AMPHITRYON AND THE WORLD OF DREAMS

The sustained popularity of the Amphitryon story across millennia is partly explained by the potency with which it draws on three recurrent dream, sometimes nightmare, experiences. In the first, the dreamer is operating in a world s/he knows well, but all the friends and acquaintances central to what constitutes normal life fail to recognise him/her. In the second, the dreamer encounters a mirror image – an identical clone, but one possessed of superior charisma and brilliance to the dreamer – with all the disorientating effects that brings with it. In the third, the dreamer experiences a world turned subtly out of its usual order, or wrenched more drastically askew than that, but cannot conceive of a reason why this should be so, or what power it could be that has so altered the rules of everyday existence. The Amphitryon myth overlays and intertwines all three of these to lastingly potent effect.

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