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Journal Article

Plutarch, Alexander, and Dream Divination

Carol J. King
Illinois Classical Studies
No. 38 (2013), pp. 81-111
DOI: 10.5406/illiclasstud.38.0081
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/illiclasstud.38.0081
Page Count: 31

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Topics: Dreams, Divination, Omens, Dream interpretation, Sieges, Classical studies, Divinity, Statues, Literature, Prophets
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Plutarch, Alexander, and Dream Divination
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Abstract

An oft-emphasized psychological approach to the dream experience has long overshadowed the ancient belief that a divine element in human affairs could be interpreted through dreams. Ample evidence for this belief and for dream divination as practiced by military leaders is found in Plutarch's Lives, yet this has been largely neglected. Examination of the nine dreams in the Life of Alexander and other comparable dreams within their broader historical contexts suggests that dream divination is less marginal than generally thought and that consultation of professional interpreters was customary for kings and military commanders, especially in times of crisis.

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