Reason for reading: In the last couple of years I’ve become interested in Historical Fiction. I’ve more recently had a desire to learn more about ancient Greece and Rome. I, Claudius is considered by some to be one of the greatest books of the last 100 years. I’ve had it on my bookshelf for a couple of months and decided it was time to read it.
Quote: “I. Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus Thi-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot”, or “That Claudius”, or “Claudius the Stammerer”, or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius”, am now about to write this strange history of my life…”
Written as if it is the autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus, the novel tells of Claudius’s ancestry down to his crowning as the Emperor of Rome in 41 A.D. The sequel, Claudius the God, relates his life after becoming Emperor.
This is an exceedingly clever book. It is filled with political intrigue, conspiracy and murder. I had no idea that ancient Rome was controlled by such manipulative, back-stabbing figures. Livia, the grandmother of Claudius, is the true power behind the throne. She sets father against son, mother against daughter, and brother against brother. All of this to maintain her position in Rome.
This is an enjoyable novel from page one. There is no true climax to the story. It humms along from page to page. All the while painting a picture of how truly corrupt Rome became. It is no wonder it fell apart. Emperors ruled as supreme powers, manipulated the senators and laws, and became gods upon death. No on was safe in Rome, not those beloved by the people, not the Emperor’s family, not even the Emperor himself.
I, Claudius is an entertaining, thoroughly researched and well thought out book. I look forward to reading the sequel.