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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Tertullian, On The Soul, 47.2
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1. Democritus, Fragments, None (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

2. Cicero, On Divination, 1.64, 2.124-2.150 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.64. Divinare autem morientes illo etiam exemplo confirmat Posidonius, quod adfert, Rhodium quendam morientem sex aequales nominasse et dixisse, qui primus eorum, qui secundus, qui deinde deinceps moriturus esset. Sed tribus modis censet deorum adpulsu homines somniare, uno, quod provideat animus ipse per sese, quippe qui deorum cognatione teneatur, altero, quod plenus ae+r sit inmortalium animorum, in quibus tamquam insignitae notae veritatis appareant, tertio, quod ipsi di cum dormientibus conloquantur. Idque, ut modo dixi, facilius evenit adpropinquante morte, ut animi futura augurentur. 2.124. Sed haec quoque in promptu fuerint; nunc interiora videamus. Aut enim divina vis quaedam consulens nobis somniorum significationes facit, aut coniectores ex quadam convenientia et coniunctione naturae, quam vocant sumpa/qeian, quid cuique rei conveniat ex somniis, et quid quamque rem sequatur, intellegunt, aut eorum neutrum est, sed quaedam observatio constans atque diuturna est, cum quid visum secundum quietem sit, quid evenire et quid sequi soleat. Primum igitur intellegendum est nullam vim esse divinam effectricem somniorum. Atque illud quidem perspicuum est, nulla visa somniorum proficisci a numine deorum; nostra enim causa di id facerent, ut providere futura possemus. 2.125. Quotus igitur est quisque, qui somniis pareat, qui intellegat, qui meminerit? quam multi vero, qui contemt eamque superstitionem inbecilli animi atque anilis putent! Quid est igitur, cur his hominibus consulens deus somniis moneat eos, qui illa non modo cura, sed ne memoria quidem digna ducant? Nec enim ignorare deus potest, qua mente quisque sit, nec frustra ac sine causa quid facere dignum deo est, quod abhorret etiam ab hominis constantia. Ita, si pleraque somnia aut ignorantur aut negleguntur, aut nescit hoc deus aut frustra somniorum significatione utitur; et horum neutrum in deum cadit; nihil igitur a deo somniis significari fatendum est. 2.126. Illud etiam requiro, cur, si deus ista visa nobis providendi causa dat, non vigilantibus potius det quam dormientibus. Sive enim externus et adventicius pulsus animos dormientium commovet, sive per se ipsi animi moventur, sive quae causa alia est, cur secundum quietem aliquid videre, audire, agere videamur, eadem causa vigilantibus esse poterat; idque si nostra causa di secundum quietem facerent, vigilantibus idem facerent, praesertim cum Chrysippus Academicos refellens permulto clariora et certiora esse dicat, quae vigilantibus videantur, quam quae somniantibus. Fuit igitur divina beneficentia dignius, cum consulerent nobis, clariora visa dare vigilanti quam obscuriora per somnum. Quod quoniam non fit, somnia divina putanda non sunt. 2.127. Iam vero quid opus est circumitione et anfractu, ut sit utendum interpretibus somniorum potius, quam derecto deus, siquidem nobis consulebat, Hoc facito, hoc ne feceris diceret idque visum vigilanti potius quam dormienti daret? Iam vero quis dicere audeat vera omnia esse somnia? Aliquot somnia vera, inquit Ennius, sed omnia noenum necesse est . Quae est tandem ista distinctio? quae vera, quae falsa habet? et, si vera a deo mittuntur, falsa unde nascuntur? nam si ea quoque divina, quid inconstantius deo? quid inscitius autem est quam mentes mortalium falsis et mendacibus visis concitare? sin vera visa divina sunt, falsa autem et iia humana, quae est ista desigdi licentia, ut hoc deus, hoc natura fecerit potius quam aut omnia deus, quod negatis, aut omnia natura? quodquoniam illud negatis, hoc necessario confitendum est. 2.128. Naturam autem eam dico, qua numquam animus insistens agitatione et motu esse vacuus potest. Is cum languore corporis nec membris uti nec sensibus potest, incidit in visa varia et incerta ex reliquiis, ut ait Aristoteles, inhaerentibus earum rerum, quas vigilans gesserit aut cogitaverit; quarum perturbatione mirabiles interdum existunt species somniorum; quae si alia falsa, alia vera, qua nota internoscantur, scire sane velim. Si nulla est, quid istos interpretes audiamus? sin quaepiam est, aveo audire, quae sit; sed haerebunt. 2.129. Venit enim iam in contentionem, utrum sit probabilius, deosne inmortalis, rerum omnium praestantia excellentis, concursare circum omnium mortalium, qui ubique sunt, non modo lectos, verum etiam grabatos et, cum stertentem aliquem viderint, obicere iis visa quaedam tortuosa et obscura, quae illi exterriti somno ad coniectorem mane deferant, an natura fieri, ut mobiliter animus agitatus, quod vigilans viderit, dormiens videre videatur. Utrum philosophia dignius, sagarum superstitione ista interpretari an explicatione naturae? ut, si iam fieri possit vera coniectura somniorum, tamen isti, qui profitentur, eam facere non possint; ex levissimo enim et indoctissimo genere constant. Stoici autem tui negant quemquam nisi sapientem divinum esse posse. 2.130. Chrysippus quidem divinationem definit his verbis: vim cognoscentem et videntem et explicantem signa, quae a dis hominibus portendantur; officium autem esse eius praenoscere, dei erga homines mente qua sint quidque significent, quem ad modumque ea procurentur atque expientur. Idemque somniorum coniectionem definit hoc modo: esse vim cernentem et explatem, quae a dis hominibus significentur in somnis. Quid ergo? ad haec mediocri opus est prudentia an et ingenio praestanti et eruditione perfecta? Talem autem cognovimus neminem. 