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The Gladiator's Tears

Epiphora From Ancient Rome

Galassi, Francesco M. MD*,†; Habicht, Michael E. PhD*,†; Killgrove, Kristina PhD; De Carolis, Stefano MD§; Polidoro, Massimo MA||; Haeusler, Martin MD, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000005902
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This article examines the clinical presentation of epiphora in Ancient Rome through the historico-medical analysis of the literary evidence provided by the verses by the poet Juvenal in his Satire VI. A gladiator's ophthalmological problem is interpreted as epiphora caused by traumatic injuries to the craniofacial region, compatible with those described in the palaeopathological literature. This analysis also focuses on the history of epiphora in antiquity and its treatment.

*Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Archaeology, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

§School of Medical History, Medical and Dental Association of the Province of Rimini, Emilia-Romagna

||Italian Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Pseudosciences (CICAP), Padua, Italy.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Michael E. Habicht, PhD, Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; E-mail:

Received 6 July, 2019

Accepted 9 July, 2019

FMG and MEH contributed equally to this work.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2019 by Mutaz B. Habal, MD.