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Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina (Claudius #2)

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,531 Ratings  ·  324 Reviews
Robert Graves begins anew the tumultuous life of the Roman who became emporer in spite of himself. Captures the vitality, splendor, and decadence of the Roman world at the point of its decline.
Paperback, 533 pages
Published October 23rd 1989 by Vintage (first published 1934)
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I, Claudius by Robert GravesThe First Man in Rome by Colleen McCulloughClaudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert GravesThe Agricola and The Germania by TacitusThe Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
Best Books About Ancient Rome
3rd out of 544 books — 864 voters
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Best Historical Fiction
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Henry Avila
Nov 28, 2015 Henry Avila rated it really liked it
Miracles do happen, ask Claudius, the unread historian, the idiot, as his family perceives him, the people also, becomes Emperor of the Roman Empire... These events unfold, with the assassination of his mad nephew, Caligula, the Praetorian Guard, needs a ruler, or else they become obsolete, no one to keep from harm, and go back to the intolerable barracks. Claudius, is found behind a curtain, in the palace, shaking ( more than the curtain), scared to death, to state it mildly, expects the rampag ...more
Feb 22, 2016 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
“Most men—it is my experience—are neither virtuous nor scoundrels, good-hearted nor bad-hearted. They are a little of one thing and a little of the other and nothing for any length of time: ignoble mediocrities.”
― Robert Graves, Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


I, Claudius and Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina are two of the greatest novels of historical fiction EVER. Probably the only writers who come close to Grave's mastery of history and literature are (in no particular order):
I loved the chance to hear the actor Derek Jacobi from the TV production of “I, Claudius” do the reading of this sequel. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the audiobook was an abridged edition of the book until the end. That accounts for the disappointing compression in the narratives. Still, it was a pleasure to experience highlights in the reign of this survivor of all the murders associated with the succession of his uncle Calligula. He succeed by pretending to be an idiot. This presented a pro ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Knjigoholičarka rated it liked it
Shelves: istorija, 2015
Koliko god da mi se dopada gomiletina istorijskih događaja koje je Grejvs sjajno posložio u pregledan timeline, toliko mi nije jasna njegova potreba da u neku ruku amnestira Klaudija, predstavi ga kao sveca, previše bolećivog na svoje žene, sluge, prijatelje... tolika povodljivost, bezvoljnost, naivnost i beskičmenjaštvo nekako ne idu ruku pod ruku sa britkom inteligencijom, idejama i učenošću kakvu je Grejvs dodelio Klaudiju u svojim knjigama.

A i moram da priznam da bez Kaligule nema zabave. :D
Jul 29, 2015 Emily rated it liked it
Yes, we are all mad, we Emperors. We begin sanely, like Augustus and Tiberius and even Caligula (though he was an evil character, he was sane at first), and monarchy turns our wits.

This book is much more tragic than the last. Claudius becomes the divine emperor of Rome - against all odds - and rules for thirteen years. While the first book has no real narrative arc, this one is framed by two factors: Claudius's love for his young wife, Messalina, and his desire for Rome to return to republican
Jan 13, 2008 cheeseblab rated it it was amazing
As much as I enjoyed I, Claudius, this is like The Godfather, Part II to the earlier book's Godfather. In other words, a much more ambitious work, with a broader canvas and more spectacular success. Perhaps the best example is the treatment of Claudius's friend Herod Agrippa, who is scarcely mentioned in the first novel but who is essentially the co-lead for the first two-thirds or so of this book. (This Herod was the grandson of Herod the Great, notorious for the Slaughter of the Innocents in M ...more
Since my college days I didn’t know Robert Graves and told myself I wouldn’t read him at all due to his formidable writing style as a Greek scholar till I finally decided to try reading his amazing memoir “Goodbye to All That” from which I regarded as my first step toward his other works. Surprisingly, the more I read him, the more I found his narration informative, rewarding and sometime humorous. However, if you’re interested in reading this historical novel, you should read his “I, Claudius” ...more
Jun 05, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: history, novel
Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus ascends the Roman throne in the second half of Robert Graves' life of Claudius. After the debacle of the reign of his three relatives, Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula, Claudius is left with Roman society in ruins, and his dreams of re-establishing the Republic fade. In an effort to bring Rome back from the brink of disaster, Claudius institutes many governmental reforms. Although he is somewhat successful, during his thirteen year reign, his heroic effort ...more
Jan 18, 2008 Jack rated it really liked it
This second book, while not quite as good as the first, is a very fitting successor. In I, Claudius, Claudius's role is primarily as an observer, sitting on the sidelines and watching his relatives destroy themselves while remaining relatively safe by virtue of their assumption that he is no threat to take the throne. In this book, Claudius ascends simply because he's the last man standing, and in seeing how he administers Rome he scuffs himself up a bit. In actually wielding a power he had neve ...more
Víctor Galán
Dec 31, 2015 Víctor Galán rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Estamos sin ninguna duda ante una de las mejores novelas históricas de la Historia y ante una de las obras cumbre del siglo XX y de la literatura inglesa. Casi todo en esta novela es perfecta con un ritmo ágil, una trama interesante y unos personajes, casi todos ellos carismáticos. La épica historia de la familia Julio-Claudia es narrada aquí con todo el esplendor que se merece. Solo un decepcionante final, en el que la personalidad de Claudio cambia abruptamente y el ritmo se vuelve excesivamen ...more
Dec 31, 2009 Jennie rated it really liked it
Shelves: classical-lit
It's a shame that Messalina is such a pretty name, because she was such a vile person. Sometimes I wonder if this book is rampantly misogynist on purpose, or if that just a reflection of the source material Robert Graves had to work with. And then I wonder if the source material is full of such horrible women because there really was such a crop of scheming imperial jezebels, or if the historians were merely reflecting the deeply-entrenched anti-woman sentiments of their time.