2.131. Vide igitur, ne, etiamsi divinationem tibi esse concessero, quod numquam faciam, neminem tamen divinum reperire possimus. Qualis autem ista mens est deorum, si neque ea nobis significant in somnis, quae ipsi per nos intellegamus, neque ea, quorum interpretes habere possimus? similes enim sunt dei, si ea nobis obiciunt, quorum nec scientiam neque explanatorem habeamus, tamquam si Poeni aut Hispani in senatu nostro loquerentur sine interprete. 2.132. Iam vero quo pertinent obscuritates et aenigmata somniorum? intellegi enim a nobis di velle debebant ea, quae nostra causa nos monerent. Quid? poe+ta nemo, nemo physicus obscurus? 2.133. Ille vero nimis etiam obscurus Euphorion; at non Homerus. Uter igitur melior? Valde Heraclitus obscurus, minime Democritus. Num igitur conferendi? Mea causa me mones, quod non intellegam? Quid me igitur mones? ut si quis medicus aegroto imperet, ut sumat Terrigenam, herbigradam, domiportam, sanguine cassam, potius quam hominum more cocleam diceret. Nam Pacuvianus Amphio Quadrupés tardigrada, agréstis, humilis, áspera, Capité brevi, cervice ánguina, aspectú truci, Evíscerata, inánima, cum animalí sono cum dixisset obscurius, tum Attici respondent: Non íntellegimus, nísi si aperte díxeris. At ille uno verbo: Testudo. Non potueras hoc igitur a principio, citharista, dicere? 2.134. Defert ad coniectorem quidam somniasse se ovum pendere ex fascea lecti sui cubicularis (est hoc in Chrysippi libro somnium); respondit coniector thensaurum defossum esse sub lecto. Fodit, invenit auri aliquantum, idque circumdatum argento, misit coniectori, quantulum visum est de argento. Tum ille: Nihilne, inquit, de vitello? id enim ei ex ovo videbatur aurum declarasse, reliquum argentum. Nemone igitur umquam alius ovum somniavit? cur ergo hic nescio qui thensaurum solus invenit? quam multi inopes digni praesidio deorum nullo somnio ad thensaurum reperiendum admonentur! Quam autem ob causam tam est obscure admonitus, ut ex ovo nasceretur thensauri similitudo, potius quam aperte thensaurum quaerere iuberetur, sicut aperte Simonides vetitus est navigare? 2.135. Ergo obscura somnia minime consentanea maiestati deorum. Ad aperta et clara veniamus, quale est de illo interfecto a caupone Megaris, quale de Simonide, qui ab eo, quem humarat, vetitus est navigare, quale etiam de Alexandro, quod a te praeteritum esse miror, Quinte. Cum Ptolomaeus, familiaris eius, in proelio telo venenato ictus esset eoque vulnere summo cum dolore moreretur, Alexander adsidens somno est consopitus. Tum secundum quietem visus ei dicitur draco is, quem mater Olympias alebat, radiculam ore ferre et simul dicere, quo illa loci nasceretur (neque is longe aberat ab eo loco), eius autem esse vim tantam, ut Ptolomaeum facile sanaret. Cum Alexander experrectus narrasset amicis somnium, emissi sunt, qui illam radiculam quaererent; qua inventa et Ptolomaeus sanatus dicitur et multi milites, qui erant eodem genere teli vulnerati. 2.136. Multa etiam sunt a te ex historiis prolata somnia, matris Phalaridis, Cyri superioris, matris Dionysii, Poeni Hamilcaris, Hannibalis, P. Decii; pervulgatum iam illud de praesule, C. Gracchi etiam et recens Caeciliae, Baliarici filiae, somnium. Sed haec externa ob eamque causam ignota nobis sunt, non nulla etiam ficta fortasse. Quis enim auctor istorum? De nostris somniis quid habemus dicere? tu de emerso me et equo ad ripam, ego de Mario cum fascibus laureatis me in suum deduci iubente monumentum. Omnium somniorum, Quinte, una ratio est; quae, per deos inmortalis! videamus ne nostra superstitione et depravatione superetur. 2.137. Quem enim tu Marium visum a me putas? Speciem, credo, eius et imaginem, ut Democrito videtur. Unde profectam imaginem? a corporibus enim solidis et a certis figuris vult fluere imagines; quod igitur Marii corpus erat? Ex eo, inquit, quod fuerat. Ista igitur me imago Marii in campum Atinatem persequebatur?—Plena sunt imaginum omnia; nulla enim species cogitari potest nisi pulsu imaginum. 2.138. —Quid ergo? istae imagines ita nobis dicto audientes sunt, ut, simul atque velimus, accurrant? etiamne earum rerum, quae nullae sunt? quae est enim forma tam invisitata, tam nulla, quam non sibi ipse fingere animus possit? ut, quae numquam vidimus, ea tamen informata habeamus, oppidorum situs, hominum figuras. 2.139. Num igitur, cum aut muros Babylonis aut Homeri faciem cogito, imago illorum me aliqua pellit? Omnia igitur, quae volumus, nota nobis esse possunt; nihil est enim, de quo cogitare nequeamus; nullae ergo imagines obrepunt in animos dormientium extrinsecus, nec omnino fluunt ullae, nec cognovi quemquam, qui maiore auctoritate nihil diceret. Animorum est ea vis eaque natura, ut vigeant vigilantes nullo adventicio pulsu, sed suo motu incredibili quadam celeritate. Hi cum sustinentur membris et corpore et sensibus, omnia certiora cernunt, cogitant, sentiunt. Cum autem haec subtracta sunt desertusque animus languore corporis, tum agitatur ipse per sese. Itaque in eo et formae versantur et actiones, et multa audiri, multa dici videntur. 2.140. Haec scilicet in inbecillo remissoque animo multa omnibus modis confusa et variata versantur, maxumeque reliquiae rerum earum moventur in animis et agitantur, de quibus vigilantes aut cogitavimus aut egimus, ut mihi temporibus illis multum in animo Marius versabatur recordanti, quam ille gravem suum casum magno animo, quam constanti tulisset. Hanc credo causam de illo somniandi fuisse. Tibi autem de me cum sollicitudine cogitanti subito sum visus emersus e flumine. Inerant enim in utriusque nostrum animis vigilantium cogitationum vestigia. At quaedam adiuncta sunt, ut mihi de monumento Marii, tibi, quod equus, in quo ego vehebar, mecum una demersus rursus apparuit. 