Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Rome. Ancient walled city of central Italy built around seven hills. The emperor Augustus’s palace is on the Palatine Hill. During the Palatine festival in honor of Augustus, wooden stands for seating sixty thousand people are erected in the southern courtyard. After his death, his widow, Livia, has a magnificent gold statue of Augustus placed in the palace’s hall. During the reign of Augustus’s successor, Tiberius, Tiberius builds a two-story palace for himself on the northwest part of the hill that is three times larger than Augustus’s palace. Most of the other houses on this hill belong to senators. The house where Claudius’s father and his uncle Tiberius were brought up and in which Claudius lives through most of his childhood is near the hill. Nearby is the temple of Apollo built by Augustus and the Apollo Library, in which Claudius spends much of his time researching his histories of Etruria and Carthage.

The Palatine Hill looks down on the market place. Under the steepest part of the hill is the Temple of Castor and Pollux. Originally built of wood, it is rebuilt in marble by Tiberius, and its interior is richly painted and gilded. Later, Caligula transforms the temple into a vestibule for his own temple, cutting a passage between the statues of the gods. The Temple of Saturn is west of the Palatine Hill, where Tiberius builds an arch celebrating Germanicus’s victories in Germany.

North of the Palatine Hill, on the Capitoline Hill, is the capitol, the Temple to Jove. Caligula orders the building of a shrine next to it with a gold statue of himself, three times larger than...

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Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

I, Claudius was written from the Spanish island of Mallorca in 1934. Within two years, the Spanish Civil War would force Graves and...

(The entire section is 996 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

I, Claudius is narrated by Claudius during the final years of his life. Throughout his narration, Claudius...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Again in his letter to T. E. Lawrence, Graves declares about I, Claudius: "The writing is definitely not high-pitched but the sort of...

(The entire section is 174 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

I, Claudius and the sequel Claudius the God form a continuous narrative of Emperor Claudius's life and times. Graves studied...

(The entire section is 426 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

1934: After years of unprecedented economic growth in the 1920s, the United States suffers from the stock market crash of 1929,...

(The entire section is 381 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

In Chapter IX of I, Claudius, the reader is introduced to two historians of the day, Pollio and Livy. They proceed to argue over their...

(The entire section is 288 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Novels about Ancient Rome had become a staple of popular literature by the time I, Claudius was written. The success of Edward...

(The entire section is 68 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In 1937, Alexander Korda began filming a motion picture version of I, Claudius. It featured Charles Laughton as Claudius. The...

(The entire section is 195 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

The most comprehensive Web site on Robert Graves can be found at http://www (accessed November 24, 2004) with links to...

(The entire section is 163 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) received the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and...

(The entire section is 204 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources Aaron, Daniel, “What Can You Learn from a Historical Novel?” in American Heritage, Vol. 43, No. 6, October 1992, pp. 55–56.

Blowen, Michael, “How the Movie Sells the Book,” in Boston Globe, January 12, 1986, Sec. B, p. 1.

Buckman, Peter, and William Fifield, “The Art of Poetry XI: Robert Graves,” in Conversations with Robert Graves, edited by Frank. L. Kersnowski, University of Mississippi Press, 1989, p. 100.

Burton, Philip, “The Values of a Classical Education: Satirical Elements in Robert Graves’s Claudius Novels,” in Review of English Studies, Vol. 46, No. 182, May 1995, pp. 191–218.

Cavendish, Richard, “Historical...

(The entire section is 407 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Robert Graves. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Bloom gathers what he calls the most useful available criticism of Graves. Entries most pertinent to the study of I, Claudius are “Autobiography, Historical Novels, and Some Poems,” by J. M. Cohen, and “Claudius,” by Martin Seymour-Smith.

Canary, Robert H. Robert Graves. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980. Contains a biography and a thorough discussion of Graves as poet and prose writer, with one section devoted to I, Claudius and its sequel, Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina.

Graves, Robert. Claudius the God...

(The entire section is 277 words.)