In the sequel to I, Claudius a republican Roman Emperor writes the story of his reignMen classed Claudius as a pitiful fool But the reign he describes is far from folly Reluctantly launched into the purple, he emerges as a man who erred on the side of good and credulity It is the common people and the common soldiers who sustain him in his efforts to repair the damage of Caligula s reign, in his relations with the Jewish king, Herod Agrippa, his conquest of Britain, and his final reckoning with his promiscuous wife, MessalinaIn one of the finest historical reconstructions of the century Robert Graves has created a character to compare with Dostoyevsky s Prince MyshkinCover illustration Brian Pike 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 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 learnedabout 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 view spoiler Herod Agrippa s history was closely bound up with that of Claudius Son of Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa was a scoundrel with a golden heart, full of theatrical excesses and perennially debt ridden He was incredibly resourceful, astute and had great diplomatic skills even though he was a shrewd and convincing liar He repeatedly warned Claudius not to trust anyone, advice which the latter sadly did not heed to his own peril Herod Agrippa was so disarmingly charming, it is impossible not to like him despite his ambitions and threat to Claudius reign hide spoiler The hero that stole this story is rightfully Claudius himself What does his report book look like view spoiler He had his heart in the right place and despite several political blunders and errors in judgment, he acted for the public good in the widest possible sense He threw himself into large scale engineering projects that improved the life of all in Rome He cleaned up the political and financial processes and abolished Caligula s self serving edicts He was a hands on Emperor and sat on the judges bench to administer justice In fact, I developed a great respect for him His downfall He loved his wife, Messalina, a lustful and power hungry woman, trusted her too much, and gave her too much power I felt sorry for Claudius who was bitterly betrayed by a woman he loved Calpurnia, his former prostitute lover, wastrue to him than Messalina ever was In this, Claudius was a fool hide spoiler Claudius the God reads like a 3 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 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 shakingthan the curtain scared to death, to 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 shakingthan 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 himHis 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 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 orderMost 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 growamazing with each year I rarely reread novels, and these Claudius novels might prove to be two exceptions to that rule 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 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 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