Author: Robert Graves
Narrator: Derek Jacobi
Publisher: CSA Word
Categories: Fiction, Historical, Audiobook
Running Time: 5 hours and 8 minutes (abridged version)
Released: 3 December 2007
Listened to: April 2015
Trivia Tidbit: Robert Graves enlisted soon after the outbreak of World War 1, and was so badly wounded by a shell fragment during the Battle of the Somme that he was expected to die and was officially reported as having died from his wounds. He gradually recovered, and lived until 1985, aged 90..
Full Disclosure: Purchased
So, having chosen what I believed was the easier path, I still struggled in the early part of the book to keep up with all the -iuses - Claudius, Octavius, Tiberius, Posthumus, Germanicus, Augustus - you get the idea. Add to that the intermarriage and penchant for naming children a version of their parent's name (Agrippa - Agrippina, Livia - Livilla, etc), and it's a hard story to get a handle on without a family tree in front of you. That said, once I got the hang of it - I'd liken it to watching a movie with subtitles - I really enjoyed the story, Not short on drama, the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Also, the characters became easier to follow as more and more of them were killed off.
Originally published in 1934, I, Claudius takes the form of a memoir of Roman Emperor Claudius, who became emperor following the assassination of Caligula. He is, essentially, the last man standing. It is surprising, listening to this tale, that the Romans had any time at all to wage wars and conquer the world, given all the political intrigue and backstabbing at home.
Derek Jacobi is an excellent narrator, and his crisp delivery helped my understanding of the novel no end. Jacobi played Claudius in the 1976 BBC miniseries and 2007 radio adaptations of the book, so his knowledge of the character informs his reading of the book beautifully.
Having listened through to the end, I started again at the beginning in order to get clear in my head who was related to who (and who killed who) at the start. This isn't a story for everyone, but if you are interested in ancient history, enjoy a reading/listening challenge and are after some political intrigue, then this might be one for you.