'I, Claudius' is Published

"What sort of speech did Caesar make before the Battle of Pharsalia?

Did he beg us to remember our wives and children and the sacred temples of Rome and the glories of our past campaigns? By God, he didn't!

He climbed up on the stump of a pine-tree with one of those monster-radishes in one hand and a lump of hard soldiers' bread in the other, and joked, between mouthfuls."

In such a contemporary, conversational tone Robert Graves writes his historical novel about the Emperor Claudius (B. C. 10-A. D. 54). Readers for whom the life of ancient Rome has been mummified by academic historians, museums and Latin grammar will give Author Graves a rising vote of thanks. He has done what few historians can do by making a complicated period of history as exciting, as plausible, as a well-told story.

Graves wrote I, Claudius and Claudius the God as if they were the secret autobiography of the Emperor Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome (r. 41-54 A.D.). Historically, Claudius's family, the Julio-Claudians, kept him out of public life until his sudden coronation at the age of 49. This was due to his disabilities, which included a stammer, a limp, and various nervous tics which made him appear mentally deficient to his relatives. This is how he was defined by scholars for most of history, and Graves uses these peculiarities to develop a sympathetic character whose survival in a murderous dynasty depends upon his family's incorrect assumption that he is a harmless idiot.