I, Claudius (1934) is a novel by Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of the Roman Emperor Claudius. It includes the history of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and the Roman Empire, from Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC to Caligula’s assassination in 41 AD.
It was followed by Claudius the God. The novels were popular when originally published, and gained literary recognition.
The two books were adapted for television in 1976 by Jack Pulman and it was a DVD of this I viewed.
There are notable actors playing parts:
Derek Jacobi – Claudius
George Baker – Tiberius
John Hurt – Caligula
Brian Blessed – Augustus
Patrick Stewart – Lucius Aelius Sejanus
Ian Ogilvy – Nero Claudius Drusus
John Rhys-Davies – Naevius Sutorius Macro
Stratford Johns – Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso
Peter Bowles – Caratacus
Bernard Hill – Gratus
Guy Siner – Palades
Unfortunately it’s all obviously done in the studio and has the feel of a play. The script and acting is rather stilted. In the end it comes off a a minor melodrama about a family, not the world influencing machinations of an empire in decline.
Adding to the problems is someone’s decision to edit the entire series together as one 4 hour episode. Hence there is little variation in drama, and almost no action. In the end, rather boring.