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Watchful Greeks and Lazy Romans: Disciplining Sleep in Late Antiquity

Leslie Dossey

Journal of Early Christian Studies, Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2013, pp. 209-239 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/earl.2013.0014

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Watchful Greeks and Lazy Romans: Disciplining Sleep in Late Antiquity

Although sleep asceticism is recognized to have been an important part of Greek monastic culture in late antiquity, there has been little research on the relationship between Christian and secular attitudes toward sleep. A comparison of medical, philosophical, and patristic theories of sleep reveals important differences between Latin and Greek texts, whether Christian or non-Christian. Greek authors portrayed sleep as a pathos that suppressed the rational part of the soul, whereas most Latin authors believed that the mind remained wide-awake during sleep. Also involved are divergent social norms regarding sleep as an expression of elite power.

Nor is it necessary for him to shake off sleep, for as soon as he opens his eyes, he resembles someone who has been awake for hours in his watchfulness (). For when the heart is not sunk down with the weight of food, it doesnt need so much time to recover itself, but immediately is watchful. The hands are always pure, because sleep is well governed. No one hears anyone there snoring or breathing hard, or sees anyone tossing around in sleep, or naked, but rather they sleep lying more decently than those who are awake. And all of this comes from discipline in the soul. (Chrys. hom. in 1 Tim. 14.4 [PG 62:57576])

In this way, John Chrysostom presented the sleep of monks as a model for his congregation in Antioch. As several recent studies have made clear, the proper discipline of sleep became a matter of concern to Christians

My thanks to The Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage for the summer research grant which resulted in this article and to the anonymous readers for their very useful corrections.
Journal of Early Christian Studies 21:2, 209239 2013 The Johns Hopkins University Press


in the late antique world.1 Clement of Alexandria, writing already at the end of the second century c.e., warned Christians to sleep lightlyin a bed rm enough to act like a natural gymnasium (Clem. Paed. 2.9.77 [SC 108:154])and not for very long, interrupting their sleep frequently to pray: For the encumbrance of sleep resembles death, dragging us down through irrationality to a condition of insensibility.2 John Chrysos tom frequently urged his congregation to keep vigil and pray during the night: Not for this reason was the night made: that we sleep through it all and do nothing.3 Professional ascetics often took sleep avoidance to extremessleeping only an hour or two a night, avoiding the use of mattresses and pillows as a gross indulgence, choosing instead to sleep sitting up on chairs, pillars, or the hard, bare ground.4 This distrust of sleep initially seems strange when compared with previous Mediterranean religious traditions. In Greek and Roman religious cults, sleep was more often sought than denied. Those in search of a cure or a revelatory dream slept in temples, hoping for a message from the gods.5 Sleep was personied and conceived of as a divinity: for the Roman

1. For the practice of sleep deprivation in late antique Christianity, see Charles J. Metteer, Distraction or Spiritual Discipline: The Role of Sleep in Early Egyptian Monasticism, St. Vladimirs Theological Quarterly 52:1 (2008): 543; David Brakke, Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), 8687; Heinrich Bacht, Agrypnia. Die Motive des Schlafentzugs im frhen Mnchtum, in Bibliothek, Buch, Geschichte: Kurt Kster zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Gunther Pug, Brita Eckert, and Heinz Friesen hahn (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1977), 35369. 2. Clem. Paed. 2.9.80 (SC 108:160): , and 2.9.79 (SC 108:158) for frequent prayers during the night. 3. Chrys. hom. in Ac. 26.3 (PG 60:202): , . His other sermons encouraging part-night or full-night vigils include: Chrys. Stag. 1.10 (PG 47:447); Laz. 1.9 (PG 48:974); stat. 10.1 (PG 49:111); pan. Aeg. 3 (PG 50:711); terr. mot. (PG 50:713); hom. in Ac. princ. 2.4 (PG 51:84); hom. in Rom. 8:28 3 (PG 51:16869); hom. in Eph. 24.3 (PG 62:172). 4. See Bacht, Agrypnia, 35456; Metteer, Distraction or Spiritual Discipline, 2127. 5. For Greek sleep incubation, see William V. Harris, Dreams and Experience in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 39 and 184 85; Beat Nf, Traum und Traumdeutung im Altertum (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2004), 11723; Patricia Cox Miller, Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 11415; and M. Andrew Holowchak, Ancient Science and Dreams: Oneirology in Greco-Roman Antiquity (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002), 15164. For the continuation of sleep incubation in late antiquity, see Anne-Marie Bernardi, Rve et gurison dans le monde grec des poques tardive et byzantine,


poets, the gentlest of the gods, the peace for the soul, who puts care to ight, who soothes bodies tired out by hard labor (Ov. Met. 11.61618). And, indeed, many of the western church fathers, rooted in a Roman more than Greek intellectual heritage, retained a positive attitude toward sleep in late antiquity. Tertullian and Augustine viewed sleep as evidence that the soul will survive the body after death.6 Western monastic rules such as the Rule of Benedict were more generous in their regulations about sleep than their eastern equivalents.7 This essay seeks to contextualize the negative views of sleep in Greek patristic and monastic textsand the more accommodating views of the western church fathersby comparing the theories of sleep in late ancient philosophical and medical treatises. The focus will be on sleep rather than the better-studied subject of dreams, as attitudes toward the two experiences do not always coincide.8 I will argue that the patristic authorsat least mainstream patristic authors like John Chrysostom and Augustine were not breaking with their respective secular traditions with regards to sleep, but rather continuing a longstanding Greek and Latin divergence in attitudes toward sleep.
in Gurisons du corps et de lme: approches pluridisciplinaires: actes du colloque international organis du 23 au 25septembre 2004 par lUMR 6125, ed. Pascal Boulhol, Franoise Gaide, and Mireille Loubet, Textes et documents de la Mditerrane antique et mdivale (Aix-en-Provence: Publications de lUniversite de Provence, 2006), 12334. There is less evidence that it was practiced in the Latin west, as discussed by Gil H. Renberg, Was Incubation Practiced in the Latin West? Archiv fr Religionsgeschichte 8 (2006): 10547, although a second-century North African inscription may be an exception: Marc Kleijwegt, Beans, Baths and the Barber: A Sacred Law from Thuburbo Maius, Antiquits africaines 30 (1994): 20920. 6. Tert. An. 43.12 (CCSL 2:848); Aug. Ep. 159.4 (CSEL 44:501), recounting a dream vision by the physician Gennadius. See the discussion of this letter by Fritz Graf, Dreams, Visions and Revelations: Dreams in the Thought of the Latin Fathers, in Sub Imagine Somni: Nighttime Phenomena in Greco-Roman Culture, ed. Emma Scioli and Christine Walde (Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2010), 21415. 7. For example, the absence of all-night vigils and concern that monks get enough sleep in Ben. Reg. 8.24, and 10 (CSEL 75:58 and 62) contrast greatly with the weekly vigils and sleeping upright in wooden chairs of Pachomius or even the more moderated hostility toward sleep in Bas. reg. fus. 37 (PG 31:1016) and Bas. reg. br. 32, 43, and 44 (PG 31:1104, 1109): see the Rule of Pachomius 88, ed. Amand Boon, Pachomiana Latina (Louvain: Bureaux de la Revue, 1932), 39; Bacht, Agrypnia, 35456; Terrence G. Kardong, Benedicts Rule: A Translation and Commentary (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1996), 170, 21213, and 22829; and Adalbert de Vog, La rgle de saint Benot (Paris: ditions du Cerf, 1971), 5:42227, 45357, and 722. 8. In fact, a skeptical Roman attitude toward dreams coexisted with a positive attitude toward sleep, whereas in the Greek world, it was, if anything, the opposite. See especially Harris, Dreams and Experience, 17484 and 208 for Roman dream skepticism.


Greek views of sleep According to the predominate Greek scientic theories, sleep was the rest of the senses or, more pejoratively, the inactivity of the mind ( ) that occurred when something blocked the main sensory organs ability to perceive (opinions differed on whether this main sensory organ was the heart or the brain).9 In Empedocles and early Hippocratic texts, sleep was a cooling process that chilled the blood (the blood being the main transmitter of thought) and slowed its passage through the body.10 According to Plato, nighttime darkness interrupted the pure re that ows from the soul to the outside world and allows a person to perceive.11 Aristotle had connected sleep to digestion: exhalations produced by digestion rose to the cooling organ of the brain, where they condensed and sank to the sensory organ of the heart, putting it and the subordinate sensory organs to sleep.12 In all of these authors (with the exception of the pseudoHippocratic De Victu 4, discussed below), the higher cognitive functions
9. For sleep as a rest or inactivity of the senses, see Arist. Somn.Vig. 454b911; Alex. Aphr. de An. 74.2628, ed. Martin Bergeron and Richard Dufour, De lame, Textes & Commentaires (Paris: Vrin, 2008), 186; Phlp. in Ph. 8.6 (CAG 17:890) and De aeternitate mundi 7.6 (Rabe:258); and Jo. Clim. scal. 19 (PG 88:937). Arist. Top. 145b had more precisely explained that sleep was not itself the resting of the senses, but rather that the resting of the senses caused sleep, which was a shutting down of the mind ( ): Arist. Top. 145b1416, followed by Alex. Aphr. in Top. 6.6 (CAG 2.2:458). See also Arist. EN 1102b78 and Arist. EE 1219b1920. The denition of sleep in Paul. Aeg. 1.97 (CMG 9 1:67) as a cessation of mental abilities is related. For the location of cognition, see F. Clifford Rose, Cerebral Localization in Antiquity, Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 18:3 (2009): 23947. 10. Emp. 31 A 85, ed. Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6th ed. (Dublin: Weidmann, 1972), 1:301; Hp. Flat. 14 (CGM 1,1:100) and discussion in Cesare Marelli, Il sonno tra biologia e medicina in Grecia antica, Bollettino dellIstituto di Filologia Greca 5 (197980): 12832 and Cesare Marelli, Place de la Collection Hippocratique dans les thories biologiques du sommeil, in Formes de pense dans la Collection Hippocratique, ed. Franois Lasserre and Philippe Mudry (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1983), 33134. The cause of the cooling is not explained in De atibus, but in other Hippocratic treatises, the consumption of food has a cooling effect: see Jeanne Ducatillon, Le trait des Vents et la question Hippocratique, in Formes de pense, 26667. 11. Plato Tim. 45e46a; Holowchak, Ancient Science and Dreams, 2829. The withdrawal of the activating re ( ) in [Ar.] Probl. 963a2832, from the rst or second century c.e., is similar. 12. Arist. Somn.Vig. 456b2430 and 457b1726, discussed and trans. by David Gallop. Aristotle on Sleep and Dreams (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 1991), 7071 and 7677; Holowchak, Ancient Science and Dreams, 51; Philip J. van der Eijk, Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity: Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 17577.


