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Claudius #2

Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina

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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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

585 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1934

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About the author

Robert Graves

451 books1,554 followers
Robert von Ranke Graves (1895-1985), 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, Greek poets, Michelangelo & Shakespeare, "who had felt as I did".

At the outbreak of WWI, Graves enlisted almost immediately, taking a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He published his first volume of poems, Over the Brazier, in 1916. He developed an early reputation as a war poet and was one of the first to write realistic poems about his experience of front line conflict. In later years he omitted war poems from his collections, on the grounds that they were too obviously "part of the war poetry boom". At the Battle of the Somme he was so badly wounded by a shell-fragment through the lung that he was expected to die, and indeed was officially reported as 'died of wounds'. He gradually recovered. Apart from a brief spell back in France, he spent the rest of the war in England.

One of Graves's closest friends at this time was the poet Siegfried Sassoon, who was also an officer in the RWF. In 1917 Sassoon tried to rebel against the war by making a public anti-war statement. Graves, who feared Sassoon could face a court martial, intervened with the military authorities and persuaded them that he was suffering from shell shock, and to treat him accordingly. Graves also suffered from shell shock, or neurasthenia as it is sometimes called, although he was never hospitalised for it.

Biographers document the story well. It is fictionalised in Pat Barker's novel Regeneration. The intensity of their early relationship is nowhere demonstrated more clearly than in Graves's collection Fairies & Fusiliers (1917), which contains a plethora of poems celebrating their friendship. Through Sassoon, he also became friends with Wilfred Owen, whose talent he recognised. Owen attended Graves's wedding to Nancy Nicholson in 1918, presenting him with, as Graves recalled, "a set of 12 Apostle spoons".

Following his marriage and the end of the war, Graves belatedly took up his place at St John's College, Oxford. He later attempted to make a living by running a small shop, but the business failed. In 1926 he took up a post at Cairo University, accompanied by his wife, their children and the poet Laura Riding. He returned to London briefly, where he split with his wife under highly emotional circumstances before leaving to live with Riding in Deià, Majorca. There they continued to publish letterpress books under the rubric of the Seizin Press, founded and edited the literary journal Epilogue, and wrote two successful academic books together: A Survey of Modernist Poetry (1927) and A Pamphlet Against Anthologies (1928).

In 1927, he published Lawrence and the Arabs, a commercially successful biography of T.E. Lawrence. Good-bye to All That (1929, revised and republished in 1957) proved a success but cost him many of his friends, notably Sassoon. In 1934 he published his most commercially successful work, I, Claudius. Using classical sources he constructed a complexly compelling tale of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius, a tale extended in Claudius the God (1935). Another historical novel by Graves, Count Belisarius (1938), recounts the career of the Byzantine general Belisarius.

During the early 1970s Graves began to suffer from increasingly severe memory loss, and by his eightieth birthday in 1975 he had come to the end of his working life. By 1975 he had published more than 140 works. He survived for ten more years in an increasingly dependent condition until he died from heart failure.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 718 reviews
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,258 followers
August 8, 2020
Miracles do happen ask Claudius the unread historian the idiot, the clown, as his family perceives him, the people also yet becomes Emperor ( one of the best too) 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 monarch to keep from harm and will 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 rampaging soldiers seeking revenge on the escaped assassins to kill him like so many others, in the aftermath of the butchering of his predecessor. At first he refuses the dubious honor, but there is nobody left and he wants to live, all other obvious candidates have died mostly violently and plainly unwillingly, but he is from the Imperial family the poor, pathetic creature the soldiers hoist him on their shoulders, a parade ensues showing Claudius, to the happy citizens and proclaim him Caesar. The reluctant, amazed Roman Senate not known for bravery, scatters in panic so does his terrified rivals, the few still inside the building confirms his status. His first act, ordering the killers to be liquidated Claudius hated the brutal Caligula, still these men were a threat to him, they must be severely punished or another person might get the same bad idea, on the new Emperor. Messalina his intelligent devious third wife is delighted at the rise of her old husband, to absolute power in Rome (who would have been silly enough, to forecast it ?). Married when just 15, the very pretty girl to a decrepit, ugly , stupid man of 50 with no future and often no money either... but the always promiscuous woman, had compensations. A member of the elite of the elites, not anybody higher than her new family and now she is a rich, powerful, celebrity, people noticed her talked about and the scandalous rumors flowed to the ends of the Empire, everyone knew about the debaucheries except the loving husband, who would have the courage to tell him...His close friend the future Jewish king (thanks to the Emperor) charismatic, extremely amusing and able Herod Agrippa, advises Claudius at the beginning of his reign both were students together when children, he says to the monarch never trust anyone and proves it later... Claudius had a new, expensive port for the city of Rome built in Ostia, new aqueducts for the quickly expanding thirsty capital, a large lake drained for farmlands ( or tried to) desperately needed, but his most famous lasting accomplishment was the conquest of Britain after a tough, long struggle but popularity is fleeting a crop failure can cost a ruler the throne, and his enemies are everywhere ready to strike... " Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown". Shakespeare knew the public well. A sequel that is almost as good as the original, the fantastic stories of ancient Rome at its most hedonistic. This is pure joy for people interested in the ancient metropolis , the eternal city...
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,732 followers
July 21, 2017
“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): Gore Vidal (Lincoln, Burr, etc), Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies) and Norman Mailer (The Executioner's Song, Harlot's Ghost), John Williams (Augustus).

Obviously, Shakespeare is the master of historical fiction/drama but he is so obviously the deified king of historical fiction that the Shakespearian 'sun needs no inscription to distinguish him from darkness'.

Grave's duology must be intimidating to a historian of Imperial Rome. The personality of Claudius has been so deeply set by Graves that I'm not sure any tweaking by modern historians will be able to fool with Grave's fool.

