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The earliest Greek view of dreams was that the gods physically visited dreamers, entering through a keyhole, and exiting the same way after the divine message was delivered.
The fifth century BC marks the first known Greek book on dreams, written by Antiphon, an Athenian statesman.
During this century, the Greeks developed the belief (through contact with other cultures) that souls left the sleeping body.
Hippocrates (469-399 BC), the father of medicine and Socrates' contemporary, wrote On Dreams. His theory was simple: during the day, the soul receives images; during the night, it produces images. Therefore, we dream.
Aristotle (384-322 BC) thought that dreams could be indicators of conditions within the body. He did not believe they were divinely inspired. He hypothesized that external stimuli are absent during sleep, so dreams are manifestations of a profound awareness of internal sensations which are expressed as dream imagery.
Galen, a Greek physician born in 129 AD, emphasized the need to observe dreams carefully for clues to healing. He was so trusting of dream messages that he carried out operations on the basis of his dream interpretations.
Artemidorus, his contemporary, wrote on The Interpretation of Dreams (Oneirocritica). describes this as the "best source we have for the dream interpretation practices of antiquity." His theory is extensive, but within the five books he wrote, he describes two classes of dreams: somnium, which forecasts the future; and insomnium, which deal with contemporary matters and are affected by the state of the body and mind. He stated that the dream interpreter should have information about the dreamer including:
1. Images that are natural, lawful and customary for the dreamer
2. Circumstances at the time of the dream
3. Dreamers occupation and personality
The practice of dream incubation was at least as important to the Greeks as it was among Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Chinese.
Dreams also aided in their practice of medicine, sending sick people to particular temples in those places where the "gods of the body" had their shrines. The ailing Greeks would visit these temples, perform various religious rites, sleep, and hope to have a dream that assured a return to good health. Night after night they would sleep and sometimes this would go on for weeks or even months until they had the "right" dream. The most famous for dream pilgrimage was the Aesculapius at Epidaurus.
Aesculapius was a Greek healer who was believed to be the son of Apollo. He was linked with cults that began the practice of dream incubation. Aesculapius visited sleepers, miraculously curing them.
A shrine to Aesculapius was established at Epidaurus in the fifth century BC. It may still be visited today.
There are thought to be around 410 Aesculapian sanctuaries near Athens, generally being active from the sixth century BC until the third century BC.
Prophecies would also be given through dreams to those who slept in dream temples or shrines.
Almost like initiations of the ancient mystery school teachings, certain would go to the temple, where they would purify themselves first by making an offering to the Gods. Sometimes there was an animal sacrifice such as a ram, its fleece removed and then used as a sleeping mat inside the temple.
The magistrates of the city also used the temple to receive answers to difficult questions.
I Love that you have an interest in varid traditions as do I~Being open minded is very wise~*Namaste~*
Native American ways are beautiful & I have always felt a connection towards there traditions~I feel in a previous life I was one of you & honoured to be so~*