of the mind such as reason became confused during sleep.13 Only phantasia (usually translated as imagination but closer to envisioning) remained, a lesser cognitive function, experienced by animals as well as humans.14 Sleep was portrayed as an almost pathological condition for the rational mind, comparable to other states such as epilepsy or dementia when a pathos disabled the soul.15 Only a few textsmost notably, the Orphic dream treatise, De Victu 4portrayed the rational mind as capable of functioning during sleep, although in a manner that left it trapped inside the body and cut off from the world around it.16

13. In Plato Tim. 71E46, the power of thinking () is fettered () during sleep or disease; in Arist. de An. 429a7, the intellect () is covered over (); according to Diog. Apoll. 64 A 19 (fth century b.c.e.), ed. Diels and Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 2:56, the moisture from sleep hinders () the mind () by disrupting the warm and pure air necessary for thinking; for Heraclitus 22A16 (as transmitted by Sextus Empiricus), ed. Diels and Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 1:148, the sleeping is separated from the divine logos and loses its power of memory and reason. See discussion by Hendrik Lorenz, The Brute Within: Appetitive Desire in Plato and Aristotle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), 100, 142n.15, and 199n.29; Harris, Dreams and Experience, 16062; Francesca Calabi, Gli occhi del sonno, Materiali e discussioni per lanalisi dei testi classici 13 (1984): 2526; and Roberto Polito, Sextus on Heraclitus on Sleep, in Sleep, ed. Thomas E.J. Wiedemann and Ken Dowden, Nottingham Classical Literature Studies 8 (Bari: Levante Editori, 2003), 61ff. 14. Lorenz, Brute Within, chs. 8 and 11, esp. 15157; Gerard Watson, Phantasia in Classical Thought (Galway: Galway University Press, 1988), 1433. 15. Arist. de An. 429a48, followed by Alex. Aphr. de An. 71.2426, ed. Bergeron and Dufour, De lame, 180, and Arist. Somn.Vig. 457a89 (For sleep is similar to epilepsy, and, in a way, sleep is epilepsy); discussed by Holowchak, Ancient Science and Dreams, 46. Phlp. in de An. 1.4 (CAG 15:161) compares the impact of sleep on the intellect to other such as drunkenness, melancholy, and the dementia of extreme old age, althoughas discussed belowhe argues that the higher soul () is not affected. 16. Hp. Vict. 4.86 (CAG 1 2,4:218): For the body when asleep has no perception; but the soul, being awake, has cognizance of all thingssees what is visible, hears what is audible, walks, touches, feels pain, ponders, even while existing in a small space ( , , , , , , , ). My translation draws on Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (London: 1967), vol. 4, although based on a different version of the Greek. This Pseudo-Hippocratic text is generally dated to the (early?) fourth century b.c.e. and was arguably known to Plato and Aristotle. Its dualistic view of sleep has afnities with fragments of Pindar and Xenophon and is thought to draw on Pythagorean and/or Orphic beliefs about the soul: see especially Hynek Barto, Soul, Seed and Palingenesis in the Hippocratic de Victu, Apeiron 42:1 (2009): 132; P. J. van der Eijk, Divination, Prognosis, and Prophylaxis The Hippocratic work On Dreams (De victu 4) and its Near Eastern Background, in Magic and Rationality in Ancient Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman


Greek medicine under the Roman Empire by and large followed the lead of Aristotle, though with greater emphasis on the role of pneuma (breath).17 According to Galen, whose inuence was paramount in the eastern Mediterranean during late antiquity, sleep came about when the cavities of the brain ll with moisture, whether due to the digestion of food or other activities that made the body wet.18 Following Plato, he divided the soul into three and placed the ruling, rational part of the soul in the brain. For him, the brain, not the heart, was the seat of both perception and reason. It communicated with the rest of the body by means of psychic breath (pneuma), which was decocted from both the vital pneuma emanating from the heart and the outside air breathed through the nose (psychic pneuma was responsible for thought and perception; vital pneuma for life).19 When the cavities of the brain lled with moisture, the mind was hindered from sending out the psychic pneuma to the senses through the nerves.20 The mind entered a condition similar to death: not seeing, not hearing, not thinking, not understanding, not talking, cast down without perception, motion, or reason.21

Medicine, ed. H. F. J. Horstmanshoff, Marten Stol, and C. R. van Tilburg (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 187218; and E. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1951), 119. 17. For the increased medical importance of pneuma, leading to what has sometimes been called the Pneumatist School of medicine of the rst and second centuries c.e., see Vivian Nutton, Ancient Medicine (London: Routledge, 2005), 122, 2025, 23334; and Julius Rocca, Galen on the Brain: Anatomical Knowledge and Physiological Speculation in the Second Century A.D. (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 5966. 18. Gal. de sympt. caus. 1.8 (Khn 7:141); Gal. De loc. aff. 3.6 (Khn 8:62). For Galen, a natural sleep was caused by a moderate amount of moisture, without any excess heat or cold. An immoderately cold and wet sleep brought coma or lethargy, and an overly dry and hot body would suffer insomnia: see Gal. de sympt. caus. 1.8 (Khn 7:143); Gal. in Hipp. aph. comment. 2.3 (Khn 17.2:457); and Gal. de plen. 11 (ed. Otte: 74; Khn 7:576). 19. Rocca, Galen on the Brain, 6466; Grard Verbeke, Levolution de la doctrine du pneuma, du stocisme saint Augustin; etude philosophique, Bibliothque de lInstitut suprieur de Philosophie, Universit de Louvain (Paris: D. de Brouwer, 1945), 20711; and Teun Tieleman, Plotinus on the Seat of the Soul: Reverberations of Galen and Alexander in Enn. IV, 3 [27], 23, Phronesis 43:4 (1998): 312. 20. Gal. de sympt. caus. 1.8 (Khn 7:13940): , , . , . 21. Gal. de caus. puls. 3.9 (Khn 9:13738): , , , , , , , ; reference from Manuela Tecus an, Fragments of the Methodists (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 343.


This Galenic view of sleep held sway in the early Byzantine medical corpus. Although the Stoic denition of sleep as a loss of tension () in the pneuma had some currency in second and third centuries,22 most medical authors followed Galen by the imperial physician Oribasiuss time (ca. 320400 c.e.).23 During the sixth century, a new fusion of Aristotelian and Galenic theory of sleep seems to have occurred as part of the early Byzantine commentary movement based in Alexandria.24 We nd the near contemporaries John Philoponus and Stephanus of Alexandria giving almost identical explanations of sleep, though Philoponus was a Christian neoplatonist and Stephanus a very materialist physician. Sleep was a rest of the senses that occurred when the vapors from digestion lled the ducts of the nerves and kept the sensory pneuma from traveling from the brain to the senses.25

22. See Diogenes Laertius 7.158: ; Tert. An. 43.2 (CCSL 2:845): Stoici somnum resolutionem sensualis uigoris afrmant; and discussion by J. H. Waszink, Quinti Septimi Florentis Tertulliani De Anima, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 100 (Amsterdam: J. M. Meulenhoff, 1947; repr. Leiden: Brill, 2010), 461. For at least some later Stoics (notably the rst-century b.c.e. Posidonius) this relaxation of the tension of the pneuma increased the souls ability to connect with the cosmic reason through dreams: Cic. div. 1.129 and the fourth-century c.e. Calcidius Comm. In Plat. Tim. 251 (ed. Waszink: 260), discussed by Harris, Dreams and Experience, 172 and 269; and Polito, Sextus on Heraclitus on Sleep, 65. These Latin attestations, however, conict with the negative Stoic view of dreaming and sleep described by Diog. Laert. 7.4950; Diog. Oen. Fr. 10.1, ed. Martin Ferguson Smith, Diogenes of Oinoanda: The Epicurean Inscription (Naples: Bibliopolis, 1993), 163 and 450; and Plutarch, An aqua an ignis utilior 12 (Moralia 2, 958d): see Murray Wright Bundy, The Theory of Imagination in Classical and Mediaeval Thought, University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature 12:23 (Urbana, IL: The University of Illinois, 1927), 8796. 23. For example, Oribasius, Collectiones medicae 6.4.7 (CMG 6 1,1:15657), is mostly derived from Gal. in Hipp. Epid. VI comm. 4.17 (CMG 5 10,2,2: 22223) and Gal. in Hipp. Aphor. comm. 2.1 (Khn 17.2: 45154). Galens discussion of sleep as a cure for thirst (in Gal. in Hipp. Epid. VI comm. 4.24 [CMG 5 10,2,2:23536]) is similarly the direct or indirect source for Orib. Syn. ad Eust. 6.37 (CMG 6 3:206); Palladius, Commentarii in Hippocratis librum sextum de morbis popularibus 4.21, ed. Friedrich Reinhold Dietz, Scholia in Hippocratem et Galenum (Knigsberg: Borntraeger, 1834) 2:122; and Aetius, Iatricorum 9.4, ed. S. Zervos, , Athena 23 (1911): 281. 24. For the (re)joining of medicine and natural philosophy in this scholastic movement, see Owsei Temkin, Galenism: Rise and Decline of a Medical Philosophy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell, 1973), 6465 and 69 and John Duffy, Byzantine Medicine in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries: Aspects of Teaching and Practice, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 38 (1984): 2127. 25. Phlp. in Ph. 8.6 (CAG 17:890): sleep is nothing else than the rest of the senses, and it happens when the vapors from digestion ll the passageways through


