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Euxenippos at Oropos: Dreaming for Athens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAncient Divination and Experience
EditorsLindsay Driediger-Murphy, Esther Eidinow
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter3
Pages68-86
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780198844549
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

King's Authors

Abstract

The chapter explores how divination through dream incubation was involved in the decision-making processes of the Athenian democracy. It focuses on the consultation of Amphiaraos in the mid-fourth century by a delegation including Euxenippos, which we know about from a speech of Isaios. It explores the wider evidence about the practical aspects of dream incubation, and draws on modern studies of dreaming, looking at the practice of recording dreams in writing at the moment of waking, and self-training to improve dreaming and dream recall. The chapter argues that, as in other forms of divination, Athens employed men like Euxenippos as ‘expert dreamers’, who were expected to have dreams when required, and who were supported by other Athenians, who acted as assistants and witnesses of the process. It further argues that divination by dreaming was taken seriously by the democracy, with expert dreamers having potentially great influence on decision-making, and becoming themselves inevitably part of the political process.

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