462 b

I. Περὶ δὲ τῆς μαντικῆς τῆς ἐν τοῖς ὕπνοις γινομένης καὶ λεγομένης συμβαίνειν ἀπὸ τῶν ἐνυπνίων, οὔτε καταφρονῆσαι ῥᾴδιον οὔτε πεισθῆναι. τὸ μὲν 15γὰρ πάντας ἢ πολλοὺς ὑπολαμβάνειν ἔχειν τι σημειῶδες τὰ ἐνύπνια παρέχεται πίστιν ὡς ἐξ ἐμπειρίας λεγόμενον, καὶ τὸ περὶ ἐνίων εἶναι τὴν μαντικὴν ἐν τοῖς ἐνυπνίοις οὐκ ἄπιστον· ἔχει γάρ τινα λόγον, διὸ καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἐνυπνίων ὁμοίως ἄν τις οἰηθείη. τὸ δὲ μηδεμίαν αἰτίαν 20εὔλογον ὁρᾶν, καθ᾿ ἣν ἂν γίνοιτο, τοῦτο διαπιστεῖν ποιεῖ· τό τε γὰρ θεὸν εἶναι τὸν πέμποντα, πρὸς τῇ ἄλλῃ ἀλογίᾳ, καὶ τὸ μὴ τοῖς βελτίστοις καὶ φρονιμωτάτοις ἀλλὰ τοῖς τυχοῦσι πέμπειν ἄτοπον. ἀφαιρεθείσης δὲ τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ αἰτίας οὐδεμία τῶν ἄλλων εὔλογος εἶναι φαίνεται αἰτία· τὸ γὰρ 25περὶ τῶν ἐφ᾿ Ἡρακλείαις στήλαις ἢ τῶν ἐν Βορυσθένει προορᾶν τινάς, ὑπὲρ τὴν ἡμετέραν εἶναι δόξειεν ἂν σύνεσιν εὑρεῖν τούτων τὴν ἀρχήν.

Ἀνάγκη δ᾿ οὖν τὰ ἐνύπνια ἢ αἴτια εἶναι ἢ σημεῖα τῶν γιγνομένων ἢ συμπτώματα, ἢ πάντα ἢ ἔνια τούτων ἢ ἓν μόνον. λέγω δ᾿ αἴτιον μὲν οἷον τὴν


On Prophecy in Sleep

On Prophecy in Sleep

I. As for prophecy which takes place in sleep andThe possibility of belief in dreams as sent from God. which is said to proceed from dreams, it is not an easy matter either to despise it or to believe in it. The fact that all, or at least many, suppose that dreams have a significance inclines one to believe the theory, as based on experience, nor is it incredible that on some subjects there should be divination in dreams; for it has some show of reason, and therefore one might suppose the same of other dreams as well. But the fact that one can see no reasonable cause why it should be so, makes one distrust it; for apart from its improbability on other grounds, it is absurd to hold that it is God who sends such dreams, and yet that He sends them not to the best and wisest, but to any chance persons. But, if we dismiss the theory of causation by God, none of the other causes seems probable; for it seems beyond our understanding to find any reason why anyone should foresee things occurring at the Pillars of Heracles or on the Borys-thenes.

Now dreams must be either causes or signs ofAre they significant or mere coincidences? events which occur, or else coincidences; either all or some of these, or one only. I use the word “cause”

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-parva_naturalia_prophecy_sleep.1957