2.141. An tu censes ullam anum tam deliram futuram fuisse, ut somniis crederet, nisi ista casu non numquam forte temere concurrerent? Alexandro draco loqui visus est. Potest omnino hoc esse falsum, potest verum; sed utrum est, non est mirabile; non enim audivit ille draconem loquentem, sed est visus audire, et quidem, quo maius sit, cum radicem ore teneret, locutus est. Sed nihil est magnum somnianti. Quaero autem, cur Alexandro tam inlustre somnium, tam certum, nec huic eidem alias, nec multa ceteris; mihi quidem praeter hoc Marianum nihil sane, quod meminerim. Frustra igitur consumptae tot noctes tam longa in aetate. 2.142. Nunc quidem propter intermissionem forensis operae et lucubrationes detraxi et meridiationes addidi, quibus uti antea non solebam, nec tam multum dormiens ullo somnio sum admonitus, tantis praesertim de rebus, nec mihi magis umquam videor, quam cum aut in foro magistratus aut in curia senatum video, somniare. Etenim (ex divisione hoc secundum est) quae est continuatio coniunctioque naturae, quam, ut dixi, vocant sumpa/qeian, eius modi, ut thensaurus ex ovo intellegi debeat? Nam medici ex quibusdam rebus et advenientis et crescentis morbos intellegunt, non nullas etiam valetudinis significationes, ut hoc ipsum, pleni enectine simus, ex quodam genere somniorum intellegi posse dicunt. Thensaurus vero et hereditas et honos et victoria et multa generis eiusdem qua cum somniis naturali cognatione iunguntur? 2.143. Dicitur quidam, cum in somnis complexu Venerio iungeretur, calculos eiecisse. Video sympathian; visum est enim tale obiectum dormienti, ut id, quod evenit, naturae vis, non opinio erroris effecerit. Quae igitur natura obtulit illam speciem Simonidi, a qua vetaretur navigare? aut quid naturae copulatum habuit Alcibiadis quod scribitur somnium? qui paulo ante interitum visus est in somnis amicae esse amictus amiculo. Is cum esset proiectus inhumatus ab omnibusque desertus iaceret, amica corpus eius texit suo pallio. Ergo hoc inerat in rebus futuris et causas naturalis habebat, an, et ut videretur et ut eveniret, casus effecit? 2.144. Quid? ipsorum interpretum coniecturae nonne magis ingenia declarant eorum quam vim consensumque naturae? Cursor ad Olympia proficisci cogitans visus est in somnis curru quadrigarum vehi. Mane ad coniectorem. At ille: Vinces, inquit; id enim celeritas significat et vis equorum. Post idem ad Antiphontem. Is autem: Vincare, inquit, necesse est; an non intellegis quattuor ante te cucurrisse? Ecce alius cursor (atque horum somniorum et talium plenus est Chrysippi liber, plenus Antipatri) —sed ad cursorem redeo: Ad interpretem detulit aquilam se in somnis visum esse factum. At ille: Vicisti; ista enim avi volat nulla vehementius. Huic eidem Antipho: Baro, inquit, victum te esse non vides? ista enim avis insectans alias avis et agitans semper ipsa postrema est . 2.145. Parere quaedam matrona cupiens dubitans, essetne praegs, visa est in quiete obsignatam habere naturam. Rettulit. Negavit eam, quoniam obsignata fuisset, concipere potuisse. At alter praegtem esse dixit; nam ie obsignari nihil solere. Quae est ars coniectoris eludentis ingenio? an ea, quae dixi, et innumerabilia, quae conlecta habent Stoici, quicquam significant nisi acumen hominum ex similitudine aliqua coniecturam modo huc, modo illuc ducentium? Medici signa quaedam habent ex venis et spiritu aegroti multisque ex aliis futura praesentiunt; gubernatores cum exsultantis lolligines viderunt aut delphinos se in portum conicientes, tempestatem significari putant. Haec ratione explicari et ad naturam revocari facile possunt, ea vero, quae paulo ante dixi, nullo modo. 2.146. At enim observatio diuturna (haec enim pars una restat) notandis rebus fecit artem. Ain tandem? somnia observari possunt? quonam modo? sunt enim innumerabiles varietates. Nihil tam praepostere, tam incondite, tam monstruose cogitari potest, quod non possimus somniare; quo modo igitur haec infinita et semper nova aut memoria conplecti aut observando notare possumus? Astrologi motus errantium stellarum notaverunt; inventus est enim ordo in iis stellis, qui non putabatur. Cedo tandem, qui sit ordo aut quae concursatio somniorum; quo modo autem distingui possunt vera somnia a falsis? cum eadem et aliis aliter evadant et isdem non semper eodem modo; ut mihi mirum videatur, cum mendaci homini ne verum quidem dicenti credere soleamus, quo modo isti, si somnium verum evasit aliquod, non ex multis potius uni fidem derogent quam ex uno innumerabilia confirment. 2.147. Si igitur neque deus est effector somniorum neque naturae societas ulla cum somniis neque observatione inveniri potuit scientia, effectum est, ut nihil prorsus somniis tribuendum sit, praesertim cum illi ipsi, qui ea vident, nihil divinent, ii, qui interpretantur, coniecturam adhibeant, non naturam, casus autem innumerabilibus paene saeculis in omnibus plura mirabilia quam in somniorum visis effecerit, neque coniectura, quae in varias partis duci possit, non numquam etiam in contrarias, quicquam sit incertius. 2.148. Explodatur igitur haec quoque somniorum divinatio pariter cum ceteris. Nam, ut vere loquamur, superstitio fusa per gentis oppressit omnium fere animos atque hominum inbecillitatem occupavit. Quod et in iis libris dictum est, qui sunt de natura deorum, et hac disputatione id maxume egimus. Multum enim et nobismet ipsis et nostris profuturi videbamur, si eam funditus sustulissemus. Nec vero (id enim diligenter intellegi volo) superstitione tollenda religio tollitur. Nam et maiorum instituta tueri sacris caerimoniisque retinendis sapientis est, et esse praestantem aliquam aeternamque naturam, et eam suspiciendam admirandamque hominum generi pulchritudo mundi ordoque rerum caelestium cogit confiteri. 