a wonderful poet). At any rate, the book totally blew my expectations out of the water. Fascinating from the word go, this is a stellar historical account of the early Roman Empire, as seen through the eyes of its misfit Emperor Claudius. For a ...more
Geoffrey Fox
What moved Graves, in his 39th year and during the vigorous rise of fascism, to write about the Roman Empire, from the last years of Augustus, through Tiberius, and up to the murder of Caligula? My question is not simply what gave him the inspiration but more seriously, what sustained him throughout the project. It is a monstrous allegory of his own times. No cruelty or treachery he had witnessed was unknown to the Romans of this period. The world did not yet know of genocide -- Hitler had becom ...more
Inês Beato
Uma obra magnífica! "Eu, Cláudio” conta a história, na primeira pessoa, do nobre Tibério Cláudio durante os reinados dos Imperadores Augusto, Tibério e Calígula. Fraco, gago e considerado um tolo pela família, Cláudio conseguiu sobreviver e escapar a todas as intrigas e mortes na família imperial, conseguindo passar suficientemente despercebido para contar a história do ambiente no Império Romano durante o reinado de Augusto e da malévola Lívia, avós de Cláudio, o reinado do louco Tibério e do a ...more
A.J. Howard
I, Claudius is more of a fictional work of history than a historical work of fiction. What I mean by that is that Robert Graves isn't content with telling a story that takes place in a different era using historical events as devices that move along the narrative. Instead, the historical events are the narrative. Claudius, our narrator is a figure in the events, but he is approaching the events and other characters as a historian rather than as a participant. Graves' Claudius is a uniquely appro ...more
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
Ok, one of my questions may have been answered, the question "Why did the Roman empire fall?" has just been answered, that is if the novel "I, Claudius" by Robert Graves is indeed accurate. I no longer wonder why it fell, now I wonder how it lasted as long as it did. Graves wrote his novel in 1934 and it was written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius, which made it pretty fun to read. I was surprised to learn that in 1998 the Modern Library ranked I, Claudius fourteent ...more
Wow! What an amazing book. Emperor Claudius tells the story of his own unlikely rise to Roman emperor, succeeding the evil and insane Caligula (who succeeded Tiberius who succeeded Augustus). Of course, Claudius didn't really write this book, but the author convincingly fools readers into imagining otherwise.

This was the first book about the Roman empire that I have ever read. It is exactly the kind of historical fiction that I enjoy and appreciate -- one in which every character is a real histo
Hmm. I'm not entirely sure if I liked this, or if I didn't. I mean, on the one hand, the prose style read plausibly as a translation from the classical Latin, much of the research was accurate, and I really liked Graves' take on Claudius himself. On the other hand, I thought his Augustus was incredibly off - whatever else the man was, he was incredibly intelligent, and I think Graves really underestimated him - and I would have quibbles with some of the rest of the characterisation as well.

3-1/2 stars, if I could.
Finished! I'm glad I'm raising kids in Bountiful and not 1st C. Rome.
A funny result of reading this book: it has inspired me to get back into gathering my parent's histories.
Read The Family: a Proclamation to the World regarding women and families and then p. 94, "... as a rule any good looking woman nowadays could have any man to sleep with whom she chose." If she "tired" of her husband, it was a hastle and financially distressing to get rid of him. Being married just me
I just could not get into the I, Claudius mini series but the book took me back to a Rome so unpredictable and strange that I doubt if I could have survived. Claudius survives bloody Rome and its mad, vindictive leaders by hiding beneath his limp, stammer and the image his family and acquaintances have cast upon him. The butt of jokes everywhere, he buries himself in nonpolitical historical research and writes books about what he discovers while his friends and family members are murdered and/or ...more
Mar 13, 2008 Belinda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who wish a deeper understanding of roman history
Recommended to Belinda by: Badger
I cannot recommend this book too highly. My introduction to it was the famous BBC series staring Derek Jacobi, after which I was compelled to read Graves' books to fill in all the juicy details. Graves felt there was a new Roman story to be told w/Claudius, the "idiot" who managed to do much more than most of his foolish relations---until he too demonstrated himself a fool. This telling of Roman history is deliciously wicked, as are most of its characters, but then you somehow find yourself in l ...more
Truly loved this one; in fact I often think about Mark who selected this one. He - Mark - not Claudius - has since retreated into his home, swalllowed in a thicket on the way to Charlestown. He worries about the grid collapsing as any sane person should. He also worries about surveillance from the Feds: sigh.

Graves situates C dramatically with aplomb, the decorum and debauchery vie in this rairified air. Everyone is terrified of the rabble. C is a patient man. This is an asset. He also lives in
Aug 17, 2008 Greg rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of HBOs <i>Rome</i> or <i>Sopranos</i>
I'd recommended the BBC/PBS TV series to anyone who'd listen for years, but only just got around to the book. Much more intrigue and mayhem than could be conveyed in the series, and I'll probably seek out Claudius the God in the near future.

My favorite bit was when a character appeared to have choked on a pear, Graves/Claudius writes: As was the custom in such cases, the pear tree was charged with murder and sentenced to be uprooted and burned.
Bryan  Jones
Absolutely one of the worst books I ever read. I will never understand its popularity. Historical fiction at its worst. No themes, no depth, no undertones. Graves simply regurgitates facts and characters from 1st Century Roman high society.
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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)
Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina (Claudius, #2) Goodbye to All That The Greek Myths The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth I, Claudius/Claudius the God

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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.” 25 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.” 13 likes
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