Do Dreams Have Meaning? Round 2


Cultures and their Theories about Dreams




This was a civilization born along rivers where agriculture was way underway. River floods made the soil around very fertile and it supplied water to grow the crops. Agriculture also increased the number of people living around. Some of the world's first civilizations developed in these areas. (1)(2)(3)

Theories about Dreams: 

  • Civilization existed around 5000 BC
  • was the first to write a book about dreams - included some symbols in dreams and what they mean
  • Thought dreams were signs from gods
  • dream priests told people what their dreams meant in respect with their future. 
  • rituals were formed for dreams and made to summon more dreams - spread through the world
  • these beliefs gave the rise to Hebrew, Arabic and Greek traditions of dream interpretation (1)(2)(4)


Ancient Egypt

Egypt is a country in North America and is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. The Egyptians live in soil that is rich with dark soil from the Nile river. This is an independent nation with a culture famous for their culture and cultural advances in knowledge. They were far advanced with arts, science, religion, and technology. They believed in immortality where after death, they would be judged and they could live in a land with all their loved ones. They believed in eternal life and this was only given to people who live well with the Gods. (6)(7)

Theories about Dreams: 

  • took ideas from Sumerians
  • view dreams like messages from God just like Mesopotamia
  • Created a dream book - displayed at the British Museum in London
  • Also had dream interpreters who lived in temples dedicated to gods, they also had rituals that gave sacrifices so dreams would reveal more of the future of people
  • Pharaohs dreams were the most important because they were viewed as Gods - people though God was trying to send them messages 
  • the sacred part of the Egyptian culture
  • dream interpreters called "Masters of the Secret Things" who got most of their knowledge from "The Book of the Dead" which contains a book of Egyptian wisdom
  • saw dreams as warnings, advice, and prophecies
  • they thought that their eyes were opened in their dreams and used this as a symbol of an open eye
  • They had an advanced practice of dream travel which is like lucid dreaming where they were able to manipulate the time in their dream as well as the dream bodies. (1)(5)


Ancient Greece

Greek civilization thrived 4,000 years ago, they lived in Greece and these countries are now called Bulgaria and Turkey. The Greece Empire was the most powerful between 2,000 BC and 146 BC where it spread over Europe to France. they had new ideas for government, science, philosophy, religion, and art which impacts modern times. Greece was divided into different states which were ruled differently the most important cities were Athens and Sparta. (9)(10)

 Theories about Dreams: 

  • 335 BC
  • a Greek philosopher said, "human beings are capable of achieving the pure form of wisdom only during sleep when our minds are liberated."
  • Greece was one of the more powerful civilizations on Earth at the time and had many impacts on the development
  • Dreams played a huge role, even when it came to military decisions and family life
  • They believed that dream predicted the future but did not focus on predicting the future but also to ensure prosperity
  • Hippocrates saw dreams as indicators of physical and mental health
  • They slowly saw that dreams did not come from God and were the thoughts that were in a person's head when they are sleeping
  • created a book called Oneirocritica which was written by Artemidorus in ancient Greece and is referenced when people write about dreams today 
  • Aristotle concluded that dreams were not messages from God but they were extensions of reality from sleep. He also talked about lucid dreaming, this work that he did inspire many people to apply this research on their own. 
  • used to believe that dreams where a place to go so God would heal them (1)(8)(9)


Ancient Rome

Ruled Europe for 1000 years and their culture was spread over Europe, meaning that it still has an impact on the world today. they had advancements in areas like the government, engineering, architecture, language, and literature. Rome is the capital of Italy today. The fall of Western Rome is the start of the Dark Ages. The language of native Romans was Latin, but many spoke Greek. Julius Caesar took power and named himself dictator for life, but was killed a year later. (11)(12)

Theories about Dreams: 

  • the interpretation was from the Greeks, Augustus who is the successor of Julius Cesaer believed that dreams predict the future
  • Made it law that when a citizen has a dream about the empire to talk about it
  • unfair laws were justified by the fact that they were suggested in dreams
  • further on believed that dreams did not come from gods but were inspired by daily life and experiences (1)(11)


Lack of Sleep


Sleep is very important and most people would need an average of 8 hours of sleep per day to function properly. If you wake up tired, you need more sleep. lots of factors can contribute to a lack of sleep. (13)

What Happens if you don't sleep?

Here is a video that will go over what happens if you don't sleep (14)

Here are some things that sleep does and why you should get more sleep:

  • Boosts immunity - sleep helps you fight colds and flues, this means that a lack of sleep can disrupt your immune system
  • keep you slim - sleeping more can slim you, and people who sleep more shows that they will gain less weight. People who lack sleep have shown to have a reduced level of leptin which is a chemical that makes you feel full, so you will eat more, it also shows that there is an increased level of ghrelin which is the hunger stimulation hormone. You will eat more and not feel full. 
  • Boosted mental wellbeing - people who do not sleep will lead to long-term disorders like depression and anxiety, and sleep will lead to long-term disorders like depression and anxiety
  • sleep prevents diabetes - people who sleep less will have a higher risk of getting diabetes, missing out on sleep will lead to type 2 diabetes, this changes the way the body processes glucose
  • decreases the chances of heart disease (13)(15)(16)



Original Post

Hey Grace, 

I love how detailed and refined your posts! I found it interesting that the first civilizations believed dreams were like a message from god, but the Greeks and Romans thought dreams were inspired by daily life experiences. I wonder how the Greeks figured out how dreams weren't messages from god? Anyways, one question I have about dreams is how come you remember your dreams some nights, but not others? Personally, I've always been curious about how we remember our dreams because we are asleep. Our brains are still active but does that automatically mean we still remember things when we sleep? Here is a link on why we remember our dreams that could be helpful.

I look forward to your next post.

Hey Grace,

It's quite predictable yet amazing that all these civilizations held so much importance on dreams. It was something that could not be explained at the time, thus something that could provide as another means of communication between the gods and the people. I'm curious about whether the meaning of dreams ever changed as the civilization's circumstances changed. I think it would be cool to look into the history of one war-inflicted civilization, and see whether the meaning and importance of dreams changed depending on its state of peace or corruption.

Great research though; this is a super cool topic.

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