Monday, March 4, 2019

Review: Claudius: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History

Title: Claudius: A Life From Beginning to End
Author: Hourly History
Publication: February 25th 2019

Genre: Nonfiction, History
Purchase Link: Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5

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Often portrayed as an awkward, disfigured, and clumsy man, Claudius was the unlikely ruler of the Roman Empire from 41 CE to 54 CE. His reign would prove to be one of the longest of the time even though his rise to the throne did not come without opposition. Virtually no-one in Claudius’ family wanted to see him become emperor—only when he turned out to be the last surviving man of the Julio-Claudian dynasty did he ascend to the throne.

Inside you will read about...

✓ Born to Be Cast Out
✓ A Historian and a Husband
✓ The Conquest of Britain
✓ Plots and Intrigues
✓ The Assassination of Emperor Claudius
And much more!

No-one ever expected that the boy that was used as the comparative standard for stupidity by his own mother would become the emperor of Rome. Yet, he did. Claudius reign was riddled with conspiracies and attempts on his life by the Senate that was supposed to serve him. But despite all the opposition to his rule, Claudius would go on to be an able and efficient leader. He expanded the Roman Empire more than any other emperor had since the reign of Augustus.

"To do nothing evil is good; to wish nothing evil is better."

After finishing this book I was torn between a 3 and 4 star rating so I'm just gonna go with 3.5 to make things a little easier for myself. I'm sure that most people who read my blog and know me a little bit that I'm a big history fan, especially ancient history. Let me just tell you Game of Thrones is nothing compared to the ancient Romans, believe me. So when I saw Hourly History published a book about emperor Claudius I had to read it immediately, of course. And I really ended up liking it a lot. 

Going into the book I already knew quite a bit about Claudius because he's part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and as it's the very first Roman imperial dynasty I've always thought they were really fascinating (+ I'm clearly obsessed lol). But even so I learned quite a few new facts about Claudius and ancient Rome in general, which is great because there's always more to learn about anything historical. Below you'll find some of those facts.

Claudius certainly was a different and reasonably good emperor (aside from the fact that he actually killed an orca whale for his own damn enjoyment and initiating the conquest of Britain) compared ot his predecessor so it was a nice change of pace to read about an emperor in ancient Rome not acting like a total nutcase. And his reign of 13 years was pretty long one compared to most emperors as well, which is really rare actually. 

Overall, Claudius: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History was a brief but compelling nonfiction about the life of one of the longest reigning emperors of his time. I wanted it to be longer as usual but for a short story it was informative and obviously didn't take long to read. Very enjoyable!

5 interesting facts I learned:

  • Claudius ascended the throne only when he turned out to be the last surviving man of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
  • Claudius' predecessor was the infamous Caligula.
  • Claudius was married four times and was eventually poisoned by his last wife, Agrippina.
  • Claudius' mother Antonia Minor gave birth to him in Lugdunum in Gaul (modern-day France) making him the first Roman emperor to ever have been born outside of Italy.
  • Claudius wrote 20 books on Etruscan history.

Some pictures related to Claudius:

Bust of Claudius at the Naples National Archaeological Museum

Detail from the painting A Roman Emperor 41AD by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
(This relates to Claudius who is terrified and hiding behind a curtain when a member of the Praetorian guard draws it aside and hailed him as emperor after Caligula was murdered)

Bronze head of Claudius found in the River Alde at Rendham, near Saxmundham, Suffolk (British Museum) 
(Potentially taken from the Temple of Claudius in Colonia Victricensis during the Boudican revolt)

Claudius depicted as the Roman god Jupiter

Check out my other Hourly History reviews:


  1. the blurb on this book made me laugh out loud -- poor Claudius -- I had no idea this was his reputation.

  2. I've been reading more about him after this and I'm slowly getting obsessed by his life. So fascinating!


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