the Allegorie (Greek αλληγορέω = somewhat differently express) is a form of improper expression, with which a thing (thing, person, procedure) is used due to similarity and/or family relations as indication of another thing (thing, person, procedure, abstract term).

In the Rhetorik the Allegorie is arranged as style figure under the Tropics (forms of improper speaking) and is considered there as continued, i.e. over an isolated word going out metaphor. In the forming art and in far parts of the medieval and baroque literaturethe Allegorie appears particularly in the special form of the Personifikation , in the one person by attributes, ways of acting and speeches as Versinnfälligung of an abstract term, e.g. , acts to a virtue or a vice.

In the interpretation of mythologischer and holy texts those hasTo design acceptance of Allegorien a special role easily with the request, which delivered, in its literal statement partly improbable or incomprehensible text become for a hidden wisdom or truth and so thinking and believing the own time andCulture as already in the past ahead-suspected and authenticates to prove. In the Christian tradition from this the conception of the repeated Biblical sense of writing developed, according to which the Biblical text on the one hand a historically true or as fiktional (parabola) literal which can be classifiedSense possesses (“sensus litteralis”) and on the other hand in several times gradated meaning on historically after-early (typologischer sense), to lay moral ( tropologischer sense) or eschatologische things out ( anagogischer sense) is.

As linguistic or artistic expression a Allegorie is from the beginning on theirInterpretation designs. From the listener or viewer the Allegorie requires a thought jump from the saying or figurativy representing to the meant meaning. For viewer, who is familiar the mental or historical with connections, from which the Allegorie was designed out,if their sense remains often dark, and with realistically implemented Allegorien, with which already the literal or direct meaning appears actually instructively or maintenance SAM, the presence of large allegorischer intentions remains often unnoticed.

Table of contents

Allegorie and symbol

Tiara des Papstes; drei Kronen als Symbol dreifacher Gewalt, bzw. für das Priester-, Hirten- und Lehramt
Tiara of the Pope; three crowns as symbol of three-way force, and/or. for the priest, hirten and teaching profession

since that the 18. Century of arisen attempts to define Allegorie and symbol from each other draw often throughphilosophical sense of low out, are however literature and indication-theoretically little consistent and lead with application to antique, medieval and also baroque Allegorie to historical Verkürzungen. A symbol sometimes understood as an indication, that the said thing also overtheir and its characteristic sake, and not only over the generalization barness sake the transferred statement express, its deeper sense in addition only suggest, it however less certainly as the Allegorie specify, and therefore finally rather intuitively understand than intellectualto solve is. Aesthetically therefore as “more poetically” felt symbol usually the preference/advantage is understanding-stressed given before the “cold”, than thought play depreciated Allegorie, those in the context of a literature and a view of art than the inferior, aligned to immediacy, feeling and individuality, oreven unpoetische style is depreciated.


the Allegorie can be used also as graphic Personifikation of a state. In the form of a Nationalallegorie we find the Germania for example for the German Reich, for Switzerland the Helvetia, for Great Britain the Britannia or for the USA the lady Liberty (more well-known is however Uncle SAM).

Dürer: Melancholy 1
  • death as frameworks (the meat passes) and with the scythe (it meets all).
  • The justice as a woman (Justitia; “iustitia” hand is female the balance (exact weighing) and in the other one a sword in latin) with connected eyes (without reputation of the person), in a (judgement-end).
  • Dürers melancholy 1 as Allegorie of the melancholy and the artistand artistic creativity.

Since the Allegorie is an indirect indication of the representing, she is understood not directly, but only by abstraction - or convention.

Allegorie in the literature

in the literature are Allegorie and Allegorese forms, thoseContents of texts explain, whereby the Allegorese is the interpretation form, the Allegorie the text form. The hermeneutische procedure of a allegorischen interpretation of texts was used first in the antique one for interpreting the Epen Homers and the Theogonie Hesiods. The differentphilosophical schools tried to understand the texts not only literally to discover but a hidden sense in them. Scandalous God stories Homers and Hesiods could be justified in this way.
In Rome the allegorische practiced of the Greeks becameInterpretation of God myths taken over. Allegori figures became among other things invented by Lukan (Roma) , Vergil (Fama) , Lukrez and Ovid. From lateRoman time the book Tröstungen of the philosophy of the Boëthius originates, in beside the Musen the Dichtkunstalso speak philosophy as a person to the author. From extensive influence on literature and art of the Middle Ages the book Psychomachie of the Prudentius from that was 4. Century n. Chr, a allegorische description of the fight between the Christian virtues and thatheidnischen Lastern.
Up to the outgoing Middle Ages numerous fantastic allegorische works, so the Anticlaudian of the Alanus originated in starting from Insulis in 12. Century, which asked itself in the preface to its book expressly an only literal reading of the text, or which extremely popularand far rose novel of Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung spread. In the transition period between the Middle Ages and Renaissance Petrarca overwrote its in many illustrated handwriting delivered to De remediis utriusque fortunae, a allegorische guidance for humansits handling luck and misfortune and finally Dante the Göttliche comedy.

In the baroque time deeply felt Allegorien a bloom within all ranges of the literature, is it in poems, speeches of all kinds, lectures, grave inscriptions etc.
Aftereffects and traces of allegorischer figuresmight be able to be found this very day in the Fantasy literature.

