THE ONEIROI were the dark-winged spirits (daimones) of dreams which emerged each night like a flock of bats from their cavernous home in Erebos--the land of eternal darkness beyond the rising sun. The Oneiroi passed through one of two gates (pylai). The first of these, made of horn, was the source of the prophetic god-sent dreams, while the other, constructed of ivory, was the source of dreams which were false and without meaning. The term for nightmare was melas oneiros (black dream).
According to some the leader of the Oneiroi was Morpheus, a god who appeared in the dreams of kings in the guise of a man bearing messages from the gods.
FAMILY OF THE ONEIROI
[1.1] NYX (no father) (Hesiod Theogony 212; Sappho Frag 63, Statius Thebaid 10.112)
[1.2] EREBOS & NYX (Hyginus Preface, Cicero De Natura Deorum 3.17)
[2.1] HYPNOS (Ovid Metamorphoses 11.592)
[1.1] MORPHEUS, IKELOS-PHOBETOR, PHANTASOS (Ovid Metamorphoses 11.592)
[2.1] EPIALES ? (Alcaeus Frag 406)
ONEIROS (Oneiros), a personification of dream, and in the plural of dreams. According to Homer Dreams dwell on the dark shores of the western Oceanus (Od. xxiv. 12 ), and the deceitful dreams come through an ivory gate, while the true these ones issue from a gate made of horn. (Od. xix. 562, &c.) Hesiod (Theog. 212) calls dreams the children for the children of Night, and Ovid (Met. xi. 633), who calls them children of Sleep, mentions tree of them by name, viz. Morpheus, Icelus or Phobetor, and Phantasus. Euripides called them sons of Gaea, and conceived them as genii with black wings.
I′CELUS, the son of Somnus, and brother of Morpheus, was believed to shape the dreams which came to man, whence he derived his name. The gods, says Ovid (Met. xi. 640), called him Icelus, but men called him Phobetor.
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
NAMES OF ONEIROI
Form, Shape (morphê)
To Be Feared (phobêtos)
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
PARENTAGE OF THE ONEIROI
Hesiod, Theogony 211 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
"And Nyx (Night) bare hateful Moros (Doom) and black Ker (Violent Death) and Thanatos (Death), and she bare Hypnos (Sleep) and the tribe of Oneiroi (Dreams). And again the goddess murky Nyx, though she lay with none, bare Momos (Blame) and painful Oizys (Misery), and the Hesperides . . . Also she bare the Moirai (Moirae, Fates) and the ruthless avenging Keres (Death-Fates) . . . Also deadly Nyx bare Nemesis (Envy) to afflict mortal men, and after her, Apate (Deceit) and Philotes (Friendship) and hateful Geras (Old Age) and hard-hearted Eris (Strife)."
Pseudo-Hyginus, Preface (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"From Nox (Night) and Erebus [were born]: Fatum (Fate), Senectus (Old Age), Mors (Death), Letum (Dissolution), Continentia (Moderation), Somnus (Sleep), Somnia (Dreams) [i.e. the Oneiroi], Amor (Love)--that is Lysimeles, Epiphron (Prudence), Porphyrion, Epaphus, Discordia (Discord), Miseria (Misery), Petulantia (Wantonness), Nemesis (Envy), Euphrosyne (Good Cheer), Amicitia (Friendship), Misericordia (Compassion), Styx (Hatred); the three Parcae (Fates), namely Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos; the Hesperides."
[N.B. Hypnos is translated by this Roman writer as Somnus and the Oneiroi and Somnai.]
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 17 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"Their [Aether and Hemera's] brothers and sisters, whom the ancient genealogists name Amor (Love), Dolus (Guile), Metus (Fear), Labor (Toil), Invidentia (Envy), Fatum (Fate), Senectus (Old Age), Mors (Death), Tenebrae (Darkness), Miseria (Misery), Querella (Complaint), Gratia (Favour), Fraus (Fraud), Pertinacia (Obstinacy), the Parcae (Fates), the Hesperides, the Somnia (Dreams): all of these are fabled to be the children of Erebus (Darkness) and Nox (Night)."