What is noteworthy about the prevailing scientic explanations of sleepespecially when we compare the Latin authors later onis that the mind is portrayed as falling asleep rather than body. In Plato and Aristotle, human reason is fettered or covered during sleep.26 A persons physical functions (which include the lower parts of the soul) did not go to sleep, but rather remained active to digest food and produce more humors.27 The body actually increased in vigor, which was the reason (in Galens observation) that the pulse was strongest during sleep.28 Only when the process

which the sensory pneuma travels and, when these passages are closed, [the pneuma] is carried inside the body; Stephanus, In Hippocratis prognosticon 2.3 (CMG 11 1,2:164): The material cause of sleep is the useful moisture transmitted upwards which, when conveyed to the ducts of the nerves and around their roots, partially hinders and prevents the psychic pneuma from passing out; for when this (pneuma) is obstructed, it is unable to make its way through to irradiate the senses; instead they experience the rest that constitutes normal sleep (latter trans. John M. Duffy, Stephanus the Philosopher: A Commentary on the Prognosticon of Hippocrates [Berlin: Akademie-Verlag: 1983], 165). Stephanus, an Alexandrian medical writer, is dated between 550 and 630 c.e. and is considered by some scholars to be the same Stephanus who wrote commentaries on Aristotle: see Vivian Nutton, The Fortunes of Galen, in The Cambridge Companion to Galen, ed. Robert J. Hankinson (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 363. For Philoponus, see H. J. Blumenthal, Aristotle and Neoplatonism in Late Antiquity: Interpretations of the De anima (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), 4750 and 119 and the essays collected in Richard Sorabji, ed., Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science (London: Duckworth, 1987). 26. See n. 13. 27. Gal. de sympt. caus. 1.8 (Khn 7:140) for the psychic faculty ( ) resting during sleep, while the physical faculty was stronger. See similar in Stephanus, In Hippocratis Prognosticum 2.3 (CAG 11 1,2:162); Arist. EE 1219b22 24; Arist. EN 1102b23; and Alex. Aphr. de An. 74.2325, ed. Bergeron and Dufour, De lame, 186. The most expansive treatments of this theme are Pseudo-Alexander, Problemata 1.118, ed. J. L. Ideler, Physici et medici graeci minores 1 (Berlin: 1841 42), 40: Know that during the day the physical is less active with regards to its own activitiesnamely the digestion of food and the transformation of humors. ... Rather the soul is engaged in its special activitiesthe ve senses and the motions of its parts such as imagination and reason and memory. But during the night the opposite happens: the physical works more and the soul less; and (with allusion to sexual desires), Phlp. in de An. 2.1 (CAG 15:204): For the physical soul is always active with respect to the second kind of activity, namely the kind that corresponds to the actual exercise of knowledge, and even more during sleep, when the other faculties of the soul rest: for then especially digestion and the involuntary desire for sex often (take place) ( , , , ). 28. Gal. De caus. puls. 3.9 (Khn 9:137). This is after an initial slowing of the pulse when one falls asleep.


of digestion was completed and the blood or pneuma was made thin again did mental movement () resume and the person wake up.29 And it was this imbalance between the sleeping mind and active body that made sleep a problematic condition in the Greek world, for it reversed the natural hierarchy of body and reason. As noted by Gregory of Nyssa, a Christian author well versed in Greek medical and philosophical thought, through sleep the leadership of these faculties (of the soul) in a way changes places. The part of the soul responsible for nutrition took over and the rational mind, which led when we were awake, became quiet.30 The faculties of desire () and imagination (), which were parts of the lower, animal, soul, escaped the control of the rational mind during sleep.31 Dreams, which for us today are a sign that the mind continues to operate during sleep, were for most Greek authors actually an indication of the supremacy of ones irrational side. The fact that sleepers cannot distinguish between truth and falsehood or prevent immoral and bizarre dreams from happening showed that the rational mind was at best minimally active during sleep.32 This didnt keep dreams from being of immense religious and even medical signicance. The stillness of the mind during sleep made it easier for a god or daemon to move the pneuma and imprint revelatory dreams.33 It also made a person more receptive to the body itself, which
29. Phlp. in Ph. (CAG 17:890): , ; and similar in Alex. Aphr. in Sens. 436a5 (CAG 3.1:7) and Simpl. In Ph. (CAG 10:1258). Van der Eijk, Medicine and Philosophy, 22021 and 225, discusses this process in Aristotle. 30. Gr. Nyss. hom. opif. 13 (PG 44:169B): and so during sleep the hegemony of these faculties within us is to a certain extent reversed, discussed by Holowchak, Ancient Science and Dreams, 51. 31. Phlp. in de An. 2.1 (CAG 15:204), quoted above, for and Plutarch, De defectu oraculorum 40 (Moralia 5, 432C) (LCL 306:468) for phantasia, discussed by Nf, Traum und Traumdeutung, 104. However, there was a tradition, perhaps originally Aristotelian, that phantasia also became inactive during normal sleep, since it was, like memory and cognition itself, dependent on sensory perception: see Stephanus, In Hippocratis Prognosticum 2.3 (CAG 11 1,2:164). 32. Arist. De Insom. 461b7462a8; Plato, Respublica 9.571cd; Alex. Aphr. de An. 70.1419, 71.2472.2, 74.814, ed. Bergeron and Dufour, De lame, 178, 180, and 184; Diog. Oin. fr. 9.46, ed. Smith, Diogenes of Oinoanda, 16162 and 449n.9. For an illuminating discussion of what constitutes rational thought in Plato and Aristotle and how it differs from un-rational cognition (including phantasia), see Lorenz, Brute Within, esp. 72, 9294, 9799, 11920, 127, 133, 14757, 199201. 33. Or. Cels. 1.48 (ed. Borret 1:202); Evag. cog. 4 (SC 438:16264); and insightful discussion in Gregory A. Smith, How Thin Is a Demon? JECS 16:4 (2008): 510. The idea is Stoic: see Verbeke, Evolution de doctrine du pneuma, 12325.


could have advantages as well as disadvantages: the dreams of the sleeping soul could indicate imbalances in the bodily humors (blood, phlegm, biles) that were being digested and distributed while one slept.34 To be useful, however, the dream would need to be interpreted by someone in his or her right mind, that is someone awake. For a culture that valued mental control and reason above all things, this imposition of ones physical needs and desires onto the mind could be very terrible. Plato in the Republic had warned of the moral danger if the appetitive parts of the soulthe beast withingot the upper hand during sleep:
(I mean) those (desires) which are aroused in sleep . . . when the rest of the soulthe rational, gentle and ruling element in itslumbers, and the bestial, savage part, lled with food or drink, suddenly comes alive, casts off sleep, and tries to go out and satisfy its own nature. In this state, as you know, since it is released and set free from all shame or rational judgment (), it can bring itself to do absolutely anything. In its imaginings it has no hesitation in attempting sexual intercourse with a mothernor with anyone or anything else, man or god or animal.35

To prevent such horrible dreams from occurring, Plato advised meditation on ne arguments before bed-time and a moderate lifestyle, neither starving nor indulging his appetites since he wants it to go to sleep, and not disturb what is best in the soul with its pleasure or pain, but allow it all by itself, solitary and pure to follow its enquiries.36 Middle and late Platonic philosophers found it increasingly problematic that the higher soul should be affected by sleep at all. This immaterial soul () remained awake and untouched by sleep or any other pathos. Only the pneumawhich was a material link between the body and soulfell asleep.37 The , when cut off from bodily sensory perception, retained

34. For phantasia as a memory of previous sensory perceptions, see Watson, Phantasia, 99101, 115, 11719, 12627, and 12930 and Bundy, Theory of Imagination, 73, 76. For dreams as reactions to an excess or lack of various bodily humors and liquids, see Steven M. Oberhelman, The Diagnostic Dream in Ancient Medical Theory and Practice, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 61:1 (1987): 4853. 35. Plato, Respublica 9.571cd, trans. Tom Grifth, Plato, The Republic (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 28687. See Van der Eijk Medicine and Philosophy, 173; and Michael Jason Reddoch, Dream Narratives and Their Philosophical Orientation in Philo of Alexandria, PhD Dissertation (Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati, 2010), 41, 47 and 66. 36. Plato, Respublica 9.571e572a, trans. Grifth, Republic, 286. 37. This is perhaps most clearly expressed by Phlp. in de An. 1.4 (CAG 15:16162); discussed by Blumenthal, Aristotle and Neoplatonism, 148.


and possibly increased its rational powers, the eye of the soul. Middle Platonists such as Philo of Alexandria described sleep as the withdrawal () of the mind () from the cares and sensory perceptions of the body, enabling it to turn around itself and gaze purely at the thoughts coming from itself.38 Porphyry explained that when we sleep, we are as if freed from fetters and can access true knowledge.39 However, to achieve this sort of pure sleep, people needed to purify the breathpneumathat the soul used to communicate with the body or the pneuma, like a noisy neighbor, would distract the soul from its contemplation.40 Synesius, a fth-century neoplatonic philosopher, who left us a treatise on dreams, gives the fullest discussion of the mechanics of pneuma purication as relates to sleep. As with other neoplatonists, he termed the part of the soul responsible for dreaming phantasia (imagination) and considered it to the take form of imaginative pneuma lling the cavities of the brain.41 If a person lives moderately and devotes himself to intellectual activities, the pneuma becomes warm and dry and lls the cavities completely. During sleep, this lightened pneuma can even rise up and commune with the divine.42 A person, however, who focused on the material life will make his pneuma thick and moist. It will contract
38. Ph. Spec. leg. 1.219 (Oeuvres de Philon dAlexandrie 24:140). See also Ph. Spec. leg. 1.298 (Oeuvres 24:188) for the soul ridding itself of cares and withdrawing into itself away from the crowding and noise of the senses, and Ph. Mig. 190 (Oeuvres 14:216). Philos views of sleep have been discussed by Reddoch, Dream Narratives, 88, 91, 1067, 113, 14953, 15960, 18182. 39. Iamb. Myst. 3.3, trans. Emma C. Clarke, John M. Dillon, and Jackson P. Hersh bell, Iamblichus: De mysteriis (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 12425 (based on the edition of Edouard Des Places). Here Iamblichus under the name Abamon is summarizing (and disagreeing with) Porphyrys arguments about sleep and divination. Iamblichus has just explained that divine dreams only occur in a half-waking state, not during sleep. See Reddoch, Dream Narratives, 61; Nf, Traum und Traumdeutung, 168; and Bundy, Theory of Imagination, 135. 40. Phlp. in de An. 1.4 (CAG 15:161). 41. For Synesiuss theory of dreaming and its connection to previous neoplatonist philosophy, see Bundy, Theory of Imagination, 14653; Watson, Phantasia, 11014; and Holowchak, Ancient Science and Dreams, 10910. 42. Synes. insomn. 10, ll. 3942, ed. Davide Susanetti, Sinesio di Cirene, I Sogni (Bari: Adriatica, 1992), 64: Intellectual activity is a defense against those making the sharpest attack on the pneuma. For it lightens () it and stretches it up toward the divine; and Synes. insomn. 7, ll. 2326, ed. Susanetti, Sogni, 56: The best habits with regards to the souls lighten it (i.e. the pneuma) and the worst wipes on it a stain. Therefore by natural attraction it is raised high on account of its warmth and dryness. This last passage contains terminology unique to Porphyry, who was probably Synesiuss source: see Susanetti, Sogni, 12728. I have retained the line numbers of the TLG.


