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- Sources (in process);
- The morph of dreams.
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Sign in. You could not be signed in. Sign In Forgot password? Don't have an account? American Historical Association members Sign in via society site. Sign in via your Institution Sign in. Purchase Subscription prices and ordering Short-term Access To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. In Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity , I make cultural history out of this material, with the help of contemporary post-Freudian science.
I contrast Greek and Roman ways of understanding dreams with those that prevail in the modern west, while contradicting the opinion that the Greeks and Romans in general treated their dreams superstitiously and credulously sometimes they did, just as people do now.
I explore the psychological, religious and literary reasons why this form of dream-description was so popular, trace its continuance through the Middle Ages and attempt to explain why it has virtually died out.
Did ancient people really dream like that? This question leads to another: can we ever know what any ancient person really dreamt? A number of extraordinary individuals feature in this discussion, including Saint Perpetua and the emperor Constantine. Did the Greeks and Romans then believe in their dreams? What that might mean, and how Greeks and Romans of different classes and periods differed on this subject, are questions that require a careful analysis.
This is mainly an investigation of ordinary people; my last chapter by contrast assesses Greek and Roman attempts to understand dreams naturalistically. In other words the chapter is about the efforts of philosophers and physicians, some of whom — most notably Aristotle — made a large number of perceptive statements about a phenomenon, which as far as dream-content is concerned, still remains mysterious.
The public does not realize that this statement is not an established scientific principle but an ethical preference. Nonetheless, this belief has created a moral confusion among North Americans and Europeans because the evolution of our species was accompanied by the disposition to worry about kin and the collectives to which one belongs.