The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, a Medieval Legend

Once upon a time, in a fortress far away, in the lost town of Iriin, an emperor known by the name of Sehachi (some called him Sachaisa) had twelve vivid dreams in one single night. No one in the emperor’s entourage could explain their meaning, until they heard of a great scholar and philosopher named Mamer, who could interpret such dreams. So they invited Mamer to court. He came, for he was wise enough to know that if the emperor himself invites you, then there is great cause and you must go at once.

In the safety of the royal rooms, the emperor shared his dreams with Mamer.

‘My lord Sehachi,’ said Mamer, ‘these dreams should not worry you, but cause great joy for God had sent them to you and to you only to show you what will happen at the end of days. Yet there is much you can still do to prevent it. But you cannot do it alone.’

The emperor gasped and a tear bloomed in the corner of his eye only to make its way along a deep wrinkle, down the emperor’s cheek until it got lost in his grey beard.

‘Tell it to me,’ said Mamer stretching out his hand as if to receive, ‘the first dream.’

The emperor’s eyes were looking straight into the philosopher’s cobalt ones, as clear s the sky, as deep as the sea.

The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, a Medieval Legend, an old man with blue eyes

‘There was a golden pillar that seemed to unite Heaven and earth.’

Mamer listened, his eyes searching the horizons. A ray of sun was shining,emerging between the palm trees lining the imperial gardens.

‘When the last days will arrive,’ he finally spoke, ‘there will be much evil in the world. Justice will seem to have vanished, and so will all good intentions, and heartfelt gestures, peace and understanding. No one will even think good thoughts or utter kind words, but only vile ones. The old people, the only ones still remembering how a good thought sounded like, will be too weak and too scared to say it out loud to the young. To teach them. And all will go to their graves taking their sins with them, without repenting. There will also be famine and the autumn will last through the winter, while the winter will stretch into summer. Yet men will be able to sow during any season and no one will ever remember that there was a time for each seed and an endeavor for each season. Men will sow all year long, yet there will be little to reap. Because the earth, too, will be tired. And during such times children will not respect their parents anymore and will marry whomever they choose. They will no mind the sin and many children will grow not knowing who their fathers are, nor who their ancestors came from, or where their roots spread. And kings and princes will care no more for their people, but will be violent towards the poor. Many will forsake their fate and embrace another. There will be day, yet the sun will get darker and no moon will come out to shine. The days will become short and many signs will show themselves. To everybody. Yet people will have none to turn to for advice for priests will not be recognizable from the uninitiated anymore, nor by looks and neither by speech. Priests will tell lies, and this will contribute to the crumbling of all truth and justice.’

The philosopher returned the king’s hard stare.

‘This is what your first dreams means, Sire.’ Then he said quickly, ‘how was your second dream, o king?

The king sighed, caught his breath, his right hand over his heart, and said, “ I saw a woman holding a towel in her hand and it reached from heaven to  earth.’

Mamer the philosopher thought, looked around the king’s large rooms, with bolted ceilings painted with stars and suns and moons, then said, ‘when the last days will be near the people will forsake their true faith and will think of adopting another one, but no one will think of worshipping God anymore. People will forsake their poor relations, but prefer the company of strangers.’

The king’s eye caught a small brown bird on the windowsill. His youngest daughter liked to leave crumbs there. The bird ate, sang a tune, and flew away.

The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, a Medieval Legend, bird

‘And the third dream?’

‘I saw three kettles boiling over a big fire. One filled with fat, one with water and the third one with oil. Some of the fat was running into the oil, and some of the oil into the fat.  But none fell into the water which was boiling by itself.’

A tray with gold rimmed glasses placed on a silver tray engraved with geometrical patterns as well as a wine jug was brought next to the king. Yet the philosopher declined the drink with a tip of his head.

He said further, ‘at the end of the days the men will plant villages in places where such villages had never been dreamed of rising before. At one end of the village a rich man will live, while at the other another rich man will raise his manor, while the poor will live in the middle. And the one rich man will invite the other to feast with him, while both will ignore the poor, even if the poor is their brother. And will be hypocrites, they will all neglect their own relations, hate their parents and brothers and love only the wife’s family, if it has money. Women will leave their husbands and run away with other men. Old women will marry young men and old men will marry young girls, much too young, for shame would have disappeared from among men and there will not be left a single pure woman or man in the world.’

The king looked at his family portraits, adorning the walls of his rooms. Mamer placed his hands in his lap, one on top of the other, and said quietly, ‘and the fourth dream?’

‘I saw an old mare chewing some hay and the foal neighing within its belly.’

The philosopher replied while watching his hands. Or perhaps he observed the thick carpet that felt so soft underfoot.

‘When the end of the day approaches, mothers will act immodestly and allow their daughters to meet with strangers and conduct immoral business. And the fifth dream?’

“I saw a dog lying in a pond and her puppies were barking inside her belly.’

