Study Guide

The Interpretation of Dreams The Dream of the "Aegean Stables"

By Sigmund Freud

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The Dream of the "Aegean Stables"

We'll close with a fun one, Shmoopers. Freud's Dream of the "Aegean Stables" isn't the only one of his dreams to include gross-out humor and poop jokes, but it may be the most memorable. Take a gander:

A hill, on which there was something like an open-air closet: a very long seat with a large hole at the end of it. Its back edge was thickly covered with small heaps of faeces of all sizes and degrees of freshness. There were some bushes behind the seat. I micturated on the seat; a long stream of urine washed everything clean; the lumps of faeces came easily away and fell into the opening. It was as though at the end there was still some left. (6.9.20)

For starters, it's important to note that when Freud says "open-air closet," he's using the word "closet" in the same old-fashioned sense that gives us the noun "water-closet." That is, what he's talking about here is a kind of toilet or outhouse that is "out in the open"—kinda like the ones the ancient Romans used to use.

As Freud's interpretation of the dream makes clear, the imagery makes him think of the legendary hero Hercules, who cleaned out the colossally messy Aegean Stables by diverting a river through them.

This means that in the dream, the "small heaps of faeces"—nasty, Freud—symbolize the "errors and prejudices" in contemporary medical knowledge that Freud's own theories and practice were helping to sweep away (6.9.23). Likewise, the act of "micturating" (urinating) symbolizes Freud's own psychoanalytic practice and research.

Although these might not seem like positive comparisons, the dream is actually representing Freud as a great man, like Hercules, who has the power to make radical changes in his field.

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