“Eyes” on the Thrones

Imperial Ophthalmologic Nicknames


      Several Greek and Byzantine sovereigns are known in history by nicknames that are of ophthalmologic origin; the sobriquets derive from characteristics of their eyes or their actions in relation to the eyes. The first was Antigonos I Monophthalmus (the One-eyed), who was the most eminent successor of Alexander the Great and Sovereign of Eastern Mediterranean Asia. He obtained his nickname at an early age when he lost one eye fighting at the seige of Perinthos, as a general of King Philip of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great). Several Byzantine emperors also have a number of similar nicknames, such as Anastasius I Dicoros (with Heterochromia Iridis), Alexius V Ducas Murtzuphlus (with Scowling Eyebrows), and Andronicus I Comnenus Misophaes (Hater of Sunlight, since he blinded a great number of his opponents). To these must be added the Byzantine Empress Zoe Carvounopsina (with Coal-black Eyes).


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