And then I remember
Apr 15, 2015 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend the book to people who like to read historical novels. I gave it three solid stars because the book is an important piece of history. I took away the fourth star because the book was much too long thereby diminishing this historical account of Claudius' reign over the Roman empire.

The book, the main character, and the author remain enigmas to me. I read this book thinking I would find at least one redeeming quality in Claudius, but I read in vain. Still, I liked Claudius. To be so in
Mar 31, 2012 Kynan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio, historical
Great, now I have to go and read some actual (ie non-fiction) Roman history to find out if I just learned something or if I just read through two books worth of Days or Our Lives, circa 41 AD.

I read Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina and I, Claudius back to back as I really wanted to follow through to the end of the prophecy with which "I, Claudius" opens. Also, both the style and content of the books was extremely compelling and I really wanted to find out what happened next! The books con
Nov 24, 2014 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, read-again
Claudius The God, a novel by Robert Graves, is the sequel to" I, Claudius", and it takes up the story from the point when Claudius was acclaimed as emperor. Where the first novel covered the reign of Caesar Augustus as well as those of Tiberius and Caligula, the sequel is longer but mostly restricts itself to the thirteen-year reign of Claudius, the narrator.
There is a rather long section early in the novel that tells the story of Claudius' friend Herod Agrippa, who helps and encourages Claudius
Apr 09, 2012 Joan rated it did not like it
I had noticed several people had complained that the sequel was considerably worse than the first book but decided to give it a chance. Well, those reviewers were all correct. This book just dragged on and on and on. I'm not sure what made this book such a failure. It is written in a similar way to the first book. However, maybe the frist book covered the field more than people realized and there just wasn't enough original scandal left for this book. Claudius himself seems bored by this story. ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Dave rated it really liked it
As my review on "I, Claudius" stated, I really enjoy history, especially Roman history, and I really enjoy the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

This book essentially picks up where the last one leaves off. It is a fictional account (based on real history) of the rule of Claudius as the emperor of Rome in the form of memoirs. The last book stops when Claudius becomes emperor, and this one starts at that point and goes right to the point prior to his death. It then includes three accounts of his death by re
Feb 11, 2013 Diamond rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books EVER. I simply adore Claudius; and find him lovable and charming. Graves breathes life into characters so historic and legendary, and makes the reader feel as though we are actually living in Ancient Rome. Graves does all this, while simultaneously keeping the integrity of history. It's the book that got me convinced I can read and really love historical fiction as a genre, as much as fiction. I've introduced this book to many friends, as it was introduced to me by a fri ...more
Newton Nitro
Sep 08, 2015 Newton Nitro rated it it was amazing
CLÁUDIUS, O DEUS - Robert Graves | Como Sobreviver no Comando do Império Romano! | NITROLEITURAS #resenha

Um clássico dos romances históricos e tão revolucionário quanto EU, CLÁUDIO. Apesar de não ser tão dramático quanto o antecessor, essa sequência é também uma obra prima da ficção histórica contemporânea. Enquanto em EU,CLÁUDIO o tema unificador é a sobrevivência fora de uma posição de poder, CLÁUDIO, O DEUS é sobre a sobrevivência quando se está em uma posição de poder.
O livro descreve, em pr
Mike Robbins
Apr 29, 2008 Mike Robbins rated it really liked it
Messalina reminds me of an old girlfriend. She makes for a good story...and I mean both Messalina and Lorraine. Duplicitous and conniving. In one scene Messalina goes "camping" alone with a "friend" the night before "Claudius" comes back from a long trip to "Ostia." Wait, what?
Feb 03, 2012 John rated it really liked it
At the end of I, Claudius, our favorite emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty is hoisted on the shoulders of the Praetorian Guard and finds himself the absolute ruler of the civilized world. With Claudius the God, we get to see what happens next, though a large part is devoted to the story of Herod Agrippa.

