As a literary device, an allegory is a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences. Allegory (in the sense of the practice and use of allegorical devices and works) has occurred widely throughout history in all forms of art, largely because it can readily illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.
Writers or speakers typically use allegories as literary devices or as rhetorical devices that convey (semi-)hidden or complex meanings through symbolic figures, actions, imagery, or events, which together create the moral, spiritual, or political meaning the author wishes to convey. Many allegories use personifications of abstract concepts.
First attested in English in 1382, the word allegory comes from Latin allegoria, the latinisation of the Greek ἀλληγορία (allegoría), "veiled language, figurative", which in turn comes from both ἄλλος (allos), "another, different" and ἀγορεύω (agoreuo), "to harangue, to speak in the assembly", which originates from ἀγορά (agora), "assembly".
Northrop Frye discussed what he termed a "continuum of allegory", a spectrum that ranges from what he termed the "naive allegory" of The Faerie Queene, to the more private allegories of modern paradox literature. In this perspective, the characters in a "naive" allegory are not fully three-dimensional, for each aspect of their individual personalities and the events that befall them embodies some moral quality or other abstraction; the allegory has been selected first, and the details merely flesh it out.
The origins of Allegory can be traced at least back to Homer in his "quasi-allegorical" use of personifications of, e.g., Terror (Deimos) and Fear (Phobos) at Il. 115 f.  The title of "first allegorist," however, is usually awarded to whoever was the earliest to put forth allegorical interpretations of Homer. This approach leads to two possible answers: Theagenes of Rhegium (whom Porphyry calls the "first allegorist," Porph. Quaest. Hom. 1.240.14-241.12 Schrad.) or Pherecydes of Syros, both of whom are presumed to be active in the 6th century B.C.E., though Pherecydes is earlier and as he is often presumed to be the first writer of prose. The debate is complex, since it demands we observe the distinction between two often conflated uses of the Greek verb "allēgoreīn," which can mean both "to speak allegorically" and "to interpret allegorically." 
In the case of "interpreting allegorically," Theagenes appears to be our earliest example. Presumably in response to proto-philosophical moral critiques of Homer (e.g. Xenophanes fr. 11 Diels-Kranz ), Theagenes proposed symbolic interpretations whereby the Gods of the Iliad actually stood for physical elements. So, Hephestus represents Fire, for instance (for which see fr. A2 in Diels-Kranz ). Some scholars, however, argue that Pherecydes cosmogonic writings anticipated Theagenes allegorical work, illustrated especially by his early placement of Time (Chronos) in his genealogy of the gods, which is thought to be a reinterpretation of the titan Kronos, from more traditional genealogies.
Among the best-known examples of allegory, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, forms a part of his larger work The Republic. In this allegory, Plato describes a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall (514a–b). The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows, using language to identify their world (514c–515a). According to the allegory, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality, until one of them finds his way into the outside world where he sees the actual objects that produced the shadows. He tries to tell the people in the cave of his discovery, but they do not believe him and vehemently resist his efforts to free them so they can see for themselves (516e–518a). This allegory is, on a basic level, about a philosopher who upon finding greater knowledge outside the cave of human understanding, seeks to share it as is his duty, and the foolishness of those who would ignore him because they think themselves educated enough.
In Late Antiquity Martianus Capella organized all the information a fifth-century upper-class male needed to know into an allegory of the wedding of Mercury and Philologia, with the seven liberal arts the young man needed to know as guests.
Other early allegories are found in the Hebrew Bible, such as the extended metaphor in Psalm 80 of the Vine and its impressive spread and growth, representing Israel's conquest and peopling of the Promised Land. Also allegorical is Ezekiel 16 and 17, wherein the capture of that same vine by the mighty Eagle represents Israel's exile to Babylon.
Allegorical interpretation of the Bible was a common early Christian practice and continues. For example, the recently re-discovered IVth Commentary on the Gospels by Fortunatianus of Aquileia has a comment by its English translator: The principal characteristic of Fortunatianus’ exegesis is a figurative approach, relying on a set of concepts associated with key terms in order to create an allegorical decoding of the text. (pXIX)
Allegory has an ability to freeze the temporality of a story, while infusing it with a spiritual context. Mediaeval thinking accepted allegory as having a reality underlying any rhetorical or fictional uses. The allegory was as true as the facts of surface appearances. Thus, the Papal Bull Unam Sanctam (1302) presents themes of the unity of Christendom with the pope as its head in which the allegorical details of the metaphors are adduced as facts on which is based a demonstration with the vocabulary of logic: "Therefore of this one and only Church there is one body and one head—not two heads as if it were a monster... If, then, the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ." This text also demonstrates the frequent use of allegory in religious texts during the Mediaeval Period, following the tradition and example of the Bible.