ONEIROI THE SPIRITS OF DREAMS
Homer, Odyssey 19. 562 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"[Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, speaks :] ‘But come, here is a dream that I wish you to listen to and interpret. I have twenty geese . . . but a great eagle . . . swooped down . . . and killed them. He perched upon a projecting roof-beam, he [i.e. the Oneiros (Dream)] spoke with a human voice to check my grief . . . "This was no dream but a waking vision, a happy one, destined to be fulfilled for you. The geese were the suitors, and I who was the eagle am now your own husband, at home again and about to bring a hideous death upon all the suitors." So he spoke and the sleep that had soothed me let me go . . . .’
[The disguised Odysseus replies :] ‘Queen, that interpretation of you dream certainly cannot be wrenched aside . . .’
[Penelope speaks :] ‘Dear guest, Oneiroi (Dreams) are beyond our unravelling--who can be sure what tale they tell? Not all that men look for comes to pass. Two gates there are that give passage to fleeting Oneiroi (Dreams); one is made of horn, one of ivory. The Oneiroi that pass through sawn ivory are deceitful, bearing a message that will not be fulfilled; those that come out through polished horn have truth behind them, to be accomplished for men who see them. But I cannot hope that this Oneiros (Dream) that bewilders me came from there.’"
Homer, Odyssey 24. 12 ff (trans. Shewring) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"So did these ghosts travel on together squeaking, while easeful Hermes led them down [to the Land of the Dead] through the ways of dankness. They passed the streams of Okeanos, the White Rock (petra Leukas), the Gates of the Sun (pylai Hêlioi) and the Land of Dreams (demos oneiroi), and soon they came to the field of asphodel, where the souls (psykhai), the phantoms (eidola) of the dead have their habitation."
Homer, Iliad 2. 5 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.) :
"The ease of sleep cmae not upon Zeus who was pondering in his heart how he might ring honour to Akhilleus (Achilles), and destroy many beside the ships of the Akhaians (Achaeans). Now to his mind this thing appeared to be the best counsel, to send evil Oneiros (Dream) to Atreos' son Agamemnon. He cried out to the Oneiros and addressed him in winged words : ‘Go forth, evil Oneiros (Dream), beside the swift ships of the Akhaians. Make your way to the shelter of Atreos' son Agamemnon; speak to him in [deceptive] words exactly as I command you. Bid him arm the flowing-haired Akhaians for battle in all haste; since now he might take the wide-wayed city of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos arguing the matter, since Hera forced them all over by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans.’
So he spoke, and Oneiros (Dream) listened to his word and descended. Lightly he came down beside the swift ships of the Akhaians and came to Agamemnon. He found him sleeping within his shelter in a cloud of immortal slumber. Oneiros stood then beside his head in the likeness of Nestor, Neleus' son, whom Agamemnon honoured beyond all elders beside. In Nestor's likeness the divine Oneiros (Dream) spoke to him : ‘Son of wise Atreos breaker of horses, are you sleeping? He should not sleep night long who is a man burdened with counsels and responsibility for a people and cares so numerous. Listen quickly to what I say, since I am a messenger of Zeus, who far away cares for you and is pitiful. Zeus bids you arm the flowing-haired Akhaians for battle in all haste; since now you might take the wide-wayed city of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos arguing the matter, since Hera forced them all over by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans from Zeus. Keep this thought in your heart then, let not forgetfulness take you, after you are released from the kindly sweet slumber.’
So he spoke and went away, and left Agamemnon there, believing things in his heart that were not to be accomplished. For he thought on that very day he would take Priamos' city; fool, who knew nothing of all the things Zeus planned to accomplish, Zeus, who yet was minded to visit tears and sufferings on Trojans and Danaans alike in the strong encounters. Agamemnon awoke from sleep, the divine voice drifting around him . . .