2.149. Quam ob rem, ut religio propaganda etiam est, quae est iuncta cum cognitione naturae, sic superstitionis stirpes omnes eligendae. Instat enim et urget et, quo te cumque verteris, persequitur, sive tu vatem sive tu omen audieris, sive immolaris sive avem aspexeris, si Chaldaeum, si haruspicem videris, si fulserit, si tonuerit, si tactum aliquid erit de caelo, si ostenti simile natum factumve quippiam; quorum necesse est plerumque aliquid eveniat, ut numquam liceat quieta mente consistere. 2.150. Perfugium videtur omnium laborum et sollicitudinum esse somnus. At ex eo ipso plurumae curae metusque nascuntur; qui quidem ipsi per se minus valerent et magis contemnerentur, nisi somniorum patrocinium philosophi suscepissent, nec ii quidem contemptissimi, sed in primis acuti et consequentia et repugtia videntes, qui prope iam absoluti et perfecti putantur. Quorum licentiae nisi Carneades restitisset, haud scio an soli iam philosophi iudicarentur. Cum quibus omnis fere nobis disceptatio contentioque est, non quod eos maxume contemnamus, sed quod videntur acutissime sententias suas prudentissimeque defendere. Cum autem proprium sit Academiae iudicium suum nullum interponere, ea probare, quae simillima veri videantur, conferre causas et, quid in quamque sententiam dici possit, expromere, nulla adhibita sua auctoritate iudicium audientium relinquere integrum ac liberum, tenebimus hanc consuetudinem a Socrate traditam eaque inter nos, si tibi, Quinte frater, placebit, quam saepissime utemur. Mihi vero, inquit ille, nihil potest esse iucundius. Quae cum essent dicta, surreximus. 1.64. Moreover, proof of the power of dying men to prophesy is also given by Posidonius in his well-known account of a certain Rhodian, who, when on his death-bed, named six men of equal age and foretold which of them would die first, which second, and so on. Now Posidonius holds the view that there are three ways in which men dream as the result of divine impulse: first, the soul is clairvoyant of itself because of its kinship with the gods; second, the air is full of immortal souls, already clearly stamped, as it were, with the marks of truth; and third, the gods in person converse with men when they are asleep. And, as I said just now, it is when death is at hand that men most readily discern signs of the future. 2.124. But, though the conclusion just stated is obvious, let us now look deeper into the question. Surely you must assume, either that there is a Divine Power which, in planning for our good, gives us information by means of dreams; or that, because of some natural connexion and association — the Greeks call it συμπάθεια — interpreters of dreams know what sort of a dream is required to fit any situation and what sort of a result will follow any dream; or that neither of these suppositions is true, but that the usual result or consequence of every dream is known by a consistent system of rules based on long-continued observation. In the first place, then, it must be understood that there is no divine power which creates dreams. And indeed it is perfectly clear that none of the visions seen in dreams have their origin in the will of the gods; for the gods, for our sakes, would so interpose that we might be able to foresee the future. 2.125. But how often, pray, do you find anyone who pays any attention to dreams or who understands or remembers them? On the other hand, how many treat them with disdain, and regard a belief in them as the superstition of a weak and effeminate mind! Moreover, why does God, in planning for the good of the human race, convey his warnings by means of dreams which men consider unworthy not only of worrying about, but even of remembering? For it is impossible that God does not know how people generally regard dreams; and to do anything needlessly and without a cause is unworthy of a god and is inconsistent even with the habits of right-thinking men. And hence, if most dreams are unnoticed and disregarded, either God is ignorant of that fact, or he does a vain thing in conveying information by means of dreams; but neither supposition accords with the nature of a god, therefore, it must be admitted that God conveys no information by means of dreams. [61] 2.126. I also ask, if God gives us these visions as forewarnings, why does he not give them to us when we are awake rather than when we are asleep? For, whether our souls in sleep are impelled by some external and foreign force; or whether they are self-moved; or whether there is some other cause why, during sleep, we imagine ourselves seeing or hearing, or doing certain things — whatever the cause, it would apply just as well when we are awake. If the gods did send us warnings in our sleep and for our good they would do the same for us when we are awake, especially since, as Chrysippus says in replying to the Academicians, appearances seen when we are awake are much more distinct and trustworthy than those seen in dreams. It would, therefore, have been more in keeping with the beneficence of gods, in consulting for our good, to send us clear visions in our waking moments rather than unintelligible ones in our dreams. But since that is not the case, dreams ought not to be held divine. 2.127. And further, what is the need of a method which, instead of being direct, is so circuitous and roundabout that we have to employ men to interpret our dreams? And if it be true that God consults for our advantage he would say: Do this, Dont do that, and not give us visions when we are awake rather than when we are asleep.