In the late 15th century, the enigmatic Hypnerotomachia, with its elaborate woodcut illustrations, shows the influence of themed pageants and masques on contemporary allegorical representation, as humanist dialectic conveyed them.
The denial of medieval allegory as found in the 12th-century works of Hugh of St Victor and Edward Topsell's Historie of Foure-footed Beastes (London, 1607, 1653) and its replacement in the study of nature with methods of categorisation and mathematics by such figures as naturalist John Ray and the astronomer Galileo is thought to mark the beginnings of early modern science.
Since meaningful stories are nearly always applicable to larger issues, allegories may be read into many stories which the author may not have recognised. This is allegoresis, or the act of reading a story as an allegory. Examples of allegory in popular culture that may or may not have been intended include the works of Bertolt Brecht, and even some works of science fiction and fantasy, such as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and A Kingdom Far and Clear: The Complete Swan Lake Trilogy by Mark Helprin.
The story of the apple falling onto Isaac Newton's head is another famous allegory. It simplified the idea of gravity by depicting a simple way it was supposedly discovered. It also made the scientific revelation well known by condensing the theory into a short tale.
It is important to note that while allegoresis may make discovery of allegory in any work, not every resonant work of modern fiction is allegorical, and some are clearly not intended to be viewed this way. According to Henry Littlefield's 1964 article, L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, may be readily understood as a plot-driven fantasy narrative in an extended fable with talking animals and broadly sketched characters, intended to discuss the politics of the time. Yet, George MacDonald emphasised in 1893 that "A fairy tale is not an allegory."
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is another example of a well-known work mistakenly perceived as allegorical, as the author himself once stated, "...I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."
Tolkien specifically resented the suggestion that the book's One Ring, which gives overwhelming power to those possessing it, was intended as an allegory of nuclear weapons. He noted that, had that been his intention, the book would not have ended with the Ring being destroyed but rather with an arms race in which various powers would try to obtain such a Ring for themselves. Then Tolkien went on to outline an alternative plot for "Lord of The Rings", as it would have been written had such an allegory been intended, and which would have made the book into a dystopia. While all this does not mean Tolkien's works may not be treated as having allegorical themes, especially when reinterpreted through postmodern sensibilities, it at least suggests that none were conscious in his writings. This further reinforces the idea of forced allegoresis, as allegory is often a matter of interpretation and only sometimes of original artistic intention.
Like allegorical stories, allegorical poetry has two meanings – a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
Some unique specimens of allegory can be found in the following works:
Some elaborate and successful specimens of allegory are to be found in the following works, arranged in approximate chronological order:
Allegory in the Middle Ages was a vital element in the synthesis of biblical and classical traditions into what would become recognizable as medieval culture. People of the Middle Ages consciously drew from the cultural legacies of the ancient world in shaping their institutions and ideas, and so allegory in medieval literature and medieval art was a prime mover for the synthesis and transformational continuity between the ancient world and the "new" Christian world.People of the Middle Ages did not see the same break between themselves and their classical predecessors that modern observers see; rather, they saw continuity with themselves and the ancient world, using allegory as a synthesizing agent that brings together a whole image.Allegory of Hispania
The allegory of Hispania is the national personification of Spain.
The antecedent of this representation were some coins on which there was a horseman holding a lance and the legend HISPANORVM. These coins corresponded to the first half of the 2nd century BC and were minted in Morgantina (Sicily). These coins were carried out by the Hispanic mercenaries who received the government of this Sicilian city by order of the Roman Senate during the Second Punic War.
The first representation of Hispania appeared during the Roman Republic as the head of a woman with the legend HISPAN, and was minted in Rome by the Roman family Postumia (81 B.C.). Since then different coins emerged with allegorical representations of Hispania with different characteristics during the entire Roman era.
Like other coins with provincial allegories, it would fall into disuse due to the prevalence of symbols of Rome and Constantinople being minted on coins and would not reappear until the Spanish peseta, which itself was based upon the allegory used during the reign of Hadrian. From then on, the allegory would be made into monuments, statues and reliefs.Allegory of Isabella d'Este's Coronation
The Allegory of Isabella d'Este's Coronation is a painting by the Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Costa the Elder, dating to about 1505-1506. It is displayed in the Louvre Museum of Paris, France.Allegory of Prudence
The Allegory of Prudence (c. 1565–1570) is an oil painting attributed to the Italian artist Titian and his assistants. It is in the National Gallery, London.
