By Robert Graves
Thought of an fool due to his actual infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to turn into emperor in forty-one A.D. A masterpiece.
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Extra info for I, Claudius From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54
The next day Augustus was told that his sister, the Lady Octavia, was outside and wished to greet him on the anniversary of their father's death. He gave orders for her immediate admittance. She was an incurable invalid when this happened--it was the year she died-and was always carried about in a covered sedan. When the sedan was brought in, the curtains parted and out sprang Athenodorus with a sword, which he pointed at Augustus' heart. Augustus, so far from being angry, thanked Athenodorus and confessed that he had been very wrong to treat his warning so casually.
He must keep it. She asked an old nobleman, a member of the College of Augurs, who was with us, Tell me what this portends. The old man answered, How can I say? It may be of great significance or none. Don't be afraid. Say what it seems to mean to youFirst send the children away, he said. I do not know whether he gave her the interpretation which, when you have read my story, will be forced on you as the only possible one. All I know is that while we other children kept our distance--dear Germanicus had found another tail-feather for me, sticking in a hawthorn bush, and I was putting it proudly in my hair--Livilla crept up inquisitively behind a rose-hedge and overheard something.
Then she fainted and immediately her pains began. It may well be because of this that I have always had a morbid fear of assassination; for they say that a pre-natal shock can be inherited. But of course there is no real reason for any pre-natal influences to be mentioned. How many of the Imperial family have died a natural death? Since I was an affectionate child my mother's attitude [5i] caused me much misery. I heard from my sister Livilla, a beautiful girl but cruel, vain and ambitious--in a word a typical Claudian of the bad variety--that my mother had called me a human portent and said that when I was born the Sibylline books should have been consulted.