First he held a council session of the high-hearted princes beside the ship of Nestor, the king of the race of Pylos. Summoning these he compacted before them his close counsel : ‘Hear me friends: in my sleep an Oneiros (Dream) divine came to me through the immortal night, and in appearance and stature and figure it most closely resembled splendid Nestor. It came and stood above my head and spoke a word to me : "Son of wise Atreus breaker of horses are you sleeping? He should not sleep night long who is a man burdened with counsels and responsibility for a people and cares so numerous. Now listen quickly to what I say, since I am a messenger from Zeus, who far away cares much for you and is pitiful. Zeus bids you arm the flowing-haired Akhaians for battle in all haste; since now you might take the wide-wayed city of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos arguing the matter, since Hera has forced them all over by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans by Zeus' will. Keep this withing you heart." So Speaking the Oneiros went away on wings, and sweet sleep released me. Come then let us see if we can arm the sons of the Akhaians . . .’
He spoke thus, and sat down again, and among them rose up Nestor . . . He in kind intention toward all stood forth and addressed them: ‘Friends, who are leaders of the Argives and keep their counsel, had it been any other Akhaian who told of this dream we should have called it a lie and we might rather have turned from it. Now he who claims to be the best of the Akhaians hs seen it [therefore it must be prophetically true]. Come then, let us see if we can arm the sons of the Akhaians.’"
Bacchylides, Fragment 63 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I) (Greek lyric C6th B.C.) :
"Onoire (Oneiros, Dream) son of black Nyx (Night) . . ((lacuna)) you come whenever Hypnos (Sleep) . . ((lacuna)) sweet god."
Alcman, Fragment 1 (from Scholia A 5. 49) (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric C7th B.C.) :
"He has called Oneiroi (Dreams) ‘rock-sheltered’ since they dwell under a rock."
Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragments 963 (from Demetrius, On Style) (trans. Campbell) :
"Plouton (Pluton) [Haides], master of the black-winged Oneiroi (Dreams)."
Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 523 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"It was because she [Klytaimestra (Clytemnestra)] was shaken by dreams (oneiroi) and wandering terrors of the night (deima nyktiplanktoi) that she sent these offerings [libations to the ghost of her murdered husband Agamemnon], godless woman that she is . . . She dreamed she gave birth to a serpent: that is her own account . . . She laid it to rest as if it were a child, in swaddling clothes." [I.e. Klytaimnestra dreamt that her son Orestes, would avenge his father's murder upon her.]
Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 886 ff :
"[In the following passage Gaia (Gaea) the earth is apparently invoked to draw away the vision of a nightmare :]
Like a spider, he [a rapist] is carrying me [a woman] seaward step by step--a nightmare (oneiros), a black nightmare (melas oneiros)! Oh! Oh! Mother Earth (Ma Ge), mother Earth (Ma Ge), avert his fearful cries! O father Zeus, son of Ge (Earth)!"
Aesop, Fables 529 (from Life of Aesop 33) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"Apollon, who is the leader of the Mousai (Muses), once asked Zeus to give him the power of foresight, so that he could be the best oracle. Zeus agreed, but when Apollon was then able to provoke the wonder of all mankind, he began to think that he was better than all the other gods and he treated them with even greater arrogance than before. This angered Zeus (and he was Apollon's superior, after all). Since Zeus didn't want Apollon to have so much power over people, he devised a true kind of Oneiros (Dream) that would reveal to people in their sleep what was going to happen. When Apollon realized that no one would need him for his prophecies any more, he asked Zeus to be reconciled to him, imploring Zeus not to subvert his own prophetic power. Zeus forgave Apollon and proceeded to devise yet more Oneiroi (Dreams) for mankind, so that there were now false Oneiroi (Dreams) that came to them in their sleep, in addition to the true Oneiroi (Dreams). Once the people realized that their dreams were unreliable, they had to turn once again to Apollon, the original source of prophetic divination."
