c. 200 | Ephesus

What Futures May Come from Dreams

Artemidorus has a very strange dream.

To have more ears than the normal two in a dream is auspicious for a man who wishes to find someone who will obey him, such as a wife, children, and slaves. To a rich man, it signifies much talk about him: favorable, if the ears are well-shaped, but unfavorable, if they are deformed and ill-proportioned.

To clean ears that are filled with dirt or pus signifies that one will receive good news from somewhere, whereas to be cuffed on the ears signifies bad news from somewhere. To dream that ants are entering one’s ears is auspicious only for sophists. For the ants are like young men who attend courses to listen to teachers. But for other men, the dream prophesies death. For ants are children of the earth and they go down into the earth.

I know of a man who dreamed that stalks of wheat were growing out of his ears and that he caught and gathered the wheat in his hands as it fell. He heard that he was made the heir of his absent brother. That he would become an heir was signified by the stalks of wheat; and that he would be the heir of his brother, because ears are like brothers to one another.

To dream that one has the ears of an ass is auspicious only for philosophers, because an ass does not move his ears quickly. But for others, it foretells slavery and misery. If a man dreams that he has the ears of a lion, wolf, leopard, or of any other wild beast, it signifies a plot against him that will arise from slander. Dreams about other animals must be interpreted analogously according to their nature.

To have ears in one’s eyes signifies that one will go deaf and that the information usually received by the ears will have to come to one through the eyes. To have eyes in one’s ears signifies that one will go blind and that the information usually received by the eyes will have to come to one through the ears.

© 1975 by Robert J. White. Used with permission of Robert J. White.



From The Interpretation of Dreams. Artemidorus traveled in Greece, Italy, and Asia Minor to compile his treatise on soothsaying, astrology, and the decoding of dreams. He reportedly also wrote two now-lost works on reading palms and interpreting bird omens. In his book of the same name, Sigmund Freud did not assign the same portentous quality to dreams; rather he believed that “The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.”