Quotes from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina

Robert Graves ·  533 pages

Rating: (10.3K votes)


“You mean that people who continue virtuous in an old-fashioned way must inevitably suffer in times like these?”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“You know how it is when one talks of liberty. Everything seems beautifully simple. One expects every gate to open and every wall to fall flat.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“Most men—it is my experience—are neither virtuous nor scoundrels, good-hearted nor bad-hearted. They are a little of one thing and a little of the other and nothing for any length of time: ignoble mediocrities.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“You don't want captains in the army who know too much or think too much.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“One can expect an agreement between philosophers sooner than between clocks.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina



“The Roman Road is the greatest monument ever raised to human liberty by a noble and generous people. It runs across mountain, marsh and river. It is built broad, straight and firm. It joins city with city and nation with nation. It is tens of thousands of miles long, and always thronged with grateful travellers. And while the Great Pyramid, a few hundred feet high and wide, awes sight-seers to silence—though it is only the rifled tomb of an ignoble corpse and a monument of oppression and misery, so that no doubt in viewing it you may still seem to hear the crack of the taskmaster's whip and the squeals and groans of the poor workmen struggling to set a huge block of stone into position——”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“It was inevitable under a monarchy, however benevolent the monarch. The old virtues disappear. Independence and frankness are at a discount. Complacent anticipation of the monarch's wishes is then the greatest of all virtues. One must either be a good monarch like yourself, or a good courtier like myself—either an Emperor or an idiot.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“But godhead is, after all, a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion: if a man is generally worshipped as a god then he is a god. And if a god ceases to be worshipped he is nothing.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“On occasions of this sort it was, I must admit, very pleasurable to be a monarch: to be able to get important things done by smothering stupid opposition with a single authoritative word.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“I happened to notice that among the men who had willingly presented themselves for jury-service was one whom I knew to be the father of seven children. Under a law of Augustus's he was exempt for the rest of his life; yet he had not pleaded for exemption or mentioned the size of his family. I told the magistrate: "Strike this man's name off. He's a father of seven." He protested: "But, Cæsar, he has made no attempt to excuse himself." "Exactly," I said, "he wants to be a juryman. Strike him off." I meant, of course,that the fellow was concealing his immunity from what every honest man considered a very thankless and disagreeable duty and that he therefore was almost certain to have crooked intentions. Crooked jurymen could pick up a lot of money by bribes, for it was a commonplace that one interested juryman could sway the opinions of a whole bunch of uninterested ones; and the majority verdict decided a case.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina



“Another leading senator that I degraded was Caligula’s horse Incitatus who was to have become Consul three years later. I wrote to the Senate that I had no complaints to make against the private morals of this senator or his capacity for the tasks that had hitherto been assigned to him, but that he no longer had the necessary financial qualifications. For I had cut the pension awarded him by Caligula to the daily rations of a cavalry horse, dismissed his grooms and put him into an ordinary stable where the manger was of wood, not ivory, and the walls were whitewashed, not covered with frescoes. I did not, however, separate him from his wife, the mare Penelope: that would have been unjust.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“I am not a conscious hypocrite. I flattered myself that I was acting for the best. I”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“I had chosen the fifteenth day of July, the day that Roman Knights go out crowned with olive wreaths to honor the Twins in a magnificent horseback procession:from the Temple of Mars they ride through the main streets of the City, circling back to the Temple of the Twins, where they offer sacrifices. The ceremony is a commemoration of the battle of Lake Regillus which was fought on that day over three hundred years ago. Castor and Pollux came riding in person to the help of a Roman army that was making a desperate stand on the lake-shore against a superior force of Latins; and ever since then they have been adopted as the particular patrons of the knights.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“Освен това не бих се изненадал, ако узная, че житарите са ви увещали да ми изпратите този обезкуражителен доклад. Колкото по-малко е житото, толкова повече забогатяват. Те се молят за лошо време и процъфтяват на гърба на бедняците.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“The Governor of Syria, when he heard of this horrid act called a council of his staff to decide whether Mithridates should be avenged by a punitive expedition against his murderer, who now reigned in his stead; but the general opinion seemed to be that the more treacherous and bloody the behaviour of Eastern kings on our frontier, the better for us—the security of the Roman Empire resting on the mutual mistrust of our neighbours—and that nothing should be done.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina



“Nobody is familiar with his own profile, and it comes as a shock, when one sees it in a portrait, that one really looks like that to people standing beside one. For one’s full face, because of the familiarity that mirrors give it, a certain toleration and even affection is felt; but I must say that when I first saw the model of the gold piece that the mint-masters were striking for me I grew angry and asked whether it was intended to be a caricature.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“I had in the first place spoken extremely frankly, and unexpected frankness about oneself is never unacceptable.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


“My plans were vague. I talked liberty to many of my friends and, you know how it is, when one talks liberty everything seems beautifully simple. One expects all gates to open and all walls to fall flat and all voices to shout for joy.”
― Robert Graves, quote from Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina


About the author

Robert Graves
Born place: in Wimbledon, The United Kingdom
Born date July 24, 1895
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