The novels ''I, Claudius'' and ''Claudius the God'' by Robert Graves, published in 1934 and 1935 follow the history of UsefulNotes/{{the Roman Empire}}, from the latter reign of Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} (starting around 24/23 B.C.) to the death of the eponymous character, Claudius, through whose eyes all of the action is seen.

In 1976, the books were adapted into a Creator/{{BBC}} TV series, ''Series/IClaudius'', with Creator/DerekJacobi in the title role.

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!!These books provide examples of:
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[[folder:Tropes 0 to C]]
* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: Sejanus, Tiberius, and Caligula after he shows his true colors. Claudius himself, despite being a benign ruler, becomes unpopular during a food shortage in Rome.
* HundredPercentAdorationRating: Germanicus is a very popular general and politician. Also Caligula during the first few months of his reign.
* AbusiveParents: Claudius' mother, Antonia was disgusted by him because of his disabilities, and always considered him to be an idiot.
** Livia is very abusive towards her stepdaughter Julia.
* AbsurdlyYouthfulMother: Livia, Julia, Agrippina and several other women from the imperial family. This is due to the fact that Roman noble women were married at a very young age.
* AffablyEvil: [[spoiler:Livia]] acts like this towards Claudius when she invites him to have dinner. They have a polite and friendly conversation during wich she confesses all of her crimes, knowing full well Claudius can't and won't seek vengeance.
* AllJewsAreAshkenazi: Averted, since the story takes place some decades before the First Jewish–Roman War and the Diaspora.
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation: [[DefiedTrope Defied]] in-universe by Claudius himself. As he states at the beginning of ''Claudius the God'', he is worried that he might be "branded by posterity as a clever opportunist who pretended to be a fool, lying low and biding his time until he got wind of a Palace intrigue against his Emperor, and then came boldly forward as a candidate for the succession"; among other reasons, he wrote the history of his life to assure the readers that this was not the case.
* AmbiguouslyBi: Urgulanilla, Claudius' first wife, appears to have been infatuated with her sister-in-law Numantina, and is greatly upset when her brother divorces her. [[spoiler:She takes as a lover a male slave named Boter, who is said to look very much like Numantina]].
** Claudius suspects Caligula has a male lover, his cousin, known as Ganymede, but never confirms it.
* AmbitionIsEvil: Many, many characters aim for the imperial throne, and end up getting killed. Unfortunately, many others who have no such ambitions also lose their lives in the endless struggle for power.
* AmicablyDivorced: Played with. Claudius' grandfather isn't angry when he finds out his wife Livia and his friend Augustus have fallen in love, and not only he divorces her, but also attends their wedding ceremony; and while their sons are raised in his house, he allows them to visit their mother every day. Livia, however, is still resentful of her ex-husband, [[spoiler:and when she finds out he's trying to give their sons a republican education, she poisons him]].
* AmoralAttorney: Several Roman lawyers are portrayed like this. Claudius greatly dislikes them, and when he becomes Emperor he tries to favor those few honest lawyers that work in the Forum.
* AndThereWasMuchRejoicing: Tiberius' death is not mourned but celebrated in Rome, where he was very unpopular.
* AntagonisticOffspring: Tiberius comes to see his son Castor as this, due to Sejanus' manipulation and Castor's own rash behaviour. Because of that, Tiberius [[spoiler:shows no grief when Castor dies]].
* ApparentlyPowerlessPuppetmaster: Claudius.
* AristocratsAreEvil: Played with. Claudius himself and many other characters belong to the Roman nobility and are very decent people. On the other hand we have Macro, who is a man of very humble birth (the son of a slave) and is completely ruthless and amoral. Many other noble character play it straight.
* AssholeVictim: It's hard to feel sorry when characters like [[spoiler:Piso, Plancina, Sejanus, Livilla, Tiberius, Macro or Caligula]] end up getting killed.
** Most of the victims of Herod Agrippa's scams are described as this.
* AwfulWeddedLife: All of [[spoiler:Claudius]]' marriages end up like this, one way or another.
* BaldWomen: Julia loses her hair when she's very young, and has to wear a wig for the rest of her life. However, the hair of the wig is prettier than her own natural hair, so it enhances her beauty.
* BandOfBrothels: The Roman prostitutes have their own union, and during Claudius' reign they sue one of their clients for mistreating some of the working girls.
* BasedOnATrueStory: Yes and no. Most everything in the books, including the really outrageous stuff like [[spoiler:Livia poisoning half her family or Messalina having a sexathon]], comes from ancient sources. However, modern scholars consider much of that to be ancient rumormongering and/or propaganda. Graves also wasn't above using fiction as a platform for historical theories he thought were likely but was unable to prove.
* BathSuicide: Several characters choose to die this way.
* TheBeard: Claudius' daugher Antonia is implied to be this to her first husband, Pompey, who has male lovers. [[spoiler:When Claudius finds out of his son-in-law's sexual orientation, he has him killed and finds Antonia a new husband]].
* BeardOfSorrow: [[spoiler:After Julia's exile]], Augustus refuses to shave for four days as a sign of grief.
* BedTrick: During Tiberius' reign, a rich man falls in love with a married woman who rejects his advances. Knowing she's a devoted worhiper of the goddess Isis, he manages to bed her by pretending to be the god Anubis. This scandal ends up leading to the banishment of the cult from Rome.
* BetrayalByInaction: Several people find out about [[spoiler:Cassius Chaerea]]'s plot to murder [[spoiler:Caligula]], but choose not to do anything about it.
* BigBad: Arguably, Livia is this during the first half of ''I, Claudius''. Later it becomes clear that there are '''way''' worst people than her in power and that evil is InherentInTheSystem.
* BigBrotherWorship: Claudius adores his older brother Germanicus (as do almost everyone else).
* BilingualBackfire: The young Claudius overhears Augustus and Athenodorus talking about him in Greek. When Athenodorus jokingly asks his opinion, Claudius replies in Greek: "My mother Antonia does not pamper me, but she has let me learn Greek from someone who learned it directly from Apollo."
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Livia pretends to be a traditional, virtuous Roman matron, who merely manages her household, takes care of her husband and stays out of politics. In reality, she's a power-hungry Evil Matriarch.
** [[spoiler:Messalina]] pretends to be a loving wife to [[spoiler:Claudius]], while being a murderer and an adulteress.
* BiTheWay: Julius Caesar is stated to be bisexual in the Sybil's prophecy, and Claudius' narration confirms it (although modern historians do not entirenly agree).
* BodyDouble: [[spoiler:While exiled on an island Postumus is switched with a similar looking slave named Clement when his grandfather Augustus decides to have him covertly removed under Livia's nose from the island upon receiving evidence that he was falsely accused, and it's the slave who dies when the island is attacked under Livia's orders shortly after Augustus dies. This results in Postumus spending some time disguised as Clement]][[note]]In real life, it was the other way around: Clement was an impostor who claimed to be Postumus but was actually a fake[[/note]].
* BodyguardBetrayal: [[spoiler:Macro]], who is the commander of the Praetorian Guard and whose job is to protect [[spoiler:Tiberius]], ends up smothering him with a pillow.
** Later, several other praetorians conspire [[spoiler:succesfully]] to assasinate [[spoiler:Caligula]].
** During Claudius' reign, many officers in the Guard are involved in plots against the emperor's life.
* BrainlessBeauty: Lollia Paulina, Caligula's third wife and one of the candidates [[spoiler:to marry Claudius after the death of Messalina]] is described as this.
* BreadAndCircuses: Subverted. While the emperors frequently offer lavish public entertainments and free food to keep the people quiet, we see several politically motivated riots (for instance, [[spoiler:when it seems Piso will not be punished for Germanicus' death, when Agrippina and her children are forced into exile, and when the vastly unpopular Tiberius' body is brought to Rome to receive a public funeral]]).
* ButtMonkey: Invoked; after Caligula comes to power and his lackeys start playing mean pranks on Claudius for their own amusement, his prostitute / mistress / confidante Calpurnia advises him to play up his "pathetic old fool" persona to avoid being seen as a potential obstacle.