The painting portrays three human heads, each facing in a different direction, above three animal heads, depicting (from left) a wolf, a lion and a dog. The painting is usually interpreted as operating on a number of levels. At the first level, the different ages of the three human heads represent the "Three Ages of Man" (youth, maturity, old age). The different directions in which they are facing reflect a second, wider concept of Time itself as having a past, present and future. This theme is repeated in the animal heads which, according to some traditions, are associated with those categories of time. The third level, from which the painting has acquired its present name, is suggested by a barely visible inscription, EX PRAETERITO/PRAESENS PRUDENTER AGIT/NE FUTURA ACTIONẼ DETURPET (“From the experience of the past, the present acts prudently, lest it spoil future actions”).
It may also be that the human faces are actual portraits of the aged Titian, his son Orazio, and a young cousin, Marco Vecellio, who, like Orazio, lived and worked with Titian. Erwin Panofsky, in his classic exposition, suggests that the painting is specifically associated with the negotiations associated with the passing on of Titian’s property to the younger generations, in the light of his approaching death. So, the painting acts as a visual counsel to the three generations to act prudently in the administration of the inheritance. But Nicholas Penny is highly sceptical of this, and points out discrepancies between the human heads and other evidence of the appearance of the individuals. He doubts it was a personal project of any sort and feels that is "surely more likely that the painting was commissioned".More recently the painting has been explained in quite different ways. Instead of an allegory of prudence, it has been seen as an allegory about sin and penitence. On this view, it amounts to an admission by Titian that his failure to act prudently in his youth and middle age has condemned him to lead a regretful old age.At the other extreme, the painting has been explained as asserting that the prudence which comes with experience and old age is an essential aspect of artistic discrimination and judgement. On this interpretation, the painting therefore acts as a rebuttal of the view that old age is the enemy of artistic achievement. On a more general level, the painting’s depiction of Titian with his assistants Orazio and Marco is also intended as a defence of the prudence of the continuity of the Venetian workshop tradition.Allegory of Vice (Correggio)
The Allegory of Vice is an oil on canvas painting by Correggio dating to around 1531 and measuring 149 by 88 cm. It and Allegory of Virtue were painted as a pair for the studiolo of Isabella d'Este, with Vice probably the second of the two to be completed. This hypothesis is since only one (possibly non-autograph) sketch survives for Vice, unlike Virtue, for which several preparatory studies survive, along with a near-complete under-drawing - this suggests Correggio had become more proficient after the difficult gestation of Virtue.Influenced by the Laocoon (as is Corregio's treatment of Saint Roch in his San Sebastiano Madonna and Four Saints), the central male figure is sometimes identified as a personification of Vice but sometimes as Silenus (possibly from Virgil's Eclogues 6, where a sleeping Silenus is tied up by the shepherds Chromi and Marsillo and forced to sing by them and the nymph Egle) or Vulcan. It was even misidentified as Apollo and Marsyas by the writer of the Gonzaga collection inventory of 1542. This misunderstanding may have contributed to an Apollo and Marsyas (actually by the studio or circle of Bronzino) being historically misattributed to Correggio. The putto in the foreground is influenced by Raphael's putti in the Sistine Chapel.
In 1542, after Isabella's death, they were both recorded as hanging on either side of the entrance door "in the Corte Vecchia near the grotto", with Vice on the left and Virtue on the right. After the contents of her studiolo were dispersed, it remained in Mantua at least until 1627, but the following year it was sold to Charles I of Great Britain. After his execution it was purchased by cardinal Mazarin in 1661 and later by the banker Everhard Jabach, who later sold it to Louis XIV in Paris, reuniting it with Virtue. They both now hang in the Louvre.Allegory of Virtue (Correggio)
The Allegory of Virtue is an oil on canvas painting by Correggio dating to around 1531 and measuring 149 by 88 cm. It and Allegory of Vice were painted as a pair for the studiolo of Isabella d'Este, with Vice probably the second of the two to be completed. This hypothesis is since only one (possibly non-autograph) sketch survives for Vice, unlike Virtue, for which two preparatory studies survive (in the Louvre), along with a near-complete oil sketch (attributed to Correggio in the 1603 inventory of the Aldobrandini collection and now at the Galleria Doria Pamphili) - this suggests Correggio had become more proficient after the difficult gestation of Virtue.
