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Graves, Robert

claudius imperial family emperor

(British, 1895–1985)

Graves was a widely published poet, historian, mythographer, critic, and translator of ancient languages. Most of his novels draw on his engagement with pre-Christian and early Christian history. I, Claudius (1934) is set in first-century AD Rome and written as an autobiographical memoir of the emperor Claudius. Physically weak and afflicted with stammering, Claudius is an embarrassment to his family and is shunted to the background of imperial affairs. He becomes a scholar and historian, and his apparent ineffectuality spares him the worst cruelties inflicted by the imperial family upon its own members during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula. The first-person narration gives the reader a strong sense of witnessing, with Claudius, the endless greed and lust of the imperial family. The story ends with Claudius ascending to the imperial throne. Claudius the God (1934) covers Claudius’ years as emperor, including his marriage to the treacherous Messalina. Graves's characterizations of real historical figures offer the reader a vivid viewpoint on complex historical events. The two books have been adapted for both television and film. King Jesus (1946) is a fictional interpretation of the life of Jesus Christ, based on Graves's understanding of the history, politics, and beliefs of the time. Count Belisarius (1938) spans the period between the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity. It centres on the power struggle between the Emperor Justinian and a commander of the Roman armies.

Mary Renault, Allan Massie,

Olivia Manning. See HISTORICAL  DJ

Gray, Alasdair [next] [back] Grass, G√ľnter

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