The Genius of 'I, Claudius' and 'Glaudius the God' is derived from Graves' ability to create such an amazingly rich and deep literary character. The closest I've come across in recent times is Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell. Historical fiction like this are rare and seem to grow more amazing with each year. I rarely reread novels, and these Claudius novels might prove to be two exceptions to that rule.
Profile Image for ``Laurie.
197 reviews
June 7, 2020
I've given the sequel to I, Claudius five stars as well and had a good time reading both of these brilliant novels by one of the greatest authors I've ever read, Robert Graves.
His brilliance was apparent on each page that I eagerly kept turning.

How in the world did he manage to make the Rome of Augustus so spellbinding I don't know, but his sense of time and place had me experiencing the whole story as if I were there in person observing everything as it happened.
This is the sort of Historical Fiction that I yearn for but is so difficult to find.

Meet Claudius, the grandson of the murderous psychopath Livia, one of the most evil, historical characters I've yet to meet. Livia is the second wife of Caesar Augustus, who isn't even aware that Livia is the one running the show in ancient Rome. Livia doesn't miss a beat when it comes to power.
Even Cercei in the Game of Thrones series isn't this evil although she runs a close second I admit.

Claudius doesn't realize when younger that he's so very lucky to have suffered injuries during his premature birth that make him lame, a stutterer and prone to drooling whilst his head shakes continuously.
His own mother Antonia was embarrassed by him and wanted nothing to do with her youngest son.


But Claudius is indeed lucky to be afflicted in such a manner and he soon learns to take advantage of his afflictions in order to stay alive whilst Grandma Livia is busy killing everybody that stands in the way of her son by her first husband, Tiberius, from inheriting the throne from his stepfather Augustus.
It's hard work for Livia when it comes to killing Augustus's only child Julia, and all her children, but what's a mother to do when they stand in the way of her son Tiberius?

Claudius is the original Columbo if you remember this great detective series popular during the 70's and 80's. Columbo plays dumb to the arrogant killers that he seeks to bring to justice while said killers consider him too worthless to fear. Then they get sloppy and Columbo in his wrinkled raincoat is ready to pounce.
As we say in the south, Columbo and Claudius were playing possum.

Claudius is rejected and unloved but soon finds kindred spirits as he hangs out at the Roman library indulging his love of history. He even writes a couple of history books in his spare time although everyone still considers him an idiot. He does manage to make a few loyal friends in his lifetime.

Tiberius is Claudius's uncle, the only brother of Claudius's heroic father, who had found military glory. Cruel Livia decided to kill her son Germanicus, when he wouldn't do what his mama wanted anymore.

Once he's gone Livia sets to work killing off Claudius's older brother and any other capable male child in the family that stands in her way. Claudius just keeps drooling and shaking his head in order to stay alive.

There was a family tree of the Julian family at the front of the book which was a big help keeping all the characters straight since a lot of them had the same name.

I looked at the family tree again after finishing the book and realized that Claudius and his evil niece are the last 2 standing - everyone else had been murdered.
This was The Wars of the Roses on steroids.

Claudius continues to act stupid and somehow manages to survive when his Uncle Tiberius takes the throne as Rome's new Caesar. Tiberius wisely lets Livia rule Rome while he enjoys life to the fullest and constantly seeks new and disgusting ways to find pleasure.

After 10 years Tiberius dies and his nephew Caligula, the son of Claudius's older brother Germanicus, is proclaimed Caesar. Caligula doesn't seem to be an evil person at first but uses his charm to gain friends and supporters.

He even managed to charm and survive his great-grandma's killing spree.
Somewhere along the way Caligula goes absolutely nuts and starts killing everybody, left and right due to his cowardly, paranoid fear that someone is out to get him.

After a few years everybody is indeed out to get him as he murders the rich Roman citizens that have been coerced into re-making their wills, proclaiming Caligula their new heir.
This way they can at least save their family from him - better poor than dead I suppose.
In order to survive, Claudius gives his nightmare nephew all of his money before being asked.

The newly indigent Claudius has to live at the palace with his psycho nephew and wisely embraces his role as the butt of Caligula's jokes. After subjecting his household guards to extremely cruel treatment, they depose and murder Caligula while looking kindly upon the cowering Claudius when he is discovered hiding in the palace. They then decide to make him their new Caesar with Claudius offering generous gifts of gold to keep them happy.

Just shows that it pays to be nice to people - all people. It wasn't a minute too soon either as Claudius discovers Caligula's papers showing that Claudius was the next to be murdered. Makes me wonder if the real Claudius was aware of his dire situation and was behind the household guards revolt.

Claudius has carefully avoided making enemies during his chaotic life and soon brings peace and financial solvency to his realm as it slowly recovers from the demon-possessed Caligula's reign of madness. The rest of the book details Claudius's private life, marriages and his political ability as Caesar.

Claudius's ability to survive such perilous times made for fascinating reading. A true survival story with an unlikely hero. I've never been that interested in Roman times but this book is a must read for anyone interested in learning the basics of Roman history.
Profile Image for Lori Elliott (catching up).
748 reviews1,794 followers
June 22, 2022
“Trust no one… “ ― Robert Graves, Claudius the God

Wish Claudius had heeded this advise.

I have really enjoyed these two books. Claudius the God begins with a back story of Herrod Agrippa and Claudius’ relationship with him. Herod plays a much bigger role in this and I really enjoyed learning more about him. It was very interesting viewing Jesus and his growing popularity from the perspective of these two rulers.

Claudius tried to lead the Roman people in a fairer and more empathetic way than his predecessors, however, his marriages to Messalina & Agrippina turned out to play a big part in his unhappiness and his eventual downfall. My heart broke at how Calpurnia’s story ended… a prostitute that ended up being one of the only true friends Claudius ever had.

