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I, Claudius (Claudius #1)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  41,920 Ratings  ·  1,863 Reviews
Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus lived from 10 B.C. to 54 A.D. Despised as a weakling and 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. I, Claudius is written in the form of Claudius' autobiography and is one of the classi ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 1977 by Vintage Books (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)

Community Reviews

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Henry Avila
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Jr Bacdayan
May 24, 2015 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
Sarah (Presto agitato)
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Riku Sayuj
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
- 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!
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
Luke Peterson
Feb 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
David Sarkies
Feb 03, 2015 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 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.
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
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
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Historical fiction is a genre I quite enjoy and this was a group read I was really looking forward to. Graves tells us, in the voice of Claudius (himself a historian and writer of many books), the story of the Roman civilisation from the days of Augustus to when Claudius himself is appointed Emperor. It doesn’t take long to realise that “civilisation” is rather a misnomer (one sort of knows that already, of course, especially from the gladiators and other “entertainments”), for though there is t ...more
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
Maryana Pinchuk
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Staunch History Buffs
[2.5 stars]
Oh, Claudius. I tried to comprehend , but perhaps my 21st century brain is differently wired so as to make sense of the various intrigues, conspiracies, counter-conspiracies, political friendships which suddenly turn into violent enmity,and often vice versa. I also could not fathom your very intricate family tree, which was rife with marriage between relations, incest, polygamy and polyandry. The way you people changed, added or subtracted spouses at the turn of your hats also confuse
Re-read after 15 years. It wasn't as good as I remember, but the audiobook narrator occasionally irritated me with his delivery so that might have had something to do with it. I'll actually re-read the sequel Claudius the God and see if the written word has a different effect.

I also re-read this concurrently with watching the 1976 miniseries for a long long overdue first time ever, enjoying it more than the book version. It's highly doubtful I'll ever unsee Brian Blessed as Augustus & John H
hem soyağacındaki isim benzerlikleri, hem de akraba evlilikleri nedeniyle oldukça karmaşık olabilecek bir konuyu çok keyifli ve akıcı anlatmış yazar. yüzyıllık yalnızlık'ta bile soyağacına bir iki kere bakan ben, internetten bulduğum bir soyağacını kendim çizip kitabın arasına koyup sürekli açıp baktım. bu anlamda biraz zorluyor ama zamanla alışıyorsunuz elbette, zaten birkaç imparatorun dönemini kapsayan bir anlatı olduğu için artık o isimde beş kişi de olsa dönem itibariyle hangi isim olduğunu ...more
Raul Bimenyimana
This was fun reading! It reminded me of the 'A Song of Fire and Ice' series. Claudius, is a stammering lame fellow whose disabilities and weaknesses bring him both mockery and his salvation in a family plagued with scheming, deceit, betrayal, poisoning, the lust for power and the like. The humour and action in the book makes it a great page turner and Livia has become one of my favourite villains of all time.
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 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, uk
A must read. I have read it at least twice, may do so again.
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, well, well, this was great!

I, Claudius is a fictional autobiography by poor Clau—Clau—Claudius which feels really authentic to the times. Claudius is a limping, lame, stuttering noble, born in a messed up, and I mean really messed up family. The Lannisters are quite decent especially compared to the Claudian part of the Julio-Claudian family. Like Claudius states in the beginning of the book, the family gives birth to two kinds of fruits, good apples and crab apples. Sadly for him the cra
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Classic Trash: I, Claudius: Finished (Spoilers) 10 14 Mar 24, 2016 07:54PM  
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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)
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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.” 47 likes
“Let all the poison that lurks in the mud, hatch out.” 20 likes
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