Claudius continues with his fictional autobiography, recounting his attempts to rule benevolently following the chaos of Caligula's reign, and to create a civil society from which the Republic
May 21, 2010 Leigh-ann rated it it was amazing
After giving "I, Claudius" a less-than-perfect review, I'm doing an about-face and stating that I adored this sequel and wish Robert Graves had written an entire series about the personalities of the Roman Empire. While Claudius definitely wasn't infallible (and there were times he was downright stupid), he ultimately proved himself to be brilliant and brave. I thought it was unfortunate that the book ended with Seneca The Younger's satirical poem/essay about Claudius, "The Pumpkinification of C ...more
Luke Peterson
Feb 20, 2007 Luke Peterson rated it liked it
Recommends it for: political nerds, business managers, leaders
Sequel to I, Claudius, this book is essentially the required descent of the pair (assuming its predecessor ended in the climax). It stands on its own as a good read, but a bit tedious and disappointing when viewed in the shadow of its older sibling.

It opens with the newly-minted Emperor Claudius standing in the blood of his nephew, ex-Emperor Caligula. Given how highly Graves built up Claudius as a hero in I, Claudius, this book is Graves' attempt to explain away the historically-documented fail
Apr 22, 2015 Dylan rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Published just after the wildly popular I, Claudius, this lazily pandering sequel has the look of a transparent attempt to cash in on the previous novel's success. Having endeared the nervous, trodden-on Claudius to readers in the earlier volume, Graves now jumps the shark by not only making his likable narrator into the Emperor of Rome (in defiance of all plausibility), but by transforming Claudius into an exceptionally capable ruler and even a brilliant military strategist. Claudius's adventur ...more
Jun 09, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it
See also review of I, Claudius. Weaker than its predecessor in both scope and subject matter, but still fantastic. Perhaps the only part that really reaches the realm of greatness is the fictionalized nihilistic plot of Claudius in the novel's climax, achieving the nearly impossible task of making the reader hate Claudius as much as the rest of Rome did when for the second time they embraced a mad Caesar. Unfortunately, all this novel's principals are weaker than those of I, Claudius, with King ...more
Vicki Cline
Oct 26, 2014 Vicki Cline rated it really liked it
Shelves: roman-fiction
This is the sequel to I, Claudius and covers Claudius' own reign as emperor, which lasted 13 years. He was a pretty good one, doing a lot of building and presiding over the start of the conquest of England, although he wasn't a military man himself. The book is written as an autobiography, thus there isn't a lot of dialog, which is a bit disconcerting if you're expecting it to match the TV series. We don't get to see the true character of his last two wives, Messalina and Agrippina until late in ...more
Susana Pereira
May 24, 2011 Susana Pereira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this reading a bit more difficult to follow than the first volume's, but it was nevertheless likewise fascinating.
I particularly enjoyed the story of Herodes Agrippa, which I didn't know intertwined so closely the story of Claudius himself, and of the conquest of Britain (although it might be considered a low trick to use elephants and camels to fight for you... :)), and the convoluted politics of the Asian part of the empire...

The fact is that I learned a lot from this book and I just L
Jeffrey Bumiller
Jan 02, 2013 Jeffrey Bumiller rated it it was amazing
I want to be Robert Graves when I grow up. I loved this book so much that I answered a GoodReads quiz question about the book and I got it right! I retained information! Amazing!

This is a life affirming book, a book that opened so many door for me. I want to study ancient history for the rest of my life, I want to travel, I want to read everything I can get my hands on, I want to write as beautifully as Robert Graves (never gonna happen), I want to watch BBC series from the 70's and I want to l
Andrew Burford
Not all sequels manage to maintain the same quality as the original book, but in this case, Robert Graves moves the story of Claudius onto his reign as emperor with supreme aplomb. The quality of the writing is equal to the epic tale and retains a fascination with the crumbling grandeur of Rome, while sealing Graves reputation as a great writer.

Sıla Önder
Apr 07, 2015 Sıla Önder rated it really liked it
This book should have been named "Claudius the God and His Conquest of Britain" instead of "Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina". It was mostly focused on the emperor's success on the foggy island instead of what was going on in the court. I enjoyed reading about Claudius' military campaign but I'd expected more "drama", as there was a lot of it in the first book, if I'm not mistaken.
When I picked the book up to read, I'd almost entirely forgotten everything about Claudius and his reign. Mo
Jan 28, 2015 Byron rated it it was amazing
Claudius the God, by Robert Graves, is a book about a man named Claudius, the great nephew of Julius Caesar. Claudius became the emperor of Rome after the assassination of Caligula, his cousin. Claudius was actually a devoted Republican, someone who wanted the republic back. However, the imperial guards didn't want the republic back because they would be out of a job and they wouldn't let Claudius restore the republic. After he was announced emperor, he ruled wisely and justly for 25 years. His ...more
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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...

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Claudius (2 books)
  • I, Claudius (Claudius, #1)

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