and leave empty spaces in the brain, which evil daemons will move into, bringing with them horrible dreams.43 What the Greek physicians and philosophers had in common was a shared belief in what we might term sleep discipline. Sleeping deeply for a long time with a full belly and a comfortable mattress was almost universally condemned. For the doctors, this was connected to the proper way to balance the humors. Sleep should be well ordered (), not beginning right after dinner and ending before dawn: One ought to wake up from night-time sleep early, when the air is cool, and hurry to take a walk. For this reason one ought to set out the food for dinner in good order. This way even when the night is short, the body begins the day well-arranged and prepared for expeditions.44 Staying awake for some time after dinner was especially important for women, who were already wet by nature and would be made more so by sleeping with a full stomach.45 Sleeping during the day was unadvisable because it violated the natural order: In the same way also the men of those times cared about an ordered system ( ), so they slept at night and were active during the daytime.46 And those who were sick because of an overproduction of one of their humors should not sleep at all until the crisis of their illness had passed.47 A physician-enforced vigilfor those suffering from a fever, dementia, or even a bad coldmust have been a frequent experience for those with the good fortune (or misfortune) to be under a doctors care. The medical authors paid particular attention to how to treat people
43. Synes. insomn. 10, ll. 4148 and 7, ll. 2831, ed. Susanetti, Sogni, 64 and 56. 44. Orib. inc. 41[23].19 (CMG 6 2,2:147) (from Athenaeus). 45. Orib. inc. 20[4].55 (CMG 6 2,2:112): And sleep after food for women (is) not useful, being wet and sluggish (derived from Rufus). For women being wetter than men by nature, see Hp. Vict. 1.34 (CMG 1 2,4:150); and Lesley Dean-Jones, Womens Bodies in Classical Greek Science (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 46, 5560, 115, 12023. Those suffering from loss of memory were also advised not go to sleep right after eating: At. 6.23 (CMG 8,2:163). 46. Stephanus, In Hippocratis prognosticon 2.3 (CMG 11 1,2:166; trans. John Duffy). See also Hp. Prog. 10 (LCL 2:22) and Hp. Coac. 487 (LCL 9:226); and Gal. In Hipp. Progn. comment. 2.11 (CMG 5 9,2:270), who regards sleeping during the day and staying awake at night as an ill-advised practice of the rich contrary to nature. In contrast, Athenaeus (a Greek physician practicing in Rome during the rst century) was in favor of siestas during the summer: Orib. inc. 41.17 (CMG 6 2,2:147). 47. Gal. in Hipp. Aphor. comm. 1.1 (Khn 18.2:45155); Oribasius, Collectiones medicae 6.4 (CMG 6 1,1:15657); Oribasius, Eclogae medicamentorum 73.16 (CMG 6 2,2:237); At. 9.35, ed. S. Zervos, , Athena 23 (1911): 364; and At. 6.96 (CMG 8 2:246).


who were having wild, confused dreams, especially erotic dreams, which were associated with nocturnal emissions. Such dreams were caused by an overly warm and wet body.48 The wet nature of sleep could hardly be avoided except by staying awake, so physicians focused on making sleep cooler. To prevent wet dreams, the fourth-century physician Oribasius advised a light dietavoiding foods that are heating. Also a cold mattress.49 People should sleep on their sides, not on their backs: for emissions and satyrism are provoked by the heating of those places, when people lay down on their backs.50 Other doctors were more aggressive in their treatment: smearing or injecting cooling liquids into the penis, andone of the most popular remediesattaching cooling lead plates to the groin.51 And sleep should not be made too comfortable. Bedding should be rm and a deep sleep prevented: Others have directed that the big toe be bound and strung up with a strong cord or string, so that a deep sleep would be prevented by the resulting pain and the visions of the mind wouldnt be relaxed into sexual pleasure.52 The medical justication for these remedies varied, but they certainly would have made sleep less pleasant. More surprisingly, the Platonists, who believed in the possibility of
48. For the association of hot and wet brains and phantasy, see Gal. Ars med. 8 (Khn 1:327). Similar comments can be found in Orib. Syn. 5.46.8 (CMG 6 3:174); At. 4.69 (CMG 8 1:399); and Paul. Aeg. 1.63 (CMG 9 1:43). For coma as a consequence, At. 6.6 (CMG 8 2:13334). In [Arist.] Pr. 963, nocturnal emissions (and atulence) were similarly caused by a build-up of heat in the lower parts of the body during sleep. 49. Orib. Syn. 9.38 (CMG 6 3:300). See also Aline Rousselle, Porneia: On Desire and the Body in Antiquity (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1988), 19, and Jackie Pigeaud, Le reve erotique dans lAntiquite greco-romaine: loneirogmos, Litterature, Medecine, Societe (1981): 1023. 50. Oribasius, Collectiones medicae 6.1.5 (CMG 6 1,1:155): , , (from Antyllos). See also Oribasius, Collectiones medicae (libri incerti) 40.36 (CMG 6 2,2:144) for people who sleep in that position being aficted with difculty of breathing, choking, epileptic ts, and nocturnal emissions (from Diocles). 51. For the use of a lead scale ( ), see At. 11.34 (from Philagrius), ed. Charles Daremberg and Charles-Emile Ruelle, Oeuvres de Rufus dphse (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1879), 124; Gal. De san. tuenda 6.14.1112 (CMG 5 4,2:195); Alex. Trall. 11.7 (Puschmann 2:497); and Paul. Aeg. 1.38 (CMG 9 1:26). For the injection of cooling liquids, Cael. Aur. tard. 5.7 (CML 6 1:904). 52. Cael. Aur. tard. 5.7.86 (CML 6 1:906): alii maiore[m] digitum ligandum atque constringendum forti lo uel lino iusserunt, quo dolore interueniente altior arceatur somnus et neque animorum uisa in ueneriam uoluptatem soluantur. Caelius rejects this treatment. For the use of leather bedding, At. 11.34 (Oeuvres de Rufus dphse, 124).


divine communication during sleep, were quite certain that only a light and brief sleep could achieve this. This is already true for Plato, who, while leaving the door open for revelatory true dreams, by no means urged people to seek out sleep: in his Laws, he advised to Stay awake as much of the time as possible, maintaining only what is useful for health of the body, and this is not much once you have become well accustomed.53 It became the mark of a late antique philosopher to deny oneself sleep. According to Iamblichus, a Syrian neoplatonic philosopher who wrote in the late third and early fourth centuries, (ca. 245ca. 325), Pythagoras had demonstrated the importance of saving time ( . . . ) by shortening his sleep. He abstained from wine and meat and ate light and digestible food so that he needed little sleep, and achieved alertness, clarity of soul, and perfect and unshakable health of body.54 By Marcus Aureliuss time, sleeping in the roughon skins, wooden planks, or the bare groundwas one sign of that a boy had adopted a philosophical lifestyle.55 Proclus, who lived in the fth century and was perhaps the most eminent neoplatonic philosopher, reputedly showed his commitment to the mind () by depriving himself of sleep. As his biographer wrote, for he hardly rested from his daily labors and turned his body over to sleep in such a way that not even then was he outside intellectual activity. So when he had quickly driven off sleep as a kind of sloth () of the soul, and the time for prayers were not yet calling on account of not much of the night having passed, he, being by himself and on his bed, composed hymns and invented arguments through inquiry and wrote them down when he got up with the day.56 This was the sort of half-night vigil that many of Procluss Christian contemporaries were urging for the sake of devotion to God. Among early Christian ascetics, the idea that the rational, moral part of the mind rested, while the parts of the mind responsible for desire ran rampant sparked an assault on sleep beyond the mild unease of the medical authors or even the sleep asceticism of the philosophers. In a process that
53. Plato, Leges 7.808bc. 54. Iamb. VP 1314, ed. Michael von Albrecht, Peri tou Pythagoreiou biou = Pythagoras: Legende, Lehre, Lebensgestaltung (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2002), 38. See also Iamb. VP 65, 69, 107, 114, and 153. The translation is from Gillian Clark, trans., On the Pythagorean Life (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989), 6. 55. SHA Marc. 2.6 (Hohl 1:48) and M. Ant. 1.6, ed. A. I. Trannoy, Pensees (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1983), 12. 56. Marinus, Vita Procli 24, ed. Henri-Dominique Saffrey, Alain Philippe Segonds, and Concetta Luna, Proclus ou sur le bonheur (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2001), 29.


was already apparent in the neoplatonists, these base desires were increasingly conceived of as demons that attacked especially during sleep, when a persons pneuma could be easily moved.57 Some extremists responded by trying to banish sleep altogetherfor example, the monk who hung himself over the precipice of Petra, nuns who suspend themselves for the entire night or cast rocks under themselves, or the monk who stood for fourteen nights in the middle of thorn-bushes to avoid sleep.58 These practices are indeed beyond what any medical or philosophical text advises (with the possible exception of some of the remedies to prevent nocturnal emissions)and are almost certainly rooted in monastic despair at the impossibility of preventing erotic dreams and their physical manifestations during sleep.59 Such heroic efforts of sleep deprivation were unsustainable and frowned at by the church fathers themselves (most notably, Athanasius, patriarch of Alexandria).60 What the mainstream Christian authors of the eastern Mediterranean advocated was a more restrained sleep disciplinenot very different from the philosophical practices described above. According to Cassian, Egyptian monks by his day (the fth century c.e.) had adopted a regular regime of ve hours of sleep of nighthardly generous, but not life threatening.61 Ordinary lay Christians were urged by preachers like John Chrysostom to delay going to bed and get up early, spend part of each night in prayer, and eat frugallyadvice in line with the medical authors discussed above.62 For many of these authors, the quality of sleep mattered more than the quantity. When Christians did engage in sleep, they should strive to retain as much rational control as possible. A light sleep during which ones reason was not wholly disengaged was preferred to a deep sleep or
57. Ev. Cog. 4 (SC 438:16264) (PG 79:1204); and Ephraem, hym. contra haereses 29.130 (CSCO 169 SS 76:1067), who portrays this as Satan supplanting the rational soul during sleep. For neoplatonic demonology, see Dale B. Martin, Inventing Superstition: From the Hippocratics to the Christians (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 192200. 58. See Metteer, Distraction or Spiritual Discipline, 13, 21, and 24 for these and many similar examples. 59. See David Brakke, The Problematization of Nocturnal Emissions in Early Christian Syria, Egypt, and Gaul, JECS 3:4 (1996): 41960; Columba Stewart, Cassian the Monk (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), ch. 4; and Rousselle, Porneia, 8183, 154, and 15759 for the abundant monastic literature on nocturnal emissions. 60. See Brakke, Demons and the Making of the Monk, 8687 for Athanasiuss disapproval of extreme sleep deprivation in his treatise De morbo et valetudine. 61. Metteer, Distraction or Spiritual Discipline, 12. 62. See n. 3.


