November 24, 2018
Most ancient philosophers accept that dreams have prophetic powers enabling humans to relate somehow to a world beyond their own. The only philosophers known to make a clean and explicit break with that tradition are the Epicureans, beginning with Epicurus himself and reaching his last eminent follower, Diogenes of Oinoanda. They openly reject the idea that dreams mediate between the divine and the human realms, or between the world of the living and the world of the dead. They demystify the phenomenon of dreaming by explaining sleeping and dreaming in terms of their materialistic physical theory. Importantly, they examine dreams and their content from different perspectives and explore their relevance to our lives. The general aim of this paper is to offer a synthetic account of the Epicurean view about dreaming and dreams, advance certain new hypotheses that seem worthy of consideration, and show how Epicurus and his followers integrate dream theory into their philosophy as a whole.