Derek Jacobi (actor best known for his role in Gladiator), again, does an outstanding job with the narration. I highly recommend this format when reading these.

I think that Graves novels have stood the test of time because he wrote them in ‘layman's terms’ which made them enjoyable to read rather than a chore. I highly recommend to anyone interested in Roman history or to those that enjoy a good family drama. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Sine.
319 reviews343 followers
November 15, 2021
aslında illa bir serinin parçası değil, ve tek başına da gayet okunabilir bir kitap; ama Ben, Claudius'un devamı olarak düşününce, ve ona beş yıldız verdiğimi hesaba katarak, bu kitaba beş yıldız vermek içimden gelmedi.

şimdi dan diye bu cümleyle başlayınca sevmemişim gibi oldu. öyle değil. ben, claudius, roma imparatoru claudius'un hayatının imparator olana kadarki dönemini anlatıyor; bu kitap ise tahta geçişiyle başlayıp ölümüne kadar devam ediyor. dolayısıyla ister istemez kıyaslıyorsunuz. ben bu kitapta, imparator olmasından mütevellit hayatındaki meselelerin çeşitlenmesini yazarın tam anlamıyla kotaramadığını düşündüm maalesef. başta "bu karakteri tanımanız lazım" diye anlattığı herodes agrippa ve hayatı değil bu arada kastım. bilakis o kısım ��ok akıcıydı. bir de isa'nın kudüs'te ortaya çıktığı döneme denk gelen anlatılar, bulgakov'un usta ile margarita'sındaki ilgili kısımları hatırlattığından normalde alacağımdan daha da büyük bir keyif aldım. öte yandan claudius'un kendi hayatını anlattığı kısımda esas hikayenin yanında vermek istediği konuları "bir de şöyle bir şey var, anlatıyorum", "böyle bir mektup gelmişti, aynen copy pasteliyorum" tarzı geçişlerle vermesi, özellikle ilk kitaptaki kusursuz anlatıyı düşününce beni biraz üzdü, ne yalan söyleyeyim. ama çok da büyük bir dert değil tabi bu, her haliyle çok keyifli bir kitap tanrı claudius.

zaten, "claudius'un şöyle şöyle anlatması" diyorum yukarıda fark ettiyseniz... cümleyi yazınca kendime güldüm. her ne kadar bir Hadrianus'un Anıları değilse de, roma imparatorunun ağzından imparatorluğu, bu imparatorluğu yönetmenin zorluklarını, etrafındaki çeşit çeşit insanı, ağrılarını filan, ne bileyim her şeyi çok güzel anlatmış. sanki kendi anlatmış. ikna olmamak elde değil.

her neyse. bir karakter olarak claudius'la zaman geçirmiş olmaktan ziyadesiyle memnunum. gerisi boş laf.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,980 reviews162 followers
May 24, 2021
This is the sequel to the excellent "I, Claudius" book. Interestingly, when I had finished the first book I thought that Robert Graves had been heavily influenced by Tacitus, Plutarch, and Suetonius. Graves addresses this in the introduction to this sequel by also acknowledging that he was also influenced by the writings of Dio Cassius, Pliny, Varro, Valerius Maximus, Orosius, Frontinus, Strabo, Caesar, and many others.

This book starts immediately after the events of the first. Claudius has been raised by the Praetorian Guard to become Emperor, in the wake of the death of Caligula. The story starts with a fascinating description, by Claudius, of his friend Herod Agrippa who became King of Judea during Claudius's reign. This in interesting because throughout the book Herod is intriguing to betray Rome and create a Pan-Jewish state with himself as a messianic figure.
I found this particularly interesting as Christianity and even Jesus is viewed through the lens of Clauidius. The fact that there was an earthquake (a good reason why the rock in front of Jesus's tomb was moved), or that it was accepted that one of the followers removed the body and that not a single non-follower ever saw the resurrected Christ is likely to be uncomfortable to Christians who believe an angel moved the boulder and Jesus "lived".
It is also interesting to see that there were indeed several people who were thoroughly convinced that they were the Messiah- including Herrod Agrippa.

Clauidus, goes through his attempts to fix the Roman system and restore a Republic. Claudius is a decent fellow and had he been left alone, he might have done a lot for abolishing the Imperial system. But a supine Senate and his adulterous wife Messalina doom his attempts.

The one thing Claudius does well is engineering the campaign in Britain and he made some intelligent decisions that helped to secure that victory. Sadly, Claudius decides to be a "King Log" and not do much, which allowed his despised niece and second wife-Agrippinilla to run things in his stead and he served merely as the figurehead. Thus far from a restoration of the Republic, this genius move gave Rome Emperor Nero.

A superbly written history of the Imperial Roman times and presented as an autobiography, this will delight anyone with an interest in the period of 41 to 54 AD of the Imperial Roman history. Highly Recommended, though I suggest reading the first book to have a better context for what makes Claudius tick and where his motivations come from.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,219 reviews1,962 followers
May 21, 2023
3.5 stars
“Two years have gone by since I finished writing the long story of how I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, the cripple, the stammerer, the fool of the family, whom none of his ambitious and bloody-minded relatives considered worth the trouble of executing, poisoning, forcing to suicide, banishing to a desert island or starving to death – which was how they one by one got rid of each other – how I survived them all, even my insane nephew Gaius Caligula, and was one day unexpectedly acclaimed Emperor by the corporals and sergeants of the Palace Guard.”
This is the follow up to I Claudius and charts the time Claudius was emperor. The title is shared with his new wife Messalina who turned out to be every bit as resourceful and unscrupulous as Caligula. Herod Agrippa and the Jews also take a significant role at the beginning of the book, with the occasional martyred Christian thrown in. There is also a significant section on the conquest of Britain, one military campaign Claudius led himself.
It’s quite fun to observe Claudius trying to justify himself. He spent most of the first book advocating a return to a republic and here he is an emperor and verging on the divine:

“It was becoming increasingly difficult for me now to sustain my Republican convictions. What a farcical situation- myself, the only true anti-monarchist, forced to act as a monarch!”