As usually interpreted, the central woman is Minerva, holding a read lance and a plumed helmet - the work may even be a continuation of Mantegna's Triumph of the Virtues, painted for the same studiolo and also featuring a Minerva with a red lance. (Others have interpreted the figure as Isabella herself, dressed as Wisdom.) Glory hovers above her holding a crown, whilst a seated female figure to the right is surrounded by symbols of the four cardinal virtues (a snake in her hair for Prudence, a sword for Justice, reins for temperance and Hercules's lion skin for Fortitude). Some interpret the seated black female figure on the right as Astrology, Science or Intellectual Virtue - she points outside the painting's space and thus (like the putto in Vice) draws the viewer's attention from one painting to the other.
After the studiolo's contents was dispersed, Virtue and the Mantegna were given to cardinal Richelieu around 1627 and moved to Paris. There they were acquired by Eberhard Jabach in 1671, before being sold by him to Louis XIV - Virtue still hangs in the Louvre.Allegory of Wealth
Allegory of Wealth is a circa 1640 painting by the French Baroque artist Simon Vouet. Allegory of Wealth is its traditional title, though Nicolas Milovanovic argues that it should instead be entitled Allegory of Contempt for Wealth and the Louvre (where it now hangs) entitles it Allegory of Faith and of Contempt for Wealth
Probably painted for Louis XIII's château at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, it is first mentioned in the French royal collection inventories early in the 18th century as Victory crowned with laurels holding in her arms an infant with a sash and an infant holding bracelets and precious stones. Frédéric Villot entitled it La Richesse in the mid 19th century and this title was not contested until 2015.Allegory of the Cave
The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato's Cave, was presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work Republic (514a–520a) to compare "the effect of education (παιδεία) and the lack of it on our nature". It is written as a dialogue between Plato's brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates, narrated by the latter. The allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (508b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–511e). All three are characterized in relation to dialectic at the end of Books VII and VIII (531d–534e).
Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man cannot see behind. Like the fire that cast light on the walls of the cave, the human condition is forever bound to the impressions that are received through the senses. Even if these interpretations (or, in Kantian terminology, intuitions) are an absurd misrepresentation of reality, we cannot somehow break free from the bonds of our human condition—we cannot free ourselves from phenomenal state just as the prisoners could not free themselves from their chains. If, however, we were to miraculously escape our bondage, we would find a world that we could not understand—the sun is incomprehensible for someone who has never seen it. In other words, we would encounter another "realm", a place incomprehensible because, theoretically, it is the source of a higher reality than the one we have always known; it is the realm of pure Form, pure fact.Socrates remarks that this allegory can be paired with previous writings, namely the analogy of the sun and the analogy of the divided line.Battle of Lepanto
The Battle of Lepanto was a naval engagement that took place on 7 October 1571 when a fleet of the Holy League, led by the Venetian Republic and the Spanish Empire, inflicted a major defeat on the fleet of the Ottoman Empire in the Gulf of Patras. The Ottoman forces were sailing westward from their naval station in Lepanto (the Venetian name of ancient Naupactus Ναύπακτος, Ottoman İnebahtı) when they met the fleet of the Holy League which was sailing east from Messina, Sicily. The Holy League was a coalition of European Catholic maritime states which was arranged by Pope Pius V and led by John of Austria. The league was largely financed by Philip II of Spain, and the Venetian Republic was the main contributor of ships.In the history of naval warfare, Lepanto marks the last major engagement in the Western world to be fought almost entirely between rowing vessels, namely the galleys and galeasses which were the direct descendants of ancient trireme warships. The battle was in essence an "infantry battle on floating platforms". It was the largest naval battle in Western history since classical antiquity, involving more than 400 warships. Over the following decades, the increasing importance of the galleon and the line of battle tactic would displace the galley as the major warship of its era, marking the beginning of the "Age of Sail".
