The philosopher Aristotle wrote three essays on sleep and dreaming. In the one quoted here, On Prophesying by Dreams, he dismisses the magical properties often attributed to sleeping visions, arguing that their value lies not in divining the future, but revealing the inner life of the sleeper. By beginning his treatise with an appeal to one of the revered forefathers of modern thought, Freud moves swiftly to distance himself from the taint of disreputable occultism surrounding the interpretation of dreams.
Online edition of Aristotle’s 'On Dreams', as translated by J.I. Beare (mid-4th century BC)
Online edition of Aristotle’s 'On Sleep and Sleeplessness', as translated by J.I. Beare (mid-4th century BC)
Online edition of Aristotle’s 'On Prophesying by Dreams', as translated by J.I. Beare (mid-4th century BC)
Friedrich Schelling (1775 –1854) was a German scholar and a chief contributor to the ‘Naturphilosophie’ movement, which sought to construct a philosophical approach to scientific enquiry. His writings espouse a semi-mystical vision of the natural world as a spiritual, holistic whole. Freud echoes the broad scientific consensus of the time by aligning Schelling’s ideas with the primitive superstitions entertained by ancient civilisations.
Online edition of Schelling’s ‘First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature’, (1799)
An account from Book VII of Herodotus’ Histories, in which Xerxes is persuaded to invade Greece by a visitation in his dreams. His adviser Artabanus dismisses the vision’s importance, arguing that dreams merely reflect the day’s concerns rather than divine will – he repents after himself receiving a nocturnal visit from the same figure.
Online edition of Herodotus’ ‘Histories’ as translated by George Rawlinson, (440 BC)
Following his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte spent the last years of his life as a British prisoner on the isolated island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.
Moselle wines are produced in any one of the several European territories which contain a stretch of the so-named river, including the high quality wine-region of Mosel in western Germany.
"Then especially do the 'remnants' of our waking thoughts and deeds move and stir within the soul" – Roman philosopher/statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero in Book II of his skeptical treatise On Divination, which rejects the interpretation of dreams as a means of revealing divine will.
Online edition of Cicero’s ‘De Divitatione’, as translated by W. A. Falconer, (44 BC)
The Nature of Things is the only known work of 1st-century BC Roman philosopher Titus Lucretius Carus, an epic poetic argument for a rational universe. In the passage quoted Lucretius observes that the content of dreams reflects the waking activities of the dreamer:
The lawyers seem to plead and cite decrees,
Commanders they to fight and go at frays,
Sailors to live in combat with the winds,
And we ourselves indeed to make this book
Asplenium ruta muraria is a species of fern native to Europe where it commonly grows on aging masonry, such as the wall in Delboeuf’s dream.
Formed in 1882 the Society for Psychical Research was founded to provide rigorous, occasionally skeptical investigation into supposedly paranormal phenomena. At one time it counted amongst its members Carl Jung, whose well-known and turbulent association with Freud would begin in 1906. The society was co-founded and actively promoted by Frederic Myers, whose work on what he termed the ‘subliminal consciousness’ anticipated Freud’s ideas concerning the unconscious in many ways.
The analysis of ‘hypermnestic’ dreams Freud refers to was published by Myers in Volume VIII of the society’s Proceedings, a periodical collection of its research complete archives of which are available to current members.
Frederic Myers’ analysis of hypermnestic dreams can also be found in his aptly posthumous collection ‘Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death’ (1903)
Offical site of the Society for Psychical Research
Freud's “home town” is Příbor, now in the Czech Republic, where he was born and spent his earliest years.
A line from Act V, Scene 1 of German playwright Friedrich Schiller’s popular drama The Robbers (1781). The hollow assertion that dreams "come from the stomach and cannot signify anything" is uttered by Franz, the play's archetype of morally bankrupt rationalism, in a vain attempt to dismiss the guilty visions which torment him.
Johann Maria Farina (1685-1766) was an Italian perfumer who founded the oldest perfume factory still in business in Cologne, Germany, as well as inventing the famous scent to which he gave the city's name. His eau de Cologne was an enormous success, popular in the royal courts of numerous European nations throughout the 18th-century before finally being subsumed by a raft of imitations, its name entering common usage as a synonym for perfume in general.
Reference to the ‘June Days Uprising’, one of the bloodiest conflicts in Paris’ history, which took place between the 23rd and 25th of June 1848. During a period of dire political and economic instability a number of workers revolted, and General Louis Eugène Cavaignac was granted emergency powers as France’s head of state. His forces violently suppressed the insurrection, killing roughly 1,500 people over several days of urban warfare.
Laure Martin de Permond (1784-1838) was an outspoken, extravagant socialite and wife of Jean-Andoche Junot, a French general during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Her travels through and social experiences of several European nations were transcribed in a series of works, the most famous of which are her Memoirs, which also record her encounters with Napoleon Bonaparte, who nicknamed here the ‘petite peste’.
Online edition of the Duchess’ ‘Memoirs’, (1831-1834)
Orvieto is the name of both a fortified city and the nearby wine region in central Italy, active since the Middle Ages and known especially for the white wine it produces.
On 24 December 1800, in the Rue Saint-Nicaise, Paris, royalist conspirators attempted to assassinate Napoleon Bonaparte as he travelled to the opera. A large barrel of hidden explosives was set off nearby as his carriage passed, killing dozens of bystanders but leaving the then First Consul of France unscathed.
Napoleon’s 1797 defeat of Austrian forces at the Tagliamento river in northeast Italy had been an important victory for the French Revolutionary army. Like much of the second or third-hand evidence presented in this chapter, Freud’s record of Napoleon’s dream should be regarded with suspicion.
Later versions of the French guillotine, designed to cope more efficiently with the enormous workload during the Reign of Terror, included a bascule ('see-saw'); a board to which the standing victim was securely fastened before being tipped horizontal and slid into position.