“I brooded over the problem. Wasn’t it Plato who wrote that the only sound excuse that anyone can offer for ruling is that by doing so he avoids being ruled by people inferior in talents to himself? There is something in that. But I was afraid, on the contrary, that if I resigned, my place would be taken by someone superior in talents […] so that the monarchy would become stronger than ever and the Republic never be restored. In any case, the moment of tranquillity had not come. I must get to work again.”

There are still plots and problems and so Claudius finds himself having to dispense justice: he manages to be just as ruthless and the body count is still high. He does go in for a few public works for Rome like an aqueduct and a harbour at Ostia. It is pretty much more of the same following on from the first book. It reads well but isn’t quite as powerful as the first. It probably also reinforces Acton’s famous dictum that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,541 followers
April 3, 2016
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 problem establishing credibility and respect after he assumes leadership of the Roman Empire at its peak.

Early in his tenure, we see him coming to terms with having to fight back hard against his enemies. It was hard to take his choices to execute some of these adversaries, especially when we learn how gullible Claudius is to manipulation. The conquering of a big chunk of tribal England was a fun part of the tale. He gets a chance to prove himself as commander in chief by applying his book learning on warfare. He calls for a trick of a simulated giant heron to spook sentries in their sneak attack. For shock and awe, he pushes his generals to do the hard work of transporting elephants to the battle. Their ability to trample through otherwise impenetrable brush allows them to flank their enemies and freak them out.

The book is an emulation of a history, so it misses out on some of the engagement of a more realistic narrative flow, replete with lively dialog. Because of foreshadowing, the events of his reign selected for focus have framing like a Greek tragedy. As a child tutored by a Greek philosopher, he bonded with a boy Herrod Agrippa, who always admonished him to trust no one. That message comes back to haunt him where it comes to his wife Messalina, who betrayed him in ways he could never recover from. The irony of Herrod himself betraying him by seeking to carve out Egypt and the Far East from his empire was easier to accept.

All in all, this was a satisfying saga of the rare case of lovable and largely just supreme ruler and a meticulous and believable rendering of life at the top in the Roman Empire. I can’t speak of the value of all the parts missed in this abridged edition, but it was not as pleasurable as “I, Claudius.”
434 reviews8 followers
August 11, 2023
Can’t believe I read the first book in 2018 and that it has taken me this long to get round to the final work. It is a stunning piece of fiction. Carrying on from the last book where Claudius is proclaimed Emperor after his predecessor Caligula is brutally hacked to pieces.

Claudius is a lame footed stammerer but in the words of Galba the Commander of the Upper Rhine:

‘…this Claudius is a hard-working and modest man; and although some of you seem to think him a fool, I should hesitate to call any member of the Imperial family a fool who has successfully survived the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula.’

He calls himself ‘Cripple, stammerer, fool of the family.’ It was the is perception of him by others that no doubt saved him. He was never perceived as a threat.

You forget this is fiction. It is like reading Tacitus and I dusted off my copy of Suetonius’ ‘12 Caesar’ as I read this work.

His choice of wives was not good. Having to have the scheming Messalina killed (so we are told) and having Agrippinilla poison him (so we are told). I will be checking the mushrooms my wife may dish up for me in future.

The story of Claudius invading Britain and capturing Colchester reminded me that although I live near, that I still haven’t visited the museum.

All in all the story that is told by Graves is a fascinating and expansive one. I need to dig out more of his work.
Profile Image for Emily.
706 reviews2,043 followers
July 29, 2015
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 government. I thought this was a fairly interesting reading that explains the end of Claudius's reign and the ascendance of Nero, but also wraps up the series on a bittersweet note. Messalina's betrayal and Claudius's cynicism create the climax of the book, and his reign then spirals depressingly downward until he's poisoned by Agrippina.

Graves does create a plausible explanation for Claudius's marriage to Agrippina, which is something I'd categorize under "what was Claudius thinking?" forever. Basically, it all boils down to ladies, amirite? Can't live with 'em (you get poisoned), can't live without 'em (you lose the will to live).

It's appropriate but sad that this book ends with Seneca describing Claudius's arrival in heaven and subsequent dismissal to hell. It's yet another person who hated Claudius (he exiled Seneca from Rome for eight years) talking up his faults, dismissing the good that he did for Rome.

I've used the word "depressing" multiple times in this review, and I think that sums up my thoughts on the book. It's well-written and I enjoyed it more than the first (especially Herod Agrippa! what a life), but there's just no way to put a positive spin on the ending. It's not that literature necessarily needs a happy ending - most good literature actively steers away from that, actually - but it's just so hard to read about Claudius's efforts when you know that Nero is next in line. No one deserves that, least of all Claudius.

"I talked liberty to many of my friends and, you know how it it is, when one talks liberty everything seems beautifully simple. One expects all gates to open and all walls to fall flat and all voices to shout for joy."
Profile Image for Sinem A..
450 reviews249 followers
November 13, 2016
ilk kitaptan biraz daha heyecanlıydı özellikle kitabın sonuna doğru olaylar epey hareketlendi. Yazarın esprili anlatımı tarihi olayları bu kadar güzel ve gündelik bir olaymış gibi anlatması ve hala geçerliliğini koruyan tespitleri harika.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book565 followers
November 4, 2017
3.5, rounded down.

Perhaps I would have loved this more if I had not already known the details of the story. This did not move as fast or fluid as I, Claudius and Graves got a bit bogged down in several sections with details of Roman wars. Particularly difficult was the section regarding the conquering of Britain, with the strategy of the battle taking up chapter upon chapter. He did much the same thing with his accounts of events in the East and the life of Herod Agrippa.

