Medical History –or- Psychohistorical Reality in Dream Vision

Ovid's Metamorphosis -or- The Medical Humanities, Dreams and the God of Healing  

Ovid's "Metamorphosis" is composed of nearly 250 mythic stories and has a cast of hundreds of characters. Metamorphosis has a mytho-historical framework about the poetic transformations of ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Ovid begins his poetic tale of the Greek and Roman civilizations, with the creative trans-formation of the universe out of chaos and ends with Julius Caesar, marking the end of the Roman Republic. 

Many of the sentiments and thoughts of the characters found in Metamorphosis also find expression in modern dreams and their interpretations. Small wonder, Ovid's diverse characters poetically speak of love, hate, grief, inspiration, reality and dreams; Achilles, Cupid, the Gorgons (Medusa), Hyperion, Narcissus, Oedipus, Morpheus, the Muses, Pygmalion, the Sirens are but a few of the durable characters who personify the light and dark archetypal aspects of human personality. 

These similarities should not be surprising since Erich Auerbach in "Mimesis: Representation of Reality in Western Literature" traces the epochal developmental literary periods of writing style, diction, grammar, syntax and realism. The fact there appears to be a psychohistorical continuity beginning with Homer, and the social and political complexities of each literary epoch to follow, can be viewed as being based upon the natural historical mystery of human dreams and dreaming. 

In fact, what psychologically bridges the realism of Homer to the epochal realism of modern science is "dream vision". As the International Institute for Dream Research has attempted to show, the overarching natural historical and literary bridge of the dream vision is embodied and employed by the perennial perspective of the medical humanities. We are informed that the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates last words to his friend before dying were; "Crito, we owe a cock to Aesclepius; please pay it and don't let it pass." Read "Socrates on Death Row". 

In Metamorphosis we find "Aesclepius" the god of medicine, who plays a significant iconic role both in ancient and modern medical humanities and philosophy. According to Ovid; "A dire plague once blighted Latium and men lay wasted by the grim disease". Many Romans turned to the gods and prayed for the end of the city's woes. The gods answered by saying; "Oh Romans what you seek here what you seek you should have looked for in a closer place and should now look for in a closer place the task of lessening your wretchedness is not that of Apollo but his son go with good auspices and seek my child (Aesclepius)." 

Aesclepius appears in a dream to say: "Be unafraid, for I will leave my image and come with you: now carefully observe the snake that winds itself around my staff, so you will recognize its shape on sight, for this is what I change myself into, although I will appear to be much larger, as heavenly bodies will, in transformation. And with his voice, the god (and sleep) departed, and with the flight of sleep came kindly night, for Dawn had chased away the burning stars." Ovid tells us that Aesclepius; "brought an end to the bereavement of the city by restoring it to health."


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.