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Books I’ve Been Reading: I, Claudius

Hey there. I thought I’d do another book review, because I haven’t done one in a while and I have some things to say about this book (good things, don’t worry).

Basically I, Claudius is the autobiography of, guess who, Claudius! (If you don’t know who he was, then I’ll tell you: he was a Roman emperor.) But this book isn’t just about his life, it starts off years before his birth and mentions all the stuff that was going on back then. Then it talks about his life. I should say HE talks about his life, because it’s written in first person. There’s nothing more to say about the plot– so much stuff happens, as it is just life put onto paper. But here’s what I think of it.

It was TOTALLY AWESOME! The fact it was written from Claudius’s point of view made it much more interesting. If it were (not if it was!) just a report on Rome during the reigns of such-and-such an emperor, and so-and-so got poisoned (I wrote that in a Claudiusy style, which you may have noticed if you’ve read the book), it would be quite dull. Not exactly DULL, but it wouldn’t really have any emotion in it. Like if someone’s brother had died, you would want to know what the brother was actually thinking on hearing news of the death, not just ‘John died, and his brother Egbert was sad’. But in this book, there’s the right amount of emotion and reporting.

Also, Claudy was one of the only characters I’ve ever actually felt sympathy for in any book or movie. It seems like his life was quite hard at first, and quite bad (people being mean to him and everything). There was a scene with Caligula (the CRAZY emperor) where Claudy’s talking about how poor he is and how he had to sell his property and he has nothing, and Caligula is like ‘Aha, you still have the robes you’re wearing!’ and makes him sell off his clothes at the dinner party, with only Caligula’s napkin to… preserve his modesty, let’s say. That was kinda funny, but still, poor Claudy!

And another thing: Livia seems VERY evil.

And another thing: I can conclude from reading this book that LOTS of people died in the Roman times. If you were somehow related to the emperor, you were likely to get murdered. It seems only a few characters actually make it all the way through the story (one being, of course, Claudy). But the other people were all dropping like flies!

So in summary, this book is really, really, really, really good. You should read it if you have a slight interest in anything Roman (you know I do) and don’t want to read those boring texts by Livy and stuff. The book isn’t lighthearted or anything, but it’s informal and interesting. Obviously! I give it… 1,000,000/10!

Your Roman blogger, Jaz


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