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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Truth of Invented Dreams

In the Christian apocryphal text known as Homilies, the adventures of the heroes are caused by dreams. The Roman aristocratic lady Mattidia informs her husband that she has been warned in her sleep to leave Rome along with her twin sons. The third son, Clement, was allowed to stay with his father Faustus. Having lost his wife and elder sons for many years, Faustus sets out to find them all over the Mediterranean Sea, but he is lost too. Twenty years later, Clement leaves Rome seeking answers to his religious and metaphysical anxieties. In Alexandria and Palestine he is converted to Christianity and becomes a disciple of the Apostle Peter. Through Peter’s good services, the whole family is reunited. At the reunion each member of the family tells his/her own story, and Mattidia confesses that the dream was her own invention. In her effort to avoid the adulterous proposi¬tions made by her brother-in-law, she had found a way to abandon her home without compromising her reputation. Effectively, the false dream in the novel functions in more or less the same way as the supposedly true dreams of other novels. Nevertheless, whereas real dreams are considered in the ancient world as caused by external factors, i.e. gods or demons, the invented dream in the Homilies is presented as a wish fulfillment. In an unconscious way, the novel’s author interprets the mechanism of dreams in a very modern way.