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Special Communication
July 2013

The Blinding of the Lawgiver Zaleukos on a 16th-Century German Medal

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, New York, New York
  • 2New York Medical College, New York, New York
  • 3American Numismatic Society, New York, New York
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131(7):937-940. doi:10.1001/2013.jamaophthalmol.324

A rare 16th-century German medal offers insight into the violent loss of sight as a morality tale in both antiquity and the Renaissance. On one side of the medal (Figure 1A), there is a graphic scene depicting the partial blinding of the ancient Greek lawgiver Zaleukos and his son. The reverse (Figure 1B) depicts another ancient figure, the Persian King Cambyses, ordering a man to sit on a chair covered by a skin. The medal is uninscribed, cast in silver, and 52 mm in diameter (catalog No. XIV.48).1