vivid dreaming. To return to the quote from John Chrysostom that began this article, Nor is it necessary for him to shake off sleep, for as soon as he opens his eyes, he resembles someone who has been awake for hours in his watchfulness (). A watchful sleep was partly achievable through asceticism, as the neoplatonic philosophers had advised. Heavy eating and drinking would make the sleep deeper and longer, weighing down the heart (the Aristotelian organ of perception), whereas fasting would lighten it: For when the heart is not sunk down with the weight of food, it doesnt need so much time to recover itself, but immediately is watchful.63 Just as Christians should not eat their ll, neither should they sleep their ll. As the late fourth-century ascetic Evagrius warned, Do not give yourself to feasting your stomach and do not ll yourself with nighttime sleep. For in this way you will become pure, and the spirit of the Lord will come upon you.64 Vigils were intended not merely as a way to avoid sleep but also as a way to purify it. As Basil of Caesarea explained, one should divide the night into a portion for prayer, and a portion for sleep, so that sleep itself could become an exercise of piety: For the phantasies in sleep are somehow very often echoes of daily concerns.65 Here the Aristotelian notion that dreams were the memories of sensory perceptions while awake is taken to its logical conclusion that it might be therefore possible to control ones dreams by regulating those experiences that immediately preceded sleep. Diadochos of Photiki, a fth-century promoter of the contemplative life, wrote detailed instructions for Christian dream control. The most dangerous period is when a person is just falling into sleep. The soul which is not turned toward God (with only a moderate recollection [] of God) runs of the danger of being beguiled by Satan into a pleasurable,

63. Chrys. hom. in 1 Tim. 14.4 (PG 62:57576). See similar injunctions in Clem. Paed. 2.9.81 (SC 108:160) and Ps. Chrys. comp. 3 (PG 47:389). As Clement of Alexandria vividly described it, And the belches of those heavy with wine and the yawnings of those loaded down with food and the snoring tangled up in the bed clothes and the murmurs of crowded stomachsall these things obscure the clear-seeing eye of the soul by lling the mind with ten thousand phantasies. And the cause is excessive food dragging the rational soul down to a state of insensibility. 64. Evagr. Pont. sent. mon. 97, ed. Jeremy Driscoll, Evagrius Ponticus: Ad Monachos (New York: Newman Press, 2003), 58. 65. Basil, Homilia in martyrem Julittam (PG 31:244): . , , .


but evil sleep.66 If he keeps contemplating the name of Jesus with hot recollection, he can withstand this initial attack of Satan.67 This does not lead to a deep and pleasant sleep, however, but rather the opposite a sustained nocturnal battle against the demons lurking in his heart that will continue through the night: when it is pure, the mind will wake up the body with dreams when it recognizes the demons. But at other times the mind rejoices that it is able to recognize their deception. Therefore it often incites them to great anger by arguing with them in a dream.68 Here the Christian should remain asleep only as long as he is in command of the argument with demonic temptations (what we would call today lucid dreaming). The pure mind will wake the body if the demons begin to get the upper hand. In the Christian writings on sleep, we nd the same difference between the mystical and more rationalist authors as found in non-Christian literature. For the less neoplatonic authors, such as Basil of Caesarea or John Chrysostom, the rational mind is at low ebb during sleep. As Basil says when explaining why monks shouldnt resent the one who wakes them up for nighttime prayers, when one realizes the damage resulting from sleep namely that the soul doesnt perceive itselfone will learn the advantage of being awake.69 According to John Chrysostom, the soul of a sleeping person was in fact more asleep than someone who had died.70 In contrast, Egyptians such as Athanasius and the seventh-century abbot Anastasius of Sinai adopted a very neoplatonic belief that the remained awake during sleep: being liberated from the body, it retained its rational powers and could even travel the universe.71 This divergence carried over into these authors attitude toward dreams. Dreams for Gregory of Nyssa and Chrysostom were generally the confused and false fantasies of the sleeping mind, whereas for Athanasius they were the chance for the saintly to commune with the divine.72 Yet as with the non-Christians, the neoplatonic

66. Diad. perf. 32 (SC 5:102). 67. Diad. perf. 31 (SC 5:101). 68. Diad. perf. 37 (SC 5:106). 69. Bas. reg. br. 43 (PG 31:1109): , , . 70. Chrys. Laz. 1 (PG 48:1018): , , . 71. Ath. gent. 31.3844 (Thomson: 8687), discussed by Miller, Dreams, 66; Anast. S. serm. imag. 3.3. ll. 7377 (CCSG 12:68). 72. Chrys. hom. in Heb. 24.1 (PG 63:167); Gr. Nyss. hom. opif. 13 (PG 44:172A), discussed by Michel Perrin, LHomme antique et chretien: lanthropologie de L actance: 250325 (Paris: Beauchesne, 1981), 3034; Miller, Dreams, 4751; and Guy G.


Christian philosophers at once idealized sleep in theory, yet disciplined it in practice: Athanasiuss model monk Anthony was noted for his vigils.73 I conclude that there was a dynamic in the Greek world that led to a negative view of sleep even among those whose philosophical ideas might have turned sleep into a kind of mystical meditation.74 Part of the problem, at least among the philosophers, was a rather narrow denition of rational thought, which made the bizarre and often deceptive dream-thought seem to be something bestial or supernatural. For a man to lose control to sleepas to lose control to strong emotionwas to give up the very capacity for rational thought that made him human. But perhaps even more important than these intellectual concerns was the social stigma attached to sleep: sleep was the ultimate antisocial activity. As Plato said, a sleeper is of no more use than one who is dead (Plato, Leges 7.808bc). To the Stoic, in words that would be echoed by Basil of Caesarea, sleep is the waste of half our short lives.75 It is perhaps not surprising that even among monksfor whom personal contemplation had value beyond its social utilitysleep was best kept to a minimum. Latin views of sleep When we turn to the Latin west, sleep becomes far less sinister. Latin patristic authors drew on a rather different theoretical tradition about sleep, according to which sleep only put the body, not the mind, to sleep. Although the precise origin of this view of sleep lays outside the scope of this essay, it seems to have been part of the translation of Hellenistic Greek philosophical and medical thought that occurred in Rome in the

Stroumsa, Dreams and Visions in Early Christian Discourse, in Dream Cultures: Explorations in the Comparative History of Dreaming, ed. David Dean Shulman and Guy G. Stroumsa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 200201. For Athanasius, see Nf, Traum und Traumdeutung, 156 and Miller, Dreams, 40. 73. Ath. v. Anton 7.6 (SC 400:15052). See also Ath. exp. Ps. 62 (PG 27:489) urging midnight vigils. 74. Kelly Bulkeley, Dreaming in the Worlds Religions: A Comparative History (New York: New York University Press, 2008), 152, points out that Platonists never followed their own suggestion to pursue dreaming as an avenue to transcendent knowledge, as in other religious traditions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. 75. Basil, Hom. in Martyrem Julittam 4 (PG 31:244): do not let half your life be wasted in the insensibility of sleep; Ariston apud Plut. An aqua an ignis utilior 12 (Mor. 2, 958d) (LCL 222:306): Man has been granted but a little time to live and, as Ariston says, sleep, like a tax collector, takes away half of that (latter translation by Harold Cherniss and W. C. Helmbold).


late Republic and rst century c.e. (and owed more to Stoicism and the Greek physicians practicing in Rome than to Aristotle and Galen).76 The early third-century North African Christian writer Tertullian gives us one of the fullest critiques of the causation of sleep. Tertullian was familiar with Greek theories of sleep and criticized them for believing sleep to be unnatural (praeter naturam).77 The Hippocratic idea that sleep was a cooling process seemed unlikely to him, since people sweated during sleep and digested their foodboth of which operations imply an increase, not decrease in warmth (Tert. An. 43.5 [CCSL 2:846]). He preferred the Stoic view that sleep was a relaxation of sensory power (resolutio sensualis vigoris) brought about by Nature.78 Sleep happens at night because Nature has established this period of darkness when one cant easily work in order to give the body an opportunity to rest (Tert. An. 43.7 [CCSL 2:846]). For sleep is something that affects the body, not the mind: for it procures rest for the body alone, and not for the soul; the soul/mind remains active and creative during sleep.79 Later Latin patristic writers, such as Lactantius and Augustine, shared this benign view of sleep. Lactantiuss discussions of sleep reect his training as a Latin rhetorician under Diocletian and Constantine, and he draws on the Latin poets, especially Lucretius, as much as any other source. The sweetest rest of sleep is a positive thing for Lactantius, one of the main gifts of God, set next to light, water, and food; a symbol of Gods justice to all.80 In his description of the Last Days, insomnia will be part of the

76. See John Glucker, A Platonic Cento in Cicero, Phronesis. 44:1 (1999): 3044; Petra Strobl, Die Macht des Schlafes in der griechisch-romischen Welt: eine Untersuchung der mythologischen und physiologischen Aspekte der antiken Standpunkte (Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovac , 2002), 3637, and Reddoch, Dream Narratives, 89 for Ciceros views of sleep and their philosophical antecedents, as well as Nf, Traum und Traumdeutung, 6391 for the impact of Hellenistic thought on Roman attitudes toward dreams. 77. Tert. An. 43.1 (CCSL 2:845). Waszink, Tertulliani De anima, 461 believes Tertullians source for the naturalness of sleep to have been Soranus, due to the similar views of Caelius Aurelianus discussed below. 78. Tert. An. 43.2 (CCSL 2:846) and 43.5 (CCSL 2:846). See Waszink, Tertulliani De anima, 46162 for the Stoic antecedents. 79. Tert. An. 43.5 (CCSL 2:846). For Tertullians attitude toward dreams, which were sometimes created by the mind itself, sometimes sent by demons, and only rarely sent by God, see Graf, Dreams, Visions, and Revelations, 21921. 80. Lact. Inst. 5.14.17 (CSEL 19:446). For Lactantiuss relationship to Lucretius, see Martine Dulaey, Le rve dans la vie et la pensee de saint Augustin (Paris: Etudes augustiniennes, 1973), 59 n. 91 and for parallels with Tertullian, Perrin, Lhomme antique et chrtien , 297301.


