In Bed with Mother: Sexual Dreams in Artemidorus’ Interpretation of Dreams

  • Maja Sunčič AMEU-ISH
Keywords: dreams, iinterpretation of dreams, divination, sexuality, antiquity, Artemidorus, Sigmund Freud

Abstract

The paper examines Artemidorus’ treatise Interpretation of Dreams (Oneirokritika), the only surviving dream book from Greco-Roman antiquity. Being a professional dream interpreter, Artemidorus is our main source for the significance of dreams and for the process of their interpretation in antiquity. In accordance with tradition, the interpretation of dreams is represented as a form of divination and as such as a religious practice, widely accepted and used by the general public, though frowned on by educated critics and philosophers as a fraudulent and unreliable practice. Contrary to other ancient sources, which mainly report on the dreams of the elite, Artemidorus’ book interprets the dreams of ordinary people as well. After a preliminary outline of its characteristics, the paper examines the sexual dreams in Artemidorus’ treatise in the context of ancient dream interpretation, pointing out its differences from Freud’s influential approach to the interpretation of dreams. With Freud’s work, the interpretation of dreams in fact reached the scientific level which Artemidorus had striven for in his treatise. Nevertheless, Freud’s approach and method cannot be applied to the interpretation of Artemidorus’ treatise as a whole or of its chapters on sexual dreams. The differences between Artemidorus’ and Freud’s approaches to the analysis of sexual dreams are clearly perceived in the chapters translated and published below, which analyse sexual relations including incestuous, unlawful and unnatural practices.

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Published
2017-10-09
How to Cite
Sunčič, M. (2017). In Bed with Mother: Sexual Dreams in Artemidorus’ Interpretation of Dreams. Monitor ISH, 19(1), 185-207. https://doi.org/10.33700/1580-7118.19.1.185-207(2017)
Section
Review article