It’s not often that something you remember from the dim and distant turns out to be as good as you remember if not better. Well it does happen…honest. BBC4 has just finished showing the whole of I.Claudius over thirteen consecutive nights and I was hooked; it is without doubt some of the best TV ever produced. By modern standards the production values seem a little low rent but the quality of the script and the actors means this doesn’t matter, in fact it adds to the claustrophobic feel of the Imperial House and makes you feel a like to have front row seats to all the plots, schemes and excessive goings on.
Historians may think it portrays the fourth Julian Roman emperor in too favourable a light, after all being a Emperor was a bloody and nasty business two thousand years ago, but Robert Graves gave us a compelling and fascinating story. Besides much of the early post Republic history was written by only a few historians and we know how inaccurate they are and it’s not as if Graves is claiming some monster contradictory version of history like the Americans discovering the Enigma machine or winning the Battle of Britain.
Claudius was a fascinating figure as he limped, stammered and twitched his way to building the famous port at Ostia, successfully quelled the British tribes which both Julius and Caligula failed to do, gave almost a million people Roman citizenship, build a couple of aqueducts and ensured that the Roman road network expanded to accommodate the larger Empire.
Oh…our cat is named after his grandmother.