How Were Blind People Treated in Ancient Times?

Blindness has been a part of human existence since time immemorial. In ancient times, people who were blind were often considered to be outcasts and were treated differently from those who could see. In this article, we will explore how blind people were treated in ancient times.

The Ancient World

In ancient times, blindness was often seen as a punishment from the gods. Blind people were often considered to be cursed and were treated with suspicion and fear. In some cultures, they were even thought to be possessed by evil spirits or demons.

In ancient Egypt, blind people were respected and admired for their ability to tell stories and recite poetry. The Egyptians believed that blindness gave them a unique perspective on the world that allowed them to see things that others could not.

Greece and Rome

In ancient Greece and Rome, blind people fared better than in many other societies. Blind poets such as Homer and Oedipus were celebrated for their literary works. Blind musicians also played an important role in Greek society, performing at festivals and other public events.

The Greeks believed that blindness was caused by an imbalance of bodily fluids or “humours” and attempted to treat it with various remedies such as bloodletting and purging. However, they also recognized that some forms of blindness could not be cured.

In Rome, blind people were often employed as musicians or entertainers. There are also records of Roman emperors providing financial support for blind citizens.


In many Asian cultures, blind people were seen as a burden on society and were often shunned or ignored. However, there are also examples of blind musicians, poets, and scholars who achieved great success despite their disabilities.

In China, there is a long tradition of blind massage therapists who use their heightened sense of touch to alleviate pain and promote healing. Blind fortune tellers were also common in ancient China, using their unique abilities to predict the future.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, blind people were often associated with beggary and poverty. They were sometimes forced to beg on the streets for a living, which only reinforced negative stereotypes about their abilities and intelligence.

However, there were also examples of blind people who achieved great success during this time period. The famous musician and composer, Blind John of Kilkenny, was a celebrated figure in medieval Ireland. In Italy, the physician and scholar Giuseppe Rovani overcame his blindness to become a respected professor at the University of Bologna.


In conclusion, how blind people were treated in ancient times varied greatly depending on the culture and time period. While some societies valued and respected them, others saw them as outcasts or even cursed individuals. Despite these challenges, many blind people managed to achieve great success and contribute to their societies in meaningful ways.