Aesop, Fables 563 (from Babrius 30) :
"A sculptor was selling a white marble statue of Hermes which two men wanted to buy : one of them, whose son had just died, wanted it for the tombstone, while the other was a craftsman who wanted to consecrate the statue to the god himself. It was getting late, and the sculptor had not yet sold the statue. He agreed that he would show the statue again to the men when they came back the next morning. In his sleep, the sculptor saw Hermes himself standing at the Gate of Oneiroi (Dreams). The god spoke to him and said, ‘Well, my fate hangs in the balance: it is up to you whether I will become a dead man or a god!’"
Plato, Republic 383b (trans. Shorey) (Greek philosopher C4th B.C.) :
"There are many other things that we praise in Homer, this we will not applaud, the sending of the [deceptive] dream (oneiros) by Zeus to Agamemnon."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 10. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[In Sikyon (Sicyon) in Argolis there is] a sanctuary of Asklepios (Asclepius). On passing into the enclosure you see on the left a building with two rooms. In the outer room lies a figure of Hypnos (Sleep), of which nothing remains now except the head. The inner room is given over to the Apollon Karneios (Carneus); into it none may enter except the priests. In the portico lies a huge bone of a sea-monster, and after it an image of Oneiros (Dream) and Hypnos (Sleep), surnamed Epidotes (Bountiful), lulling to sleep a lion."
[N.B. The healing-god Asklepios was believed to visit supplicants in their dreams--i.e. dream incubation--and enact or give instructions for a cure.]
Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 27 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[From a description of an ancient Greek painting depicting the oracle of Amphiaraos (Amphiaraus) at Oropos (Oropus) :] The painting depicts also [the town of] Oropos as a youth among bright-eyed women, Thalattai (the Seas), and it depicts also the place used by Amphiaraos for meditation, a cleft holy and divine. Aletheia (Truth) clad all in white is there and the gate of dreams (pylê oneirôn)--for those who consult the oracle must sleep--and Oneiros (the god of dreams) himself is depicted in relaxed attitude, wearing a white garment over a black one, I think representing his nocturnal and diurnal work. And in his hands he carries a horn, showing that he brings up his dreams through the gate of truth."
[N.B. Oropos was a dream-oracle. The Oneiros (Dream) carries a horn because the gate of true dreams in the underworld was constructed of horn, cf. Homer, Odyssey 19.566.]
Orphic Hymn 86 to the Oneiroi (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :
"To the Oneiroi (Dreams), Fumigation from Aromatics. Thee I invoke, blest power of Oneiroi (Dreams) divine, messengers of future fates, swift wings are thine. Great source of oracles to human kind, when stealing soft, and whispering to the mind, through sleep's sweet silence, and the gloom of night, thy power awakes the intellectual sight; to silent souls the will of heaven relates, and silently reveals their future fates. Forever friendly to the upright mind, sacred and pure, to holy rites inclined; for these with pleasing hope thy dreams inspire: bliss to anticipate, which all desire. Thy visions manifest of fate disclose, what methods best may mitigate our owes; reveal what rites the Gods immortal please, and what the means their anger to appease; for ever tranquil is the good man's end, whose life thy dreams admonish and defend. But from the wicked turned averse to bless, thy form unseen, the angel of distress; no means to check approaching ill they find, pensive with fears, and to the future blind. Come, blessed power, the signatures reveal which heaven's decrees mysteriously conceal, sings only present to the worthy mind, nor omens ill disclose of monstrous kind."
Ovid, Metamorphoses 11. 585 (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Hera commands her messenger Iris summon a Dream-Spirit :] ‘Iris, my voice's trustiest messenger, hie quickly to the drowsy hall of Somnus (Sleep) [Hypnos], and bid him send a dream of Ceyx drowned to break the tidings to [his wife] Alcyone.’