The victory of the Holy League is of great importance in the history of Europe and of the Ottoman Empire, marking the turning-point of Ottoman military expansion into the Mediterranean, although the Ottoman wars in Europe would continue for another century. It has long been compared to the Battle of Salamis, both for tactical parallels and for its crucial importance in the defense of Europe against imperial expansion. It was also of great symbolic importance in a period when Europe was torn by its own wars of religion following the Protestant Reformation, strengthening the position of Philip II of Spain as the "Most Catholic King" and defender of Christendom against Muslim incursion. Historian Paul K. Davis writes that, "More than a military victory, Lepanto was a moral one. For decades, the Ottoman Turks had terrified Europe, and the victories of Suleiman the Magnificent caused Christian Europe serious concern. The defeat at Lepanto further exemplified the rapid deterioration of Ottoman might under Selim II, and Christians rejoiced at this setback for the Ottomans. The mystique of Ottoman power was tarnished significantly by this battle, and Christian Europe was heartened."Chariot Allegory
See also the chariot allegory in the Indian work Katha Upanishad, and another in the story of Vajira.Plato, in his dialogue Phaedrus (sections 246a–254e), uses the Chariot Allegory to explain his view of the human soul. He does this in the dialogue through the character of Socrates, who uses it in a discussion of the merit of Love as "divine madness".Chinese folklore
Chinese folklore encompasses the folklore of China, and includes songs, poetry, dances, puppetry, and tales. It often tells stories of human nature, historical or legendary events, love, and the supernatural. The stories often explain natural phenomena and distinctive landmarks. Along with Chinese mythology, it forms an important element in Chinese folk religion.Columbia (name)
Columbia (; kə-LUM-bee-ə) is the personification of the United States. It was also a historical name used to describe the Americas and the New World. It has given rise to the names of many persons, places, objects, institutions and companies; for example: Columbia University, the District of Columbia (the national capital of the United States), and the ship Columbia Rediviva, which would give its name to the Columbia River. Images of the Statue of Liberty largely displaced personified Columbia as the female symbol of the United States by around 1920, although Lady Liberty was seen as an aspect of Columbia. The District of Columbia is named after the personification, as is the traditional patriotic hymn "Hail Columbia", which is the official vice presidential anthem of the United States Vice President.
Columbia is a New Latin toponym in use since the 1730s for the Thirteen Colonies. It originated from the name of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and from the ending -ia, common in Latin names of countries (paralleling Britannia, Gallia, and others).Italia turrita
Italia turrita (pronounced [iˈtaːlja turˈriːta]) is the national personification or allegory of Italy, characterised by a mural crown (hence turrita or "with towers" in Italian) typical of Italian civic heraldry of Medieval communal origin. In broader terms, the crown symbolizes its mostly urban history. She often holds in her hands a bunch of corn ears (a symbol of fertility and reference to the agrarian economy); during the fascist era, she held a bundle of fasces.National personification
A national personification is an anthropomorphic personification of a nation or its people. It may appear in political cartoons and propaganda. As a personification it cannot be a real person, of the Father of the Nation type, or one from ancient history who is believed to have been real.
Some early personifications in the Western world tended to be national manifestations of the majestic wisdom and war goddess Minerva/Athena, and often took the Latin name of the ancient Roman province. Examples of this type include Britannia, Germania, Hibernia, Helvetia and Polonia. Examples of personifications of the Goddess of Liberty include Marianne, the Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World), and many examples of United States coinage. Another ancient model was Roma, a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state, and who was revived in the 20th Century as the personification of Mussolini's "New Roman Empire". Examples of representations of the everyman or citizenry in addition to the nation itself are Deutscher Michel, John Bull and Uncle Sam.Parable
A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.Some scholars of the canonical gospels and the New Testament apply the term "parable" only to the parables of Jesus, though that is not a common restriction of the term. Parables such as "The Prodigal Son" are central to Jesus's teaching method in the canonical narratives and the apocrypha.Parabola Allegory
The Parabola Allegory is a Rosicrucian allegory, of unknown authorship, dating from the latter part of the seventeenth century. It is sometimes attributed to German alchemist Henricus Madathanus.Bearing many similarities to The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, it is steeped in alchemical imagery. It deals with the journey of initiation of an unknown narrator, who, after many trials, enters the Rose Garden and bears witness to the dissolution and reconstitution of a pair of royal lovers into a King and Queen.
Like The Chymical Wedding, the Parabola Allegory has the haunting quality of a dream. It was taken as the starting point by Viennese psychologist Herbert Silberer for an analysis of Freudian dream interpretation, in his major work Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism, where the Allegory is quoted in full. Silberer interprets the Allegory along Freudian lines then, pointing out the limitations of such an approach, goes on to interpret the narrative along alchemical/mystical lines, placing the story in the context of the Mystery traditions of the world's religions as an allegory of the Unio Mystica.Personification
Personification is an anthropomorphic metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person. The type of personification discussed here excludes passing literary effects such as "Shadows hold their breath", and covers cases where a personification appears as a character in literature, or a human figure in art. The technical term for this, since ancient Greece, is prosopopoeia. In the arts many things are commonly personified. These include numerous types of places, especially cities, countries and the four continents, elements of the natural world such as the months or Four Seasons, Four Elements, Four Winds, Five Senses, and abstractions such as virtues, especially the four cardinal virtues and sins, the nine Muses, or death.
