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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.SPOILERS AHEAD 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 any.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 does 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. 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 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. review in English below Muito bom Apesar das contrariedades derivadas de falhas na tradu o e ou na revis o alguns exemplos nos updates , a fant stica qualidade desta narrativa n o se perdeu Agradou me imenso o modo como Robert Graves conseguiu incorporar algum humor na sua escrita, sem perder a credibilidade hist rica Imperd velSo 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.Unmissable 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 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 view spoiler Claudius s slow turn away from republicanism while expected, if you know anything about the history of Rome is rooted in his cynical and perhaps untrue realization that the People and Senate of Rome deserve the government that they have under the Julio Claudians He attempts through total inaction to make Nero into the worst possible ascendant Caesar, and hopes that Nero will so mistreat the populace that they will revolt Britannicus will lie in wait until that day, at which point he ll restore the Republic Alas, this is obviously not how things turn out at all This is one way to explain how Claudius could have possibly thought that marrying Agrippina and adopting Nero was a good idea, but it s a pretty depressing one I m not sure how I feel about it On one hand, it s pretty difficult to make the end of Claudius s reign anything but depressing on the other, it means that Claudius spends the last five years of his life just whiling away time, attempting to make Nero as terrible as possible by bringing Seneca back from Corsica so many shots fired hide spoiler Koliko god da mi se dopada gomiletina istorijskih doga aja koje je Grejvs sjajno poslo io u pregledan timeline, toliko mi nije jasna njegova potreba da u neku ruku amnestira Klaudija, predstavi ga kao sveca, previ e bole ivog na svoje ene, sluge, prijatelje tolika povodljivost, bezvoljnost, naivnost i beski menja tvo nekako ne idu ruku pod ruku sa britkom inteligencijom, idejama i u eno u kakvu je Grejvs dodelio Klaudiju u svojim knjigama.A i moram da priznam da bez Kaligule nema zabave D 3.5 starsSince 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 I read him, the 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 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 mediocritiesRobert Graves, Claudius the God and His Wife MessalinaI, 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 amazing with each year I rarely reread novels, and these Claudius novels might prove to be two exceptions to that rule. 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 ambitious work, with a broader canvas and 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.