* CainAndAbel: [[spoiler:Drusus (Germanicus' second son)]] betrays his elder brother [[spoiler:Nero (not to be confused with the future Emperor)]] to Sejanus, leading to his imprisonment and murder. In a more straight example, [[spoiler:Caligula]] orders the death of [[spoiler:Gemellus]], his first cousin and adoptive brother, and is heavily implied to have murdered his sister [[spoiler:Drusilla]].
* TheCaligula: Features the original UsefulNotes/{{Caligula}} himself in all his violent and depraved "glory," and this is the work that most likely crystallized both his public image and [[TropeCodifier the current pattern of the trope]] in the minds of modern-day audiences. Notably, while he's certainly cruel, the real feature that stands out about him is that he's capricious about his cruelty; he's just as likely to spare your life but publicly humiliate you as he is to have you simply tortured or executed out of hand if you run afoul of him.
* CharactersDroppingLikeFlies: Claudius witnesses practically every member of his family being murdered due to political intrigues and infighting.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Claudius, although it's mostly an act. {{Lampshad|eHanging}}ed by Tiberius.
* CluelessBoss: Augustus is almost completely blind to Livia's manipulation. Claudius has shades of this, until [[spoiler:Messalina]]'s downfall.
* ConMan: Herod Agrippa manages to scam several people during his youth.
* ConspiracyKitchenSink: A hodgepodge of pretty much every half-baked conspiracy theory about the time of the Julio-Claudian Emperors, both then and since.
* ConvictedByPublicOpinion: Played straight with Piso and his wife Plancina, who are (correctly) blamed by the Roman people for [[spoiler:Germanicus' death]]. Inverted with [[spoiler:Agrippina and her children]], who are condemned for treason in spite of the people's support.
* CoolTeacher: Athenodorus, Claudius' and Herod Agrippa's tutor.
* CoolUncle: Averted with Claudius. Although some are nice to him, none of his nieces and nephews takes him seriously.
* ComfortingTheWidow: After [[spoiler:Castor]]'s death, Sejanus plans to marry his widow [[spoiler:Livilla]]. Tiberius won't allow it.
* CreepyCrossdresser: Caligula often asumes the identity of different goddesses, and thus wears female dresses.
* CreepyUncle: Averted with [[spoiler:Claudius]] (although ancient historians portrayed him this way) with regards to his marriage with [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]], his own niece. While some historians claim [[spoiler:Agripinilla]] seduced her uncle in order to convince him to marry her, in the book it is portrayed as only a political alliance, with no sexual element involved.
** Played straight with Herod Antipas, who marries his niece Herodias out of love and attraction. It should be noted, however, that in the Eastern monarchies of the time, marriages between uncles and nieces were considered normal. Furthermore, Herodias first husband, whom he divorces to marry Antipas, was '''also''' her uncle. John the Baptist preaches against Antipas and Herodias' marriage not because it is incestuous but because he's against her divorce.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: One of Caligula's courtiers is flogged to death because he refuses to acknowledge him as a greater god than Zeus.
* {{Cuckold}}: Caligula has a fetish for boning other men's wives, both to satiate his own lusts and to humiliate the husbands.
* CunningLikeAFox: Several characters display this, since cunning is indispensable to survive in the imperial court, but Herod Agrippa is the most notorious.
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Tropes D to H]]
* DaddysGirl: Augustus dotes in his only legitimate daughter, Julia.
* DeadGuyJunior: When Claudius' son with Messalina is born, he's named [[spoiler:Germanicus, in honour of Claudius' deceased brother]]. Later he's known as Brittanicus.
** Caligula's daughter is named [[spoiler:Drusilla, in honour of his sister]]. Their personalities are very different.
* DeadPersonImpersonation: [[spoiler:Postumus]] is claimed to be doing this when he tries to organize an uprising against Tiberius.
* DecadentCourt: Rome becomes this during the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula. Claudius tries in vain to stop the decadence.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Claudius has slaves, enjoys gladiator fights and approves of Germanicus slaughtering civilians during the war in Germania. Also, as an emperor, he has a ''lot'' of people executed (including [[spoiler:his son-in-law, simply for being gay]]).
* DeniedFoodAsPunishment: Many people imprisoned by Tiberius are slowly starved to death, such as [[spoiler:Julia, Gallus, Drusus and Livilla]].
* DepravedBisexual: Tiberius rapes and molests both boys and girls.
* DeceasedParentsAreTheBest: Claudius greatly admires his father, who died when he was very young.
* DefiledForever: The wife of a senator who was submited to a ScarpiaUltimatum by Tiberius sees herself as this after giving in, and takes her own life.
* DestroyTheAbusiveHome: Caligula had the house on the island of Pandataria where [[spoiler:his mother Agrippina was imprisoned and eventually died]] destroyed when he became emperor, which Claudius notes resulted in a bit of the StreisandEffect since prior to this no one had paid the house any attention, but after seeing the ruins people naturally became curious as to what had occurred there.
* DidYouThinkICantFeel: Claudius, after becoming emperor, says this '''to the entire Senate''', reminding them of how many times they followed Caligula's lead in mocking him.
* DirectLineToTheAuthor: Robert Graves' premise was that he had really discovered the memoirs of the historical Emperor Claudius, "nineteen hundred years or near" later i.e. in the present.
* DirtyOldMan: Tiberius. His perversions are not detailed in the book; if Graves had repeated what Suetonius said about him, it probably would've been banned.
* DisposableSexWorker: Subverted. [[spoiler:Calpurnia]]'s death is probably the saddest in the whole story.
* DivideAndConquer: Claudius states this is Rome's policy towards German tribes and Eastern kingdoms. The more they fight each other, the more Rome profits.
* DoesntTrustThoseGuys: Herod Agrippa repeatedly advises Claudius to never trust ''anybody'', and he's absolutely right. Claudius once writes him a letter saying that he has taken Herod's advice and trusts no one -- with the exception of several people whose names he lists, Herod among them. [[spoiler:All of them, Herod included, prove to be untrustworthy]].
* TheDogBitesBack: [[spoiler:Cassius Chaerea]] is a frequent victim of [[spoiler:Caligula]]'s jokes and taunting. In the end, he's the head of the conspiracy to assassinate him.
* DotingGrandparent: Augustus has this sort of relationship with his grandsons Gaius and Lucius, leading to a lot of resentment from Tiberius and Livia. He is also very fond of his great-grandchildren, and practically every child in his family, except for Claudius.
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler:Claudius at the end knows that Agrippina will soon kill him, and he'll be succeeded by Nero, who will be a horrible ruler. He allowed all of this to happen because he believed that after Nero's tyranny, people will abolish monarchy and restore the republic. People familiar with Roman history know how that turned out, but Graves also tells the reader in an afterword; after Nero's death, a civil war broke out, eventually Vespasian became the emperor and the republic was never restored.]]
* TheDragon: Sejanus during most of Tiberius' reign, Macro during the latter part of that reign and the early part of Caligula's.
* DragonInChief: Sejanus seems to become this after [[spoiler:Agrippina's downfall]]. It doesn't last long.
* DreamCrushingHandicap: Claudius craves to serve his country, specially during the German war, but his disabilities cause Augustus and Tiberius to dismiss his requests out of hand.
* DrinkingContest: Flaccus, the Roman governor of Syria, is about to beat Tiberius in a drinking contest, but lets him win.
* DrivenToSuicide: Probably the main cause of death in the series. Many characters choose to kill themselves when they are accused of treason, knowing full well they'll be convicted and their properties will be seized by the State. By commiting suicide, they make sure their families are spared.
** There are also some cases when characters kill themselves out of genuine grief and desesperation, such as [[spoiler:Antonia's]] death in the first book and [[spoiler:Cypros']] in the second.
* DrowningMySorrows: After [[spoiler:Messalina]]'s downfall, Claudius begins drinking heavily. His freedmen take advantage of it, having [[spoiler:Messalina]] killed when he falls asleep.
* DyingDeclarationOfLove: [[spoiler:Herod Agrippa]]'s last letter to [[spoiler:Claudius]], written while he is in his deathbed, asures him that, in spite of having conspired against him, he still loved him dearly. ItMakesSenseInContext.