I highly, highly recommend seeing the Masterpiece Theater series adapted from these novels. This is one of the few times when the movie far outstrips the novels it was based upon. My hat is off to the writers who adapted these novels so perfectly. Of course, also off to Robert Graves, who saw in Claudius the Stammerer more than just a tidbit of history and found in him a remarkable survivor.
Profile Image for Gözde.
91 reviews
June 12, 2023
Ben, Claudius'u bitirir bitirmez "oh daha 500+ sayfa daha Claudiuslayım" diye sevinerek elime aldım Tanrı Claudius'u. İlk kitap o kadar sürükleyici ve öğreticiydi ki bu kitabın da öyle olması kaçınılmazdı... oldu da. İlk kitaba göre daha az entrika var, çünkü hem Tiberius, Livia ya da Caligula gibi süper manyaklar artık yok, gerçi olanlar da az değil, hem de şimdi istemeye istemeye İmparator olmuş Claudius'un bu makamda hissettiklerini ve yaptıklarını okuyoruz.

Claudius'un altmış üç sene nasıl başına bir şey gelmeden yaşadığını, bunun on üç senesinde nispeten ılımlı bir imparator olmayı başarabildiğini; aslında gücün kendisini pek de kör etmediğini, kendisine ihanet edenleri bazen nasıl akıllıca yöntemlerle bulup cezalandırdığını bazen de saflığının yıllarca devam etmesiyle nasıl zarar da gördüğünü (sen neymişsin Messalina!) çok büyük keyifle okudum.

Kitabın ilk başında, ben İmparator oldum ama önce size gelin Herodes Agrippa'yı anlatayım dediği Herodes'in hikayesini okumak da keyifliydi. Bu Herodes'in İsa'nın doğduğu yıllarda tüm erkek bebeklerin öldürülmesi emrini veren 1. Herodes'in torunu olması, Vaftizci Yahya'nın başını kestiren Salome'nin de kendisiyle akraba olması gibi tarihsel gerçekliklerin araya serpiştirilmesi de büyük tat veriyor okurken. En sevdiğim kısımların Herodes ve Claudius'un mektuplaşmalarına konu olan Hıristiyanlık'ın ortaya çıkmasını "bir Mesih'ten bahsediliyor, son zamanlarda tanıma uygun kimseyi duymadım, Celileli marangoz Yusuf'un oğlu İsa diye biri hariç", "şimdi Hıristiyanlık denilen bu mezhep" gibi önemsenmeyen bir mevzu perspektifiyle anlatılmış olan kısımlar olması şaşılacak bir şey değil. Demem o ki, esasında çok büyük olayları yaşarken görmüyor, anlamıyor olmamız, insanın hayatının ne kadar kısa ve önemsiz olduğunu sorgulamaya kadar götürdü beni; bunu Roma İmparatorluğunun önemli bir hanedanlığının hikayesini okuturken yapması benim için her türlü takdire şayan!

Kitabın uzun (Türkçe kapağına eklenmemiş ama iç kapakta olan) başlığının "Tanrı Claudius ve Karısı Messalina" olmasının bir sebebi var tabii: uzun süre severek okudum Messalina karakterini fakat twistlerden twist beğen demiş sayın Graves (ve Roma tarihi tabii ki!) -- o neydi kuzum öyle... dişi Caligula mübarek! Sevmedim seni Messalina. Tam aksi Narcissus'u çok sevdim ama. Bunların sebebi koca iki kitap boyunca Claudius'u tüm insani yanlarıyla yansıtmayı başarmış olan yazar elbette... Bütün iktidar savaşının, entrikanın, hilenin ve düzenin içine doğmuş olmasına rağmen "ben tarihçiyim, beni keşke kitaplarımla baş başa bıraksalar" diyen alçakgönüllü ve iyi kalpli bir hükümdarın hikayesi Claudius'un hikayesi. Çok keyif aldım ve çok şey öğrendim onun sayesinde.
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,250 reviews73 followers
May 16, 2018
First, a five-star hat's-off to Nelson Runger, narrator for the Recorded Books versions of I, Claudius and Claudius the God, whose "cheerful, sonorous timber [and] the unfaltering, even pace of his delivery…" made these two audio books a joy.

Secondly, another five-star hat's-off to author/historian Robert Graves, who brought the man Claudius to life.

For me, I, Claudius was the more enjoyable of the two books; tracing the path that led to weak, stuttering, and all too human Claudius arising to Emperor of his world. I came to Claudius the God at a tough time of my life, and did a poor job of reading this book, rushing through it and having little recollection of chunks of the narration. Still, a fun and interesting account from the human side of Claudius.

Go here for my friend Darwin8u's much, much better review of these two titles!

SRC 2018 Spring Task 15.2, part 1 w/ IHFv1-- and another completed series!
Profile Image for Kim.
584 reviews13 followers
December 1, 2022
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 in his first few months of being the new emperor.

In some ways I should have enjoyed Claudius The God more than I, Claudius. Finally with Claudius we have a good, well better than any other emperor. After all I don't think he poisons anyone in the entire book, which was amazing in itself after the first book. He does seem to enjoy, or at least not to be bothered by, people getting killed in the arena games though which bugged me. And the story of Herod Agrippa was very interesting, most of it anyway, and I was always looking for references to Jesus or any of the early Christians (yes they were in there). So I should have enjoyed it more, but I didn't.

