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It is referenced by Hesiod, Callimachus, Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Theocritus, Plutarch, Heliodorus, Pliny the Elder, and Aulus Gellius.

Peter Walcot's Envy and the Greeks (1978) listed more than one hundred works by these and other authors mentioning the evil eye.

The evil eye was not feared with equal intensity in every corner of the Roman Empire.

The idea expressed by the term causes many different cultures to pursue protective measures against it.The concept and its significance vary widely among different cultures, primarily in West Asia.Known as nazar (Turkish: A blue or green eye can also be found on some forms of the hamsa hand, an apotropaic hand-shaped talisman against the evil eye found in West Asia.The word hamsa, also spelled khamsa and hamesh, means "five" referring to the fingers of the hand.The spreading in the belief of the evil eye across the Near East is believed by some to have been propagated by the Empire of Alexander the Great, which spread this and other Greek ideas across his empire.

Belief in the evil eye is strongest in West Asia, Latin America, East and West Africa, Central America, Central Asia, and Europe, especially the Mediterranean region; it has also spread to areas, including northern Europe, particularly in the Celtic regions, and the Americas, where it was brought by European colonists and West Asian immigrants.

Reciting Sura Ikhlas, Sura Al-Falaq and Sura Al-Nas from the Qur'an, three times after Fajr and after Maghrib is also used as a means of personal protection against the evil eye.

Still in Islam, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Founder of Muridism in Senegal, wrote a Qassida (prayers and duah) called "As Sindidi" ("The Generous Chief"), on which He praises God with these words against evil eye: "Be He, who will protect me against the evil of the Jealous, the mischief of the evil whisperer, from the mischief of the envier when he envies. Be my refuge against the evil of the magic, against the evil of the Jinn, and other venomous creatures. " (in Arabic transcript): Assyrians are also strong believers in the evil eye.

In Jewish culture, the hamsa is called the Hand of Miriam; in some Muslim cultures, the Hand of Fatima.

Though condemned as superstition by doctrinaire Muslims, it is almost exclusively among Muslims in the Near East and Mediterranean that the belief in envious looks containing destructive power or the talismanic power of a nazar to defend against them.

In Roman times, not only were individuals considered to possess the power of the evil eye but whole tribes, especially those of Pontus and Scythia, were believed to be transmitters of the evil eye.