Famous Dreams


Usually our dreams remain private, however in the case of famous people or significant events dreams are sometimes recorded. Here's a small selection of famous dreams.

Famous dreams are often prophetic in nature. They are especially memorable when they indicate the dreamer's own death. Caligula dreamed on the night before his assasination that he was standing before Jupiter's heavenly throne, only to be kicked back down to earth by the God. The interpretation of this dream is obvious.

More recently, Abraham Lincoln reported having this dream shortly before his assasination:

There seemed to be death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully.
"Who is dead in the White House?" I demanded of one of the soldiers
"The President" was his answer; "he was killed by an assassin!"
Then came a loud burst of grief form the crowd, which awoke me from my dream.

Sometimes the dreamer can avoid death. Adolf Hitler reportedly had a dream that saved his life. During the first world war he was asleep in his trench when he dreamed of himself and his fellow soldiers being engulfed by earth and molten metal. He awoke and left the trench. Whilst he was away the trench was hit by a shell and the other soldiers killed.

Thus a single dream changed the course of history.

As you might expect, writers have frequently found inspiration in dreams.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner inspired by dreams. A dream gave Robert Loius Stevenson the plot to Dr Jekyl and Mr. Hyde and Edgar Allen Poe frequently used dreams as the basis of his stories.

Moving on to the more physical arts it's said that the distinctive design of Black Hills gold jewellery resulted from a French prospector's dream of the vineyards of his homeland.

Perhaps more surprising is that scientists too often make use of dreams.

Albert Einstein's theory of relativity was inspired by a dream whereby he was going down a mountainside ever faster, watching the appearance of the stars change as he approached the speed of light.

Frederich Kekule discovered the chemical structure of benzene in a dream. He went on to say: "Let us learn to dream, gentlemen, and then we may perhaps find the truth."

I couldn't put it any better myself.