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Quote of the week – Plutarch

September 3, 2013

I cannot claim the inspiration for this weeks quote as it did not come from me, instead the credit goes to Classical Wisdom Weekly’s Facebook page. I think this quote from Plutarch is beautiful and profound hence why I have chosen it as the quote of the week. I have used a slightly different translation to the one posted by Classical Wisdom Weekly but the context is the same:

They who are awake have a world in common amongst them; but they that are asleep are retired each to his own private world.

Plutarch De superstitione 3

Plutarch’s assessment of both the real and dream worlds shows a great understanding of the human condition. It is insights such as these that inspire my love of  the works of classical authors; so much of which is still relevant. I expect that on occasion all of us lie awake at night envisioning what our partner is dreaming but can never know because that world is theirs. Even if they were to share aspects of it with us we can never actually be a part of it and so it still remains private.

I would highly recommend a look at Classical Wisdom Weekly’s Facebook page as they post some fantastic items.

On that note I will wish you all pleasant dreams in your own worlds.


Plutarch Plutarch’s Morals Translated by W. Goodwin, Cambridge: John Wilson and son Press, 1874. Perseus Digital Library [Accessed: 3 September 2013]


From → Quotes

  1. I think it’s quite a beautiful sentiment and a fleeting one. Our private worlds tend to vanish into thin air the moment we wake up and our dreams are soon forgotten…

    • Sun-dipped African permalink

      when I was young I use to think my dreams where real; a place I lived in when I was sleeping. I thought when I was awake in this world it must mean I was asleep in the other world and vice a versa. It sounds strange but for years I was convinced my dreams were real.

      • I think there is some fantastic logic to that, when we are awake our subconscious to a certain extent is asleep as it can only fully take control when we are resting as logic rules our actions in the waking world. Also a lot of younger people particularly children think dreams are real hence why nightmares can be so traumatic for them.

      • Sun-dipped African permalink

        Huh, I never thought of it that way. But that makes sort of makes sense. Luckily for me I had very few nightmares, my dreams were mostly fantastic. I suppose a part of me wanted to believe it was real as it was a sort of escape from the dreariness of life.

    • Hi Kelly, true. Only the other day was I saying I had some bizarre dreams but could not remember the detail. The fact that they slip away so easily goes some way to affirm to me that the waking world is real.

  2. Nikos permalink

    Or is it after we leave this world we realize our dreams are the real world and our past was vanity. At least that is what the ancients thought especially the Stoics.

  3. Both views have their merits. I would never be able to successfully debate either point as I do not know enough philosophy. I prefer my dreams sometimes, that world is far more interesting and certainly does seem more real at times.

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