Gedroomde goden: Religieuze voorstellingen in de Oneirocritica van Artemidorus

Translated title of the contribution: Gods in dreams: Religious conceptions in Artemidorus' Oneirocritica

J. Bilbija, J.J. Flinterman

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The present article, a sequel to our contribution in Lampas 39.3, deals with the different roles played by the gods in Artemidorus' Oneirocritica. After an introduction (§ 1), we discuss Artemidorus' treatment of dreams received by people who have approached the gods, either in a private context or in the framework of an incubation ritual. Artemidorus takes an agnostical position with regard to the provenance of predictive dreams. Nevertheless, he leaves room for the possibility that people who have asked the gods for a prediction or an advice, will in fact receive a mantic dream, and he obviously thinks that oneirocritics should be prepared to offer their services in interpreting such 'petitionary dreams'; the same is true of dreams resulting from incubation. He sternly warns, however, against the disrespectful attitude towards the gods implied in magical dream-divination and against the fraudulence of books allegedly containing collections of divine prescriptions (§ 2). In the following two sections we focus on gods as dream-symbols in the Oneirocritica, successively discussing Artemidorus' classification of the gods (§ 3) and the methods he employs in interpreting dreams about them (§ 4). In the final section (§ 5), we raise the question of the extent to which the ideas about the gods implied in Artemidorus' interpretations are representative of contemporary pagan religiousness and of his own opinions. We argue that adducing such ideas as evidence of the vitality of traditional polytheism is questionable procedure, and that what Artemidorus presents as his own beliefs is a rather uncomfortable combination of syncretism verging on monotheism on the one hand and traditional polytheistic conceptions on the other.
Translated title of the contributionGods in dreams: Religious conceptions in Artemidorus' Oneirocritica
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)31-52
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Artemidorus, Dream divination, Conceptions of the divine

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