The history and literature of the Roman Empire is full of reports of dream prophecies, dream ghosts and dream gods. This volume offers a fresh approach to the study of ancient dreams by asking not what the ancients dreamed or how they experienced dreaming, but why the Romans considered dreams to be important and worthy of recording. Dream reports from historical and imaginative literature from the high point of the Roman Empire (the first two centuries AD) are analysed as objects of cultural memory, records of events of cultural significance that contribute to the formation of a group's cultural identity. The book also introduces the term `cultural imagination', as a tool for thinking about ancient myth and religion, and avoiding the question of `belief', which arises mainly from creed-based religions. The book's conclusion compares dream reports in the Classical world with modern attitudes towards dreams and dreaming, identifying distinctive features of both the world of the Romans and our own culture.
Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 626 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 23 mm
[The book] is well researched and meticulously presented. It provides an engaging and persuasive read throughout, and with its innovative approach it will appeal to readers from both academic and non-academic backgrounds. -- Michaela Senkova, University of Leicester, UK * Bryn Mawr Classical Review *
An unusually rich and wide-ranging study, built on an enviable command of both ancient sources and modern methodologies. Harrisson has found a fresh, engaging and authoritative route into this complex topic. -- Tim Whitmarsh, Professor of Ancient Literatures, University of Oxford, UK
This is an engaging, enjoyable and well-researched book, which sheds new light on a complex and fascinating subject. It will undoubtedly be an asset for all those who study dreams and dreaming in the ancient world and beyond. -- Dr. Jack Lennon, University College London, UK