Then Iris, in her thousand hues enrobed traced through the sky her arching bow and reached the cloud-hid palace of the drowsy king. Near the Cimmerii land a cavern lies deep in the hollow of a mountainside, the home and sanctuary of lazy Somnus (Sleep) [Hypnos], where the sun's beams can never reach at morn or noon or eve, but cloudy vapours rise in doubtful twilight; there no wakeful cock crows summons to the dawn, no guarding hound the silence breaks, nor goose, a keener guard; no creature wild or tame is heard, no sound of human clamour and no rustling branch. There silence dwells: only the lazy stream of Lethe (Forgetfulness) 'neath the rock with whisper low o'er pebbly shallows trickling lulls to sleep. Before the cavern's mouth lush poppies grow and countless herbs, from whose bland essences a drowsy infusion dewy Nox (Night) [Nyx] distils and sprinkles sleep across the darkening world. No doors are there for fear a hinge should creak, no janitor before the entrance stands, but in the midst a high-raised couch is set of ebony, sable and downy-soft, and covered with a dusky counterpane, whereon the god, relaxed in languor, lies. Around him everywhere in various guise lie empty Somnia (Dreams) [Oneiroi], countless as ears of corn at harvest time or sands cast on the shore or leaves that fall upon the forest floor. There Iris entered, brushing the Somnia (Dreams) aside, and the bright sudden radiance of her robe lit up the hallowed place; slowly the god his heavy eyelids raised, and sinking back time after time, his languid drooping head nodding upon his chest, at last he shook himself out of himself, and leaning up he recognized her and asked why she came, and she replied : ‘Somnus (Sleep) [Hypnos], quietest of the gods, Somnus, peace of all the world, balm of the soul, who drives care away, who gives ease to weary limbs after the hard day's toil and strength renewed to meet the morrow's tasks, bid now thy Dreams, whose perfect mimicry matches the truth, in Ceyx's likeness formed appear in Trachis to Alcyone and feign the shipwreck and her dear love drowned. So Juno [Hera] orders.’
Then, her task performed, Iris departed, for she could no more endure the power of Somnus, as drowsiness stole seeping through her frame, and fled away back o'er the arching rainbow as she came. The father Somnus chose from among his sons, his thronging thousand sons, one who in skill excelled to imitate the human form; Morpheus his name, than whom none can present more cunningly the features, gait and speech of men, their wonted clothes and turn of phrase. He mirrors only men; another forms the beasts and birds and the long sliding snakes. The gods have named him Icelos; here below the tribe of mortals call him Phobetor. A third, excelling in an art diverse, is Phantasos; he wears the cheating shapes of earth, rocks, water, trees--inanimate things. To kings and chieftains these at night display their phantom features; other dreams will roam among the people, haunting common folk. All these dream-brothers the old god passed by and chose Morpheus alone to undertake Thaumantias' [Iris'] commands; then in sweet drowsiness on his high couch he sank his head to sleep.
Soon through the dewy dark on noiseless wings flew Morpheus and with brief delay arrived at Trachis town and, laying his wings aside, took Ceyx's [ghostly] form and face and, deathly pale and naked, stood beside the poor wife‘s bed. His beard was wet and from his sodden hair the sea-drips flowed; then leaning over her, weeping, he said : ‘Poor, poor Alcyone! Do you know me, your Ceyx? Am I changed in death? Look! Now you see, you recognize--ah! Not your husband but your husband‘s ghost. Your prayers availed me nothing. I am dead. Feed not your heart with hope, hope false and vain. A wild sou‘wester in the Aegaeum sea, striking my ship, in its huge hurricane destroyed her. Over my lips, calling your name--calling in vain--the waters washed. These tidings no dubious courier brings, no vague report: myself, here, shipwrecked, my own fate reveal. Come, rise and weep! Put on your mourning! Weep! Nor unlamented suffer me to join the shadowy spirits of Tartara (the Underworld).’
