Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture

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Overview

Dream interpretation was a prominent feature of the intellectual and imaginative world of late antiquity, for martyrs and magicians, philosophers and theologians, polytheists and monotheists alike. Finding it difficult to account for the prevalence of dream-divination, modern scholarship has often condemned it as a cultural weakness, a mass lapse into mere superstition. In this book, Patricia Cox Miller draws on pagan, Jewish, and Christian sources and modern semiotic theory to demonstrate the integral importance of dreams in late-antique thought and life. She argues that Graeco-Roman dream literature functioned as a language of signs that formed a personal and cultural pattern of imagination and gave tangible substance to ideas such as time, cosmic history, and the self. Miller first discusses late-antique theories of dreaming, with emphasis on theological, philosophical, and hermeneutical methods of deciphering dreams as well as the practical uses of dreams, especially in magic and the cult of Asclepius. She then considers the cases of six Graeco-Roman dreamers: Hermas, Perpetua, Aelius Aristides, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. Her detailed readings illuminate the ways in which dreams provided solutions to ethical and religious problems, allowed for the reconfiguration of gender and identity, provided occasions for the articulation of ethical ideas, and altogether served as a means of making sense and order of the world.
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Editorial Reviews

The Journal of Religion
Patricia Cox Miller should be commended for having cast her net wide. Her book, indeed, represents the first sustained effort to present and analyze the place of dreams in the culture of the Roman Empire, from the second to the fifth centuries.... By studying together pagan and Christian dreams, Cox Miller hopes to reach a better understanding of some fundamental patterns of late antique culture.
— Guy G. Stroumsa
The Classical Review
A fluent and discursive text.... This is an adventurous exploration of a range of material which deserves to be more widely known.
— Gillian Clark
The Journal of Religion - Guy G. Stroumsa
Patricia Cox Miller should be commended for having cast her net wide. Her book, indeed, represents the first sustained effort to present and analyze the place of dreams in the culture of the Roman Empire, from the second to the fifth centuries.... By studying together pagan and Christian dreams, Cox Miller hopes to reach a better understanding of some fundamental patterns of late antique culture.
The Classical Review - Gillian Clark
A fluent and discursive text.... This is an adventurous exploration of a range of material which deserves to be more widely known.
From the Publisher
"Patricia Cox Miller should be commended for having cast her net wide. Her book, indeed, represents the first sustained effort to present and analyze the place of dreams in the culture of the Roman Empire, from the second to the fifth centuries.... By studying together pagan and Christian dreams, Cox Miller hopes to reach a better understanding of some fundamental patterns of late antique culture."—Guy G. Stroumsa, The Journal of Religion

"A fluent and discursive text.... This is an adventurous exploration of a range of material which deserves to be more widely known."—Gillian Clark, The Classical Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviation
Pt. I Images and Concepts of Dreaming
Ch. 1 Figurations of Dream 14
Ch. 2 Theories of Dreams 39
Ch. 3 Interpretation of Dreams 74
Ch. 4 Dreams and Therapy 106
Pt. II Dreamers
Ch. 5 Hermas and the Shepherd 131
Ch. 6 Perpetua and Her Diary of Dreams 148
Ch. 7 Aelius Aristides and The Sacred Tales 184
Ch. 8 Jerome and His Dreams 205
Ch. 9 The Two Gregorys and Ascetic Dreaming 232
Bibliography 255
Index 271
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