How accurate is series I Claudius

Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#11
Before he wrote the fiction books, Robert Graves was a translator of Roman history. He knew the history inside & out by the time he wrote the fiction (usually, fiction writers have an idea then do research). The "big picture" of "I Claudius" is really good. There are Caligula episodes that I haven't been able to track down (I'm guessing they were rumors in other sources). I honestly don't believe he made any more up than he needed to stitch things together. Holy moley was Tiberius disgusting at the end of his life.

However, the main hook of "I Claudius" is that they turned historical names into PEOPLE. They're stretching a bit from the sources there. Augustus is absolutely the most charming, grandfatherly type character in the whole series. I was pretty surprised to find out he wasn't like that. Did Livia tolerate Caligula? Makes for some interesting tension & plotting. I think he made Augustus a lot more "decent & understanding' than he was, TIberius & Caligula probably pretty accurate, Claudius also a little nicer (no mention of the men he executed as threats) than he was ... but he did hint at all the things he did to rebuild & stabilize the govt (like inventing the civil service).

I did like "Rome" but not so much for the storyline. I liked the little details. On YouTube, there a compilation of the "news guy" who announced the news of the empire in the forum, and got pretty sick of his paid advertisers "good Roman bread, for good Romans". I liked the little shrines in there houses where they'd duck their heads, touch their lips, as they walked by. I think there were shrines in the public streets as well. I also like the "abbreviated" violence scenes: the two guys find the Gauls who stole the eagles, they shrug their shoulders, draw their swords .... dead bodies on the ground.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,328
Netherlands
#12
To be fair most of the 'adult' scenes revolve around Pullo, and it's far tamer (and much better) than the Spartacus series. I mention it as it's about the best Roman drama programme since I,Claudius.

The good news is that I,Claudius improves by every episode and John Hurt and (especially) Biggins are just how I now imagine Caligula and Nero to be to this day.
You may have missed this one: Julius Caesar (miniseries) - Wikipedia
I only caught it by accident.
 
Jun 2018
42
New Hampshire
#13
Before he wrote the fiction books, Robert Graves was a translator of Roman history. He knew the history inside & out by the time he wrote the fiction (usually, fiction writers have an idea then do research). The "big picture" of "I Claudius" is really good. There are Caligula episodes that I haven't been able to track down (I'm guessing they were rumors in other sources). I honestly don't believe he made any more up than he needed to stitch things together. Holy moley was Tiberius disgusting at the end of his life.

However, the main hook of "I Claudius" is that they turned historical names into PEOPLE. They're stretching a bit from the sources there. Augustus is absolutely the most charming, grandfatherly type character in the whole series. I was pretty surprised to find out he wasn't like that. Did Livia tolerate Caligula? Makes for some interesting tension & plotting. I think he made Augustus a lot more "decent & understanding' than he was, TIberius & Caligula probably pretty accurate, Claudius also a little nicer (no mention of the men he executed as threats) than he was ... but he did hint at all the things he did to rebuild & stabilize the govt (like inventing the civil service).

I did like "Rome" but not so much for the storyline. I liked the little details. On YouTube, there a compilation of the "news guy" who announced the news of the empire in the forum, and got pretty sick of his paid advertisers "good Roman bread, for good Romans". I liked the little shrines in there houses where they'd duck their heads, touch their lips, as they walked by. I think there were shrines in the public streets as well. I also like the "abbreviated" violence scenes: the two guys find the Gauls who stole the eagles, they shrug their shoulders, draw their swords .... dead bodies on the ground.
I honestly wasn't able to make it past half an hour in the Rome series. Though based upon the many acclamations it has received, I will see if I Claudius is available on YouTube and will soon watch the entire series.
 
Mar 2017
793
Colorado
#14
All through the "I Claudius" series, Claudius is writing a secret history of the Roman Empire ... the inside scoop. It turns out he did write an Etruscan History, and he funded the Museo in Alexandria ... provided they read it, out loud, from beginning to end, once a year.

"I Claudius" has marvelous fleshed out characters. I'm holding myself back from spoilers.
 
Aug 2015
2,200
uk
#15
Yes, the thing to remember is that I, Claudius is a history of the Caesars written from his perspective. So what happens will depend often on hearsay, and the attributes of characters will depend on his feelings toward them. So Claudius himself will seem more sympathetic, as will those he liked; conversely those he disliked or disapproved of may appear more villainous or unsavoury.
 
Oct 2013
313
Australia
#16
Well, it's *fiction*. Much of it is based on Suetonius and other Roman authors, and some parts are surprisingly accurate in that regard. BUT it "fills in" a lot of details of events and characters, plus we have to keep in mind that even ancient authors were biased or simply wrong sometimes. For example, there is apparently a compelling argument that Claudius was not just found hiding behind the curtains after Caligula was killed, but was canny enough to seize power in the confusion.
I’m sorry, was c-c-c-Claudius, a canny conniver?


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Sep 2013
589
Oakville, Ontario
#18
I loved this tv series, it had some very good casting and quite an enjoyable depiction of Roman times. However, I wouldn't call it historical, there are definitely some liberties taken to make viewing interesting.

For instance I don't think Livia had her hand in as many murders as was suggested, though Tacitus and Dio hint she may have assisted in her husband's death to smooth the transfer of power. The death of Augustus was as planned as his life was, to avoid a repeat of civil war, and he knew his end was coming when it did. There's even a record of a report in 14 CE, at the end of the lustrum, when he and Tiberius were performing a purification ritual for the Roman people. He saw an eagle during the ritual which circled overhead and landed on the 'A' of Agrippa on the Pantheon nearby, and he took this as a portent that his life was soon to end. So he turned to Tiberius and told him to read out the vows in place of him, not wanting to make himself responsible for promises he could not keep.

When the death of Messalina was reported to Claudius, while he was at dinner, it's said that the only reaction he made was to ask for more wine. Though the filmed reaction of Derek Jacobi made for great theatre.

In the final episode there's a suggestion of Nero and his fascination with flames, when it's probable he had nothing to do with the burning of Rome.

Nevertheless, minor quibbles aside, it remains one of the best TV series ever done on the subject of ancient Rome, and in particular the Julio-Claudians.
 
Oct 2016
837
Merryland
#19
agree with most of above
look at it as a soap opera with historical interest
perfectly cast. Brian Blessed is an avuncular Augustus, George Baker a stolid Tiberius, Sean Philips as an imperious Livia, John Hurt as a creepy Caligula, a young Patrick Stewart as an ambitious Sejanus.
(for some reason half these folks ended up in David Lynch's 'Dune' movie)
I can attest that most of us in the US always imagine ancient Romans speaking with British accents!