I admit once I was free of posting along with the group I just gobbled down I, Claudius. And any virtuous thoughts I had about keeping notes went out the window once Sangria and the Prado and the Alhambra entered the picture. So I’ll just post thoughts about all of the chapters in the last half of the book in a big jumble.
Germanicus died in such a typical way – he just wouldn’t face up to the truth and hunt down the source of his problems, but rather preferred to be noble and superstitious and die. I’m sure he would have been a good emperor, though, so it was poor old Rome’s loss.
It was bad Claudius’ house burned down and he was broke and had to move out of Rome, but it sounded like a lovely life. A countryside villa, no strange wife, snarky mother or murderous grandmother in sight and lots of interesting historical research to carry out. What a pity he had to be sucked back into Roman life (even if it made for a better story in the end).
Posthumus was so frustrating! He was alive and then frittered away his advantages of connections and popularity by swanning around simply ASKING Livia and Tiberius to bump him off! Grrr. I’m with Claudius. It was far more upsetting when he had already survived a murder attempt.
Livia demonstrates her awesome efficiency by referring to her bound and indexed copies of Augustus’ letters! How cool is that?! She is one devious woman.
And in the end Livia turns out to be far preferable to Tiberius. At least she was less destructive to the actual empire. Plus she’s openly ambitious and mean, not like whiny and shifty Tiberius. This part of the book was even more violent than earlier parts with lots of horrible details about people’s deaths. I cheered when Tiberius finally died, even if I knew Caligula’s rule wasn’t going to be a party.
Claudius does a great job at riding out Caligula’s madness. Unlike everyone else – this last part saw a bunch more people knocked off. Really, those Romans must have been quite fertile with the way they seemed to be able to recover from purges. I’m surprised it took so long for there to be a mutiny to kill him. I knew Cassius would pull through in the end.
The ending was satisfying. Hurrah for Claudius! Is there any better encapsulation of what has made him an engaging narrator than this: “I was thinking, “So I’m Emperor, am I? What nonsense! But at least I’ll be able to make people read my books now. Public recitals to large audiences. And good books, too, thirty-five years hard work in them. It won’t be unfair.”
I, Claudius was a great book to read. It was slow at times with the lack of dialogue and the name-heavy prose. But the sly humour and the sheer madness of the storyline (and the fact that many of the bits were true!) made it worthwhile. I just wish I had been around more to do it justice in my blog.
Claudius the God is on hold at my library. I’m eager to read it. Will Claudius revenge Caligula’s death as he promised even though it was a Good Thing that the mad emperor was offed? Will his fourth (? I’m losing track) wife turn out better than the previous two? Will he make Livia a Goddess? Will the population of Rome boom now that people can survive a year without being poisoned? Good times ahead, my friends!
Edited to add, thanks to Leila at Bookshelves of Doom for arranging this Big Read! It was great trying out a book I probably wouldn't have got around to picking up myself!