To me the first book was filled with story. Story of people's lives. Granted they were crazy people running around poisoning or starving each other, but it was a story of the people. This seemed more of a instruction manual for Roman life. I learned so much about Roman life and of how the Romans really viewed the world around them, including their conquered territories and provinces. I learned way too much about it at times. He is telling me at one point that Galba burned one hundred and fifty stockaded villages, destroyed thousand of acres of crops, killed great number of Germans, took two thousand prisoners, lost twelve hundred men, its a long list of who did what. Galbinius meanwhile loses only eight hundred men, burns the timber shrines, destroys crops, village, and takes two thousand prisoners. And there are lots more generals and lots more burning and killing lists.

Then there's lists of roads being laid, aqueducts and buildings being built, especially temples, every god I ever heard of and a lot I never heard of had their own temple. How he changed the alphabet by making three more letters, got quite a few pages although I'm still not sure why he insisted on changing the alphabet in the first place. But a lot of things like this slowed the action down to a crawl at times, then suddenly it would pick up again and I would be so interested, then back down to the crawl again.

There are lots of other characters in the book, and they all act exactly like the people in the first book acted, like Romans I guess. His wife Messalina is an absolutely horrible person, but so are his other wives and just about every other important woman in both books. I found Herod's letter to Claudius about Jesus fascinating, in one section he says,

"And there are now people who say that he was God and that they saw his soul ascend to Heaven after his death-just like Augustus's and Drusilla's-and claim that he was born at Bethlehem and that he fulfilled all the other Messianic prophecies in one way or another; but I propose to stop this nonsense once and for all. Only three days ago I arrested and executed James, who seems to be the chief intellect of the movement; I hope to recapture and execute another leading fanatic called Simon, arrested at the same time, who somehow escaped from prison."

The book was worth reading, I think you would have to read I, Claudius first though, and it won't be for everyone, but I'd say to give it a try. Of course I say that about every book. :-}
Profile Image for Smiley .
774 reviews18 followers
September 10, 2017
3.5 stars

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” first because this one is its sequel.

One of the obstacles is that this paperback (Penguin, 2006), I think, is not reader-friendly due to its relatively small fonts; it’s a pity I can’t find any information in this volume on the font size used in publishing this book, therefore, the elderly might find reading its 32 chapters, 443 pages probably tedious, invaluable and unamused.

However, one may wonder how he’s miraculously imagined and written on something so ancient that we nowadays simply can’t visualize or speak reasonably, let alone descriptively or substantially on a required topic. Supported by his powerful description, this excerpt on Britain would, I think, prove his expertise as one of the admirable writers on historical fiction.

BRITAIN lies in the northerly position, but the climate, though very damp, is not nearly so cold as one would expect; if properly drained the country could be made extremely fruitful. The aboriginal inhabitants, a small, dark-haired people, were dispossessed about the time that Rome was found, by an invasion of Celts from the south-east. Some still maintain themselves independently in small settlements in inaccessible mountains or marshes; the rest became serfs and mixed their blood with that of their conquerors. … (p. 211)

Moreover, some might be eager to read on his campaign there and, for instance, this extracted part should suffice:

… The enemy bank was defended by two strong stockades, and the Britons, who now harassed the workers with arrows and insults, were building a third one behind that. Twice a day a huge tide welled up into the river mouth – a commonplace in this part of the world, though never seen in the Mediterranean, except during storms – and hindered Aulus’s work greatly. But he was counting on the tide as his ally. … The struggle was a fierce one, and the British detachments posted higher up the stream, to prevent our men from crossing at any point there, came charging down to take part in the fight. Aulus saw what was happening, and detailed the Second under a certain Vespasian to go upstream under cover of a forest and cross over at some now unguarded bend. … Once over, they hurried downstream, meeting none of the enemy as they went, and an hour later suddenly appeared on the enemy’s unprotected right flank. They locked shields, shouted, and burst right through to the stockade, killing hundreds of British tribesmen in a single charge. … (p. 238)
Profile Image for Jakub Horbów.
330 reviews138 followers
October 6, 2022
Drugi tom opowieści Gravesa to ciąg dalszy stylizowanej autobiografii wyniesionego już do tytułu Cezara, Klaudiusza, który wbrew wszelkim niedogodnościom i własnej filozofii stara się robić wszystko, co w jego mocy, aby okazać się jak najlepszym władcą. W tej części Graves pozwolił sobie również na szersze wprowadzenie kolejnej postaci - Heroda Agryppy - którego biografia przedstawiona czytelnikowi przez głównego bohatera jest jedną z najlepszych części tego tomu. Na szczęście miejscami rozwlekłe, mniej interesujące fragmenty zdarzały się dość rzadko, a części o podboju Brytanii, rozwoju miasta i imperium, i komiczne, skazane na porażkę, próby wzmacniania senatu wynagradzały chwilowe męki. Najpiękniejszy jednak w całej historii jej jej koniec, z punktem kulminacyjnym w którym stary poczciwy Klaudiusz odkrywa skale swojej naiwności, aby później poddać się rodzinnemu fatum.
Profile Image for Susana.
490 reviews150 followers
October 6, 2016
(review in English below)

Muito bom!

Apesar das contrariedades derivadas de falhas na tradução e/ou na revisão (alguns exemplos nos updates), a fantástica qualidade desta narrativa não se perdeu.

Agradou-me imenso o modo como Robert Graves conseguiu incorporar algum humor na sua escrita, sem perder a credibilidade histórica.


So good!

In spite of the annoyance caused by the several mistakes in the translation and proofreading, the amazing quality of this narrative didn't get lost.

I immensely enjoyed the way Robert Graves managed to incorporate some humor in his writing, without losing historical credibility.

Profile Image for Knjigoholičarka.
153 reviews8 followers
August 26, 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
Profile Image for cheeseblab.
207 reviews6 followers
January 13, 2008
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 Matthew 2, and cousin of Herod Antipas, who demands a miracle of Jesus in Luke 23.)

