Friday, April 26, 2013

Zeus sends a deceptive dream


I was just asked the following question,  "Can a dream ever be misleading or false? Or are dreams always based in truth, vision and foreshadowing?"
    My immediate response: With dreams, as with anything else, we want to check on the reliability of our sources, trust our feelings, test and verify and apply that rare commodity, common sense!
    The dream archaeologist in me then recalled a most instructive story about deceptive dreams from the Iliad..
     For the early Greeks, Homer was the closest thing to the Bible. One of the things they learned from him was that the powers beyond ordinary humans speak through dreams, but can also use dreams to transmit deceptive messages. And that we want to check what is behind the mask of a dream messenger. A familiar face may be a disguise, and we want to grasp the motives and agenda of the guiser.
    In a scene in Book II of the Iliad, Zeus decides to avenge the honor of his protege Achilles, who is sulking in his tent, by making it clear to the Greeks that he is the indispensable hero. Zeus lays a trap for Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek host, who has dishonored Achilles. 
    Zeus summons Oneiros and orders him to deliver a misleading message to Agamemnon. The name Oneiros means "Dream". Here a dream is actually a dream messenger, an independent entity. 
   To carry out Zeus' command, Oneiros puts on the semblance of Nestor, a trusted comrade of Agamemnon, and visits the sleeping king in this form. Standing over Agamemnon's head, the dream visitor tells him - quoting Zeus himself -that the gods are no longer taking sides in the war. Therefore the  Greeks should make haste to attack Troy, which will fall easily.
    Trusting the dream, Agamemnon recounts it to his battle captains, and they launch their attack - only to find that the walls of Troy are not easily breached, and they cannot succeed without making amends to Achilles and bringing him back into the fray.
    We understand from this tale the sources of the Greek suspicion of oneiropompoi, or "dream senders". These might be sorcerers who were adept at projecting thoughts at a distance. There are many stories in later Greek literature about human "dream senders" who abused their psychic skills in this way.
    We see that in dreams, as in other situation, we want to check the reliability of our sources.
    In his treatise on divination, Cicero observed of Homer's depiction of dreams, , “although these stories were made up by a poet, they are not far from the usual matter of dreams.” 

Zeus sends a deceptive dream, by John Flaxman (1793)

3 comments:

alexis said...

if zeus messes with you in your dream, what chance do you have of figuring it out? :) could agamemnon have used intuition to parse this one?

dreamweaver22 said...

What immediately comes to mind, is the thought..."when things seem to good to be TRUE..."
Use whatever means at your disposal (intuition, introspection, etc) to gain more information before making a decision based on input from one source.

Patricia said...

I like what you said and dreamweaver22. I feel it is important if I am going to follow or use any dream to check into it and verify detail, trust my feelings and use common sense. This story comes to my mind. A few months ago I was in a large city walking by a shop with a friend. I get this viseral mind image thought about a facebook friend who I know from a personal friend, both live in this city. We go into this metaphysical book store and I immediately feel yucky. I go into a deepened neutral state where nothing can stick to me. The stories ending is that the man behind the counter knew my facebook friend and I found out she was very sick. I found out from my friend who I wasn't with, but who lives in this city that the man behind the counter dapples in black magic but doesn't really believe in it. YUCKY! Now I have this day experince of understanding to help me in my dreaming life. Understaning deception seems to be one of my soul lessons this time around. I feel that as I grow in decernment, judgment upon others is just not factored in. Truth in dreams is always present. For me it is becoming like, hmmm, like Truth plus Truth equals Truth, and Truth minus Deception equals Truth. Always good to stay away from double deception eqations. We all how the power to decern how we are deceiving ourselves. I figure there are no worries in dream deceptions because in the heart of the dreaming there is strong spirits that come to help. As I am finishing reading The Little Prince I am reminded of the foxes secret; "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." I think the fox is not the only animal guide that knows how to see clearly with the heart.