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Books I’ve Been Reading: Claudius the God

In the sequel to I, Claudius, Claudy is writing about his time as Emperor, including the ‘cleaning up’ of the Empire after Caligula ruined it and many other different things. I mean, the plot IS someone’s LIFE, in fact it’s the life of an EMPIRE, so it’s hard to say exactly what happens, because it is based on stuff that actually happened. It’s really, really close to stuff that actually happened. But anyway, Claudy writes about all sorts of subjects, like Jesus (or Joshua as people called him), Herod Agrippa, Pontius Pilate (a funny dude when he’s in Life of Brian, so whenever he said something in the book, I imagined Pilate’s voice, with the r’s like w’s thing), his wife Messalina, restoring the Republic and various senators and other people he killed.

OK, the killing thing sounds pretty bad, but the way Claudy writes about it makes it seem like it’s the right thing to do. He’s (or he WAS) such a kind person (I think so anyway), pretty affable, I think the word is. At least in his writing. But I mean, you can’t really hate a guy that didn’t even WANT to be Emperor anyway, but just decided to go along with it in case he got killed. The writing style makes it seem like he’s talking to you personally, just having a friendly chat and saying whatever’s on his mind. When, in the later years of his reign, people started to not really like him, I was like ‘WHY? HE’S SO NICE!!!’ But I guess if you were even remotely related to the Imperial family, you were born to be killed. It seemed everyone was dying back then.

Claudius the God (he does end up getting deified, first in one remote part of the Empire, but I’m not sure if he was officially deified like Augustus was) is a vast picture of everyone who was living at that time, and it just goes along, reporting all the deaths and stuff, which were frequent, like I said, and it’s quite funny to think Claudy outlived most of the people who lived in both books. I think only a few people were left at the end, including Lucius Domitius (later Emperor Nero) and his mother (also Claudy’s niece AND wife, Agrippina, who Nero later murders). Agrippina was the one who killed Claudy, by the way. And seriously, I’m not spoiling it for you. If you knew some Roman history (or you were *REALLY* good at guessing), you would know he got poisoned.

And that bit was quite sad. It’s obvious he was writing the last of his autobiography as he was actually dying, as the poison took hold of his body, and he writes this as the last sentence of the novel [don’t read it if you don’t want a spoiler]: “Write no more, Tiberius Claudius, write no more.”

Amazing, but sad, right?

And after that, there are accounts from different sources, like Suetonius’s book (I think it was called Twelve Caesars), Dio Cassius’s book and a satire written by Lucius Annaeus Seneca (I don’t know if he was THE Seneca– not Seneca Crane from THG– so I put in his full name, so as not to mislead you if he wasn’t THE Seneca), which I found really interesting. And lighthearted. And satirical.

So in summary, this book is just as good as the first, but now you get to see what Claudy decides to do as Emperor and see him finally be of some importance in Rome. I give it… 1,000,000/10!

Your Roman blogger, Jaz


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