Recent, stimulating work on the viewer in antiquity has attempted to reconstruct different viewpoints in the past in terms of social identity (such as class) and physical aspect. We now need to critique the standard ableist assumptions made, namely that ‘the viewer’ is always fully able-bodied in terms of mobility and the senses, especially sight.
Despite attempts to move beyond the perspective, voice and authority of the male elite, it remains the case that ableist assumptions are deeply embedded in visual studies. It is taken for granted that the ancient figure, whether male or female, rich or poor, is able bodied. Greater engagement with the work of blind and partially sighted (BPS) scholars will demonstrate how our perception of ‘ways of seeing’ needs to be extended beyond the experience of sighted people.
This will set new parameters for what we might mean by the process of ‘viewing’ itself, in antiquity as well as modernity.