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Cultural memory and imagination: dreams and dreaming in the Roman Empire 31 BC – AD 200

Harrisson, Juliette Grace (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis takes Assmann’s theory of cultural memory and applies it to an exploration of conceptualisations of dreams and dreaming in the early Roman Empire (31 BC – AD 200). Background information on dreams in different cultures, especially those closest to Rome (the ancient Near East, Egypt and Greece) is provided, and dream reports in Greco-Roman historical and imaginative literature are analysed. The thesis concludes that dreams were considered to offer a possible connection with the divine within the cultural imagination in the early Empire, but that the people of the second century AD, which has sometimes been called an ‘age of anxiety’, were no more interested in dreams or dream revelation than Greeks and Romans of other periods. This thesis outlines, defines and applies the newly developed concept of cultural imagination, developed from cultural memory, to its examination of dreams and dream reports in Greco-Roman literature. Using the concept of cultural imagination in preference to discussing ‘belief’ is shown to have advantages for the study of ancient religion, as it allows the historian to discuss religious ideas that may or may not have been widely ‘believed’ but which were present within the imagination of the members of a particular society.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Dowden, Ken (1950-)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity
Subjects:CC Archaeology
CB History of civilization
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:469
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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