[62] And further, would anybody dare to say that all dreams are true? Some dreams are true, says Ennius, but not necessarily all. Pray how do you distinguish between the two? What mark have the false and what the true? And if God sends the true, whence come the false? Surely if God sends the false ones too what is more untrustworthy than God? Besides what is more stupid than to excite the souls of mortals with false and lying visions? But if true visions are divine while the false and meaningless ones are from nature, what sort of caprice decided that God made the one and nature made the other, rather than that God made them all, which your school denies, or that nature made them all? Since you deny that God made them all you must admit that nature made them all. 2.128. By nature, in this connexion, I mean that force because of which the soul can never be stationary and free from motion and activity. And when, because of the weariness of the body, the soul can use neither the limbs nor the senses, it lapses into varied and untrustworthy visions, which emanate from what Aristotle terms the clinging remts of the souls waking acts and thoughts. These remts, when aroused, sometimes produce strange types of dreams. Now if some of these dreams are true and others false, I should like very much to know by what mark they may be distinguished. If there is none, why should we listen to your interpreters? But if there is one, I am eager for them to tell me what it is, but they will grow confused when I ask and will not answer. [63] 2.129. The question now arises as to which is the more probable: do the immortal gods, who are of surpassing excellence in all things, constantly flit about, not only the beds, but even the lowly pallets of mortals, wherever they may be, and when they find someone snoring, throw at him dark and twisted visions, which scare him from his sleep and which he carries in the morning to a dream-expert to unravel? or does nature bring it to pass that the ever-active soul sees in sleep phantoms of what it saw when the body was awake? Which is more consot with philosophy: to explain these apparitions by the superstitious theories of fortune-telling hags, or by an explanation based on natural causes? But even if it were possible to draw trustworthy inferences from dreams, it could not be done by those who profess to have that power; for their fraternity is composed of the most shallow and the most ignorant of men. Yet your Stoics assert that no one can be a diviner unless he is a wise man. 2.131. Therefore, even if I granted your contention as to the existence of divination — and this I will never do — still, you must realize that it would be impossible for us to find a diviner. Then what do the gods mean by sending us in our dreams visions which we cannot understand ourselves and which we cannot find anybody to interpret for us? If the gods send us these unintelligible and inexplicable dream-messages they are acting as Carthaginians and Spaniards would if they were to address our Senate in their own vernacular without the aid of an interpreter. 2.132. Beside, what purpose is served by dark and enigmatic dreams? Surely the gods ought to want us to understand the advice they give us for our good. Oh! but you retort, Are poets and natural philosophers never obscure? Indeed they are: Euphorion is even too obscure; but Homer is not. 2.133. Which of them, pray, is the better poet? Heraclitus is very obscure; Democritus is not so in the least: then are they to be compared? But you give me advice and for my good in words that I cannot understand. Then why do you advise me at all? Thats like a doctor ordering a patient to takeA bloodless, earth-engendered thing that crawlsAnd bears its habitation on its back,instead of saying in common, every-day speech, a snail. Amphion, in a play by Pacuvius, speaks to the Athenians of a creature asFour-footed, of stature short; rough, shy, and slow;Fierce-eyed, with tiny head and serpents neck;When disembowelled and deprived of life,It lives for ever in melodious song.His meaning being too obscure the Athenians replied:Speak plainer, else we cannot understand.Whereupon he described it in a single word — a tortoise. Couldnt you have said so at first, you cithara-player? [65] 2.134. A diviner was consulted by a man who had dreamed that he saw an egg hanging from the bed-cords of the bed in his sleeping-room — the story is from Chrysippus On Dreams — and the diviner answered, A treasure is buried under your bed. The man dug, found a quantity of gold surrounded with silver and sent the diviner as much of the silver as he thought fit. The diviner then inquired, Do I get none of the yolk? For, in his view, the yolk meant gold, the white of the egg, silver. Now, did no one else ever dream of an egg? If so, then why did this fellow, whoever he was, alone find a treasure by dreaming of an egg? What a lot of poor devils there are, deserving of divine assistance, who never were instructed by a dream how to find a treasure! Furthermore, why was this man given so obscure an intimation as that contained in the fancied resemblance between an egg and a treasure, instead of being as plainly directed as Simonides was when he was bidden not to go on board the ship? 2.135. My conclusion is that obscure messages by means of dreams are utterly inconsistent with the dignity of gods.[66] Let us now consider dreams that are clear and direct, like the dream of the man who was killed by the innkeeper at Megara; or like that of Simonides who was warned by the man he had buried not to sail; and also like Alexanders dream, which, to my surprise, my dear Quintus, you passed by without notice: Alexanders intimate friend, Ptolemaeus, had been struck in battle by a poisoned arrow and was at the point of death from his wound and suffering the most excruciating agony. Alexander, while sitting by the bedside of his friend, fell fast asleep. Thereupon, so the story goes, he dreamed that the pet serpent of his mother Olympias appeared to him carrying a root in its mouth and, at the same time, gave him the name of a place close by where it said the root grew. This root, the serpent told him, was of such great virtue that it would effect the speedy cure of Ptolemaeus. As soon as Alexander awoke he related his dream to his friends and men were sent to find the root. It is said that when the root was found it worked the cure not only of Ptolemaeus, but also of many soldiers who had been wounded by the same kind of arrow. 