Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
Going back to Homer and Hesiod, dreams and visions of the gods had a special place in ancient religion, as would be seen repeatedly in the works of dozens of other Greek and Latin authors in later centuries. Our knowledge of this phenomenon, primarily literary, is supplemented by hundreds of Greek and Latin inscriptions – a few of great significance and well known to scholars, but most quite obscure. This inscribed evidence for dreams is first found during the Classical Period and continues into Late Antiquity, from as far east as Syria and as far west as Portugal, and on objects ranging from small plaques to steles and columns. Collectively, these documents provide essential evidence for the role of dreams in the religious lives of the Greeks and Romans, but numerous individual texts can raise questions about or provide insights into the multifaceted subject of dreams and religion. This lecture will first survey the epigraphical evidence for dreams and then focus on a number of the more interesting examples and the interpretive issues associated with them.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
Harris, William V., Dreams and Experience in the Classical World (Cambridge, Mass., 2009)