* EmergencyAuthority: [[spoiler:How Claudius becomes emperor: Caligula is murdered, and there is no other male adult member of the imperial family in Rome, so they proclaim him emperor]].
* TheEmpire: The Roman Empire itself. The Partian Empire also plays a minor role in the story.
* EmptyNest: Antonia asks Claudius to let her raise his daugher, also named Antonia, probably because all of her other grandchildren were already grown up.
* EnfantTerrible: Caligula's daughter, Julia Drusilla, is a savage little monster who kicks and tears at people with her nails and wishes she could kill her mother. She's also barely two years old.
** Caligula himself, when he was a child.
* EtTuBrute: Mentioned by Claudius when he's remembering Julius Caesar's murder.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: Averted. Tiberius loathes his mother Livia, and the only reason he probably doesn't have her killed is because he also fears her, since she still has a lot of spies and political influence. Caligula [[spoiler:befriends Tiberius after he has sentenced his mother Agrippina to prison, and never attemps to persuade him to release her or to improve the conditions of her imprisonment]]. But [[spoiler:Nero]] goes even farther, ordering the death of his mother [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]].
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Several villains have at least one person they care about.
** Tiberius loves his brother Drusus, his first wife Vispania, and if fond of his friends Thrasyllus and Nerva. He also had a genuinely cordial relationship with Augustus, until he forced him to divorce Vipsania.
** Caligula loves his wife Caesonia, his daughter, and his sister Drusilla ([[spoiler:although he's heavily implied to have killed her in a fit of rage]]).
** [[spoiler:Messalina]] and her mother [[spoiler:Domitia Lepida]] become estranged, but when [[spoiler:Messalina]]'s crimes are discovered and she's arrested, her mother is the only one who comes to see her and is at her side until the end.
** Livia implies she was truly fond of [[spoiler:her father. The fact that he was executed by Augustus is the main reason she doesn't feel guilty for having murdered him and several of his descendants]]. There's also her friendship with Urgulania.
* EvilCannotComprehendGood: Tiberius is convinced that Germanicus is planning to overthrow him, and just cannot fathom the idea that he's just as honest and loyal as he appears.
* EvilChancellor: Sejanus and Macro during Tiberius' and Caligula's reigns. To a lesser extent, Pallas during Claudius'.
* EvilIsPetty: At one point, Caligula wants to put [[spoiler:Claudius]] to death because he has a head full of hair and the Emperor is going bald. [[spoiler:Luckily, Claudius manages to talk himself out of it by pretending Caligula ordered to cut his '''hair''' instead of his head.]]
** [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]] orders the death of [[spoiler:Lollia]], partly for political reasons, but it's implied that she's also jealous of her beauty. She orders [[spoiler:Lollia]]'s severed head to be brought before her, and critizises her hair and teeth before disposing of it.
* EvilMatriarch: Livia [[spoiler:murders no less than 6 family members (including her husband, Emperor Augustus) in her scheme to set up her son as the next Emperor of Rome.]]
* EvilNephew: Caligula is this towards Claudius. His sisters Lesbia and Agrippinilla also treat him with contempt.
* EvilUncle: Tiberius is this towards practically all of his brother's descendants. [[spoiler:He has a hand in the deaths of his nephew Germanicus, his niece Livilla, his niece-in-law Agrippina, and his great-nephews Nero and Drusus]]; he's also quite malevolent towards Claudius, although he never threatens his life. Fittingly, he's [[spoiler:killed by his surviving great-nephew, Caligula]].
* ExcessiveMourning: After [[spoiler:Germanicus]]' death, the Roman people grieve for months. Tiberius issues a proclaim in which he (diplomatically) tells them to move on with their lives; however, it has little effect.
* TheExile: Several characters are sentenced to exile. Some of them get to come back to Rome, like Seneca and Agrippinilla, but most of them die abroad, due to the poor living conditions of the places they are sentenced to inhabit.
* FaceOfAnAngelMindOfADemon: Both Caligula and Nero are described as quite handsome (although Caligula goes bald when he becomes emperor). They are also complete monsters.
* FakingTheDead: Claudius wants to [[spoiler:fake Britannicus' death, in order to send him to exile in Britain during Nero's reign and have him return to Rome when the emperor is overthrown. Unfortunately, Britannicus stubbornly refuses]].
* FalseRapeAccusation: [[spoiler:Posthumus]] is exiled after he is accused of trying to rape [[spoiler:Livilla]], who was working with Livia to get rid of him.
* FamousLastWords: Julius Caesar's, Augustus' and [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]]'s historical final words are quoted.
* AFatherToHisMen: Drusus and Germanicus treat their troops like this.
* ForegoneConclusion: We are told at the start that Claudius is going to become Emperor. Nonetheless, the description of 60 years of Roman politics and intrigue leading up to this event manages to remain amazing and entertaining.
* TheGambler: Claudius gambles frequently, both at playing dice and in the horsetracks. He never seems to win or loose much, but on one occassion he has to send Germanicus a large sum of money and, since he has to keep it a secret, pretends to have lost it gambling.
* GeniusCripple: While not exactly brilliant, Claudius is a lot smarter than most people give him credit for.
* GodEmperor: Caligula claims to be a god after he goes mad.
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: A belief held in-universe by Romans, including Claudius himself, who discusses it in ''Claudius the God''. He explicitly states that if a god ceases to be worshipped he is nothing; he also states that, conversely, being worshipped is what makes one a god. This means that, according to Claudius, if a mortal can make others worship him or her and is worshipped genuinely, then he or she is a god and must be accepted as such.
-->''While Caligula was worshipped and believed in as a god he was indeed a supernatural being. Cassius Chaerea found it almost impossible [[spoiler:to kill him, because there was a certain divine awe about him, the result of the worship offered him from simple hearts, and the conspirators felt it themselves and hung back]]. Perhaps he would never have succeeded if [[spoiler:Caligula had not cursed himself with a divine premonition of assassination]].''
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: Livia is an interesting example. She uses the vilest means to obtain power, but she's also described as a very able and just ruler. Claudius loathes her because many of her victims, such as [[spoiler:Postumus]] and [[spoiler:Germanicus]], are his dearest friends, but admits her goverment was much better than Tiberius' and Caligula's.
** [[spoiler:Messalina]] and [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]], on the other hand, are straight examples of this.
* GoingNative: The Germans in the emperor's guard marry and have children with Roman women and, while claiming to feel nostalgia for their homeland, don't really want to leave Italy.
* GoodBadGirl: Julia, while being quite promiscuous, is portrayed simpathetically by Claudius. Firstly, [[spoiler:because she begins having affairs as a result of her husband Tiberius' coolness towards her and his own infidelities]]. Secondly, [[spoiler:because her enhanced sex-drive seems to have been caused by Livia, who tricks her into using Spanish fly, a potent aphrodisiac]]. Thirdly, because she has a good heart and is the only adult member of Claudius' family who treats him with affection.
* TheGoodChancellor: Agrippa and Maecenas during Augustus' reign, Narcissus and —for a few months— Herod Agrippa during Claudius'.
* GrandeDame: Antonia and several other Roman ladies.
* HairTriggerTemper: Caligula's mood swings make people around him constantly in fear for their lives.
* HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday: Claudius at one point discusses his distaste for how other men of the noble class take young men as lovers who are blatantly {{Gold Digger}}s. While this may come off as an WriterOnBoard by Graves, this is actually based on fact, as Claudius was one of the few Emperors who never had any male lovers, which was considered odd at the time and remarked upon by contemporaries.
* HeelFaceTurn: The legions under Scribonianus' comand decide not to rebel against Claudius.
** Castor undergoes a minor HFT after [[spoiler:Germanicus]]' death. While he wasn't entirely evil before, afterwards he becomes loyal to Agrippina and her children.
* HeKnowsTooMuch: [[spoiler:Martina]] is murdered so that she cannot testify against [[spoiler:Piso and Plancina]] in the trial for [[spoiler:Germanicus]]' murder.
* HeroicBSOD: After Augustus finds out about [[spoiler:Julia's debauchery]], he locks himself in his bedroom and remains there for four days without eating, drinking or talking to anyone.
