The Interpretation of Dreams

  • Markus Fierz


IN HIS WRITINGS on astrology Cardano for the most part followed the classical authorities. As an interpreter of dreams, however, he is of remarkable originality. Antiquity left us no substantial theoretical work on this art which claims to be scientific and which could, therefore, have served Cardano as a model. It is unlikely that such a work existed. Cardano tried to fill this gap with his Synesiorum Somniorum omnis generis insomnia explicates, libri IV. According to a note in De Libris propriis, he wrote the book around 1545, but later revised and enlarged it.1 It was published in Basel in 1562 and translated into German the following year.2


Positive Meaning Dream Content Precious Stone Dream Life Classical Authority 
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  1. 1.
    Opera I, p. 103. Probably only the first book was written in 1545 and enlarged later on. Most of the examples in the fourth book are from a later period. Otherwise, Cardano’s remark in De Libris propriis about how well he had compressed so much material would not make sense.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Traumbuch, wahrhaftige, unbetrügliche Unterweisung wie allerhand nächtliche Träume und Erscheinungen ausgelegt werden sollen (Basel, 1563).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Heidelberger Abh. zur Philosophie und ihrer Geschichte, edited by Wolfram Lang (Tübingen, 1926). On Synesius of Cyrene see also H. v. Campenhausen, Die griechischen Kirchenväter (Vienna and Zurich, 1955).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    It is not always necessary to recall the dream images. It may suffice to remember the feelings and emotional states.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    This association is expressed quite beautifully in Franz Schubert’s song, Wanderer’s Ode to the Moon, which begins with the words: “I here on earth, you in the sky....”Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Jacob Burckhardt’s observations on the Vendetta in Italy in Kultur der Renaissance, section 6, “Morality.”Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    This fine was imposed on Cardano in connection with the trial of his son; it was illegal. The university stipend, which Cardano thought very high, amounted to seven hundred crowns.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    That is to say, they did not repay him the one hundred crowns.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    This does not contradict the statement that the “material” of dreams consists of memories. The question concerns the dream “content,” that is, its meaning.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The town referred to is Metz, which in the winter of 1552/53 was besieged by Charles V and defended by Henry II of France. The siege failed and marked a turning point in the emperor’s fortunes.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Fierz
    • 1
  1. 1.KüsnachtSwitzerland

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