Literary Arcadia Literature and other things

I, Claudius: A History of Intrigue!

I, Claudius is the fictionalized ‘autobiography’ of Claudius, the neglected, ridiculed member of the Imperial house of Rome.  He begins with recounting events even before his own birth; the collapse of the Republic and the ascension of Augustus as Emperor (c. 40 B.C.).  He ends with an event thought impossible by all but the most far-seeing soothsayers; his own ascension to Emperor,by virtue of being the only one left alive (41 C.E.).

The books is filled with characters (in the fantastic, delicious, unbelievable sense of the word).  Poisonings, assassinations, coups, intrigues, triumphs, and a lot of general funny-business goes on throughout.

The author, Robert Graves, uses Claudius as his own mouthpiece; through his Graves is able to tell an unofficial history of the first Roman Emperors.  He also touches on the shift in Roman politics- from Republic to Monarchy- and the true nature of power.  Graves creates a sympathetic narrator in Claudius, long shunned by his family as an “idiot”, an opinion that saved his from the murder and intrigue that claimed the lives of most of his family.

Some people may shy away from this book, thinking it too historical, old, etc.  I encourage everyone to try.  I loved this book.  It is addictive reading.

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