** Claudius has a very similar reaction when they tell him the truth about [[spoiler:Messalina]].
* HiddenBackupPrince: [[spoiler:That's what Claudius plans to do with Britannicus during Nero's reign]].
* HighPriest: All emperors are this, since they also hold the office of Pontifex Maximus. Claudius takes advantage of it to introduce some changes in Roman religion.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: UsefulNotes/{{Caligula}}, UsefulNotes/{{Nero}}, Tiberius, Claudius,...
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Calpurnia, who was Claudius' partner for a while, and his friend for the rest of her life. Claudius expressed this in [[spoiler:the epitaph]] he wrote for her:
-->''"A harlot's love; a harlot's lie"'' -
-->''Cast that ancient proverb by''.
-->''Calpurnia's heart was cleaner far,''
-->''Roman matrons, than yours are.''
* HolyCity: The Jews believe the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. It becomes an important plot point because it leads [[spoiler:Herod Agrippa, who was born there, to believe '''he''' is the Messiah]].
* {{Hypocrite}}: The attentive reader will note that Claudius ends up making many of the same mistakes as Emperor he criticized others for making, including holding on to absolute power despite professing to want to restore the old Roman Republic. Of course, since he's the viewpoint character, [[UnreliableNarrator he has perfectly good and justifiable reasons]]. At the end of ''Claudius the God'', Claudius also realizes this.
* HumanSacrifice: The Druids sacrifice young men to their gods, something Claudius considers barbaric (altough, as a result of ValuesDissonance, he has no qualms abouth sacrificing animals to the Roman gods).
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Tropes I to M]]
* ICommaNoun: The book may be the UrExample.
* IdenticalGrandson: [[spoiler:Brittanicus, Claudius' son, is very similar both in looks and personality to Germanicus, Claudius' brother. For a time that leads Claudius to suspect that Caligula, Germanicus' son, was Brittanicus' real father]].
** Nero, who is undoubtfully Germanicus' grandson, also looks a lot like him, and the contrast between his handsome appearance and his corrupt personality greatly upsets Claudius.
* IllegalReligion: Several religious cults are banned in Rome and other parts of the Empire, including Christianity and Druidism.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Tiberius' friend, Cocceius Nerva is described by Claudius as an example: he "never made an enemy and never lost a friend" and he was "sweet-tempered, generous, courageous, utterly truthful and was never known to stoop to the least fraud, even if good promised to come from so doing". Nerva, however, does not protest Tiberius' depravity, because he's just too innocent and absent-minded to notice it.
* InfantImmortality: Averted many, many times. [[spoiler:Drusillus, Sejanus' children, Gemellus, Caligula's daughter]] and several other children are murdered.
* InTheBlood: Claudius discusses how, in its long history, there have been two types of people in his family: [[TheWisePrince those who are exceptionally wise and just]], and [[TheEvilPrince those who are vile, decadent cutthroats]].
* InsultToRocks: Claudius' mother, Antonia, manages to make this one do double duty, by finding something a moment later that she thinks is a sufficiently insulting comparison.
-->'''Antonia''' : That man [a senator] ought to be put out of the way! He's as stupid as a donkey—what am I saying? Donkeys are sensible beings by comparison—he's as stupid as... as... Heavens, he's as stupid as my son Claudius!
* InVinoVeritas: Invoked twice. First, when Claudius has dinner with [[spoiler:Livia]], he drinks too many cups of wine and speaks to her with brutal honesty. She's actually pleased, and mentions this trope by name.
** Later, when Claudius becomes emperor, Herod Agrippa and him get drunk together. Herod advises him not to trust anyone, including himself. [[spoiler:In the end, Herod betrays Claudius, trying of organize an uprising againts Rome]].
* ItsAllAboutMe: In his last years Tiberius feels sorry for '''himself''' after having murdered [[spoiler:Sejanus, Agrippina]] and countless other people.
* ItWillNeverCatchOn: Claudius makes a few mentions of this weird new cult called "the Christians", and is happy to say that he probably won't be troubled by them again.
* JerkassHasAPoint: or ''Pompous Sycophant Has A Point''. A translation of Seneca the Younger's ''The Pumpkinication of Claudius'' is included in the epilogue. While Seneca spends a lot of time mocking Claudius' disabilities and praising Nero shamelessly, he also skewers Claudius on his genuine faults.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Herod Agrippa, whom Claudius describes in ''Claudius the God'' as "a scoundrel with a golden heart."
* {{Jesus}}: A version of Jesus Christ's life is told by Herod Agrippa in a letter to Claudius. Herod considers Jesus to have been a fraud and persecutes his followers, so his view of Jesus's story is somewhat unreliable.
* JustTheFirstCitizen: Augustus, who was the TropeNamer in real life.
* KangarooCourt: During Tiberius and Caligula's reigns almost every treason trial is this, and the Roman justice system becomes more and more corrupt as time goes by. Claudius tries to change things when he becomes Emperor, but several innocent people are executed during his reing nonetheless.
* KingIncognito: After his Triumph, Claudius disguises himself as a commoner and walks the streets of Rome to listen to what his subjects really think of him.
* KingOnHisDeathbed: Augustus and Tiberius, at the end of their reigns. [[spoiler:Caligula is so impatient to become emperor he has Tiberius smothered with a pillow.]]
* KissingCousins: Almost every marriage in the imperial family is between cousins: Julia and Marcellus, Agrippina and Germanicus, Castor and Livilla, Nero and Helen, Claudius and Messalina, etc.
* KlingonPromotion: The early Roman Empire is depicted this way, albeit with the murders carried out by proxy rather than in person. [[spoiler:Livia, after killing everyone higher up the line of succession, poisons Augustus so Tiberius can succeed him; Caligula succeeds by having Tiberius smothered; and at the end Agrippina poisons Claudius to clear the way for Nero. The only Emperor who doesn't succeed this way is Claudius himself, who had nothing to do with Caligula's murder. (Historically, it's doubtful if Augustus and Tiberius were murdered, though Claudius probably was.)]]
** [[spoiler:Macro]] becomes commander of the Pretorian Guard after having his predecessor, [[spoiler:Sejanus]], executed.
* LadyMacbeth: Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus and the Manipulative Bitch who essentially becomes the Woman Behind The Man by killing all the people that he won't to ensure that her descendants inherit the empire. Clearly one of the bad Claudians.
* LastMinuteReprieve: Averted. [[spoiler:When Tiberius dies, several people have been sentenced to death by him. They hope the new emperor Caligula might pardon them, but they can't reach to him in time and end up executed]].
* TheLoinsSleepTonight: Augustus was apparently incapable of sustaining an erection with Livia, something she uses to her advantage.
* LonelyFuneral: [[spoiler:Antonia]]'s funeral is only attended by Claudius, Herod Agrippa and a handful more. This is because no one dares to offend Caligula, who drove her to suicide.
* LongGame: Claudius writes and buries his memoirs for the specific purpose of having them discovered "nineteen hundred years or near" later, as the Sybil said they would be.
* LongHairedPrettyBoy: Nero is disdainfully described like this by Claudius.
* LoopholeAbuse: When Sejanus and his supporters [[spoiler:are being eliminated, guards are sent to kill his young children as well. [[EvenEvilHasStandards They're understandably reluctant to do so,]] and one of them even protests that the daughter is underage and a virgin; executing a virgin is unprecedented and could bring bad luck on the city. Macro's solution? Rape her, ''then'' kill her. Her brother is also underage, but they dress him up in his coming of age robes so he's legally a man - then they kill him too.]] As is the case with most of the stuff in these books, sadly TruthInTelevision.
* TheLostLenore: [[spoiler:Claudius' first love was a girl named Camilla who returned his affection. Unfortunately on the day they were to be betrothed, she was fatally poisoned (apparently as a RevengebyProxy against her uncle, but heavily implied to have been killed by Livia, so that she can have Claudius betrothed to another girl) and poor Claudius clearly never recovered emotionally from it.]]
** Tiberius feels this way about his first wife, Vipsania. In this case, however, she didn't die: Tiberius was forced by Livia to divorce her so that he could make a more advantageous match by marrying Augustus' daughter Julia. Making things worse, Vipsania goes on to marry another man, who is a political rival to Tiberius.
