Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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

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) – and

2.  as the allegorical interp…

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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 15 October 2021 <>
First published online: 2018

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