punishmentnight will not give rest to fear nor will sleep come to the eyes, but rather worry and vigil will torment the souls of men (Lact. Inst. 7.16.12 [CSEL 19:637]). However, sleep can pose a danger to life on earth, which only dreams save us from. According to Lactantius, sleep isnt a complete rest, the way death is. When we sleep, only the body rests. The soul remains in motion and must occupy itself in some way or it might depart from the body altogether, letting the body die. Therefore the soul withdraws into itself and imagines things: it exercises its own natural motion in a variety of visions . . . while the bodily parts are satised and take strength from rest.81 These dreams are sometimes constructed by the soul itself and sometimes sent by God (Lact. Opif. 18.9 [CSEL 27.1:58]). There is no hint here that these dreams are an irrational product of ones lower nature; the soul is in full control of its faculties. Although Augustine was more inclined than Tertullian or Lactantius to accept Greek medical theories about the causes of sleep (a cooling and moistening of the body),82 he, like them, believed that the body alone went to sleep, not the soul. As he wrote in his treatise On the Immortality of the Soul,
because whatever else it is that sleep does, it is from the body and operates on the body alone. For it lulls the bodily senses and closes them in such a way that the soul allows this change to the body with pleasure, because it is a change in accordance with nature, refreshing the body from labors. Sleep does not, however, take from the soul its power of perceiving or of thinking.83

Here Augustine accepts that sleep puts the senses to rest, causing a separation between the mind and the senses.84 However, the mind does not subsequently become confused and go to sleep, but rather retains its full powers of reason and perception. While the body sleeps, the mind may

81. Lact. Ir. 17.3 (SC 289:17274). See also Lact. Opif. 18.9 (CSEL 27.1:58). Perrin, Lhomme antique et chrtien, 299 and 3012 notes the originality of Lactantiuss belief that dreams are a necessary part of sleep. Dulaey, Rve, 5761, discusses the possible Stoic antecedents of Lactantiuss dream theory. 82. For example, Aug. Quant. an. 22.38 (PL 32:1056): itaque somno, quia eum frigidum et humidum dicunt medici et probant, membra languescunt. 83. Aug. Imm. 13.22 (PL 32:1032). See also Aug. Psal. 62.4 (CCSL 39:795): God gave sleep to the body so that the parts of the body could be repaired in order to bear the wide awake soul. According to Dulaey, Rve, 96, Augustine is drawing on neoplatonic sleep theory (in particular, Porphyry) here. 84. On the separation of mind and body during sleep, see also Aug. Simpl. 2.1.1 (CCSL 44:5859) and Aug. Imm. 13.22 (PL 32:1032).


see images from dreams, construct complex arguments, and receive divine communications.85 Augustine believed sleep to be necessary for the body, but also good for the soul. God had designed sleep as a way to give the body a break from sensory perception: the fragile body is indeed not able to bear the perpetual tension agitating the mortal senses, unless this very fragility is repaired for such agitation when the senses are lulled to sleep86 (oddly enough, Augustine did not seem to think that sleep was also necessary for digestion). But sleep was also good for the soul, for it released the mind from labor and the concerns of the body. Tertullian had said that sleep is the end of labor (Tert. An. 43.5 [CCSL 2:846]); Augustine in the Confessions quoted verses of Ambrose praising God for creating the night to release the limbs from labor and the mind from weariness and anxiety.87 There is less in the way of sleep discipline in Augustine and the other North African authors than what we see in the Greek world. Tertullian ridiculed the notion that fasting or avoiding certain foods would bring on prophetic dreams (Tert. An. 48.34 [CCSL 2:854]). Augustine displays little concern about the impact of heavy meals on sleeping; they are not portrayed as leading to snoring, dangerously deep sleeps, or wet dreams. Nocturnal emissions, although a sign of the fundamental sinfulness of the soul, are not preventable by changing diet or restricting sleep.88 Christians
85. Aug. Imm. 13.22 (PL 32:1032); Gen. imp. 12.23 (CSEL 28.1:414); Simpl. 2.1.1 (CCSL 44:5859); Adim. 28 (CSEL 25:189). See Dulaey, Rve, 75, 9697, and 11327, and, more generally, Jacqueline Amat, Songes et visions: lau-del dans la litterature latine tardive (Paris: tudes augustiniennes, 1985), 2661. For Augustines ambivalence about divinely sent dreams, however, see Graf, Dreams, Visions and Revelations. 86. Aug. S. 362 (PL 39:1632). See also Aug. Psal. 62.4 (CCSL 39:795), quoted in n. 83. This probably Stoic idea that the bodily senses needed a break from the tension of the soul is also found in Evagrius (under Origen), Selecta in Psalmos (PG 12:1125): sleep is the loosening of the soul when it is released from the body and weakens the tension () since a continual stretching () cannot be endured. See infra, n. 22. 87. Aug. Conf. 9.12.32 (CCSL 27:15052): recordatus sum ueridicos uersus Ambrosii tui: tu es enim, deus, creator omnium polique rector, uestiens diem decoro lumine, noctem sopora gratia, artus solutos ut quies reddat laboris usui, mentesque fessas alleuet, luctuque soluat anxios. See Ambr. Hymn. 4.18, ed. Jacques Fontaine, and Jean-Louis Charlet, Hymnes (Paris: ditions du Cerf, 1992), 237 as well as 24445 for the classical antecedents. 88. Brakke, Problematization of Nocturnal Emissions, 45657; Dulaey, Rve, 13539. Augustine leaves unresolved the issue of why the soulwhich was awake during sleepwasnt culpable for wet dreams: see Richard Sorabji, Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 41315; Gareth B. Matthews, On Being Immoral in a Dream, Philosophy 56:215 (1981): 4754.


are not encouraged to avoid sleep (except during the Easter vigil) or to make it uncomfortable. Augustine actually seems to relish the changeable dream images and wild ights of fancy that Greek authors considered evidence for the irrational, even demonic nature of sleep.89 There were, of course, some limits to Augustines appreciation of sleep. Excessive torpor, especially in young people, was indeed spoken of with disapproval, associated with other signs of dissolute living such as drunkenness and fornication (Aug. ord. 2.8 [CCSL 29:121]). Sleep, like eating, was part of our mortal condition and would not be carried into the afterlife. The angels in heaven did not sleep nor should we after the resurrection the Easter vigil was a way to remind ourselves of this.90 However, there was no positive virtue in denying oneself sleep, and doing so was likely to lead to sleepiness on the following day. Augustine spoke of sleepiness when awake with more disapproval than sleep itself.91 Other western patristic authors saw more of a need to make accommodations with Greek sleep asceticism. Augustines mentor, Ambrose of Milan, despite composing the encomium to sleep quoted by Augustine, came closer to the Greek patristic authors in his exegetical writings (which were partly based on Greek exegesis). In his Commentary on Psalm 118, he adopts the Greek view that sleep can impair the ability of the mind to function: When bodies heat up with sleep and food, then the vigor of the mind is also relaxed. It is loosened in sleep, then the desire for impure sex creeps in, then the heart is disturbed. . . .92 The heat produced by

89. Aug. Gen. imp. 12.18 (CSEL 28.1:407): ego uero multo amplius admiror multo que maxime stupeo, quanta celeritate ac facilitate in se anima fabricetur imagines corporum, quae per corporis oculos uiderit, quam somniantium uel etiam in extasi uisiones; discussed by Watson, Phantasia, 152. See also Dulaey, Rve, 107, and Bundy, Theory of Imagination, 16372, on Augustines largely positive view of imagination. 90. For angels not sleeping, see Aug. Serm. 211A, ed. Patrick Verbraken, Les fragments conservs de sermons perdus de saint Augustin, RBen 84 (1974): 261 (fr. 25) and Serm. 280 (PL 38:1283); for us being in this respect like angels after death, Serm. Dolbeau 21D.15 (= Serm. Mayence 54), ed. Franois Dolbeau, Vingt-six sermons au peuple dAfrique, Collection des etudes augustiniennes, Serie Antiquite 147 (Paris: tudes augustiniennes, 2009), 293; and for the Easter vigil reminding us of this: Serm. 211A (RBen 84:261) and Serm. 223G, ed. Germain Morin, Sancti Augustini sermones post Maurinos reperti, Miscellanea Agostiniana 1 (Rome: Typis polyglottis vaticanis, 1930), 690. 91. Aug. Serm. 229V, ed. Cyrille Lambot, Une srie Pascale de sermons de saint Augustin sur les jours de la creation, RBen 79 (1969): 212 (fr. 5). 92. Ambr. Psal. 118 7.31 (CSEL 62:145): cum somno et cibo feruent corpora, tunc etiam mentis uigor sopore laxatur, somno resoluitur, tunc inrepit inpuri libido concubitus, tunc perturbatur cor.


sleep and digestion can relax the mind and soul, making them vulnerable to evil spirits and temptation:
Food is cooked and drink is digested, the stomach becomes sick, the mind sleepy, the soul distracted. In this way both the heat of sleep is increased for the one resting and vigor is not yet fully restored for the one waking up, which could ward off the attacks of errors. Then the Tempter attacks, now he casts the nets, with which he can trouble the careless mind. Now the evil spirits pour through the shadows, now they compete to urge every wickedness, when no arbiter of misbehavior, no consciousness of crime, no witness to error is able to exist. (Ambr. Psal. 118 8.46 [CSEL 62:178])

The idea here that digestion and sleep are hot processes is common in other Latin authors (as we saw with Tertullian) and the idea that the vapors produced by them could soften and distract the mind appears also in the Rule of the Master, discussed below. Ambrose, however, combines these ideas in an original way with the Greek view that the mind loses rational control during sleepand therefore the ability to resist temptation. In this treatise and elsewhere, he urges his audience to spend the better part of the night in vigils, praying and reciting the scriptures, only sleeping enough to fulll the needs of nature.93 Sleep would ideally be interrupted during the night by periods of prayer and recitation (though Ambrose leaves a door open for the mind to pray while the body sleeps). It is especially important that the morning sun nd the Christian awake and praying rather than in the depths of sleep (Ambr. Psal. 118 19.22 [CSEL 62:433]). However, elsewhere in his worksin his letters and hymns in particularAmbrose is more open to the idea of a good sleep. Adopting neoplatonic terminology, he regards the sleep of the mind, not of the body, to be dangerous. A strong faith cools the mind, so that it stays awake while the body sleeps: and let the night shine with faith. Dont let your mind sleep; rather let sin know sleep. Let a chaste, cooling faith temper the vapor of sleep.94 This is the sleep of the saints, in which the wide awake mind communes with God: For the sleep of the saints keeps holiday away from all the pleasures of the body, from all perturbation of the