* LoveableRogue: Herod Agrippa.
* LoveInterestTraitor: [[spoiler:Messalina]] ends up being this to [[spoiler:Claudius]], eventually trying to overthrow him and put his lover on the throne.
* LuredIntoATrap: A sealed letter from Tiberius arrives to Rome, and [[spoiler:Sejanus is led to believe it contains his appointment for a high office. He goes to a Senate meeting were the letter will be opened and read out loud. But instead of the appointment, the letter orders Sejanus' arrest, and he is seized on the spot by the Pretorian Guard]].
* MadOracle: The Sybil.
* MakeAnExampleOfThem: Many people executed for treason are dragged by a hook and thrown to the river Tiber.
* MamasBabyPapasMaybe: Several cases.
** Brutus, Julius Caesar's murdered, is claimed to be his biological son.
** Urgulanilla, Claudius' first wife, is believed to be Tiberius' daugher.
** Livia says Julia isn't really Augustus' daugher, although this is probably false.
** [[spoiler:Gemellus, Castor and Livilla's son and Tiberius' grandson, is revealed to actually be the child of Livilla's lover, Sejanus]].
** [[spoiler:After Claudius finds out how many times Messalina cheated on him, he starts doubting whether he's the real father of their kids. He comes to the conclusion that Britannicus is his child, but Octavia isn't]].
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: The books are mostly straightforward and realistic, but there are a few suspiciously accurate prophecies regarding the fates of the emperors that are difficult to explain away as coincidence.
* MenAreTheExpendableGender: This trope is invoked and defied by Claudius, who sentences several women involved in conspiracies against him to death, saying there's no reason why their gender should protect them.
* MockMillionaire: One of the ways in which Herod manages to constantly get loans is to pretend to be wealthier than he really is; he knows that people will be more willing to lend him money if they thinks he's rich enought to pay them back.
* MoralityChain: Vipsania and Drusus to Tiberius early on in the story; Claudius notes that initially their influence checked the worse elements of his nature, but as he was forced to divorce Vipsania and Drusus was sent on a military campaign to a different part of the empire, their influence on Tiberius was removed and he gradually went altogether to the bad ([[spoiler:especially after the two died]]). Later, and to a lesser degree, Cocceius Nerva to Tiberius. Caesonia tries to be this to Caligula, advising him to rule mildly and earn people's love. [[spoiler:Unfortunately, this only makes Caligula announce that he will grant everyone amnesty and rule with love for a thousand of years, but only after purging Senate]].
* MoralityPet: Tiberius is portrayed as a pedophile who murders most of his relatives and a good chunk of the senate but for some reason he insists on having an innocent and virtuous senator Cocceius Nerva live with him in his Evil Playboy Mansion on Capri. It helps that Nerva seems to be the only real friend Tiberius had since the death of his brother Drusus and that he is possibly the only person in the empire who believes Tiberius to be just and moral, as Tiberius can't bring himself to disillusion him. [[spoiler:When the senator decides to commit suicide Tiberius is distraught, and actually goes so far as to tear up some death warrants in the hope that this will convince the senator to live on.]]
* MotherMakesYouKing: Tiberius only becomes Emperor because his mother Livia has been very active in removing any inconvenient competitors for the succession that might stand in his way. [[spoiler:And Agrippinilla clearly has the same designs in mind for her son Nero at the end of the story.]]
* TheMutiny: At the beginning of Tiberius' reign, several legions in Germany and the Balcans rebel against the new Emperor. Germanicus and Castor are sent to quell the uprising.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Antonia, Claudius' mother, realizes she's been an awful parent shortly before [[spoiler:commiting suicide, when it's too late to change things between them. Even after admitting this to Claudius, she keeps nagging him.]]
** Claudius has a major one after [[spoiler:Messalina's downfall, when he realizes that his competent rule has strenghtened the imperial monarchy, making it impossible to restore the Republic]].
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Tropes N to P]]
* NeverSpeakIllOfTheDead: While Claudius is perfectly aware of his three predecessors' crimes and mistakes, he decides not to mention them in his official autobiography. He also declines to take any action against [[spoiler:Caligula]]'s memory, such as declaring the day of his death a national holiday.
* NeverSuicide: [[spoiler:Piso]]'s death is staged as a suicide by [[spoiler:his wife, Plancina]], who in fact murdered him.
* NoHeroToHisValet: Silas has this type of relationship with Herod Agrippa. It's PlayedForLaughs at first, but when Herod becomes king and Silas disrespects him in public, he ends up [[spoiler:imprisioned and murdered]].
* NoMrBondIExpectYouToDine: Claudius' dinner with [[spoiler:Livia]] has shades of this, although Claudius isn't [[spoiler:Livia]]'s prisioner.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: When Claudius' [[spoiler:former lover and logtime friend Calpurnia]], dies, he writes an epigraph for her. This is the only poem he ever wrote in his life, apart from school assigments. He explains that he wanted to do something exceptional to show the depth of his grief.
* ObfuscatingDisability[=/=]ObfuscatingStupidity:
-->'''Pollio''': Do you want to live a long and busy life, with honor at the end of it?\\
'''Claudius''': Yes.\\
'''Pollio''': Then exaggerate your limp, stammer deliberately, sham sickness frequently, let your wits wander, jerk your head and twitch with your hands on all public or semi-public occasions. If you could see as much as I see, you would know that this was your only hope of eventual glory.
* OddFriendship: Antonia, who is an very traditional and virtuous Roman matron, is fond of LovableRogue Herod Agrippa, and greatly enjoys listening to his stories. She even lends him money from time to time.
** Up to a certain point, Herod's friendship with Claudius is this.
* OffingTheOffspring: [[EvilMatriarch Livia]] poisoned [[spoiler:her husband, grandson, and everyone else who got in her way. She also arranged the death of her son Drusus, who was politically opposed to her (although she claims in the end he actually died of natural causes).]]
** [[spoiler:Antonia]] is forced to have her own daughter [[spoiler:Livilla]] killed. [[spoiler:She chooses to lock her in a room and starve her to death]].
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Many of the characters are only known by their nicknames (for example, "Caligula" and "Castor"). Roman naming customs were very unimaginative, so several people might have identical or almost-identical names; nicknames made it much easier than trying to figure out which of the eight or nine "Drusus"es someone might be talking about. The narrator will usually mention the real name before telling you that that guy will just be known as "Castor" from then on.
* OutlivingOnesOffspring: It happens to several characters, but the one who takes it harder is [[spoiler:Antonia, Claudius' mother, whose elder son Germanicus and only daughter Livilla both die before her (in Livilla's case, starved to death by Antonia herself as punishment for her crimes). Several of Antonia's grandchildren are also dead by the time she passes away.]]
* OutWithABang: Apparently, this is how [[spoiler:Pompey, Claudius' son-in-law]] and his male lover die, being killed while having sex.
* OverlordJr: Caligula is this to Tiberius, although he's only Tiberius' adoptive son (and grandnephew).
* ThePardon: Caligula pardons Herod Agrippa, who had been imprisoned for treason by Tiberius. Later Claudius pardons his nieces Agrippinilla and Lesbia, allowing them to return from exile. Seneca is pardoned by Claudius not once but twice: first, when he becomes emperor, and recalls several people sentenced to exile by Caligula. Shortly after, Claudius discovers Seneca is commiting adultery with nis niece Lesbia and exiles him again. Years later, [[spoiler:he decides to recall him from exile to make him Nero's tutor]].
* ParentalFavoritism: Antonia favors Germanicus and Livilla over Claudius. Later she comes to regret it, and considers [[spoiler:their deaths a divine punishment for her mistreatment of Claudius]].
** Antonia (Claudius' eldest daughter) thinks he loves Britannicus and Octavia more than her, because she's the daughter of Claudius' second, loveless, marriage, and they are the children of Messalina, who Claudius is very much in love with. Claudius manages to convince her she's wrong.
* ParentalIncest: Caligula claims his mother Agrippina was the result of an incestuous affait between Augustus and his daugher Julia. This is almost certainly a lie: Caligula dislikes the fact that his maternal grandfather Agrippa was a man of low birth, so he wants to erase him from his family tree.
