Una preghiera per l'avvenire: la divinazione in sogno di Democrito


  • Enrico Piergiacomi University of Rome "La Sapienza"




Theology, Dreams and Omens, Prayer, Luck, Homeric Interpretation


This paper proposes an interpretation of the Democritean prayer. My central proposal is that its role in ancient atomism was to seek divine visitations during sleep, thus allowing dreams to forecast unlucky or evil events, which remain inaccessible to the rational capacities of waking. In support of this proposal, I will develop three points about the gods in whom Democritus believed: 1) they were seen as real living beings (not as giant and indestructible films), 2) they were omniscient, 3) they expressed love for the wise men who struggled to defend justice, and to expand its sway throughout the polis. The central evidence for this interpretation is to be found in the scientific interpretation of Penelope's dream in Homer's Odyssey; it is here that the philosopher could have acquired his doctrine of divination during sleep.

Author Biography

Enrico Piergiacomi, University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Student in Ancient Philosophy and Comparative Literature. At present, he is completing a Master’s Degree in “Philosophy and History of Philosophy” at University of Rome Sapienza and writing a thesis on Epicurean theology.




How to Cite

Piergiacomi, E. (2013). Una preghiera per l’avvenire: la divinazione in sogno di Democrito. Lexicon Philosophicum: International Journal for the History of Texts and Ideas, (1), 57. https://doi.org/10.19283/lph-20131.99