Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I, Claudius

I have vague memories of my parents watching the BBC production of this when I was a child. I can vividly picture Derek Jacobi as the stuttering limping Claudius and John Hurt as the increasingly mad and out of control Caligula.

So, I was very interested to read the book which had spawned the series and see how it compared.

Overall I really enjoyed it, and found it for the most part hugely entertaining. There were a couple of moment where the narrative wandered off into the details of the Germanic wars and such like that my mind might have floated elsewhere, but on the whole it was great.

The most remarkable feature of the book is the relentless blood lust - character after character is 'removed' from the stage of Roman politics in more and more nasty ways. From Livia's poisoning of anyone who gets in her way, to the gladitorial 'games' to mass executions for so called treason. No one was safe from the plotting and scheming and life was held at very little value. On attending a gladitorial display, Claudius discribes how everyone laughed hysterically when one of the competitors arms got lopped off!

Apart from perhaps Claudius himself, most characters are unlikeable. Those that seem like they may have some sort of morality or goodness in them are quickly dispatched n one way or another by their less honorable colleagues.

Inconclusion - all in all a good romp though the Roman Empire, and deserving of its place in the 'best debauchery' category.