2.136. You, too, have drawn on history for dreams, a number of which you told. You spoke, for example, of the dreams of the mother of Phalaris, of Cyrus the Elder, of the mother of Dionysius, of the Carthaginians Hamilcar and Hannibal, and of Publius Decius. You mentioned that much-spoken-of dream about the slave who opened the votive games, also the dream of Gaius Gracchus and the recent one of Caecilia, the daughter of Balearicus. But these are other peoples dreams and hence we know nothing about them and some of them are fabrications perhaps. For who stands sponsor for them? And what have we to say of our own dreams? of your dream of me and of my horse emerging from the river and appearing on the bank? and of my dream of Marius, attended by his laurelled fasces, ordering me to be conducted to his monument?[67] All dreams, my dear Quintus, have one explanation and, in heavens name, let us see that it is not set at naught by superstition and perversity. 2.137. Now what Marius do you think it was I saw? His likeness or phantom, I suppose — at least that is what Democritus thinks. Whence did the phantom come? He would have it that phantoms emanate from material bodies and from actual forms. Then, it was the body of Marius from which my phantom came? No, says Democritus, but from his body that was. So that phantom of Marius was pursuing me to the plains of Atina? Oh, but the universe is full of phantoms; no picture of anything can be formed in the mind except as the result of the impact of phantoms. 2.138. Then are these phantoms of yours so obedient to our beck and call that they come the instant we summon them? And is this true even of the phantoms of things that do not exist? For what is there so unreal and unheard of that we cannot form a mental picture of it? We even shape things which we have never seen — as the sites of towns and the faces of men. 2.139. Then, by your theory, when I think of the walls of Babylon or of the face of Homer, some phantom of what I have in mind strikes upon my brain! Hence it is possible for us to know everything we wish to know, since there is nothing of which we cannot think. Therefore no phantoms from the outside steal in upon our souls in sleep; nor do phantoms stream forth at all. In fact I never knew anybody who could say nothing with more ponderous gravity than Democritus.The soul is of such a force and nature that, when we are awake, it is active, not because of any extraneous impulse, but because of its own inherent power of self-motion and a certain incredible swiftness. When the soul is supported by the bodily members and by the five senses its powers of perception, thought, and apprehension are more trustworthy. But when these physical aids are removed and the body is inert in sleep, the soul then moves of itself. And so, in that state, visions flit about it, actions occur and it seems to hear and say many things. 2.141. But do you suppose that there ever would have been any old woman crazy enough to believe in dreams, if by some lucky accident or chance they had not come true sometimes? But let us consider Alexanders dream of the talking serpent. The story may be true and it may be wholly false. In either case it is no miracle; for he did not hear the serpent speak, but thought he heard it and, strangest thing of all, he thought it spoke while it held the root in its mouth! But nothing seems strange to a man when he is dreaming. Now, if Alexander ever had such a vivid and trustworthy dream as this, I want to ask why he never had another one like it and why other men have not had many of the same kind? As for me, except for that dream about Marius, I really never had one that I can recall. Think then how many nights in my long life I have spent in vain! 2.142. Moreover, at the present time, owing to the interruption of my public labours, I have ceased my nocturnal studies, and (contrary to my former practice) I have added afternoon naps. Yet despite all this time spent in sleep I have not received a single prophecy in a dream, certainly not one about the great events now going on. Indeed, I never seem to be dreaming more than when I see the magistrates in the forum and the Senate in its chamber.[69] Coming now to the second branch of the present topic, is there some such natural connecting link, which, as I said before, the Greeks call συμπάθεια, that the finding of a treasure must be deduced from dreaming of an egg? of course physicians, from certain symptoms, know the incipiency and progress of a disease; and it is claimed that from some kinds of dreams they even can gather certain indications as to a patients health, as whether the internal humours of the body are excessive or deficient. But what natural bond of union is there between dreams, on the one hand, and treasures, legacies, public office, victory and many other things of the same kind, on the other? 