I, Claudius

  • by Robert Graves
  • Narrated by Nelson Runger
  • 16 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Here is one of the best historical novels ever written. Lame, stammering Claudius, once a major embarrassment to the imperial family and now emperor of Rome, writes an eyewitness account of the reign of the first four Caesars: the noble Augustus and his cunning wife, Livia; the reptilian Tiberius; the monstrous Caligula; and finally old Claudius himself and his wife, Messalina. Filled with poisonings, betrayal, and shocking excesses, I Claudius is history that rivals the most exciting contemporary fiction.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Unsurpassed, addictive brilliance

Put aside all thought of stuffy classics. Think well-spun tale, full of twists and turns, subterfuges and bloody tyranny. Bear in mind that the BBC at the peak of its tour de force of TV drama production in the '70s and '80s made these two books into a masterpiece surpassed only (perhaps) by Brideshead Revisited. You can't do that with dull material.
As the title siggests, the books are written in the first person, as the autobiography of the partly disabled, sickly survivor of the Claudian wing of the Roman aristocracy who became emperor by flying below the radar and outliving all the other candidates. The choice of reader is critical, as we are listening to an elderly man tell his long and convoluted life story. Nelson Runger's voice rumbles along with just the right timbre and clarity for the character of the wily and learned Claudius. More importantly he has such a fine actor's grasp of text and meaning that we never, for one moment, feel that we are being read to. We are simply being told the bloody, scheming, erotic and shocking tale of Rome's ruling dynasty at the peak of its imperial power, spun out as an captivating yarn.
While never claiming officially to be an historian Graves was a close descendant of German historian Leopold von Ranke and prized historical accuracy. So much, if not all of the two books is historically accurate, a perspective which serves as the binding sauce to Graves' words and Runger's delivery.
One of my very best Audible purchases, which I will listen to again and again.
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- Chris


This book is an excellent way to acquaint yourself with the character of Rome at the dawn of the first century. I, Claudius plunges you into a world of intrigues, murder, cruelty, and vice-- in short a world in which "Poison is Queen."

If you are anticipating a page-turner-'novel' don't purchase this audio book. It is more like a well dramatized history. The story is told in first person by Claudius himself, and follows his life from its earliest years to nearly the end of his life. Claudius was born a cripple and a stammerer, and it is amazing to see how he not only overcame his disabilities, but how he used them to his advantage. Hundreds died in the struggle for power, but every killer overlooked 'the half-wit.'

The narrator is top notch. I couldn't give his performance a higher rating. The sound quality is excellent.

A good book, not a sensational one. I might find myself re-listening to it someday just to re-aquaint myself with this era in human history.
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- Stephanie "There is no frigate like a book ~ E. Dickinson"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-31-2007
  • Publisher: Recorded Books