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Reid, S. (1973). The Iliad: Agamemnon's Dream. Am. Imago, 30(1):33-56.

(1973). American Imago, 30(1):33-56

The Iliad: Agamemnon's Dream

Stephen Reid, Ph.D.

Agamemnon's dream in Book II of The Iliad has not been subjected to psychoanalytic investigation. It is, in fact, remarkable how little either The Iliad or The Odyssey has attracted the psychoanalytic critics. Homer's directness, openness and apparent simplicity account for this, and Agamemnon's dream is no exception. Described as an “evil” dream, it is presented as having come from Zeus and is designed to induce Agamemnon to lead the Greek army in an all-out attack against the Trojans—an assault which, in the absence of Achilleus and his troops, would lead to full retaliation by the Trojans and destruction of the Greek army. Zeus has sent this lying dream to Agamemnon in fulfillment of his promise to Thetis, Achilleus' mother, that he grant the Trojans success in battle because of the insult he—Achilleus—had received from Agamemnon in the quarrel which opens the epic. The following is Zeus'plan:

Now to his [Zeus'] mind this thing appeared to be the best counsel,

to send evil Dream to Atreus'son Agamemnon.

He cried forth to the dream and addressed him in winged words:

‘Go forth, evil Dream, beside the swift ships of the Achaians.

Make your way to the shelter of Atreus'son Agamemnon;

speak, to him in words exactly as I command you.

Bid him arm the flowing-haired Achaians for battle

in all haste; since now he might take the wide-wayed city

1 It is not my purpose to discuss either “Homeric” psychology or the function of dreams in The Iliad.

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