I, Claudius is a novel by English writer Robert Graves, first published in 1934, that deals sympathetically with the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius and cynically with the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar's … see full wiki
Claudius, born with some physical deformities that hamper his walking, make his mouth dribble at times, and to constantly stutter is considered to be an idiot by most. With Graves telling in the first person we see that Claudius is in fact a great intellectual with amazing insight into the world. He deals with so many interesting personalities (Livia, Tiberius, Caligula, and Herod to name a few). He is used badly by the evil ones and he watches as one-by-one the good ones meet very untimely deaths.
Claudius meets with someone wise to the ways of the empire who gives Claudius the best advice, which is that as long as the power seeker feel Claudius is no threat they will keep him alive. Therefore, Claudius should exagerate his informaties and make those evil doers feel he is dumber than they think and therefore no threat. This ultimately keeps him alive and after Rome has gone through two of the most corrupt Emperors of all-time (Caligula and Tiberius), Rome is eager to have an emperor who can be controlled easily and thus, the job of emperor is thrust upon Claudius. Claudius has his own ideas though and that includes restoring Rome to a Republic. But that is left for the sequel book which I highly recommend too.
I have read this book three times and it never gets boring.
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A TV miniseries about Emperor Claudius
A book released December 1, 2005 by Peter Heather