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Incubāre

ἐγκοιμᾶσθαι). A verb especially used of sleeping in a sanctuary where oracular responses were sought through dreams or necromancy. (See Oraculum.) It was with a view to obtaining in a dream a revelation either from the god of the sanctuary, or by conjuring up the spirit of some dead person. Certain preliminaries had generally to be performed, in particular the sacrifice of some animal, on whose skin it was often customary to sleep. These incubations, which were in vogue among

Child in Swaddling Clothes. (Roman bas-relief.)

the Greeks from the earliest times, but were not extensively practised among the Romans until under the Empire, generally took place in the temple of Aesculapius, the god of healing.

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