Denerick's Reviews > Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina

Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert Graves
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's review
Apr 14, 11

really liked it

Basically an extension of the first book. This follows the reign of the Emperor Claudius, which is simultaneously less and more interesting. Again, a fascinating narrative and something that has rekindled an adolescent infatuation with Roman history.

One thing immediately sticks out. Claudius is/was a committed Republican and regularly states his intention to restore the Republic 'as soon as the affairs of State allow for it'. As time dragged on, he found himself unable to do so because A) A Republic wouldn't exist after a prolonged period of monarchy; A new Emperor would simply emerge as the political class were unable to display the political virtue of the ancient Republican days* and B) Claudius himself was becoming accustomed to life as Emperor, though he did govern largely wisely and attempted to foster a Republican spirit. His frailties as a person are more evident here, and the strains of his mind also with his disgusting wife Messalina. How easily he was deceived and manipulated.

*Here is an extract that illustrate this point:

"You know how it is when one talks of liberty
Everything seems beautifully simple.
One expects every gate to open and wall to fall flat.

The world is perfectly content with me as Emperor,
All but the people who want to be Emperor themselves.
Nobody really wants the Republic back"

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