I, Claudius, Day Two: Chapters 4-6

March 5, 2008

Chapters 4-6

The soap opera continues. Each chapter focuses on a different character. One chapter for his father. One chapter for his uncle. One chapter on himself. Of course not particularly in that order. I believe it went father, self, uncle. The narrative isn’t always chronological, and sometimes the way it is arranged makes it a tad confusing. But in all honesty, I think this soap opera would be confusing no matter what. The action of the first three chapters covered so many years, so many characters. Sometimes these next three chapters backtracked and filled in some of the details. Sometimes not.

What can I say? I’m still liking it. The narrative style is still great. In chapter four, I believe we get a good look at his father. Because his father had made certain observations, and these observations were true, and he shared these observations via letter, the assumption is that his grandmother killed his father. She certainly sent her own ‘doctor’ with her own special ‘medicine’ to cure him of his sickness. But the narrator doesn’t come right out and say that exactly. The fifth chapter focuses on himself. His childhood and early teen years mostly. It’s very detailed. And there is a lot of stuff there. I’m not really anxious to get into that detail and name all the characters, list all the minute details of the plot. Needless to say that his childhood was not happy. His mother didn’t love him. Didn’t give him any attention. Was full of insults when she did see him. His grandmother was also mean to him. His grandfather was indifferent to him. His brother and his aunt seem to be the only ones with tender and kind words for him. And the aunt–as we learn in chapter six–is soon to be banished. Chapter six is all about his uncle Tiberius, the one who is married to Julia the daughter of Augustus. It is not a happy chapter. Tiberius has been made miserable most of his life by his mother, then his wife, then his stepfather/father-in-law, Augustus. Misery. Misery. More Misery. His options being to be miserable at a distance, or miserable in Rome living near his messed up family. For a while he chooses distance, then it gets to be too much.

So far, not really “liking” anyone but the narrator. Livia is certainly despicable enough. And the others we get such a small glimpse, that it’s hard to ‘know’ them at all.

But I’m happy to keep going on this one.



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  1. Wow, you think you’re missing things? I didn’t even notice the chapters centred on different characters.

  2. That didn’t occur to me either.

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