Cicero, On Divination 1.27
Bill Thayer’s synopsis of Cicero’s On Divination: ‘He doesn’t believe in it.’ But in this passage it is Cicero’s brother Quintus speaking, and arguing the opposite: he offers two stories of divinely-inspired dreams, of which I give the first. It is quoted in D. Felton, Haunted Greece and Rome, Austin TX 1999, which I am currently reading, largely because one chapter is on Lucian’s ghost stories.
illa duo somnia, quae creberrume commemorantur a Stoicis, quis tandem potest contemnere? unum de Simonide, qui, cum ignotum quendam proiectum mortuum vidisset eumque humavisset haberetque in animo nave conscendere, moneri visus est, ne id faceret, ab eo quem sepultura adfecerat; si navigavisset, eum naufragio esse periturum; itaque Simonidem redisse, perisse ceteros qui tum navigassent.
Now then, who can disparage these two dreams, which are very often related by the Stoics? One is about Simonides. After he saw and buried an unknown dead body which had been left exposed, he was intending to board a ship, but he saw a vision in which he was warned, by the man whom he had buried, not to do it: if he sailed he would perish in a shipwreck. So he turned back, and the others, who did sail then, perished.
As Felton says, ‘Too bad Simonides did not warn the other passengers.’