I, Claudius by Robert Graves gives a bit of insight to the inner workings of Rome’s elite through his historical fiction. The largess of the rich Romans, especially Caligula, was unbelievable. As I read my thoughts went to the bible and Sodom and Gomorrah. That didn’t end well. I was waiting for the wrath of God to smite the horrible, horrible acts of people. I won’t go into details but animals were involved and incest – sometimes both! Then I reminded myself that this was a fictional account of Rome, a dramatization. Or was it? I wondered at the validity of the information, how close to history was this piece of historical fiction. I researched the Roman emperors and lo and behold, the book follows correctly.
Roman Imperial Dynasties
Augustus 27 BC – 14 AD
Tiberius 14 – 37 AD
Caligula 37 – 41 AD
Claudius 41 – 54 AD
Nero 54 – 68 AD
The fiction must be the intrigue and excess, I must know, was it really like that? Simply kill your competitor or anyone that you did not like? Spend the treasury like a drunken sailor? Deem yourself a God? Lucky for me my new supervisor is studying classical history and is familiar with I, Claudius. (He lent me the BBC series I, Claudius to view – scheduled for Spring Break, I can’t wait!). I asked my leader, “Dude – was it really like that in the Roman court?” (Yes, I said Dude!) Were people killed for no reasons whatsoever? Was Caligula really that warped? It has to be fiction, right? Weeeelll, no it wasn’t. It was quite brutal but no one knows for sure. There was a Roman historian from way back then, whose name escapes me, which Robert Graves based the story upon. This historian was known to be a bit of a gossip and liked to embellish the history a bit. There is truth to much of the history but the intrigue and relationships are suspect. FASCINATING!!!
Another blog tidbit for I, Claudius. The least I could do since it took me so long to write a post, is to write TWO posts!
Off To The Lighthouse with Virginia!