We all dream every night -even if we don't always recall our dreams. If you were a cat or a dog, you'd dream too. Laboratory studies have shown that when a cat or a dog is twitching in its sleep, it really is dreaming of chasing a rat or a rabbit.
Dreams have long been regarded as important. The ancient Romans believed dreams were messages from the gods. The Emperor Augustus passed a law which ruled that anyone who had a dream about Rome should proclaim it in the market place.
Not all dreams are pleasant: some of them turn into nightmares. American president Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination shortly before it occurred, but did nothing about it. If he had known how to read his dreams, he probably wouldn't have been murdered the way he was!
Nightmares can also be used as inspiration. Scottish writer Robert Louis Stenvenson used his dreams as the basis for many of his exciting tales. His classic horror story, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, for example, was inspired by his worst nightmares.
Spanish artist Goya painted a picture showing an artist, asleep at his drawing table, who is besieged by creatures associated in Spanish folk tradition with mystery and evil. The title of the print, The sleep of reason produces monsters, is often read as a proclamation of Goya’s adherence to the values of the Enlightenment: without Reason, evil and corruption prevail. However, Goya wrote a caption for the print that complicates its message, “Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with her, she is the mother of the arts and source of their wonders.” In other words, Goya believed that imagination should never be completely renounced in favour of the strictly rational. For Goya, art is the child of reason in combination with imagination.