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Title: Mesopotamian conceptions of dreams and dream rituals
Author: Butler, S. A. L.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1992
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This study discusses the ways in which the Mesopotamians regarded dreams, and the related rituals. The limited roles of the Dream God and the dreamer's personal deities in dream contexts are covered. Four categories of dreams can be identified from the available texts: message dreams; symbolic-message dreams; dream omens; and symptomatic dreams. These are mentioned briefly, together with the relevance, or otherwise, of psychoanalysis in understanding Mesopotamian conceptions of dreams. The interpretation of dream/omens is placed within the context of Mesopotamian divination, and links between dreams and other ominous experiences are explored. The remainder of this study concentrates on symptomatic dreams, which were divided into good or bad dreams, reflecting the dreamer's purity or impurity respectively. The causes of nightmares are deduced from outside the technical dream literature: demons; human agency (i.e., witchcraft); the wrath of Marduk; and ill health. External sources also provide us with the few examples of nightmares: the appearance of dead men; and sexual dreams. The ritual actions associated with symptomatic dreams are classified according to the type of method used, and their purposes are discussed. Attempts have been made to place these techniques within the context of other Mesopotamian rites. The incantations appearing in dream rituals are analyzed separately. The majority of the dream ceremonies are apotropaic, and it is suggested that the exorcist was the practitioner involved. The rare examples of dream incubation are also presented, as are rituals to obtain a favourable dream. Editions and some cuneiform copies of the main relevant texts are included.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available