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date: 04 February 2023



  • Simon Price


Dreams fascinated the ancients as much as they do us, though it is illegitimate to employ Freudian categories in interpreting ancient dreams: their categories must not be subverted by our own culturally relative theories. Most ancients accepted that there were both significant and non-significant dreams (e.g. Hom. Od. 19. 562–7: true dreams come from gates of horn, delusory dreams from gates of ivory; cf. Verg. Aen. 6. 893–6). This basic division might itself be subdivided, most elaborately into a fivefold classification: non-predictive dreams, subdivided into enhypnia caused by the day's residues and phantasmata or distorted visions that come between sleeping and waking states; predictive dreams subdivided into: oneiroi that need symbolic interpretation, horamata or prophetic visions, and chrēmatismata or advice from a god (e.g. Macrob. In Somn. 1. 3). The last category is well attested epigraphically by votives put up by people as the result of successful advice or instructions from a god received in a dream, and in the remarkable diary kept by *Aelius Aristides which included numerous visions of *Asclepius and other gods.


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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