So Morpheus spoke, spoke too in such a voice as she must think her husband's (and his tears she took for true), and used her Ceyx' gestures. Asleep, she moaned and wept and stretched her arms to hold him, but embraced the empty air. ‘Oh wait for me!’ she cried, ‘Why haste away? I will come too.’
Roused by her voice's sound and by her husband's ghost, now wide awake, she looked . . . but found him nowhere . . . She cried, ‘. . . He is dead, shipwrecked and drowned. I saw him, knew him, tried to hold him--as he vanished--in my arms. He was a ghost, but yet distinct and clear, truly my husband's ghost, though to be sure his face was changed, his shining grace was gone. Naked and deathly pale, with dripping hair, I saw him--woe is me!’"
Ovid, Fasti 4. 661 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Nox (Night) [Nyx] approaches: a garland of poppies binds her peaceful brow, black Somnia (Dreams) [Oneiroi] trail her."
Virgil, Aeneid 6. 268 ff (trans. Fairclough) (Roman epic C1st B.C.) :
"[Aeneas is guided by the Sibyl on a journey through the Underworld :] On they went dimly, beneath the lonely night amid the gloom, through the empty halls of Dis [Haides] and his phantom realm . . . Just before the entrance, even within the very jaws of Orcus [Haides], Luctus (Grief) [Penthos] and avenging Curae (Cares) have set their bed; there pale Morbi (Diseases) [Nosoi] dwell, sad Senectus (Old Age) [Geras], and Metus (Fear) [Phobos, and Fames (Hunger) [Limos], temptress to sin, and loathly Egestas (Want) [Aporia], shapes terrible to view; and Letum (Death) [Thanatos] and Labor (Distress) [Ponos]; next, Letum's (Death's) own brother Sopor (Sleep) [Hypnos], and Gaudia (the soul's Guilty Joys), and, on the threshold opposite, the death-dealing Bellum (War) [Polemos], and the Eumenides' [Erinyes', Furies'] iron cells, and maddening Discordia (Strife) [Eris], her snaky locks entwined with bloody ribbons. In the midst an elm, shadowy and vast, spreads her boughs and aged arms, the whome which, men say, false Somnia (Dreams) [Oneiroi] hold, clinging under every leaf."
Statius, Thebaid 10. 80 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman epic C1st A.D.) :
"Beyond the cloud-wrapt chambers of western gloom and Aethiopia's other realm [i.e. the Ethiopians of the West towards the evening] there stands a motionless grove, impenetrable by any star; beneath it the hollow recesses of a deep and rocky cave run far into a mountain, where the slow hand of Natura (Nature) [Physis] has set the halls of lazy Somnus (Sleep) [Hypnos] and his untroubled dwelling. The threshold is guarded by shady Quies (Quiet) [Hesykhia] and dull Oblivio (Forgetfulness) [Lethe] and torpid Ignavia (Sloth) with ever drowsy countenance. Otia (Ease) and Silentia (Silence) with folded wings sit mute in the forecourt and drive the blustering winds from the roof-top, and forbid the branches to sway, and take away their warblings from the birds. No roar of the sea is here, though all the shores be sounding, nor yet of the sky; the very torrent that runs down the deep valley nigh the cave is silent among the rocks and boulders; by its side are sable herds, and sheep reclining one and all upon the ground; the fresh buds wither, and a breath from the earth makes the grasses sink and fail . . .
He [Somnus-Hypnos] himself beneath humid caverns rests upon coverlets heaped with slumberous flowers, his garments reek, and the cushions are warm with his sluggish body, and above the bed a dark vapour rises from his breathing mouth. One hand holds up the locks that fall from his left temple, from the other drops his neglected horn. Vague Somnia (Dreams) [Oneiroi] of countless shapes stand round about him, true mixed with false, flattering with sad, the dark brood of Nox (Night) [Nyx], and cling to beams and doorposts, or lie on the ground. The light about the chamber is weak and fitful, and languid gleams that woo to earliest slumbers vanish as the lamps flicker and dim."
