Monday, December 11, 2017
This autobiographical novel based on actual histories of the Roman Empire. It is narrated by Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and covers the intrigues and machinations during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. Claudius' grandmother was Livia, the third wife of Augustus. Claudius referred to Augustus as his grandfather although that was actually Tiberius Claudius Nero. Livia is portrayed as a conniving shrew whose plots to elevate Augustus and herself to the status of gods include poisonings, blackmail, exile, and murder. Claudius, who walked with a limp, was partially deaf, and stuttered, kept himself out of harms way by playing along with the family opinion that he was an idiot. Claudius was no paragon of virtue but his faults pale in comparison to the rest of his family. This book ends with the death of his nephew Caligula and the declaration of Claudius as Emperor. The sequel, Claudius the God, continues the story. Both books were used as the basis for the BBC/PBS Masterpiece Theater television series "I, Claudius" in 1976. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Nelson Runger.