Through Herod, Graves tells much of the story of the Jews under Roman domination, and in a book published in 1935 the account bears irresistible parallels to the subjugation of a later population of Jews--one description of a pogrom in Alexandria in particular seems a stunningly prescient forecast of Kristallnacht.

Speaking of prescience, consider Claudius's rationale for invading Britain: "I had other reasons for making war, too. . . . The one element in Northern France that was checking the orderly progress of civilization there was the Druidical cult, a magical religion which was still kept alive, in spite of all we could do to discourage or suppress it, by Druidical training-colleges in Britain from where it had originally been imported. . . . The Druids therefore, though they were not warriors themselves but only priests, were always fomenting rebellion against us." Change the geography, and for "training colleges" read "madrasas" and for "priests" "imams," and you have much of the U.S. rationale for invading first Afghanistan and then Iraq.
Profile Image for Yanper.
436 reviews27 followers
August 9, 2016
This second book was not quite as good as the first, "I, Claudius." The first book created a fuller picture of the times and also it was written in a more light style and with a wittier tongue. There is a long section early in the novel that tells the story of Claudius' friend Herod Agrippa, which I think was not necessary. It made the book slow and at times boring. Bottom line, I didn't enjoy it quite as much as "I, Claudius," but still I recommend the book to people who like to read historical novels.
Profile Image for Laysee.
519 reviews250 followers
May 28, 2016
His name is Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Caesar Augustus Germanicus Brittanicus, Emperor of Rome. I had much affection for the intelligent, bumbling, self-deprecating, and humorous historian-writer he was portrayed in Robert Graves’s book “I, Claudius”. The year was A.D. 41. In this sequel, Graves picked up the story from the point where Claudius, the 51-year-old crippled historian who had infantile paralysis and aphasia, was acclaimed Emperor of Rome against his own desire. How would he, whom many had dismissed as a fool, fare and survive as Emperor when all his predecessors were either poisoned or assassinated?

Graves said in the Introduction that "no character is invented." For readers who love history, this book is so well researched it makes for fascinating and rewarding reading. It is a long book (555 pages) with many characters, each colorfully depicted. It also records Claudius’ various public works, reforms, laws, decrees, and conquests. I have to admit that this detailed rendering of history did not engage me as well as “I, Claudius” did. Nevertheless, it has many merits and parts of the book kept me sufficiently intrigued.

What interested me most is how the New Testament in the Bible is corroborated by this piece of Roman history. I learned more about the various kings (e.g., Herod, the Great) and even Salome (Herodias daughter who had John the Baptist’s head served on a platter), as well as the religious practices and events in Jerusalem. I understood why the crazy Emperor Caligula’s insistence on having his statues installed in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem was an outrageous affront to the Jews. I found out the fate of Pontius Pilate who had Jesus of Nazareth crucified and marveled at how poetic and divine justice was served. There is a tongue-in-cheek account of the beginnings of Christianity as a Jewish cult.

The first four chapters present a heart-warming and entertaining account of the friendship between Claudius and Herod Agrippa, the Jewish King.

The hero that stole this story is rightfully Claudius himself. What does his report book look like?

“Claudius the God” reads like a 3½ star book to me. I read most of it with enthusiasm and was impatient with the factual bits that carried less human interest. Still I found a great quotation I can modify for use should I ever get stuck when giving a public speech or talk: "Words fail me, my Lords. Nothing that I might utter could possibly match the depths of my feelings in this matter."
Profile Image for Martin Iguaran.
Author 3 books301 followers
May 11, 2021
La continuación de Yo, Claudio, empieza exactamente donde la otra novela terminó. Tras el asesinato de Calígula, Claudio es elegido emperador por los pretorianos, por el sencillo motivo de que no quieren terminar desempleados ante la falta de un emperador. De esta manera, Claudio dedica un volumen a narrar su propio reinado, y cómo trabajó para arreglar los desastres provocados por su loco predecesor. Se narra la conquista de Britania y las reformas que Claudio implementó, aunque es inevitable sentir desazón al conocer el final de la historia. No es spoiler decir-para cualquiera que haya cursado historia básica-que Claudio es asesinado y Nerón asciende al poder.
139 reviews3 followers
January 18, 2008
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 never even approached in the first and dealing with the realities his office as emperor, his idealism and virtue become marred somewhat by personal flaws and severe mistakes in leadership. But at the same time, he remains essentially true to the character we became familiar with in the first book.

Claudius the God's biggest weakness is one common to sequels: having used certain elements to tremendous effect in the first book, Graves occassionally seems to overuse them in the second. Claudius chronicles many incidents and affairs that reflect great research and historical color, but which don't seem wholly essential to the evolution of the story. This is in part because the book lacks the self proscribing scope of the first. The first was basically about the establishment of the roman imperial government and the competitions for the throne thereof, the second about the actual administration of an empire. Still, focusing on this element compliments the first book to create a fuller picture of the times, and most of what Graves seeks to include - such as the public works projects - do seem to have been critical elements of Claudius's reign. Which elements work best in the book is wholly subjective. The conquest of Britain, for example, seems wholly critical to the narrative, and personally I was rather fond of Graves's extensive chronicling of King Herod's activities in Judea. On a related point, there are also some very intelligent and well reasoned digs at the roots of Christianity and the politics of Judaism in the early years AD.

This series really is just phenomenally good. Both this and I, Claudius, take a while to read and to follow, but when they're finished you feel both satisfied and regretful that the experience has been completed. Perhaps that's why this review is several times longer than any of its predecessors.