93. Ambr. Psal. 118 7.32 (CSEL 62:146): non dormiamus ergo totis noctibus, sed maximam partem earum lectioni et orationibus deputemus. See also Ambr. Psal. 118 8.51 (CSEL 62:182); Psal. 118 19.22 (CSEL 62:433); Luc. 7.89 (CCSL 14:243); Virg. 2.2.8 and 3.4.19, ed. Franco Gori, Verginit e vedovanza (Tutte le opere di santAmbrogio 14.1) (Milan: Biblioteca Ambrosiana, 1989), 172 and 224. 94. Ambr. Hymn. 4.2124, ed. Fontaine, Hymnes, 239: nox de reluceat./ Dormire mentem ne sinas, / dormire culpa nouerit, / castis des refrigerans / somni uaporem temperet.


mind, carrying tranquility to the mind, placidness to the soul, just as if it raises itself, released from the knot of the body, and adheres to Christ.95 To achieve this sort of virtuous sleep, the Christian should turn her thoughts toward God before sleep: I wish you to weave together psalms with the Lords Prayer in frequent turn either when you awaken or before deep sleep (sopor) pours over the body, so that sleep will nd you in the very beginning of rest free from concern about secular matters, meditating on the divine.96 Ambrose comes close here to the neoplatonic belief that a pure mind can enable a person to achieve a contemplative sleep. The western monastic rules, though similar to Ambrose in their concern that the vapors from digestion might interfere with the souls progress, deal with this problem by enjoining monks to get enough sleep rather than by urging sleep asceticism. Benedict of Nursia allowed a siesta during summer and, during winter, lengthened the time between the compline and the night ofce so as to ensure about seven hours of nighttime sleep, So that there may be rest until a little after the middle of the night and they may rise already having digested.97 Benedicts inspiration, the Rule of the Master, let monks go back to bed after a combined night/matins ofce, explaining the need for sufcient sleep with a specicity that Terrence Kardong has characterized as revoltingly graphic:
Indeed, should the brothers be forced to rise before cockcrow on the short nights, still undigested (crudi ) from sleep hardly begun, while in the rst surge of the veins blood and humors are boiling through them and the organs, in the torpor of interrupted sleep, are digesting the food they have taken, the brothers would be not so much roused as killed when they start to get up in this heat of the unnished cooking process. With head still heavy and belching from indigestion they put to ight the gifts of the Holy Spirit . . . and in the psalmody the brother will not love God with his whole soul when he wants to satisfy his body with sleep.98

Here sleep is portrayed as necessary for the conversion of food to blood and humors. If sleep is interrupted, the unnished humors boil up
95. Ambr. Epist. 7.52.4 (CSEL 82.2:69). See similar in Ambr. Psal. 118 4.14 (CSEL 62:74). 96. Ambr. Virg. 3.4.19, ed. Gori, Verginit e vedovanza, 224. 97. Ben. Reg. 48.5 (CSEL 75:126) for a siesta after lunch between Easter and October and Ben. Reg. 8.2 (CSEL 75:58) for winter rising for prayer, ut modice amplius de media nocte pausetur et iam digesti surgant. Discussed by Kardong, Benedicts Rule, 170, 213, and 387 and de Vog, Rgle de saint Benot, t. 5, 41926. 98. Regula Magistri 33.1924 (SC 106:180); trans. Luke Eberle, The Rule of the Master (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1977), 196, slightly modied; discussed by Kardong, Benedicts Rule, 170.


through the veins, causing embarrassing noises, and weighing down the mind so that it is incapable of concentration (the Masters terminology here shows some interesting parallels to a passage in Runuss translation of the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitiones).99 Similar physical symptoms are at times described in Greek texts as the consequence of sleeping on a full stomach.100 However, here the lesson drawn is radically different. Instead of urging monks to fast or to stay awake between dinner and bedtime, the Rule of the Master enjoins sufcient sleep. This belief that sleep deprivation hindered ones ability to turn the spirit toward God is strikingly different from the promotion of sleep asceticism in Greek monastic texts. Here it was the lack of sleep that was a danger to the mind. The Masters medical terminology begs the question of whether the Latin patristic authors were inuenced by different medical theories than Greek patristic authors. Here we encounter the problem of whether there was a Latin medical tradition independent of the Greek, for much of the medical scholarship in Latin was derived or directly translated from the Greek.101 What does appear to be clear (at least with regards to sleep) is that the medical theories of the early Principate (themselves developed by Greek physicians practicing in Rome) remained in play in the West long after they had been supplanted by Galenism in the Greek world. The physiology of sleep in Italian patristic texts such as the Rule of the Master has more in common with Celsus, an inuential rst-century c.e. Latin medical author, and Caelius Aurelianus, a physician and medical commentator from fth-century North Africa, than with any late antique Greek medical text. And both Celsus and Caelius display quite positive views of sleep. Celsus provided Roman audiences with an elegant synthesis of the medical learning of his time in a form that is generally considered to be an original treatise, not a translation from the Greek.102 For Celsus, a major threat to human health was insufciently digested food (which he thought corrupted inside a person). A good sleep (bene dormire) was absolutely
99. Ps. Clem. Rec. 6.1.34 (GCS 51:187): If sleep is interrupted when the food isnt yet digested, the undigested matter may weigh down the mind and by exhaling unrened pneuma (crudos spiritus) render the inner senses confused and thick. This is an aside to a passage on how to keep vigil the same number of hours each night and may have been an addition by Runus rather than a translation of the (lost) original. 100. For example, Clem. Paed. 2.9.81 (SC 108:160). 101. See Nutton, Ancient medicine, chs. 11 and 13. 102. Muriel Pardon, Celsus and the Hippocratic Corpus: the Originality of a Plagiarist, Studies in Ancient Medicine 31 (2005): 40311; and articles in Guy Sabbah and Philippe Mudry, La medecine de Celse: aspects historiques, scientiques et litteraires (Saint-Etienne: Universite de Saint-Etienne, 1994).


necessary for digestion.103 Therefore he advised people to take siestas, to sleep in during the morning (or, indeed, rest the whole day when necessary!), to not stay up late studying: in winter the most important thing is to rest the whole night; if you must study by lamp light, do so not after food, but after digestion.104 Work in general was bad for ones health: people needed to set aside time everyday for care of themselves, and if they engaged in unusual labor, they needed to go straight to bed (without eating since too much labor can upset the digestion).105 For Celsus, sleep was the cure for both excessive labor and excessive food. Caelius Aurelianuss sleep regime was broadly similar to Celsuss, although based on a more complex theoretical foundation. Caelius is the main extant representative of the Methodist medical school, which was important in Rome in the early Principate and, if his corpus is any indication, continued in the west long after Galenism had become predominant in the east. Much of his writing about sleep is derived from these Greek physicians of the rst and early second centuries c.e., especially Soranus of Ephesus who practiced in Rome under Trajan and Hadrian. It is frequently difcult to determine whether the opinions expressed are Caeliuss or Soranuss, although the trend in the scholarship has been to credit more of the text to Caelius himself.106 In the following synthesis, I have used his less well-known, though probably less derivative treatise, the Medical Responses, to conrm conclusions derived from his magnum opus, On Acute Diseases and On Chronic Diseases. As with Celsus and the western monastic texts, Caelius notes the negative mental consequences of disrupting the digestive processes that occur during sleep. His most detailed account of this comes in a section on how to wake someone who suffers from epilepsy:

103. Cels. 1.2.10 (CML 1:32). 104. Cels. 1.2.5 (CML 1:31): Per hiemem potissimum totis noctibus conquiescere; sin lucubrandum est, non post cibum id facere, sed post concoctionem. For the need to sleep in if one did not digest well, see Cels. 1.2.2 (CML 1:30). 105. Cels. 1.2.5 (CML 1:31) and Celsus 1.3.3 (CML 1:32). 106. See Innocenzo Mazzini, Elementi Celiani in Celio Aureliano, in Le Traite Des Maladies Aigus Et Des Maladies Chroniques De Caelius Aurelianus: Nouvelles Approches: Actes Du Colloque De Lausanne, 1996, ed. Philippe Mudry (Nantes: Institut Universitaire de France, 1999), 2746; Van der Eijk, Medicine and Philosophy, 299327; and Fabio Stok, Retorica ed etimologia nei trattati di Celio Aureliano, in Les textes mdicaux latins comme littrature: Actes du VIe colloque international sur les textes medicaux latins, du 1er au 3 septembre 1998 Nantes (Nantes: Institut universitaire de France, 2000), 28196.

DOSSEY / DISCIPLINING SLEEP235 When the patient has shaken off sleep, rst let him rest for a while lying down, not merely fearing that his food has not been digested, but until digestion has been done in such a way that that it has reached a sort of completion proper to the body. This is so that in the ensuing period of wakefulness and loosening of the limbs and thinning-out and purging of the body uids, the pneuma (spiritus) isnt still thick (crassus) and disturbed by sleep. Such a condition is often observed to interfere with certain functions, since the pneuma is not yet able, when owing back, to penetrate the whole body. And so it often happens that when such persons are roused from sleep they cannot make out the very things they are looking at, unless they rst rub their eyes.107

Here digestion took place during sleep, a process that coincided with the pneuma becoming concentrated and thick. Under normal conditions, the distribution of pneuma throughout the rest of the body would wait until the person was awake and the body relaxed. At this point the pneuma and humors were supposed to have become thinner due to the completion of digestionand therefore capable of easily passing through the nerves, arteries and other passageways of the body. If the person hadnt completed digestion, however, the concentrated pneuma might start forcing its way through the nerves and do damage to the body.108 This thick pneuma would be incapable of performing the proper functions of perception (such as vision) and instead leave the person with a heavy head, unable to see or speak clearly, and in general mental and physical distress.109 Caelius was describing the same problem that the Rule of the Master tried to prevent by allowing monks enough sleep. Caelius frequently disagreed with previous medical schools when they portrayed sleep as an unnatural or pathological condition. For example, in