2.143. A person, it is said, while dreaming of coition, ejected gravel. In this case I can see a relation between the dream and the result; for the vision presented to the sleeper was such as to make it clear that what happened was due to natural causes and not to the delusion. But by what law of nature did Simonides receive that vision which forbade him to sail? or what was the connexion between the laws of nature and the dream of Alcibiades in which according to history, shortly before his death, he seemed to be enveloped in the cloak of his mistress? Later, when his body had been cast out and was lying unburied and universally neglected, his mistress covered it with her mantle. Then do you say that this dream was united by some natural tie with the fate that befell Alcibiades, or did chance cause both the apparition and the subsequent event? [70] 2.144. Furthermore, is it not a fact that the conjectures of the interpreters of dreams give evidence of their authors sagacity rather than afford any proof of a relation between dreams and the laws of nature? For example, a runner, who was planning to set out for the Olympic games, dreamed that he was riding in a chariot drawn by four horses. In the morning he went to consult an interpreter, who said to him, You will win, for that is implied in the speed and strength of horses. Later the runner went to Antipho, who said, You are bound to lose, for do you not see that four ran ahead of you? And behold another runner! — for the books of Chrysippus and Antipater are full of such dreams — but to return to the runner: he reported to an interpreter that he had dreamed of having been changed into an eagle. The interpreter said to him, You are the victor, for no bird flies faster than the eagle. This runner also consulted Antipho. Simpleton, said the latter, dont you see that you are beaten? For that bird is always pursuing and driving other birds before it and itself is always last. 2.145. A married woman who was desirous of a child and was in doubt whether she was pregt or not, dreamed that her womb had been sealed. She referred the dream to an interpreter. He told her that since her womb was sealed conception was impossible. But another interpreter said, You are pregt, for it is not customary to seal that which is empty. Then what is the dream-interpreters art other than a means of using ones wits to deceive? And those incidents which I have given and the numberless ones collected by the Stoics prove nothing whatever except the shrewdness of men who employ slight analogies in order to draw now one inference and now another. There are certain indications from the condition of the pulse and breath and from many other symptoms in sickness by means of which physicians foretell the course of a disease. When pilots see cuttle-fish leaping or dolphins betaking themselves to a haven they believe that a storm is at hand. In such cases signs are given which are traceable to natural causes and explicable by reason, but that is far from true of the dreams spoken of a little while ago. [71] 2.146. In our consideration of dreams we come now to the remaining point left for discussion, which is your contention that by long-continued observation of dreams and by recording the results an art has been evolved. Really? Then, it is possible, I suppose, to observe dreams? If so, how? For they are of infinite variety and there is no imaginable thing too absurd, too involved, or too abnormal for us to dream about it. How, then, is it possible for us either to remember this countless and ever-changing mass of visions or to observe and record the subsequent results? Astronomers have recorded the movements of the planets and thereby have discovered an orderly course of the stars, not thought of before. But tell me, if you can, what is the orderly course of dreams and what is the harmonious relation between them and subsequent events? And by what means can the true be distinguished from the false, in view of the fact that the same dreams have certain consequences for one person and different consequences for another and seeing also that even for the same individual the same dream is not always followed by the same result? As a rule we do not believe a liar even when he tells the truth, but, to my surprise, if one dream turns out to be true, your Stoics do not withdraw their belief in the prophetic value of that one though it is only one out of many; rather, from the character of the one true dream, they establish the character of countless others that are false. 2.147. Therefore, if God is not the creator of dreams; if there is no connexion between them and the laws of nature; and finally, if, by means of observation no art of divining can be found in them, it follows that absolutely no reliance can be placed in dreams. This becomes especially evident when we consider that those who have the dreams deduce no prophecies from them; that those who interpret them depend upon conjecture and not upon nature; that in the course of the almost countless ages, chance has worked more miracles through all other agencies than through the agency of dreams; and, finally, that nothing is more uncertain than conjecture, which may be led not only into varying, but sometimes even into contradictory, conclusions. [72] 2.148. Then let dreams, as a means of divination, be rejected along with the rest. Speaking frankly, superstition, which is widespread among the nations, has taken advantage of human weakness to cast its spell over the mind of almost every man. This same view was stated in my treatise On the Nature of the Gods; and to prove the correctness of that view has been the chief aim of the present discussion. For I thought that I should be rendering a great service both to myself and to my countrymen if I could tear this superstition up by the roots. But I want it distinctly understood that the destruction of superstition does not mean the destruction of religion. For I consider it the part of wisdom to preserve the institutions