* ParentalNeglect: Agrippinilla acts this way toward her son Nero, allowing him to be raised by his aunt and her lovers. Claudius forces her to finish raising him herself.
* ParentsWalkInAtTheWorstTime: Antonia discovers [[spoiler:her pre-adolescent grandchildren Caligula and Drusilla comitting incest, and threatens to report this to Tiberius]], but Claudius manages to convince her to keep their secret.
* PassFail: In ''Claudius the God'', a lawyer who has pled cases in front of Claudius and his predecessors for decades is unmasked as a slave by one of Claudius's friends, who pulls aside the lawyer's toga to expose his brand.
* PerfectlyArrangedMarriage: Drusus and Antonia's, Tiberius and Vipsania's, Germanicus and Agrippina's and Cypros and Herod Agrippa's arranged marriages are very happy. However, they are the exception to the rule.
** [[spoiler:Messalina]]'s marriage to [[spoiler:Claudius]] '''seems''' to be this, until she shows her true colors.
* PleaseShootTheMessenger: Caligula, in a non-fatal version, punishes someone who's annoyed him by sending him with a letter to the King of Morocco. The letter says, "Kindly send bearer back to Rome."
* PleaseSpareHimMyLiege: Messalina convinces Claudius to spare the life of a defeated German gladiator. [[spoiler:Later, Claudius comes to suspect she wanted to take him as her lover, and that he's the real father of his youngest daughter Octavia]].
* PlotTriggeringDeath: Julius Caesar's is this, since his murder brings his nephew and adoptive son Octavian/Augustus to the center of the political stage.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: This is what Claudius is forced to write during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius. His 3 works of the time are a history of Augustus' religious reforms, in which he carefully avoids to point out some mistaked made by the emperor's advisors on the matter, and two books about the history of Carthage and Etruria, both of them being uncontroversial topics by the time he wrote them. Nevertheless, he is quite proud of his works.
** He also claims his official autobiography, written after he becomes emperor, is this. He can't legally critizise Augustus and Livia because they have been deified, and he considers it would be unfair to critizise Tiberius and Caligula while not pointing out the faults of their predecesors.
* PosthumousCharacter: Julius Caesar, Octavia, Anthony, Claudius' paternal grandfather, and many others have a lot of bearing in the plot but are dead by the time the protagonist is born. His father also counts as this, since he dies when Claudius is only a baby.
* PrematurelyBald: Caligula loses his hair before he turns 30. His grandmother Julia, Augustus' daughter, also goes bald when she's only an teenager, although Claudius speculates it might have been Livia's doing.
* PromotionToParent: After his father's death, Germanicus becomes the head of his family (''pater familias''), and acts as a sort of father figure to his younger brother Claudius.
* PropheciesAreAlwaysRight: In ''Claudius the God'', Claudius is told by Messalina that a prophecy says that [[spoiler:her husband is going to die in a month. For this reason they divorce and she marries another man. When Claudius realises that it was a plot against him, he sentences that man to death. Other prophecies also are true.]]
* PropheciesRhymeAllTheTime: Early on, we see two Sibylline prophecies that hint of Claudius's rule. Both prophecies rhyme, though that wasn't a typical feature of Greek or Latin poetry (or prophecy). Arguably it's TranslationConvention, translating Greek verse (which was based on patterns of long and short syllables) into an equivalent English poetic form (based on stressed syllables and rhyme).
* ProphecyTwist: Claudius reveals early on that he had learned of a prophesy that describes his predecessors and himself, and speaks of his successor as [[InadequateInheritor horrible]], and the last. Claudius interprets this to mean that [[spoiler:his successor will be Rome's last Emperor, and that after him, the Republic will be restored, which is why he allows the horrible Nero to be his successor. However, the prophesy actually means ([[DramaticIrony as the audience knows but Claudius doesn't]]) that Nero will be the last Julio-Claudian Emperor (but will of course have numerous successors).]]
** Caligula is told to beware of "Cassius". He interprets this as a warning againts his brother-in-law Cassius Longinus. [[spoiler:In the end, he's killed by Cassius '''Chaerea''']].
** Tiberius is told that in ten years, "Tiberius Caesar" will still be emperor. He interprets it as a reassurance that he has ten more years to live and reign. [[spoiler:He dies not long after that, and the prophecy is fulfilled by his nephew Claudius, whose first name is also Tiberius and who takes the surname Caesar when he becomes emperor]].
* PublicExecution: Subverted. People are executed in private, but their bodies are desecrated in public.
* PuppetKing: [[spoiler:Claudius]] chooses to become this after [[spoiler:the fall of Messalina]].
* PyrrhicVillainy: Several cases.
** Livia manages to put her son Tiberius on the throne, but he loathes her, and eventually strips her of almost all political influence.
** Sejanus and Livilla [[spoiler:achieve their goal of getting rid of Agrippina and her children, but after years of fueling Tiberius' paranoia, the emperor is quick to realise Sejanus has grown too powerful (and therefore, dangerous), and after a timely warning from Antonia, has him killed.]]
** Macro helps Caligula get the throne by [[spoiler:murdering Tiberius. Not long after he becomes emperor, Caligula goes mad and puts Macro to death]].
** [[spoiler:Agripinilla gets to see her son Nero become emperor. A few years later, Nero orders her death]].
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Tropes R to T]]
* RainDance: In ''Claudius the God'', a Roman commander whose troops are lost in the desert follows his native guide's advice to invoke the local rain god. It works.
* RaisedByGrandparents: After her parents' divorce, Antonia, Claudius' daughter, is raised by her namesake Antonia, Claudius' mother.
* ReallyGetsAround: [[spoiler:Julia]] and [[spoiler:Messalina]], the latter taking it to absurd levels. Narcissus compiles a list of people she slept with while married to [[spoiler:Claudius]]. The first draft contains 54 names, but it's later extended to 155.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Augustus, Germanicus and Claudius. Tiberius begins his reign as this, but becomes more and more depraved as time goes by.
* RedLightDistrict: During Caligula's Triumph, the soldiers sack the Roman neighborhood were most of the brothels are located.
* ReluctantRuler: Claudius is not willing to become emperor, and he only accepts when he's told [[spoiler:his wife Messalina and his unborn child will be in danger if he refuses]].
** Tiberius pretends to be this when the Senate offers him the throne after Augustus' death.
* RemarryingForYourKids: After [[spoiler:Messalina's death, Claudius brings up the subject of his young children Brittanicus and Octavia, who have been left without a mother. His friend Vitellius suggests him to remarry for their sake, and when he doesn't reject the idea, his freedmen inmediately start looking for a new prospective wife]].
* RememberTheNewGuy: Herod Agrippa gets a brief mention at the very end of ''I, Claudius'', where he saves the audience of the Palatine Hill theatre from Caligula's German guards after the latter's death, and becomes one of the main characters in ''Claudius the God'', where it is revealed that he was in fact present during many of the events of ''I, Claudius'' but was not mentioned there. Claudius lampshades this in the introduction to ''Claudius the God'', and handwaves this by stating that Herod ultimately wasn't that important character in the story until the death of Caligula.
* RestrainedRevenge: When Claudius becomes emperor, he finds the records of the trial of [[spoiler:Agrippina:his sister-in-law Agrippina and his nephews Nero and Drusus]], in which the names of those who testified against them are written. Instead of having them killed or exiled, Claudius summons the witnesses to palace, has them read their false testimonies and then burn them with their own hands.
* RevengeByProxy: After [[spoiler:Sejanus]]' downfall, his three innocent children are executed as well.
** Also, after [[spoiler:Herod Agrippa]]'s death, his two young daughters are raped by a mob.
** [[spoiler:Camilla, Claudius' young betrothed]], is poisoned by an unknown woman. Livia claims her murder was a vengeance against the girl's uncle, but it is hinted that [[spoiler:Livia herself might have been behind it]].
* RomancingTheWidow: After Claudius' father's death, Flaccus tries to marry his widow, Antonia. While Antonia is fond of him, she thinks they are BetterAsFriends.
