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February 1937


Author Affiliations

From the Peter Ophthalmologic Clinic, the Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1937;17(2):290-319. doi:10.1001/archopht.1937.00850020096007

Oculus fascinus literally signifies an eye that has the power of bewitching or enchanting persons glanced at.1 The term, however, has been applied to an eye believed to have the power of inflicting various diseases and evils on persons by a mere glance, without the fascinator's coming in contact with them or without his administering anything to them. This belief has been persistent throughout the ages from remote antiquity. It has been recognized alike by sacred writers, classical authors, fathers of the Church, rabbis of the Talmud, philosophers and ancient and medieval physicians. No science, no religion and no laws have been able to eradicate this superstition from the human mind. Wild tribes, as well as civilized people, dreaded and in a measure still fear the perilous consequences of the evil glance.

When the Pentateuch was written the belief in the evil eye was already widespread among the Babylonians,