A Psychological Study of Dreams in Hellenistic poetry
As a CHS-AUTH Fellow in Hellenic Studies I worked on my research project A Psychological Study of Dreams in Hellenistic poetry. In my paper I examine three dreams of Hellenistic poetry, Medea’s dream in Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, Europa’s dream in Moschus’ Europa and Alcmene’s dream in Moschus’ Megara.
The aim of my paper is to examine the dreams and to decode them based on the dreamers’ internal world, as this is represented by the poet. In Homer dreams are presented as the gods’ will and they are a useful instrument for predicting the future. Contrary to the Homeric dream’s divine origin, the motivation of dreams in Hellenistic poetry seems to be more psychological. The human mind and soul are the key factors in the creation of dreams, whereas the gods and any external and supernatural power play less important role. In addition, I examine the role of the dreams to the development of the poetic plot. Finally, I express my point of view regarding the application of modern psychoanalytical theories, such as Freud’s dream theory, to the interpretation of the Hellenistic dreams. Some scholars believe that we should avoid imposing modern Freudian theories on Hellenistic dreams. However, the application of modern psychoanalytical theory can be a useful tool in our interpretation. Freudian theories give us the opportunity to approach the Hellenistic dreams through a modern perspective giving an additional clarity to our attempt to understand and interpret them.
A preliminary study on this topic is published in FirstDrafts@Classics. The academic assistance provided by my Supervisors from CHS and AUTH was precious and the year-long access to Harvard University’s online databases and resources proved really useful. Finally, our 10 days trip to CHS in Washington DC was a unique experience. During our visit to the CHS I had the opportunity to present my research results to the other Fellows and to get in touch with the stimulating academic atmosphere and the staff of the institution.
Dimitra Karamitsou is a PhD student in Classics at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2016-today). She has already completed her MA thesis under the title “Violent Deaths of Children in Hellenistic Epigram”. She currently works on her dissertation thesis “Emotion, Genre and Gender in the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius” which explores the emotions of the heroes of the Argonautica against the background of genre and gender studies. As a fellow of CHS-AUTH she aims at studying the dreams in Hellenistic poetry both from a psychological and a narratological perspective. She has participated as a speaker in six postgraduate conferences in Greek Universities since 2015. She was member of the Organizing Committee of the 1st International Conference for Phd Candidates and Postgraduate Students in Classics, Auth (Thessaloniki, April 2019).