THE WARLORD'S DREAM
SERIES II · PROLOGUE III
Between the mighty walls and the wave blasted shore, the warlord sleeps in his tent upon the battlefield.
And as he sleeps, he sees terrors in his dreams...
The Warlord's Dream is the third of four 'mini-episodes' or prologues to our second season of Lore & Legend, which focuses on Greek mythology. They allow us to tell some stories and pieces of lore from the setting which are rich, dramatic and exciting, but weren't big enough to spin a full episode from. This second episode tells the story of Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek Army beseiging Troy when he is visited by the spirit of Dream bearing a deceptive message from Zeus in order to incite further bloodshed between the two armies.
ONEIROS IN THE ILLIAD
One of the earliest incidents of the Illiad is when Zeus sends adeceptive message in a dream to goad the Warlord Agamemnon into launching an attack on Troy, which would go disastrously for the Greek army.
The ease of sleep came not upon Zeus who was pondering in his heart how he might ring honour to Akhilleus (Achilles), and destroy many beside the ships of the Akhaians (Achaeans). Now to his mind this thing appeared to be the best counsel, to send evil Oneiros (Dream) to Atreos' son Agamemnon. He cried out to the Oneiros and addressed him in winged words : ‘Go forth, evil Oneiros (Dream), beside the swift ships of the Akhaians. Make your way to the shelter of Atreos' son Agamemnon; speak to him in [deceptive] words exactly as I command you. Bid him arm the flowing-haired Akhaians for battle in all haste; since now he might take the wide-wayed city of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos arguing the matter, since Hera forced them all over by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans.’
So he spoke, and Oneiros (Dream) listened to his word and descended. Lightly he came down beside the swift ships of the Akhaians and came to Agamemnon. He found him sleeping within his shelter in a cloud of immortal slumber. Oneiros stood then beside his head in the likeness of Nestor, Neleus' son, whom Agamemnon honoured beyond all elders beside. In Nestor's likeness the divine Oneiros (Dream) spoke to him : ‘Son of wise Atreos breaker of horses, are you sleeping? He should not sleep night long who is a man burdened with counsels and responsibility for a people and cares so numerous. Listen quickly to what I say, since I am a messenger of Zeus, who far away cares for you and is pitiful. Zeus bids you arm the flowing-haired Akhaians for battle in all haste; since now you might take the wide-wayed city of the Trojans. For no longer are the gods who live on Olympos arguing the matter, since Hera forced them all over by her supplication, and evils are in store for the Trojans from Zeus. Keep this thought in your heart then, let not forgetfulness take you, after you are released from the kindly sweet slumber.’
So he spoke and went away, and left Agamemnon there, believing things in his heart that were not to be accomplished. For he thought on that very day he would take Priamos' city; fool, who knew nothing of all the things Zeus planned to accomplish, Zeus, who yet was minded to visit tears and sufferings on Trojans and Danaans alike in the strong encounters. Agamemnon awoke from sleep, the divine voice drifting around him . . .
- Homer, Iliad 2. 5 ff (trans. Lattimore) (Greek epic C8th B.C.)
THE FIVE DREAMS OF MACROBIUS
The five different kinds of dreams described by Nestor to Agamemnon in our episode are based on a treatise by Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius, possibly a Roman official, whose writings are a major source for Neoplatonic philosophy in Late Antiquity (5th Century AD). It's inclusion in a tale from the Illiad is hence a creative liberty on our part, intended to give us chance to bring in more ancient dream lore! Macrobius' Commentary on the Dream of Scipio was his most famous and influential work, which went on to be extensively referenced in the Middle Ages. The Dream of Scipio was a text appearing at the end of Cicero's work the Republic and was intended as a commentary on Roman society and politics; Macrobius' Commentary glossed this text as a mystical allegory on the nature of he universe. It ranged across a variety of subjects, including music, morality and inspiration. However it was perhaps most well-known for its typology of dreams, which was quoted by future writers in philosophical texts which touched upon dreams and dreaming.
Macrobius divided dreams into natural and supernatural dreams, those which had no prophetic power and those which did.
Natural dreams included:
visum (apparition) - where the dreamer saw phantoms and spectres
insomnium (nightmares), where the dream is related tophysical or mental distress
Prophetic dreams included:
visio - prophetic dreams that comes true;
oraculum - a dream where a divine guide, often in the form of someone known to the dreamer, delivers a message or reveal the future
somnium - an enigmatic dream with strange signs and symbols that required interpretation
THE SINS OF THE HOUSE OF ATREUS
Agamemnon's dreams before the spirit of Dream appears are inspired by the bloody and cursed history of his family, The House of Atreus, prior to his expedition to Troy. Agamemnon's father Atreus discovered that his brother, Thyestes, had commited adultery with his wife and cheated him of the throne. In retaliation, he killed Thyestes' sons, cooked them, and served them up to their father at a feast. Forced into exile for eating human flesh, Thyestes incestuously fathered a son on his own daughter Pelopia. The child of this union, Aegisthus, murdered Atreus, and while Agamemnon fights in Troy, seduces his Queen Clytemnestra, and plots his murder together with her.
Agamemnon's dreams also recall his sacrifice of his own daughter Iphigenia, which the gods demanded as the price for allowing him to sail to Troy.
Click below to access the Spotify Playlist for Season 2, which includes tracks from our licensed musicians and composers for the show.
"Oneiroi." on Theoi Greek Mythology, Web. 15 Jul. 2020.
"Macrobius." on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Jun. 2020. Web. 30 Jul. 2020.
"Dream theory: Illuminated manuscript of Macrobius’s Commentary on The Dream of Scipio" in British Library Collection Items
Story interpreted by Rick Scott.
Sound editing, audio design and original illustrations by Rick Scott.
Lore & Legend Series Themes composed and performed by Robert Bentall.
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Knossus by Caleb Henessey on Album: Mediterranean
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