Visual Impairments in the
Roman World

200 BC - 500 AD


This project envisages a further exploration of disability studies in antiquity, a new field of interest among ancient historians. Though scholars recently have been focusing on specific subthemes, for example the study on deaf-mutes by C. Laes (2011), there is no general survey about disability in the Roman world. For ancient Greece conversely M.L. Rose (2003) examined various disabilities within a sociological perspective. There is thus an urgent need for more research on disability in Roman antiquity. An investigation regarding the life and acts of people with a visual handicap for example remains a remarkable lacuna until today. The few studies that have been focusing on the topic are slim, general and outdated. The subject needs a modern approach that takes into account new and varied sources.

First of all the proposed study gives a broad and detailed overview of specific cases of visually impaired persons. I will research who the visually disabled were and distinguish the causes and consequences of the impairment. Second, the study pursues the matter in greater depth and sheds light on the position of sight-impaired people in ancient society. Not only will there be given attention to the way in which the disabled were living in and treated by society, it also tries to look at the attitude of the visually impaired himself. Third, there is a remarkable need to connect modern sociological and anthropological visions on disability to antiquity. Disability studies, the four disability models and medical anthropology are nowadays indispensable angles of approach.



A detailed project outline soon on the website!