The king’s  carpets were dark blue, with gold details that matched the murals.

‘During the last days fathers will still teach their sons properly, but the sons will refuse to listen and will say ‘you have grown old and have lost your senses and you don’t know what you are talking about anymore,’ and the parents will be put to shame and will keep silent.’

The king kept quiet for a long time. The sound of a lute filled the room.

The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, a Medieval Legend, castle window

‘And the sixth dream?’

‘I saw a large number of priests standing in dirt up to their necks,’ whispered the king.

‘At the time of the ned of days the priests will still teach God’s word to the people, but they themselves will not follow it anymore but  will only plan to enrich themselves, condemning their souls to the everlasting fire.’

The notes were turning and twisting with the leaves.

‘And the seventh dream?’

‘I saw a beautiful horse with two heads, one in the front and one looking at the back. One head fed on grass while the second drank water.’

‘When the end of days  will come near, there will be wrong judgement in the world, bribery, and the bishops will appoint ignorant priests because they will be paid to do so and not mind it. A thing which ought never to happen. There will be plenty of priests, but only a handful of good ones among them. The rest will have neither fear of God, nor shame of men and will never think that they will go down to the torments of hell for their sins.’

The first drops of rain hit the leaves.

‘And the eights dream?’

‘I saw a great number of pearls strewn on the face of earth and fire fell from heaven and it burned everything.’

The room filled with the ozone rich scent of rain, overpowering the sweet incenses rising from gold vases placed along the walls. The philosopher filled his lungs, grateful. Then answered.

‘At the end of days all will become smugglers and the rich will make the poor to look like liars and will use treachery to take everything away from the poor. No worrying that by doing so they will lose their souls.’

The leaves of the palm tree seemed to rub one another in the wind, like giant hands.

‘And the ninth dream?’

‘I saw a large number of people working together in one spot,’ said the king, rubbing his own hands, absentminded.

‘At the end of days men will bring their riches to others, for safekeeping. And the keepers will smile and be glad to receive it. But when the owners will come to take back what was rightfully theirs, the keepers will pretend not to know what is being asked of them and they will even swear they speak the truth, not worrying that they will lose their soul for lying.’

A sudden outburst rose the curtains to the ceiling, pushing a vase over, its fall cushioned by carpets. Then the downpour came.

The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, a Medieval Legend,

‘And the tenth dream?’

‘I saw lots of women and men sitting on the ground,’ called the king, in an attempt to make himself heard over the gale.

‘When the end of days will be near,’ answered Mamer, en will not shy away from trickery and pride, and will not worry for losing their souls for it.’

‘And the eleventh dream?’

‘I saw people wearing beautiful flowers in their hair.’

Mamer thought for a while, his eyelids almost covering his cobalt eyes that were cast on his hands, placed in his lap. Outside, the rain poured like a song.

‘At the end of days people will be stingy, greedy and many will gossip and will stray away from the righteous path and do that in their homes too. Good words, truth, will not be uttered anymore, not even between brothers. When a poor will say wise words, all will laugh, but when a rich man will say something stupid, all will gasp and clap and say ‘hear what he says for he speaks the truth,’ and all will agree with him. And all will end in hell. And the twelfth dream?

‘I saw many people with a great deal of hair, with nails like a vulture and very long legs,’ said the king and two tears run down his face, one on each side. And when the philosopher looked up he saw the wet path that was already there, for each tear to follow.

‘At the end of days the rich will take advantage of the poor so much so that the poor will envy those who died before them, and were thus absolved from living such bad times.’

Then he placed both his hands on the sides of his chair and stood with great ease, given his age. And Mamer the philosopher bowed in front of the king and said, ‘your servant, my lord, for I spoke the truth, and dark times will be seen, at the end of days.’

And he turned, left the king’s rooms and the palace and headed down the road. And those who saw him walk did not knew who he was, just wondered how such an old man can walk at such a great speed and not mind the rain.

magical road

What are The Twelve Dreams of Mamer?

Dating from the 15th century and known today in several variations, the twelve prophetic dreams of king Sehachi is available also as a 17th century (1678) Romanian manuscript, being one of the oldest known manuscripts written in the Romanian language. The manuscript is entitled The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, Cele Douasprezeve Vise in Tâlcuirea lui Mamer.

The Twelve Dreams of Mamer a Medieval Legend, Cele Douasprezeve Vise in Tâlcuirea lui Mamer.
A page from the Romanian version of The Twelve Dreams of Mamer

The Twelve Dreams of Mamer may very well be a an oriental story that reached the Slaves (and from there it came to Romania where it stayed among other local folktales) via an unknown Greek version.

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6 Replies to “The Twelve Dreams of Mamer, a Medieval Legend”

  1. Thank you so much 🙂 I do appreciate your comment as it took me ages to understand the meaning of text written in old Romanian and then to translate it.

    Chilling, though.

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