Religious Studies

On Prophecy, Dreams and Human Imagination

Synesius, De insomniis
Introduction, Text, Translation and Interpretative Essays by Donald A. Russell, Ursula Bittrich, Börje Bydén, Sebastian Gertz, Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, Anne Sheppard, Ilinca Tanaseanu-Döbler. Ed. by Donald A. Russell and Heinz-Günther Nesselrath

[Über Prophezeiungen, Träume und die menschliche Vorstellungskraft. Synesios, De insomniis.]

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ISBN 978-3-16-152419-6
Published in English.
Synesius' essay De insomniis ('On Dreams') inquires into the meaning and importance of dreams for human beings and treats themes – most of all the relationship of humans to higher spheres -, which for religiously- and philosophically-minded people are still important today.
Synesius' essay De insomniis ('On Dreams') – written soon after 400 AD by a man who was not only a highly educated Greek intellectual but also (in the last years of his life) a Christian bishop of the city of Ptolemais (Cyrenaica) – inquires into the ways and means by which a human being, while sleeping and dreaming, may make contact with higher spheres, and it does so in the light of a clearly recognizable Neo-Platonic concept of the soul and its salvation. Synesius' thoughts are thus an important contribution of Later Antiquity on topics – the place of man within the universe and his means of communication with higher powers – that not only were of high concern for his contemporaries, but still are today for religiously- and philosophically-minded people. Besides introduction and translation (with notes), several essays shed light on the work from the perspective of various disciplines.

Donald A. Russell Born 1920; professor of classical literature at the Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford; emeritus fellow and former tutor in classics at St John's College, Oxford.

Heinz-Günther Nesselrath Geboren 1957; 1976–81 Studium der Klassischen Philologie und der Alten Geschichte an der Universität zu Köln; 1981 Promotion; 1987 Habilitation; 1992–2001 vollamtlicher Professor für Klass. Philologie an der Universität Bern; seit 2001 Universitätsprofessor für Klass. Philologie an der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.


The following reviews are known:

In: Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte — 62 (2020), pp. 251–265 (Gretchen Reydams-Schils)