What do you dream about when you sleep? What about your friends, relatives? Sometimes it can be a lot of fun sharing those strange stories from our dreams. After all, they are just strange stories, they do not really mean anything. Or do they?
Here is a thought to ponder – even if a dream might mean nothing to each of us individually, te images we see in our dreams can shed some light on us as a collective. Those images, it turns out, have not always been the same. And probably they will change over time also in the future. But, knowing what images appear in a society’s mind at a certain period in time and at a certain geographical area – this can become a powerful instrument, if one wants to influence that society’s imagination.
This quote from Wendy Cotter’s sourcebook on ancient Greco-Roman miracles is a rare and interesting find. It comes from a 1st century CE book of dream interpretations – a collection made by Artemidorus Daldianus that shows how people who lived around the Mediterranean made associations between the images they saw in their dreams and their meanings. Such evidence can be very telling about the respective culture and how it viewed the world.
“Walking on the sea is a good sign for a man who wishes to go abroad, especially if he is about to sail. For the dream foretells great safety. It is also good for a slave and for a man who intends to marry. The former will rule his master; the latter will rule his wife. For the sea resembles a master because it is mighty; it resembles a wife because it is moist. It is also good for a man who is involved in a lawsuit. For he will be superior to the judge and will naturally win the trial. For the sea also resembles a judge, since it treats some people well and others badly. To a young man, it signifies the love of prostitutes. And if a woman has the dream, it means that she will lead a life of prostitution. For the sea resembles a prostitute in that it appears sweet and loving at first, but then, afterwards, treats men most badly. On the other hand, for all those who earn their living from crowds, or statesmen, and popular leaders, it prophesies extraordinary gain together with great fame. For the sea also resembles a crowd because of its instability.“Artemidorus in Cotter