Relativity Media has acquired rights for Robert Graves' classic Roman Empire-set novel I, Claudius. Jim Sheridan will write the screenplay with longtime collaborator Nye Heron and direct as well.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Graves' 1934 novel recounts the internecine plots and counterplots surrounding Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome who ruled from 41-54 A.D. The stuttering and handicapped Claudius, born into a murderous, imperial family, used his cunning mind and rivals' misjudgment to not only survive but eventually become one of Rome's greatest emperors.

The novel was adapted into the 1937 film of the same name, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Charles Laughton. But it is best known as the basis for the 1976 BBC miniseries, I, Claudius [5 Discs], that starred Derek Jacobi as the stuttering Claudius, Sian Phillips as the scheming Livia and John Hurt as the dissolute Caligula.

The tale of Claudius has intrigued talent and execs for decades, and last year the rights to the book, repped by RWSH and AP Watt, were won in a heated bidding war by Scott Rudin, with Leonardo DiCaprio and writer William Monahan attached. That deal ultimately fell through.

No production date has been set.