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

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  6,449 ratings  ·  242 reviews
Robert Graves begins anew the tumultuous life of the Roman who became emperor 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 Books USA (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 Twelve Caesars by SuetoniusThe Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough
Best Books About Ancient Rome
3rd out of 396 books — 644 voters
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Best Historical Fiction
290th out of 4,151 books — 17,600 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Robert Farwell
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): Gore Vidal (Lincoln, Burr, etc), Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies) and Norman Mailer (The Executioner's Song, Harlot's Ghost).

Obviously, Shakespeare is the master of historical fiction/drama but he is so obviously the deified king of historical fiction th...more
Jack
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
cheeseblab
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
Maureen
Jun 05, 2008 Maureen rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Kynan
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...more
Mike Robbins
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?
John
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...more
Leigh-ann
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 3 of 5 stars
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...more
Kim
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...more
Joan
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
Jennie
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...more
Chris
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
Dave
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...more
Diamond
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
Susana Pereira
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...more
Jeffrey Bumiller
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...more
Carrie Slager
To be perfectly honest, until I finished I, Claudius I had no idea there actually was a sequel. The first book has definitely overshadowed its own sequel, which does tend to happen to classic books. I was lucky to even find a copy in the bookstore, which I took despite absolutely hating the cover. Whoever designed it goes by the maxim ‘sex sells’, you can be sure of that. But I digress.

In some ways I enjoyed Claudius the God more than I, Claudius. One thing I really did like was that poor Claudi...more
Joel
This is a superb continuation of I, Claudius. It preserves the same eccentric, digressive, first person narration as its predecessor. As power corrupts and disillusionment sets in, the tone of the book is often one of self-justification and excuse-making with an increasingly callous disregard for human life.

Herod Agrippa is a main character for the first half of the book. I found this particularly interesting as it gives some interesting background for his, and other Herods', appearances in the...more
Edward Hanlon
Claudius the God was a bit of a disappointment, particularly considering how much I loved I, Claudius. Robert Graves never really decided what story he wanted to tell. From a purely narrative perspective the novel is all of the place. We start with a longish biography of Herod Agrippa before spending any time with the titular character. Herod remains important until he disappears somewhat ignominiously about two thirds of the way through with some (but only some) ramifications for Claudius.

Perh...more
Zachary Taylor
While Robert Graves once claimed that his I, Claudius novels were written merely for monetary reasons and that he actually disliked the work that made him such a pioneer in historical fiction, Graves's character development, minute attention to historical detail, and eloquent prose tell an entirely different story. Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina is a worthy successor to its critically acclaimed predecessor and moves the reader emotionally in a way that is entirely absent from Graves's f...more
Susana
Muito bom! Apesar das contrariedades derivadas de falhas na tradução e/ou na revisão, a fantástica qualidade desta narrativa não se perdeu. Agradou-me imenso o modo como Robert Graves conseguiu incorporar algum humor, sem perder a credibilidade histórica. Imperdível!
Nacho
[Novela histórica] Continuación de Yo, Claudio. No mantiene el nivel (era muy difícil) y se pierde en tramas judaicas durante buena parte del libro. En cualquier caso, la parte en la que aparece Mesalina es increíblemente buena.
Dylan
A less potent follow-up to the eccentric and classic I, Claudius.
At times lapsing into absurdity, Claudius the God is still mostly good.

I think it's important to note that I, Claudius AND Claudius the God were both written in the 1930's!!! This in and of itself merits respect as both read like modern works (save for a few odd turns of phrase).

Though less historically meticulous than it's predecessor, Claudius the God still deals a fair amount of history into it's numbered pages. Following Empe...more
Shawn
A disappointment after I Claudius, but interesting nonetheless.
Garrick
Also, very funny. And brilliant in its own way.
Sheila
Mar 29, 2012 Sheila added it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I read *I, Claudius* a few years ago and fell in love. Couldn't turn the pages fast enough: incest, betrayl, murder, scandal - you want it, baby you got it. I was at the library a few weeks ago and when I saw there was more Claudius, I nearly wet myself. Not really, but kind of. Sadly, though, I had to say "Buh-bye!" to *Claudius The God [and in really tiny print] and His Wife Messalina*.

*Claudius the God* picks up right after Caligula's assasination, and just...stalls. There's 150+ pages of ba...more
Denise
This book is considered a classic and a television series was produced from it in the 1970's. The book was written in the 1930's and is not an easy read (which so many people today seem to prefer). But it does place readers into the mind of Claudius and give sthem details of Roman society after the time of Augustus.

The Roman Republic is long dead. Augustus (Octavian, great nephew of Julius Caesar) ruled as Emperor for many years. His wife, Livia, was his confidante and was very much involved in...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I have to echo the LibraryThing reviewer who said that if this sequel to I, Claudius is less impressive than the first book, it's because it's narrower in scope. I, Claudius isn't just this faux autobiography, it gave a run through of the members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty prior to Claudius--Livia, Augustus and Germanicus made quite the impression in that first book, which ended with Claudius being raised to Emperor of Rome. The focus in this book is his short reign of little more than a deca...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...
I, Claudius (Claudius, #1) 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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