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The interpretation of dreams is nothing other than the juxtaposition of similarities

Was Chang Tzu dreaming himself the butterfly, or was the butterfly dreaming himself Chuang Tzu? Chang Tzu, Chinese philosopher, fourth century BC

I dream often that I can fly. In my dreams I just imagine that I can ignore gravity. By just using the power of will I can fly a few meters above the ground. I can control the altitude by just using the will. I can move up down very easy. Why is this not possible also in reality? And is there any meaning in these dreams or are the neurons or whatever just “working in sleep” for whatever reason? Sometimes I know the reason of a particular dream. I can find causes for this.


In later antiquity Artemidorus of Daldis was regarded as the greatest authority on dream-interpretation ...
Sigmund Freud The Interpretation of Dreams

Oneirology: derived from Oneiros (dream). The study of dreams. In the middle of the second century AD, Artemidorus of Daldis (Daldianus) (Αρτεμίδωρος ο Δαλδιανός ή Ονειροκριτικός ) in Asia Minor wrote Oneirocritica, a work (5 books) dedicated to the interpretation of dreams. The results were obtained from interviews with thousands of people about their dreams. Carl Jung interpreted around 80000 dreams in his entire life that leads to the question if there was any time left to do something else. While the work of Artemidorus has often been dismissed as mere divination, the careful study of dreams by modern psychiatrists has brought them back into the realm of scientific observation.

What says Artemidorus about flying dreams?

Book 2, Unit 68:

  • It is unlucky to wish to be able to fly but not to be able to do so. But it is best of all to fly at will (wishing to soar above) and to stop at will. For it foretells great ease and skill in one's business affairs.

  • If a man dreams that he is flying not very far above the earth and in an upright position it means good luck for the dream, the greater the distance about the earth, the higher his position will be in regard to those who walk beneath him for we always call those who are more prosperous the higher ones...

So I am a lucky man! I was flying in my dreams in an upright position, not like superman. I do not remember that I was flying very far above the earth, so I will not become a very important person or prosperous like Bill Gates. Maybe in the next dream I will try to fly at higher altitudes. Was Artemidorus thinking that if a person does not fly very far above the earth in his dreams is a sign that he is afraid to do so and and this is the reason that he will not be very successful in his life?

Another interesting interpretation of dreams by Artemidorus is from Charles Stewarts paper, Repression in the Antiquity. Artemidorus explains why Caesar's dream of having sex with his mother means good fortune: "just as a man who follows the precepts of Aphrodite when he makes love completely governs the body of his obedient and willing partner, the dreamer will control all of the affairs of the city".

According to Artemidorus there are 3 kinds of predictive and 2 kinds of non predictive dreams.

The predictive dreams are:

1. The oneiros or somnium: an allegorical dream, which requires an interpretation of its symbols.

2. The horama or visio: the literal predictive dream, which shows the events just as they are going to happen.

3. The chrematismos or oraculum: an apparition of God or another person who foretells the future.

The nonpredictive dreams are:

1. enupnion or insomnium, a dream without predictive value.

2. phantasma or visum, a dream containing a frightening apparition.

So I assume that in my case the dream of flying is an enupnion but sometimes I experience a phantasma. No predictive dream is known to me like Kekule's solution of the benzol molecule geometry.

Why do I not have predictive dreams? Is this so bad? I consider what Aristotle has to say in his theory for precognitive dreams as he writes many other things about dreams for example:.

Of all animals man is most given to dreaming. Children and infants do not dream, but in most cases dreaming comes on at the age of four or five years. History of Animals, Bk. 4, 537b

Sleeping Eros, Hellenistic sculpture

How does Aristotle know this? I find also the following text:

When something has moved a portion of water or air, and this in turn has moved another, then even when the initial impulse has ceased, it results in a similar sort of movement continuing up to a certain point, although the original mover is not present. In this way it is possible that some sort of movement and perception reaches the souls of dreamers, coming from the objects… and thus they (images and emanations) produce perception in the body because of sleep, people asleep being more sensitive to even slight internal movements that cause appearances (phantasmata) from which people have previsions of what is going to happen…on our account, one would expect it to be random subjects who have prevision. For the mind of such a person is not reflective, but is deserted, as it were, and completely vacant. Thus, once set in motion, it is led on according to the direction of its moving impulse. Aristotle

This explains why precognition occurs more often to average rather than intellectual people. At least I am not disappointed that my dreams are not predictive. But is Aristotle's opinion true? It seems that Socrates had a predictive dream.

One night in the year 407 B.C., Socrates had a dream. He saw a graceful white swan flying toward him with a melodious song trilling from its throat. The next morning Plato came to him and asked to become his pupil.

Other “Dream” interpreter some cited by Artemidorus:

Antiphon the Sophist ( Αντιφών ο Αθηναίος ή τερατοσκόπος )

Demetrius of Phalerum (Δημήτριος ο Φαληρεύς)

Antipater (Αντίπατρος)

Alexander of Myndus (Αλέξανδρος ο Μύνδιος)

Artemon of Miletus (Αρτέμων ο Μιλήσιος)

Geminus of Tyre (Γεμίνος ο Τύριος)

Aristander of Telmessus (who worked for Alexander the Great)

Pierre Curie said once that “you have to make your life a dream in order to make your dreams become a reality.”

Artemidorus according to Suda has written Oeonoscopica (Interpretation of Birds) and Chiroscopica (Palmistry, chiromancy , i.e. the practice of telling the fortune from lines, marks, and patterns on the hands, particularly the palms)


Charles Stewart, REPRESSION IN ANTIQUITY? Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, 2002, 20, 2: 181-203

See also

Other ancient Greece medical facts

Artemidorus, Interpretation of Dreams: Oneirocritica, Original Books, 1990


Dreamwork in Greece

Understanding DreamsPerspectives From the Ancients Through Modern Times

Dreams in Ancient Medicine

Head of a sleeping girl

Ancient Medicine (Sciences of Antiquity Series) London and New York: Routledge, 2004. Pp. xiv, 486; ills. 31, maps & plans 4. ISBN 0-415-08611-6

Ancient Greeks

Ancient Greeks Portraits


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