I, Claudius, by Robert Graves

claudius

I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot”, or “That Claudius”, or “Claudius the Stammerer”, or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius”, am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled…

This is a confidential history. But who, it may be asked, are my confidants? My answer is: it is addressed to posterity. I do not mean my great-grandchildren, or my great-great-grandchildren; I mean an extremely remote posterity. Yet my hope is that you, my eventual readers of a hundred generations ahead or more, will feel yourselves directly spoken to, as if by a contemporary: as often Herodotus and Thucydides, long dead, seem to speak to me. And why do I specify so extremely remote a posterity as that? I shall explain…

claudius

I, Claudius (1934) is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Accordingly, it includes history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC to Caligula’s assassination in 41 AD.

The ‘autobiography’ of Claudius continues (from Claudius’ accession after Caligula’s death, to his own death in 54) in Claudius the God (1935). The sequel also includes a section written as a biography of Herod Agrippa, contemporary of Claudius and future King of the Jews. The two books were adapted by the BBC into an award-winning television serial, I, Claudius, starring Derek Jacobi (as Claudius), John Hurt and Siân Phillips. Derek Jacobi returned to Ancient Rome to portray Emperor Augustus to Tom Goodman Hill’s Claudius in a 2010 BBC Radio Four classic serial dramatisation (Listen to a preview, here).

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The cast of the 2010 BBC Radio Four classic serial.
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Derek Jacobi, John Hurt and George Baker in the 1976 BBC series.

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