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Stuttering was also in antiquity

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

The face of the statue of Emperor Claudius
The face of the emperor Claudius.

October 22 is the World Day of Stuttering People. Stuttering is a fluency disorder that occurs among children, adolescents and adults, which has already occurred in ancient Rome.

A great example is the emperor Claudius (10 BCE – 54 CE), who according to the sources severely stuttered. Such note comes from Suetonius:

But when he walked, his weak knees gave way under him and he had many disagreeable traits both in his lighter moments and when he was engaged in business; his laughter was unseemly and his anger still more disgusting, for he would foam at the mouth and trickle at the nose; he stammered besides and his head was very shaky at all times, but especially when he made the least exertion.

Suetonius, Claudius, 30

Claudius from the earliest years had to face a bad opinion about himself, even from the closest family.

His mother Antonia often called him “a monster of a man, not finished but merely begun by Dame Nature”.

Suetonius, Claudius, 3

We have no information on how he dealt with his weakness, but he certainly had to look for ways to improve his pronunciation. Perhaps he used the Demosthenes method (384-322 BCE) – Greek politician and orator – who also had to deal with stuttering. The Greek statesman reportedly put stones in his mouth to improve his speech. Thanks to this, he managed to improve his articulation. Another of his exercises was to shout at the sea to increase his voice.

An example of Claudius, who came to power, shows that stuttering does not have to be a life limitation. More on the subject on the website of a cabinet in the field of stuttering therapy:

  • Benson Bobrick, Knotted Tongues
  • Suetonius, Claudius

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