Pierce's Reviews > I, Claudius

I, Claudius by Robert Graves
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's review
Mar 13, 2009

really liked it
Read in March, 2009

Very enjoyable. It was difficult not to read this as fact, it reminded me so much of the histories I read in Classical Studies. Plus 'Claudius' writes in such unemotional manner about his own family (real historical figures) that it feels more like an honest account than a half-fiction. Reading up later I found Graves was pretty selective with his sources, as one might be when trying to construct an exciting and believable narrative. The result is a page-turner.

Saying that, I don't think it's fogged up my history too much. I mean, I've finished with a much clearer idea about the key individuals in the opening decades of Imperial Rome.

The last quarter, the rule of Caligula, is both the most entertaining and horrifying portion.

Rome! Mad, huh? There are the seeds here for the end of every civilisation. I think part of it is when leaders begin to say one thing and openly do another, and nobody cares anymore.

What's so striking is the co-existence of barbarity and enlightenment, where there is this enormous respect for the arts and history but also a grand entertainment is going to watch animals eat slaves for the afternoon. I'm sure future generations will regard our values as similarly conflicted.
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