Since Mad is off traveling (lucky sod!), I'll continue with some thoughts on C. 6
Tiberius is the focus here, and the whole Julia story.
I must admit, I didn't really make the connection between the character Tiberius described in these chapters, and the emperor (hope that's not a spoiler!). At this point, he's just another of the 'bad' Claudians, and he's a (somewhat willing) victim of Livia's manipulations. He is, for a bad Claudian, only mildly cruel at this point, he likes boyish women, he had "begun cautiously experimenting in those ludicrously filthy practices which later made his name detestable to all decent-minded people."
I wanted to comment on the ad hoc ergo propter hoc
way of thinking that people in Claudius' time indulged in...we know better. We know that Spanish fly doesn't actually work, we know that fortune-tellers are BS, but I'm really enjoying how Graves is so subtly planting these assumptions in Claudius & his world. Julia was addicted to Spanish fly (given to her by Livia, of course), and that explains her wild sexual adventures...not that she just wanted to have sex with a lot of people.
[I'm trying to write intelligently, but my husband is listening to a Lewis Black comedy show on the other computer in our office, and I'm a bit distracted!]
Now that I'm re-reading with an eye to the style & content to be able to comment here, I'm noticing things I really
like about Graves' style, and the subtleties of Claudius' character & assumptions.
Example: Augustus goes into his room and hides in shame when he hears about Julia's behaviour:
"...he locked himself in and was seen by nobody, not even by Livia, for four whole days, during which time he took no food or drink, nor any sleep, and what was still stronger proof -- if any was required -- of the violence of his grief, went all that time unshaved."
Ooooh, he was unshaved. Obviously he was upset.
Another funny bit I enjoyed: Livia, writing the recommendation for Julia's banishment in Augustus' style according to Claudius,
"which was easy to to imitate because it always sacrificed elegance to clarity -- for example, by a determined repetition of the same word, where it occurred often in a passage, instead of hunting about for a synonym or periphrasis (which is a common literary practice)."
Of course, Claudius would use a synonym for a synonym!
"All beings are the owners of their deeds, the heirs to their deeds."
Loricat's Book Nook
Celebrating the Absurd