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Dreamed late 4th century BC by Ithmonike of Pellene

This is one of many testimonial inscriptions along the path to a temple of Asklepios, god of healing, in Greece. Afflicted people came and slept in the temple, and if they were lucky got either a prescription or a direct cure from the god in a dream. Many of these inscriptions do name names, adding to their credibility. For clarity I've shifted the text to first person and added quote marks.


I, Ithmonike of Pellene, came to the sanctuary for offspring. After going to sleep here I dreamt I saw Asklepios. I asked the god "May I conceive a daughter." Asklepios said "You will become pregnant; and if you ask for anything else I'll bring that about too." But I said "I don't need anything more."

Soon after leaving the temple I realized I was indeed pregnant.

And I stayed pregnant... for three years!

At last I returned to pray to the god about this. I went to sleep here and dreamt the god asked me "Haven't you gotten all you asked for? You're pregnant now. You didn't say a word about birth, even though I asked if you wanted a little something more... Well, since you've now come all the way back to me as a suppliant, I'll handle this for you too."

I woke and quickly left the adytum [part of temple]; I was scarcely outside the sanctuary when I gave birth to my daughter.


God as a trickster! Readers familiar with Raven and Coyote stories will recognize the special flavor of this multileveled fable. What sly lessons the God of Doctors slips into his practical joke!

Even in translation the farce comes through alongside the miracle.


The Interpretation of Dreams and Portents in Antiquity by Naphtali Lewis. He's not an objective scholar: opens with a rant about 'superstitions' like ESP, yoga, meditation and... health food? Yep, health food! But most of the book's a straightforward compendium of ancient dreams, some well worth reading while you chomp that Lewis-approved Frankenburger.

LISTS AND LINKS: dreams of pregnancy and birth - advice, prescriptions and cures in dreams - dream induction and incubation - gods in dreams - dream humor - prayers and wishes - mistakes - weird dream diseases (yeah, yeah, pregnancy's not a disease, but I bet Ithmonike thought so by Year Two) - Greece

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