In many polytheistic early religions, deities had a strong element of personification, suggested by descriptions such as "god of". In ancient Greek religion, and the related Ancient Roman religion, this was perhaps especially strong, in particular among the minor deities. Many such deities, such as the tyches or tutelary deities for major cities, survived the arrival of Christianity, now as symbolic personifications stripped of religious significance. An exception was the winged goddess of Victory, Victoria/Nike, who developed into the visualization of the Christian angel.Generally, personifications lack much in the way of narrative myths, although classical myth at least gave many of them parents among the major Olympian deities. The iconography of several personifications "maintained a remarkable degree of continuity from late antiquity until the 18th century". Female personifications tend to outnumber male ones, at least until modern national personifications, many of which are male.
Personifications are very common elements in allegory, and historians and theorists of personification complain that the two have been too often confused, or discussion of them dominated by allegory. Single images of personifications tend to be titled as an "allegory", arguably incorrectly. According to Ernst Gombrich, "we tend to take it for granted rather than to ask questions about this extraordinary predominantly feminine population which greets us from the porches of cathedrals, crowds around our public monuments, marks our coins and our banknotes, and turns up in our cartoons and our posters; these females variously attired, of course, came to life on the medieval stage, they greeted the Prince on his entry into a city, they were invoked in innumerable speeches, they quarrelled or embraced in endless epics where they struggled for the soul of the hero or set the action going, and when the medieval versifier went out on one fine spring morning and lay down on a grassy bank, one of these ladies rarely failed to appear to him in his sleep and to explain her own nature to him in any number of lines".Primavera (painting)
Primavera (Italian pronunciation: [primaˈveːra], meaning "Spring"), is a large panel painting in tempera paint by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli made in the late 1470s or early 1480s (datings vary). It has been described as "one of the most written about, and most controversial paintings in the world", and also "one of the most popular paintings in Western art".The painting depicts a group of figures from classical mythology in a garden, but no story has been found that brings this particular group together. Most critics agree that the painting is an allegory based on the lush growth of Spring, but accounts of any precise meaning vary, though many involve the Renaissance Neoplatonism which then fascinated intellectual circles in Florence. The subject was first described as Primavera by the art historian Giorgio Vasari who saw it at Villa Castello, just outside Florence, by 1550.Although the two are now known not to be a pair, the painting is inevitably discussed with Botticelli's other very large mythological painting, The Birth of Venus, also in the Uffizi. They are among the most famous paintings in the world, and icons of the Italian Renaissance; of the two, the Birth is even better known than the Primavera. As depictions of subjects from classical mythology on a very large scale they were virtually unprecedented in Western art since classical antiquity. It used to be thought that they were both commissioned by the same member of the Medici family, but this is now uncertain.
The history of the painting is not certainly known, though it seems to have been commissioned by one of the Medici family. It draws from a number of classical and Renaissance literary sources, including the works of the Ancient Roman poet Ovid and, less certainly, Lucretius, and may also allude to a poem by Poliziano, the Medici house poet who may have helped Botticelli devise the composition. Since 1919 the painting has been part of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.The Allegory of Love
For the group of paintings known by this title, see The Allegory of Love (Veronese).
The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition (1936), by C. S. Lewis (ISBN 0192812203), is an exploration of the allegorical treatment of love in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, which was published on May 21, 1936.
In the first chapter, Lewis traces the development of the idea of courtly love from the Provençal troubadours to its full development in the works of Chrétien de Troyes. It is here that he sets forth a famous characterization of "the peculiar form which it [courtly love] first took; the four marks of Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love"—the last two of which "marks" have, in particular, been the subject of a good deal of controversy among later scholars. In the second chapter, Lewis discusses the medieval evolution of the allegorical tradition in such writers as Bernard Silvestris and Alain de Lille.
The remaining chapters, drawing on the points made in the first two, examine the use of allegory and personification in the depiction of love in a selection of poetic works, beginning with the Roman de la Rose. The focus, however, is on English works: the poems of Chaucer, Gower's Confessio Amantis and Usk's Testament of Love, the works of Chaucer's epigones, and Spenser's Faerie Queene.
The book is ornamented with quotations from poems in many languages, including Classical and Medieval Latin, Middle English, and Old French. The piquant English translations of many of these are Lewis's own work.