'Oνειροπόλος in Homer


  • Carlo Brillante University of Siena


Dreams , Dreamer , Homer , Iliad , Herodotus


 In this essay I examine the figure of the homeric  ονειροπόλος, a term which recurs in two passages of the Iliad (I 63; V 149). It has been explained both with the meaning of “interpreter of dreams” and of “dreamer” using his own gifts in favour of the community. This latter seems to be the most ancient use of the word, as it results in the episode told in the first book of the Iliad (crisis in the Greek army after the plague sent by Apollo). This use has an interesting parallel in some functions of the Spartan ephors and, in the second millennium, in the professional figure of the “dreamer” in the nearby Hittite area. More doubtful is the meaning in the Iliad V 149, since, in this case, there are no sufficient reasons to give the commonly attributed meaning of “interpreter of dreams”. The analysis of the word, which is undoubtedly linked to the epic tradition, also offers the occasion to linger on some important homeric dreams (Agamemnon, Penelope) and on the use of the same word in the Stories by Herodotus.