Statius, Silvae 5. 3. 260 ff (trans. Mozley) (Roman poetry C1st A.D.) :
"Thence mayst thou [the shade of a deceased parent] pass to where the better gate of horn o'ercomes the envious ivory [from the gate of horn issues true dreams and from ivory the false], and in the semblance of a dream teach me what thou wert ever wont to teach."
Colluthus, Rape of Helen 319 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poetry C5th to C6th A.D.) :
"And Nyx (Night), respite from labour after the journey of the sun, lightened sleep and brought the beginning of wandering morn; and opened the two gates of Oneiroi (Dreams): one the gate of truth--it shone with the sheen of horn--whence leap for the the unerring messages of the gods; the other the gate of Deceit, nurse of empty dreams."
Colluthus, Rape of Helen 365 ff :
"[The child Hermione cries after being abandoned by her mother Helene :] She wailed, and leaning back her neck breathed Hypnos (Sleep) . . . And wandering amid the deceits of Oneiroi (Dreams) she fancied that she saw her mother."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 34. 89 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"[During the Indian War of Dionysos :] While Morrheus [an Indian general] slumbered, the vision of an Oneiros (Dream) came flying from the deluding gates of ivory [gate of false dreams] to cajole him, and uttered a comforting but deceitful speech : ‘Bridegroom Morrheus, welcome Khalkomede (Chalcomede) a willing bride! Welcome your bride in your own bed after your battles! In the day when you saw me you delighted your eyes--in the night, sleep by the side of your loving Khalkomedeia! Even in sleep marriage has its charm, even in dreams it has a passion of sweet desire. I would fain hold you in my arms, and dawn is near.’
With these words, the vision flew away; Morrheus leapt out of his sleep and saw the beginning of dawn."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 50 ff :
"[Agaue (Agave), the mother of Pentheus, has a prophetic dream predicting the death of her son :] Agaue slumbering on her bed had been terrified all night in her sleep, when the unreal phantom of Oneiros (Dream) had leapt through the Gate of Horn which never deceives, and whispered in her sleepy ear. For she thought she saw [images in a dream]."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 48. 264 ff :
"The maiden [virgin Aura] awoke . . . [and] bold Hypnos (Sleep) she reproached more than all and threatened the Oneiros (Dream)." [N.B. Aura reproaches Hypnos and Oneiros for sending her a prophetic dream predicting the loss of her coveted virginity.]
- Homer, The Iliad - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Homer, The Odyssey - Greek Epic C8th B.C.
- Hesiod, Theogony - Greek Epic C8th - 7th B.C.
- Aesop, Fables - Greek Fables C6th B.C.
- Greek Lyric I Alcman, Fragments - Greek Lyric C7th B.C.
- Greek Lyric I Sappho, Fragments - Greek Lyric C6th B.C.
- Greek Lyric V Anonymous, Fragments - Greek Lyric B.C.
- Aeschylus, Libation Bearers - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Aeschylus, Suppliant Women - Greek Tragedy C5th B.C.
- Plato, Republic - Greek Philosophy C4th B.C.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece - Greek Travelogue C2nd A.D.
- Philostratus the Elder, Imagines - Greek Rhetoric C3rd A.D.
- Nonnus, Dionysiaca - Greek Epic C5th A.D.
- Colluthus, The Rape of Helen - Greek Epic C5th - 6th A.D.
- Hyginus, Fabulae - Latin Mythography C2nd A.D.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses - Latin Epic C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Ovid, Fasti - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.
- Virgil, Aeneid - Latin Epic C1st B.C.
- Cicero, De Natura Deorum - Latin Rhetoric C1st B.C.
- Statius, Thebaid - Latin Epic C1st A.D.
- Statius, Silvae - Latin Poetry C1st A.D.
A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.