* RousingSpeech:
** Parodied in ''I, Claudius'', where Claudius meets historians Livy and Pollio. Pollio criticizes Livy for writing that generals gave rousing speeches before battles, and tells that [[Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar Julius Caesar]] before the decisive battle with UsefulNotes/{{Pompey}} (where Pollio was present) didn't do anything of the sort; instead, he did funny skits involving a radish.
** In ''Claudius the God'', Claudius gives a similar speech before an important battle in Britain (without a radish though).
* RoyalInbreeding: The Julio-Claudians practice this.
* RoyallyScrewedUp: The Julio-Claudians.
* RulingCouple: Augustus and Livia. Germanicus/Agrippina and Sejanus/Livilla have shades of this trope, although they never end up becoming Emperor and Empress. Claudius gives both Messalina [[spoiler:and Agrippinilla]] a high degree of political influence, although neither gets to become as powerful as Livia.
* SadistTeacher: Cato, Claudius' first tutor.
* SafeSaneAndConsensual: [[spoiler:Mnester]] claims he was coerced into having affair with [[spoiler:Messalina]], and shows the marks of the whip on his back as proof, but Narcissus points out that the scars are not deep enough, meaning they are the result of consensual UsefulNotes/{{BDSM}}. [[spoiler:Mnester]] is then sentenced to death for his adultery [[spoiler:with the emperor's wife]].
* ScarpiaUltimatum: Tiberius favourite M.O. He forces the wives, daughters and sons of senators to have sex with him, threatening to have their loved ones charged with treason and executed. On one occasion he sets his eyes on the daughter of a senator; the senator's wife offers herself in her daughter's stead, and after the ordeal, she kills herself.
* ScrewDestiny: [[spoiler:Britannicus is told that Nero will become emperor, and that it will inevitably lead to his death if he stays in Rome, but he wants to prevent it, and insists that Claudius allow him to legally become an adult in order to face Agripinilla and Nero. Claudius indulges him, fully knowing that Britannicus won't be able to prevail.]]
* {{Seppuku}}: What Roman Generals (like Quinctilius Varus of the "WHERE ARE MY EAGLES!" fame) were expected to do after losing battles. Another form of ritual suicide (by opening a vein) was also available to people facing political disgrace, or to people who had simply grown tired of life. In general, an honorable death-by-suicide could save everyone a lot of trouble--for example, a condemned traitor would usually forfeit his property, leaving his family destitute. (Of course, when doing this, it's always handy to have one's treacherous wife standing by to gut-stab you should you chicken out at the last minute...)
** FaceDeathWithDignity: When Claudius's freedman tricks him into signing [[spoiler:Messalina's death-warrant, they make sure to offer Messalina a dagger--to take the honourable way out--in the hopes that they won't have to show the warrant to Claudius. Messalina, however, is too much of a coward to kill herself, so she ends up executed. Similarly, when Augustus banishes his daughter Julia for adultery, Julia accepts exile but her maid Phoebe hangs herself in disgrace; Augustus bitterly comments, "I wish to God I had been Phoebe's father."]]
* ShamingTheMob: Germanicus uses this to put down the mutiny of his troops on the Rhine.
* SexlessMarriage: Claudius and [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]]. Since he only married her for political reasons and actually loathes her, he tells her right away that there won't be any intimacy between them. [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]] doesn't mind.
** Claudius' second marriage to Elia, Sejanus' sister, remains unconsumated for several years, until she realizes Sejanus' political position is becoming less secure and allows Claudius to impregnate her; she believes, correctly, that being the mother of Tiberius' nephew's child will protect her if Sejanus falls.
** After a few years of normal married life, [[spoiler:Messalina manipulates Claudius into allowing her to sleep in a separate bedroom and stop having sex altogether, convincing her she's asexual. It's all a lie: she just wants freedom to take as many lovers as she wants]].
** Claudius also alleges that Augustus and Livia were this, with Augustus being impotent when he wanted to be intimate with Livia out of guilt that he had in effect stolen her from her first husband (which in reality was Livia's idea). To compensate Livia covertly gives him young women to satisfy him instead.
* SexualExtortion: One of Caligula's more nefarious hobbies is forcing himself upon other men's wives and daughters by threatening to have their husbands and fathers executed if they don't submit.
** [[spoiler:Messalina]] tries to pull this off with [[spoiler:Appius Silanus]], but it doesn't work.
* ShaggyDogStory: [[spoiler:Herod Agrippa]]'s secret plot to rebel against the Roman Empire comes to naught with his abrupt death.
** The same can be said about [[spoiler:Claudius' plan to save Britannicus life during Nero's reign, and to have the Republic restored. Britannicus refuses to go along, and even if he had, it's doubtful he would have been able to succesfully return to Rome and re-establish the republican system in the crisis of 68]].
* SharedFamilyQuirks: Claudius claims that fondness for pets is a family trait, citing Augustus' favourite dog, Tiberius' "dragon without wings" (probably a Komodo dragon), Caligula's horse Incitatus, and several others.
* ShooOutTheClowns: Implied to happen at the very end of ''Claudius the God''. The clowns in question are minor characters Augurinus and Baba, two guys who made a living giving theatricals in the back streets of the Rome where they parodied Claudius and his wives. Claudius forbids [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]] from having them killed, stating that so long as he lives their lives are to be spared; [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]] agrees to let them live only exactly so long, to the very hour. [[spoiler: Seneca's "The Pumpkinication of Claudius" mentions Claudius and some Augurinus and Baba dying "in the same year quite close to each other"; and their deaths are implied to be first sign of Agrippinilla's and Nero's tyranny being completely unrestrained after the death of Claudius.]]
* ShownTheirWork: Graves translated many classical works into English, including one of the major sources for the life of Claudius. Much of the novel's material can be traced to Roman authors such as Suetonius and Tacitus, and the prose style deliberately invokes the style of something that has been translated faithfully from Latin.
* SiblingRivalry: Drusus, Germanicus' second son, is jealous of Nero, his older brother (not to be confused with the future emperor).
** Averted with Germanicus himself and his first cousin and adoptive brother Castor. Even though there were many reasons for them to be politically opposed, they are on very friendly terms.
* SlippingAMickey: Claudius is informed some of his soldiers want to wreak havoc in Rome after his Triumph, just like they had done after Caligula's. Instead of confronting them and risking bloodshed, he gives them drugged wine with the instructions to drink it only after the parade. The soldiers end up sleeping for hours, waking up only after the Triumph celebrations are over, and Claudius manages to avoid trouble.
* SonOfAWhore: Calpurnia is not only a prostitute, but the daughter of a prostitute.
* SoProudOfYou: After completing his conquest of Britain, Claudius has a dream in which his beloved brother Germanicus tell him how proud he is.
* SpareToTheThrone: Claudius is ''very'' far down the Imperial line of succession. No one expects him to really amount to anything.
* SpeechImpediment: Claudius' stammer, which is caused mostly by stress. When he becomes emperor, it almost dissapears.
* TheStarscream: Sejanus and Livilla want to overthow Tiberius. [[spoiler:Unfortunately for them, Tiberius gets wind of this and decides to strike first]].
* StoppedCaring: Claudius gives this impression after [[spoiler:Messalina dies. He makes little effort to reign in Agrippinilla and Nero, actually doing his best to make the latter worse, and doesn't avenge Calpurnia when she's murdered. When his work on the Fucine lake comes crashing down, he finds it hilarious. He actually still cares about the future of the Empire; his plan is to let Agrippinilla and Nero destroy everything he built to make the people realize that monarchy is bad]]. To be able to bear that, he has to take a stoic attitude to things. As he writes:
-->Yet I am, I must remember, Old King Log.\\
I shall float inertly in the stagnant pool.\\
Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.
* StutterStop: The young Claudius occasionally breaks through his stutter at emotionally intense moments. Later, after training himself out of his stutter (but still keeping it in public as part of his ObfuscatingDisability) he is able to invoke the trope at will.
* SuicideIsPainless: [[spoiler:Cocceius Nerva]] decides that he had lived enough, so he simply stops eating and eventually dies.
* SuccessfulSiblingSyndrome: Claudius' bother Germanicus is far more succesful and popular than him. Claudius doesn't resent him for that.
