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Seneca and the First Description of Anton Syndrome

André, Charles, MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000000682
Historical Note

Abstract: Seneca was a Roman philosopher, politician, and mentor to the young Nero. He later fell in disgrace and was sentenced to death by the Emperor. Seneca left many texts, one of the most influential being his Moral Letters to Lucilius (63 CE). In Letter 50, he describes the case of Harpaste, his wife's foolish slave who acutely became blind. She denied her illness and argued irrationally about room darkness, constantly asking attendants to change her quarters. Harpaste's case, consisting of acutely acquired blindness and anosognosia in the presence of relatively well-preserved cognition, fulfills the clinical criteria for the diagnosis of Anton syndrome, and probably constitutes its first description.

Department of Neurology (CA), Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Department of Neurology, Sinapse Neurologia e Reabilitação (CA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Address correspondence to Charles André, MD, PhD, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 414, sala 821, Rio de Janeiro CEP 22410-002, RJ, Brazil; E-mail:

The author reports no conflicts of interest.

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© 2018 by North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society