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There is in sleep something mysterious which seems, from the earliest times, to have impressed man and aroused his curiosity.
What philosophy of sleep sprang from the observation of phenomenon, we do not know ; but like all phenomena the causes of which are not obvious, sleep came, in the course of time, to be considered as the effect of the Divine agency and as something sacred.
Homer and Herodotus thought it natural that the gods should send dreams to men, even to deceive them, if need be, for the accomplishment of their higher ends (Agamemnon's dream).Assuming "that things causally connected in thoughts are causally connected in fact" (Jevons), people blindly believed that their dreams had a bearing on their own fate, and eagerly strove to discover their significance.Like the Eastern peoples, the Greeks and the Romans attached a religious significance to dreams.The meaning of the Divine message conveyed in dreams was sometimes obvious and unmistakable, as when the facts to be known were plain revealed by the deity himself or through the ministry of some messenger.Thus Thomas IV was instructed by Ra Hormakhu in a dream to dig out of the sand the statue of the Great Sphinx, near the place where he was sleeping.
The person desirous of obtaining a prophetic dream then betook himself to the temple of the deity from whom he expected instructions, and there slept, after some ritual preparation.