Sunday, January 29, 2023

Politics (part 2) - I, Claudius vs the Senate


Robert Graves wrote his historical novel, I, Claudius (1934) as an autobiographical memoir of the Roman Emperor Claudius (reign 41-54 A.D.)  

The memoir spanned the time of Augustus Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius' succession to emperor after Caligula's assassination.

 The novel is filled with political machinations, lust, and murders. Ironically when the Petronian Guard chooses Claudius as the new emperor, he doesn't want it. Yet, he soldiers on for 13 years until he's allegedly poisoned so Nero could succeed him. 

In 1937, Robert Graves' book was to be made into an epic movie, I, Claudius, starring Charles Laughton as the title role. But the serious injuries of one the irreplaceable actresses aborted the completion of the epic movie. 

Some of the archives of this shelved film were recovered in the 1965 documentary, The Epic that Neve Was

One of the greatest scenes: 

I, Claudius vs The Senate

Charles Laughton gives this moving performance as he's presented to the Senate to succeed the murdered Caligula.

Complaints of politicians sound familiar?

* Attaining their position through bribery

* Profiteering from their position 

* Abusing their office with excesses, such as gluttony

* Providing substandard goods to agencies for great cost

Promises of the new regime sound familiar?

* Stop profiteering and bribery
* Replace corrupt politicians with those who love their country better than their purses

* Drain the Roman swamp

2000 years later...

The complaints about politicians and promises of reformers amount to the same old same old.

So far, the book has not been made into the epic movie. Yet, it did eventually make it to the small screen of television.

In 1976, the BBC produced a 13-part miniseries, I, Claudius, with a cast of great actors and actresses. 

Here's the trailer:

The 13-hour series develops  the characters and the spirit of first century Rome more than perhaps an epic movie ever could.

It's a great yarn. 

Passion, Pathos, Power, Prophesy, Poison, and especially ....  



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