August 4, 2020
Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus (Claudius to his embarrassed family), born in Lyon in what is now France, a sickly, lame, twitching, stutterer, a nonentity, thought an idiot by his relatives the most prominent in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar began their more than century long reign as the rulers of the vast expanding Roman Empire. But he Claudius survives the treacherous, deadly byzantine atmosphere where killing an enemy is common, all for power influence and money nothing else matters, destroy your opponent before they eliminate you ( he was too insignificant, to be murdered). Claudius father was a famous Roman general Drusus gaining glory in Germany, winning battle after battle until dying in a mysterious way, his mother Antonia a very influential woman daughter of Mark Amthony. Livia his grandmother the wife of the Emperor Augustus Caesar Julius's great- nephew. He preaches family values as his daughter Julia breaks them all, but his relatives suffer greatly , constant early strange deaths to its members, unexplained there is a curse a menacing unseen force that is always ready to strike them down, everyone is quite vulnerable...To pass the time Claudius becomes a historian, talking to Titus Livy and other famous authors writing many books that his scornful family doesn't read, sadly they have not survived his best about the mysterious Etruscans the first history of these prosperous people. Poor Claudius forced by others more powerful to marry women he loathes for political reasons, to reluctant wives who detest the unattractive man but still from the most important family in Rome, divorce soon follows and frequently insolvency he prefers undemanding kind prostitutes . Tiberius becomes Emperor his grandmother's Livia's son and his father's brother, a paranoid ruler who kills anyone that remotely threatens him or so alleges Sejanus, his most trusted ruthless and ambitious servant the captain of the potent Praetorian Guards, who protects the sovereign of Rome of course they're innocent. But how would Tiberius know he lives in luxury on the beautiful island of Capri, off the coast of Italy near Naples away from danger and prying eyes and his evil dominating mother, Livia yet rumors of perverse sexual habits filter back to the disgusted capital. When his uncle at last dies the even worse (his nephew), Caligula becomes the mad Emperor of the world, committing incest with his three sisters telling the astonished Senate that he is a god (throwing poor Claudius into a river, he abides and floats back up), everyone must worship, butchering at will the citizens from the highest to the lowest, seeking revenge against the Germans because of his father's untimely death, but while Julius Caesar wrote, "I came, I saw , I conquered", Caligula saw and ran... A brilliant novel more gossip than history maybe, but an enormously entertaining read.