How ancient dream interpretation differs from modern dream analysis

Some ancient dream interpretaters were Artemidorus, and Synesius.


Artemidorus lived in 2 AD in Daldis, in Greece-Rome. He valued traditions for giving identity to the people. He was educated and studied around 3000 dreams from common people. He did dream interpretations based on old traditions and respect towards the ancient gods. If a dreamer told him he saw dreams that strayed away from customs, it was interpreted as the dreamer having disobeyed the cultural principles and making the deity angry. Sleepers who were influenced by cults dreamed about them, displacing the the hold of old cultural identity over the sleeper.

Although Artemidorus did not link the dreamer’s personal associations towards dream meanings, he used the dreamer’s situation in life to choose the most appropriate meaning. The dream’s meaning depended on the dreamer’s marital status, social rank in his society, and state of health.


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How does ancient dream interpretation differs from modern dream analysis?

Ancient dream interpretations were heavily reliant on religious principles and beliefs on deities and how humans have to conform to practices.

In modern dream analysis, we have to consider the dreamer’s personal associations as in culture, knowledge, experience, imagination and intuition, to discern the dream’s meaning.


Jung, C. G. (2014). Dream Interpretation Ancient & Modern: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936 – 1941. Princeton University Press: New Jersey.

Saint Synesios. (also spelled as Synesius) 1888. “On Dreams”. Published by translator Isaac Myer. Legacy Reprint Series: Philadelphia 1888.

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