When describing the role of dreams in ancient texts, Freud wrote, “They took it for granted that dreams were related to the world of the supernatural beings in whom they believed, and that they brought inspirations from the gods and demons. Moreover, it appeared to them that dreams must serve a special purpose in respect of the dreamer; that, as a rule, they predicted the future.” He goes on to explain the findings of a fellow psychiatrist, Gruppe, who believed that there are two classes of dreams in ancient texts. The first class is influenced only by the present or past and does not play a largely significant role in these texts. The second class, however, is determinative of the future and is quite important to the understanding of the texts in which they appear. This class contains dreams that are direct prophecies and directly show the future, dreams that are foretelling of the future and indirectly hint at what the future will be, and dreams that are symbolic and require interpretation to fully understand their explanation of the future. The gods use all these types of dreams to play a direct role in the lives of men in Genesis, Song of Songs, and The Oresteia.
The use of dreams in Genesis is most obvious through the story of Joseph. Dreams play an important role in determining the course of Joseph’s life, and are used to reveal the mind of God to the people. The first dreams he encounters are those of the sheaves of his brothers bowing down to his sheaf, and the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. These dreams best fit into Gruppe’s description of symbolic dreams. While their explanation is fairly evident as showing tha...
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...re very important in ancient texts because they present to mankind a world that they cannot see. Without dreaming, there would be almost no connection to the gods, to those beings who impact and design life on earth. As Freud states, there is significance in every dream; they each have a special meaning for the person who experiences them. They are important because the gods can directly shape the course of a life through them, because they can be a form of communication with the gods, and because they can show what is going on behind the secret “god curtain” that humans cannot see through. Without dreams, man would be stranded, left on earth by himself with no understanding of the meaning behind things. For this reason, dreams are used as a major literary device, because they create a supernatural connection that everyone can experience and wonder about.
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