I have been meaning to read this book for a couple years now. I read I Claudius a few years back and really enjoyed it. I have to say that while enjoyable, this book isn’t that good. I have to say that I was terribly fond of Livia in the original, and there was no one to compare with her in this. In fact the author seemed to realise this, and spent the first half of the book giving references back to her and Caligula.
This is not a book for those who are interested in plot. It is mostly a social history for how to (or how not to) run Rome. There is a lot of discussion of law cases, building improvements, and of course war with Britain. The politics and deceit seem to take a lesser place in this book, though there is still a fair amount of scandal.
I think the most interesting thing about this book is the insight into Claudius’ mind. While writing in the first person, he is constantly justifying his actions to himself and his audience. He becomes a tyrant like he feared, but doesn’t believe it. He sees himself as the saviour of Rome, but fails to notice his wife’s corruption. The only thing I felt was lacking was his transformation into the passive Emperor letting his new wife take over seemed relatively unexplored. I mean he talked about how he wanted the Empire to fail and the republic restored. But it was not clear how such an abrupt change happened.
An interesting book and enjoyable though I have to admit I did feel like it dragged in places....Continua