* TakeAThirdOption: [[spoiler:Messalina tries to seduce her stepfather, Appius Silanus. When Appius refuses, she threatens to have him executed by Claudius. Instead of giving in and sleeping with her, or keep refusing and end up possibly accused of treason by Messalina, he decides to assassinate Claudius (and fails)]].
* TakingTheKids: Claudius' grandfather threatens Livia to divorce her and have sole custody of their sons (something Roman law allowed) if she keeps trying to convince him to restore the monarchy.
* TakingYouWithMe: Invoked by one of the men involved in Scribonianus' failed rebellion against Claudius who, after being sentenced to death, accuses the commander of the Praetorian Guard of being part of the plot. The commander is found guilty and dies with the other conspirators.
* TamperingWithFoodAndDrink: Livia's preferred M.O. for removing inconvenient obstacles is to taint their food with a slow-acting poison to bring on what looks like a sudden illness, then continue administering the poison through the victim's doctors in the guise of treatment until they die.
* TangledFamilyTree: An example of TruthInTelevision; the convoluted relationships (both through blood and through marriage -- not to mention adoption) between all the Julio-Claudians are extremely complex. Claudius devotes the better part of a chapter to helping the reader untangle his relations.
* TellMeAboutMyFather: In his youth, Claudius speaks to a lot of people who knew his father, trying to gather enough material to write his biography. One of them hints that [[spoiler:Livia was involved in his death; shortly after that, Livia herself stops Claudius from finishing his work, making him suspect she really did kill him]].
* ThanatosGambit: Claudius lets [[spoiler:Nero succeed him, despite knowing that he's a horrible person, because he believes that Nero's cruelty will be so shocking that the Romans will depose him and finally restore the Republic of their own free will.]] [[DramaticIrony As we know with the benefit of hindsight, this doesn't work.]]
* TheUnFavorite: Claudius is this both to his own mother and to the whole imperial family.
* TheTeetotaler: In his last years, Tiberius' bad health forces him to stop drinking, something that puts him in a even fouler mood.
* ThickerThanWater: Thoroughly averted. Almost every character ends up betraying and/or killing a family member. Even Claudius has [[spoiler:two of his nieces]] put to death for conspiring against him.
* ThisIsUnforgivable: After Claudius hears what happened to [[spoiler:Sejanus' children]] (see LoopholeAbuse) he says to himself: "Rome, you are ruined; there can be no expiation for a crime so horrible."
* TreacherousAdvisor: Hermann is this to Varus, before leading the German tribes in open rebellion.
** Sejanus to Gaius.
** Practically all of Claudius' freedmen, except for Narcissus.
* {{Tyrannicide}}: Caligula's death, although the larger plot to restore the Republic after his death fails.
[[/folder]]
[[folder:Tropes U to Z]]
* UglyGuyHotWife:
** Claudius and Messalina. [[spoiler:It doesn't work out well; Messalina is able to manipulate Claudius while cheating on him with just about everyone]].
** Claudius and [[spoiler:Agrippinilla as well, though she isn't the beauty she once was by the time they get married]].
* UndignifiedDeath: [[spoiler:Lupus]], one of the guards sentenced for the murder of [[spoiler:Caligula]] and his family, is shivering with cold and fear before his execution.
** [[spoiler:Messalina]]'s counts as this, at least InUniverse, since she is too afraid to kill herself when told she's been sentenced to death.
* UnnamedParent: The names of Claudius' parents are stated a couple of times, but he mostly refers to them as "my father" and "my mother". He also only refers to his paternal grandfather as "my grandfather".
* UnreliableNarrator: Claudius admits that he's not aiming to write an objective account and is including a good bit of his own personal speculation.
* UnwantedSpouse: Claudius and his first wife Urgulanilla, though he says that there's so little feeling between them that he can't even say they were unhappy with each other. When he announces he's divorcing her out of suspicion that she [[spoiler:had her brother's second wife killed and because she had a child with a slave]] she doesn't contest the charges when presented with them. Ironically of all his wives she's the only one who never treats him harshly or tries to manipulate him for her own gain, and outright states in her will that he is not an idiot like everyone else thinks. It's also safe to say that he bears her no ill will either, going out of his way to spare [[spoiler:the child she had with her slave by swapping it with a stillborn baby's body rather than expose it as was his right by law as her slighted husband]].
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans:
** Livia justifies all her murders and deceit with claiming that they were necessary for the good of the state.
** Claudius at the end organizes [[spoiler:Nero to be his successor, fully knowing that he'll be the worst ruler imaginable. He does that because he believes that after this, people will finally realize that monarchy is wrong and restore the republic.]] He writes in his meditations:
--->By dulling the blade of tyranny I fell into great error.\\
By whetting the same blade I might redeem that error.\\
Violent disorders call for violent remedies.
* TheVamp: [[spoiler:Messalina uses her beauty to manipulate Gaius Silius into organizing a coup against Claudius]].
* VillainousIncest: Caligula with his sisters and later Agrippinilla with her son Nero.
** Somewhat averted with [[spoiler:Agrippinilla]]'s marriage to [[spoiler:Claudius]], her paternal uncle. While their union is clearly incestuous, the marriage is merely a political alliance and is never phisically consumated.
* VillainsOutShopping: ''I, Claudius'' has a scene where Tiberius takes a break from depravities and ordering executions to compose a verse-dialogue between the hare and the pheasant, in which they argue which one of them makes for a better meal. [[spoiler:Unfortunately, he is then surprised by a fisherman who decided to visit him on Capri and present him a large barbel he had caught; Tiberius has the poor man brutally maimed and then killed, due to a misunderstanding. Livia had given him a false warning to beware of barbel, knowing that it was a favorite dish of his, in order to both feed his paranoia and torment him with the idea that his favorite foods might be tainted. When the hapless fisherman appeared, fish in hand, to offer it to Tiberius, the emperor thought it was an assassination attempt and ordered his guards to protect him from an assailant.]]
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: Livia manages to have a relatively good public image during Augustus' reign, although she's correctly blamed for many of her evil deeds. Later Caligula becomes this, during the first months of his reign.
* VitriolicBestBuds: The historians Livy and Pollio. For example, when they first meet the young Claudius in a library, Livy asks what is he reading. Pollio comments that it's probably some romantic rubbish, since today's youth reads nothing but trash. Livy makes a bet with him that it isn't. When Claudius reveals that he's reading a historical work by Pollio, Livy insists that Pollio won the bet: today's youth reads nothing but trash.
* WarriorPrince: Augustus and, specially, Tiberius had distinguished military careers before becoming emperors. Caligula tries to become this, but fails both due to his madness and cowardice. Claudius manages to do it successfully in his conquest of Britain.
* WickedCultured: Tiberius is well versed in astrology, poetry and mithology. Livia knows enough history to point out an erroneous reference during a conversation with Claudius (who's a professional historian).
* WickedStepmother: Livia is a textbook example of this in her treatment of Julia (Augustus' daughter from a previous marriage). Tiberius, who marries Julia, is very antagonistic towards her children from a previous marriage.
* WidowedAtTheWedding: [[spoiler:Camilla]]'s death counts as this, although she dies just before her bethrotal ceremony, instead of the wedding itself.
** [[spoiler:Silius and Messalina]] are both killed (separately) on their wedding day.
* WouldHurtAChild: [[spoiler:Livia orders the death of her teenage great-grandson to prevent him from marrying the daughter of a political rival. Macro has Sejanus' underaged son and daughter executed (and the girl is raped before her death because it's bad luck to kill a virgin). Caligula orders the death of his young cousin Gemellus. In turn, Caligula's infant daughter is murdered by the same conspirators who killed the Emperor. Messalina tries to murder Nero when he is a child, but the attempt is thwarted.]]
* YesMan: During the reigns of Tiberius and Caligula, '''everyone''' in Rome has to become this in order to survive being near the Emperor. By the time Claudius takes the throne, people are treating him this way in spite of him not being a tyrant and encouraging them to disagree with his ideas.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Livia poisons [[spoiler:Agrippa]] when he is no longer needed to ensure the stability of Augustus' rule.
* YourDaysAreNumbered: Claudius is told by Thrasyllus exactly how long his life will be, down to the months and days he has left.
[[/folder]]

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