Profile Image for Víctor Galán.
114 reviews57 followers
April 3, 2018
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 excesivamente precipitado y falto del detallismo del resto del díptico formado por esta y la también estupenda "Yo, Claudio" evitan que alcance la máxima valoración, aunque se queda cerca. Muy cerca. En cualquier caso, puedo afirmar, sin ningún género de dudas que esta es la mejor novela de lo que llevo de año. Una obra colosal y maestra por momentos que se devora con verdadera pasión, devoción y ansia. Una joya eternamente perdurable. Una obra de arte.
Profile Image for Sara Jesus.
1,219 reviews103 followers
September 9, 2019
Que obra! Uma dos romances históricos que li com mais informação verídica. Um imperador que foi desvalorizado no seu tempo. Mas que os estudiosos de hoje admiram. Pois fez muito pelo império, apesar dos assassinos. Tal como outros imperadores foi também assassinado, muitas teorias apontam como autora do crime a sua sobrinha Agripina.
No seu tempo reconstruir os aquedutos e as pontes. Quis instaurar a republica. Dar cidadania romana aos estrangeiros. E tentava aceitar outras religiões. Respeitava outras culturas. E tinha uma grande admiração pelos gregos.

Tal como o imperador Adriano valorizou os britânicos e as culturas orientais. Era um grande historiador mas infelizmente se apaixonou por Messalina. E ela foi a sua ruína. Assim como se deixou influenciar por Agripina, que conseguiu por seu filho Nero no poder.
Profile Image for saïd.
6,322 reviews983 followers
March 20, 2023
Absolutely delighted by how the summary says, “With the same brilliance that characterized his classic I, Claudius, Robert Graves continues the tumultuous life of the Roman who became emperor in spite of himself and his handicaps,” a sentiment with which I agree wholeheartedly. The amount of brilliance displayed in this novel is exactly the same amount previously displayed in I, Claudius. Robert Graves comes across as equally as brilliant in this novel as he did in the previous one. Yes. That is certainly one way to describe the situation.
Profile Image for Maureen.
726 reviews90 followers
June 6, 2008
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 efforts are somewhat thwarted by the corrupt system and the constant behind-the-scenes manipulation of the ruling classes. Chief among them, his wife, Messalina, plots his downfall and engages in the kinds of excesses that were common among Caligula's cohorts. She eventually receives her just desserts, breaking Claudius' heart in the process. There are other people who genuinely love Claudius, and eventually even his grandmother Livia comes to show him a grudging respect.

Once again, Robert Graves exhibits his awesome talent in this gripping tale. I have read this duo of books at least three times, and plan to read them again. They are just that good.
Profile Image for Matt.
643 reviews
March 3, 2023
For most of his life a historian survived his murderous family to become the leader of one of the greatest empires in history, now he must rule. Claudius the God is Robert Graves historical fiction follow-up to I, Claudius as the now fourth Emperor of Rome continues his secret autobiography that focuses on his time as Caesar.

This sequel focuses on Claudius’ time as Emperor, primarily up to fall of his wife Messalina, except at the beginning when the life of Herod Agrippa so that Claudius could explain how Herod helped him become Emperor. Throughout the book Claudius tells how he wants to undo the damage his uncle and nephew have caused and fulfill Augustus dream of retiring and allowing the Republic to return. However after Claudius learns of his wife’s secret life and his near overthrow, he comes to the conclusion that Rome needs a worse emperor than Tiberius and Caligula combine for the Republic to the be restored. Like the first book, Graves presents Claudius as a believable person with high hopes that see them dashed against reality while also presenting a great first-person narrative that uses Suetonius and Tacitus as primary sources that gives the reader a look into Roman history without it being dry.

Claudius the God brings the life of the fourth Roman Emperor to it’s conclusion as Robert Graves once again gives the reader a great character to follow throughout the book.
Profile Image for Sebastian.
73 reviews16 followers
March 25, 2023
I have read "I, Claudius" many years ago and I remember how much I liked it, especially as I was always passionate about ancient Rome. At that time I didn't know that Robert Graves actually wrote another book, a follow-up, called "Claudius the God" so imagine my enthusiasm when i've learned about this, years later!
But, probably, this enthusiasm of mine made me have really high expectations with this one and maybe because of this I have to say I liked it a bit less then I did "I, Claudius".

The first one was more fluid, from what I remember, while this one was a bit of a bore sometimes, with some unnecessary descriptions and details and because of this it took me a lot of time to go through it.

But, this doesn't mean the novel isn't really well written, with great talent and huge amount of work.

Actually you could say it really brings Rome under Claudius's rule to life and even though it's a work of fiction, the large majority of details are historically accurate and, in my opinion, it's a great way to learn about the ancient roman period.

Claudius's extant letters, speeches, and sayings were incorporated into the text, so at times, you are actually reading the fourth roman emperor's words, which adds a lot of authenticity.

Not only Rome is brought to life, but also many and then some amount of historical characters, including: Herrod Agrippa (which has an entire portion of the book dedicated only to him and, to my shame, I didn't know anything about up until now, to my loss, since he seemed to be an extraordinary character), Messalina, Agrippinilla, Nero, Seneca and so on.

Maybe the central themes of the book are that you should never, ever trust anyone when involved in rulling a state and that "power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Claudius trusted his wives, his freed slaves, his friends and he is played and manipulated by all.

Furthermore, even though his scholar education helped him be a good administrator of the empire, Claudius being seen by historians as one of the good emperors if Rome and despite of his good intentions of only using his power to strengthen the state and his institutions and not abuse it, throughout the book we see how slowly these intentions degenerate and by the end he ends up killing hundreds of people that opposed him or wronged him in anyway, contemporaries remembering him and judging him by these actions.

It's also interesting to read how he tries to justify, to his posterity and to him, every dubious moral decision which he does, much like all of us are doing when we want to feel good about ourselves, even though we know that what we've done is just wrong.

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

“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.”

“But godhead is, after all, a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion: if a man is generally worshipped as a god then he is a god. And if a god ceases to be worshipped he is nothing.”
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