of our forefathers by retaining their sacred rites and ceremonies. Furthermore, the celestial order and the beauty of the universe compel me to confess that there is some excellent and eternal Being, who deserves the respect and homage of men. 2.149. Wherefore, just as it is a duty to extend the influence of true religion, which is closely associated with the knowledge of nature, so it is a duty to weed out every root of superstition. For superstition is ever at your heels to urge you on; it follows you at every turn. It is with you when you listen to a prophet, or an omen; when you offer sacrifices or watch the flight of birds; when you consult an astrologer or a soothsayer; when it thunders or lightens or there is a bolt from on high; or when some so‑called prodigy is born or is made. And since necessarily some of these signs are nearly always being given, no one who believes in them can ever remain in a tranquil state of mind.
3. Philo of Alexandria, On Drunkenness, 204 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

204. For it was not likely that in his state he could clearly and distinctly comprehend either sleep or waking, or a stationary position or motion; but when he appears to have come to an opinion in the best manner, then above all other times is he found to be most foolish, since his affairs then come to an end, by no means resembling that which was expected;
4. Philo of Alexandria, On Dreams, 1.141.1 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

5. Plutarch, On The Obsolescence of Oracles, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

414e. Their presence and power wise men are ever telling us we must look for in Nature and in Matter, where it is manifested, the originating influence being reserved for the Deity, as is right. Certainly it is foolish and childish in the extreme to imagine that the god himself after the manner of ventriloquists (who used to be called 'Eurycleis,' but now 'Pythones') enters into the bodies of his prophets and prompts their utterances, employing their mouths and voices as instruments. For if he allows himself to become entangled in men's needs, he is prodigal with his majesty and he does not observe the dignity and greatness of his preeminence.""You are right," said Cleombrotus; "but since it is hard to apprehend
6. Tertullian, On The Soul, 47.1, 47.3 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7. Iamblichus, Concerning The Mysteries, 3.1-3.3 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
allegory, allegorical de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
ambiguity, ambiguous Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
angels Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
apollo Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
aristotle Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
artemidorus Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776; Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
asclepius Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
bible Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
bodily passions de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
body Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
cicero Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776; Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
daemon, daemonic Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
democritus Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
dream de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
enigma, enigmatic Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
exorcism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
galen Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
hippocrates Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
homer Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
hypochondriac' Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
initiates de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
judaism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
knowledge de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
life de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
light de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
lucretius Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
neoplatonic Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
oracles, revelations in dreams de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
orphic, see mystery cults de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
path de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
patristics\t Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
paul Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
philo\t Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
philosopher, philosophical Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
prophecy Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
soul, orphic doctrine de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
soul, stoic doctrine de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
soul Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15; de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
stars de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
stoics / stoicism de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
sun de Jáuregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010) 408
synesius Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15
tertullian, on dreams Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
theophrastus Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 776
tradition Roskovec and Hušek, Interactions in Interpretation: The Pilgrimage of Meaning through Biblical Texts and Contexts (2021) 15