107. Cael. Aur. tard. 1.4.100101 (CML 6 1:488). My translation draws on Israel Edward Drabkin, On Acute Diseases and On Chronic Diseases (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950), 504. 108. Cael. Aur. tard. 1.4.102 (CML 6 1:490): irruente spiritu crassiore afciat percussioni vel quassationi similes plagas ingerendo. 109. See also Caelius, Medicinales responsiones, ed. Valentin Rose, Anecdota Graeca et Graeco-latina: Mitteilungen aus Handschriften zur Geschichte der griechischen Wissenschaft (Berlin: Dmmler, 1870), 2:198: ex somno turbato atque inaequali, corpore gravi tardo, mentis tristitia, vultus cum inatione pallore, ructationibus fumidis vel acidis aut male redolentibus, nausia cum fatigatione salivarum, frequentia compunctionis intestinorum vel ventris abstinentia, stercorum inaequali atque aspera effusione: quae supradicta aliquando omnia concurrunt and Cael. Aur. acut. 1.15.150 (CML 6 1:104), where he links mental disturbance to incomplete digestion, when an abnormal blockage prevents the digestion from breaking down substances and distributing to the other parts of body.


a section on phrenitis (brain fever), he criticized the school of Asclep iades, a rst-century b.c.e. Greek physician in Rome:
But some of the followers of Asclepiades actually seek to defend his statement by arguing that the mind is unbalanced (eri alienationem) during sleep. In fact, Asclepiades himself in Book I of his Acute Diseases declares that sleep unbalances the mind; hence the statement that poppy juice causes mental derangement. Our answer to this is that stupor (pressura) differs from sleep; for stupor is considered as something unnatural, sleep as something natural (secundum naturam).110

The naturaland healthynature of sleep is a frequent theme in Caelius.111 Sleep is brought by nature as almost a divine gift: For sleep is produced when bodies are loosened by a natural relaxation (indulgentia naturalis).112 Although there are occasions when Caelius agrees with the common practice of preventing sleep at the onset of illnessespecially when the illness was caused by a local inammation,113 he far more frequently considers sleep essential for building up the strength of the patient.114 People should take their daily siesta, especially during the summer, so as to get sufcient sleep.115 Those who have had a heavy meal need to take particular care to complete their digestion before getting up and therefore (as in Celsus) should lie in bed into the morning.116 Caelius objected to the more extreme sleep depriving treatments of Greek physicianssuch as tying up

110. Cael. Aur. acut. 1.praef.17 (Phrenitis) (CML 6 1:30). Translation from Drabkin, On Acute Diseases, 10. 111. For example, Cael. Aur. acut. 1.17.172; 2.1.7; and 2.9.45 (CML 6 1:118, 134, 15658). The phrase in the last example that somnus autem naturale est ofcium is particularly interesting, given that Caelius elsewhere linked bodily ofcia and divine providence in a distinctive way that is almost certainly not derived from Soranus (and possibly reects Stoic inuence): see Mazzini, Elementi Celiani, 42, in the context of Caeliuss disapproval of homosexuality in Cael. Aur. tard. 4.131. 112. Cael. Aur. acut. 1.17.172 (CML 6 1:118): somnus enim laxatis et corporibus indulgentia naturali (cf. 1.17.175). 113. As for a headache: Cael. Aur. tard. 1.1.32 (CML 6 1:446). 114. On the strengthening nature of sleep, see Cael. Aur. acut. 1.9.64 (CML 6 1:58); Cael. Aur. tard. 5.7.86 (CML 6 1:906) and 5.11.137 and 140 (CML 6 1:936 and 938) (on obesity). 115. Caelius, Medicinales responsiones, ed. Rose, Anecdota Graeca et Graecolatina, 2:198: interdiano somno utendum est sanis hominibus? si non sufciens erit nocturnus, aut noctis brevitate aut alia qualibet causa, ad implementum solitae quantitatis utendum. 116. Cael. Aur. tard. 3.3.8586 (CML 6 1:730), on Cachexia, the listlessness from intemperate living.


a toe during sleep to prevent the dreams that cause nocturnal emissions or trying to prevent a patient with brain fever (phrenitis) from sleeping: Then we send them all to sleep or, if they arent able to sleep, we nevertheless order them to rest; for a well-timed sleep refreshes no less than food.117 CONCLUSION This examination, though incomplete, suggests that the Latin medical tradition was in line with Latin patristic tradition in its views of sleep. Sleep was a positive good for the body and the mind, something created by nature or God. Both see t to disagree with Greek negativity. Insufcient sleep would prevent the completion of digestion and make the spirit thick and confused, unable to concentrate. However, I do not think this means Latin patristic authors like Augustine were basing their views of sleep on western medical tradition (indeed, Augustine is more humoral than Methodist in his medicine). On the contrary, both the Latin medical writers and patristic authors seem to be reecting broader cultural views that may have led the Romans to choose Greek philosophical and medical theories more attuned to their more positive attitude toward sleep. The frequent praise of sleep as a liberator from work and care that is found in Latin patristicand even some medical authors (like Celsus) stands in sharp contrast to the way work is portrayed by Greek authors such as John Chrysostom. For John Chrysostom, work was goodindeed, necessary for human happiness: for our nature () cannot stand to do nothing. He asks, What is proper to a good man? Is it to be sober and awake or to sleep and snore? If you let a man simply spend his life eating and sleeping, what could be more wretched than such a life?118 The only kind of good sleep (what John Chysostom calls legitimate sleep ) is a reward for hard labor (). As Clement of Alexandria said, we sleep not on account of laziness (), but as a rest from activity.119 The association of sleep with laziness and sloth is a constant in Greek texts of every genremedical, philosophical, and patristic. Latin authors may not have considered sleep quite so lazy because of the very fact that the mind was thought to stay awake. This is most clearly
117. Cael. Aur. acut. 1.9.7374 (CML 6 1:64) (on Phrenitis) and Cael. Aur. tard. 5.7.86 (CML 6 1:906) for objecting to sleep deprivation to cure nocturnal emissions. 118. Chryst. hom. in Jo. 36 (PG 59:2056). 119. Clem. Paed. 2.9.78 (SC 108:156): , . Chrys. Hom. ad Pop. 2.8 (PG 49:45) for legitimate sleep.


expressed by Ambrose, who characterizes the sleep of the saintly as a working sleep (somnus operarius):120 for who can be seen to take a holiday, whose mind is always working?121 This was not because it was a reward for previous labor when awake, but for labor during sleep itself: for can you call someone asleep who even if relaxed in body, nevertheless stays upright in sleep?122 Nevertheless, when we turn to Latin authors other than Ambrose, it is hard to avoid concluding, that many, perhaps most of them, were simply more comfortable with the idea of doing nothing than Greek authors were. Sleep was a good thing both because it rested the bodyand because it rested the mind by freeing it from the cares of the body. As with us, the idea of sleep as a form of solitary leisure, as taking time for oneself, carried no stigma. The Roman aristocratic ideal of otium applied to a good sleep. There may be a class element to this. It should be remembered that the texts we have been discussing hereboth Greek and Latinare by and large about elite, male sleepers. The social patterning of sleep in the modern era has been connected to social inequality.123 Those with less powerwomen in abusive marriages, night-shift workerstend to be more sleep deprived than others. In the ancient world, as well, it was the slave, the craftsman, the beggar who suffered most from (involuntary) sleep deprivation.124 And there were those in the Greek world at least who were bothered by this. As John Chrysostom said, you wont be able to sleep comfortably in your silver bedeven if you are made of stonewhen you know of the poor sleeping in the vestibules of the bathhouses.125 The expectation that a good ruler should sleep little, while letting his servants sleep, was a topos in Greek historical and even medical literature.126 For
120. Ambr. Epist. 7.52.4 (CSEL 82.2:69). 121. Ambrose, De Iacob et uita beata, 1.8.39 (CSEL 32.2:30). Ambr. Epist. 7.52.4 (CSEL 82.2:69) for somnus operarius. 122. Ambrose, De Iacob et uita beata, 1.8.39 (CSEL 32.2:30). 123. Simon J. Williams, Sleep and Society: Sociological Ventures into the (Un)Known (London: Routledge, 2005), ch. 4, and, for women, Jan Pahl, Power, Ideology and Resources Within Families: a Theoretical Context for Empirical Research on Sleep, Sociological Research Online 12:5 (2007). 124. Synesius, Aegyptii sive de providentia 2.2 (117D), ed. Antonio Garzya, Opere di Sinesio di Cirene: epistole, operette, inni (Turin: Unione Tipograco-Editrice Torinese, 1989), 512 for a poor beggar woman; Gal. De san. tuenda 6.5 (Khn 6:4036) comparing a courtiers service into the night and early in the morning to the life of a slave. 125. Chrys. Laz. 1.8 (PG 48:973). 126. See Synesius, Aegyptii sive de providentia 1.12 (103A), ed. Garzya, Opere di Sinesio, 482, and other examples in Alan Cameron, Jacqueline Long, and Lee Francis Sherry, Barbarians and Politics at the Court of Arcadius (Berkeley, CA: Univer-


the powerful to indulge in sleep while others must remain sleepless was a fundamental expression of hubris, an abuse of power (but perhaps also a reluctance to lose control). In contrast, Roman aristocrats displayed their imperium by sleeping, glorying in the fact that they could sleep while others work. This was architecturally demonstrated in the way that Roman heads of household spread their bedrooms around the house to such an extent that the sleeping space of the other members of the household becomes undetectable. At a more general level, the Roman siestawhich frequently took the form of a very public sleepsymbolized the freedom of the Roman, the privilege of a citizen over a slave.127 But there was also an element of risktaking in this, a Stoic willingness to sleep in the midst of very vigilant slaves. For the Romans, sleeping in front of those who had good reason to hate you showed courage. For a Greek, it showed a lamentable want of watchfulness. This paper has hoped to demonstrate a longstanding divergence in Greek and Latin attitudes toward sleep that transcended whatever philosophical, medical, or even confessional schools authors belonged to. This divergence was not absolute. Ambrose, at least in his exegesis, sounded almost Greek. Egyptians like Athanasius may have had a peculiarly positive stance on dreaming that at times affected their views of sleep. The extreme sleep asceticism of the early monks grew out of a hostility toward sexual desire unparalleled in the non-Christian texts. But in broad outline, Christian theories of sleep in late antiquity perpetuatedand perhaps popularized the philosophical and medical traditions of the ancient world. Leslie Dossey is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University of Chicago

sity of California Press, 1993), 359 n. 128. For the master rising before slaves, see Christopher G. Brown, The Big Sleep: Herodas 8.5, Zeitschrift fr Papyrologie und Epigraphik 102 (1994): 9599. 127. See Thomas Wiedemann, The Roman Siesta, in Wiedemann and Dowden, Sleep, 12539.