Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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Allegory: in Greek Ἀλληγορία signifies “saying” (ἀγορεύειν) some things but meaning “others” (ἄλλα).

This definition of allegory was given in the early imperial age by Heraclitus the grammarian, or rhetor, in his Homeric Allegories (5), an allegorical interpretation of the Homeric poems. This definition covers mainly the first of the two principal meanings of allegory:

1.  as a compositional method – writing an allegorical text, in which the literal level differs from its symbolic meaning(s);

2.  as the allegorical interpretat…

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Ramelli, Ilaria L.E., “Allegory”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 05 March 2024 <>
First published online: 2018

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