Christian Allegorese

Allegorese already early also for the Bible one practiced. Thus the Apostel Paulus interprets the sons of the Sarah and the Hagar as old will and New will. Origines refers the high song of the old person of will to the love between Christ and the soul of the Gläubigen. Augustinus coined/shaped the Christian Allegorese beyond the Middle Ages. To the allegorischen interpretation of the Hl. It demanded writing from the interpreter of knowledgein grammar, Rhetorik, linguistics as well as comprehensive knowledge about the things of nature, over numbers and music, not however over heidnische myths and heidnische one TIC or Astrologie.

Luther estimated allegorische interpretations of Bible texts not and made themselves merry over Origines.On the other hand it used Allegorien in its Tischreden and lectures, since they do not happen the listener “rational realization historically Mysteriums made possible, but nevertheless its allude (allusio) and natural Ergiffensein. “

Allegorie in the Rhetorik

In the Rhetorik is Allegorie a technical term. The linguistic form of the Allegorie is understood in the Rhetorik as rhetorical Tropus. Like all Tropics it requires a thought jump from the saying to the meaning. By the semantic forms similitudo (comparison) and contrarium (contrast)it is related to the metaphor, exemplum (example), the Aenigma (mystery), the proverb, the irony, the Euphemismus etc. In the Rhetorik can it on various way be used, so in praise and price speeches, for arguing, for thatInstruct, for satires, jokes and such a thing.
Cicero attributed the oratore Allegorie in its book de different application possibilities: It serves for the elucidation of the speech article and/or. to its hiding, the shortness of the representation and the maintenance of the public. In its toto the Middle Ages oratoria Quintilian supplied determining book concerning the speech art De institutione a rhetorical theory of the Allegorie.

Allegorie in the art

antique one

in the forming art are usual allegorische representations since the antique one. Famousist das verschollene BildDie Verleumdung des Malers Apelles mit seinem Aufmarsch allegorischer Figuren wie Gerücht, Neid oder der nackten Wahrheit, das in der Renaissance nach einer Ekphrasis des Pausanias von Sandro Botticellinachgeschaffen wurde oder das nurin a Roman copy received relief of Cairo, Allegorie of the favorable opportunity, the brightistic sculptor Lysipp.

In the Roman art the Allegorie is a usual representational form on Gemmen, coins, Sarkophagen or Triumphbögen. Personifizierungen more abstractlyIdeas and conceptions, like luck, peace, unity, seasons, money or intended cities or commonwealth used for the figurative memory of certain humans (Sarkophage), for the glorification of certain historical events (Triumphbögen) and/or. to the Verbildlichung more religiously or more cosmologically Conceptions.

Sog. Prometheus-Sarkophag, ein Relief am Kapitol in Rom
So-called one. Prometheus Sarkophag, a relief at the Kapitol in Rome

the Middle Ages

Septem artes liberal from “Hortus deliciarumthe Herrad of Landsberg (over 1180)

antique one allegorische picture formulas were used and reinterpreted also in the earlyChristian art. Ofspecial importance for the production of allegorischer pictures in the Christian art theses of the Isidor from Sevilla are to the use of allegorischer texts, which were used in the course of the picture controversy also as arguments for the picture in the context of Christian religion. In the runthe Middle Ages developed in connection with Christian dogma TIC new Allegorien, those in innumerable variants in the painting, the sculpture and even in architecture appear. Typical examples are the seven cardinal virtues, the seven death sins, filters the free ones Arts, Mrs. Welt, Ecclesia and Synagoge and Zahlenallegorien. Its own development allegorischer interpretation of texts, which reflects itself in the picture arts, is the typology in each case, in that events of the old person and the new will as type and anti-typewith one another in connection were brought. The individual passages in the text of the Bible and/or. their figurative representation could different interpretation modes be submitted, with which the literal (sensus litteralis) and the mental (sensus spiritualis) sense were to be differentiated. To considerwere with this the allegorische meaning (sensus allegoricus), the moral meaning (sensus tropologicus) and the eschatologische meaning (sensus anagogicus).

Renaissance and baroque

new impulses got the Allegorien by the increasing interesthuman scholar at the Neo Platonismus. All features of the world can be seen as images of göttlicher beauty. For example ideas neoplatonischer scholar found precipitation to yards of the Medici in Florenz in the pictures Botticellis.

Bronzino: Allegorie of the love, national Gallery,London

also pagane sources mirrors of göttlicher beauty and wisdom can be. For the re-valuation of not-Christian sources the interest in Egyptian hieroglyphics is exemplary, and/or. at the book concerning hieroglyphics of the Horapoll of 1419. 1499 appeared the allegorische novel Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of the Francesco Colonna, with which the play of the artists and poets by Renaissance and baroque with the Emblematik was opened. Andrea Alciatis Emblematum rather of 1531 experienced many editions and served in the consequence the artists howthe Iconologia of the Cesare Ripa, 1593, as generally recognized and book much used for allegorische representations. To from the Middle Ages admitted Allegorisierungen stepped new, like z. B. those of the Herkules as embodiment of virtueful humans, and/or. of theperfect ruler. The tendency to the dark one and incomprehensible one in Allegorien, which had already marked Cicero, increases in the Renaissance, exemplarily to recognize in the pictures for Isabella d'Estes studiolo and shows up in pictures of the mannersism which can be interpreted with difficulty,like the Allegorie of the love of the Bronzino. A bloom experienced the allegorische painting in the course of the Gegenreformation in painting catholic churches and at the same time in the arrangement of baroque closing and park plants.

romance and classicism up toPresent

Delacroix: The liberty leads the people, 1830

in the following time left the desire to the Allegorie with artists and clients. The Allegorie increases dry and feeling-poor thought constructions after-said. Art theoretician 19. Century such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn and also Edgar Allan Poe placed the sense of allegorischer representations in question, during Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Johann Wolfgang Goethe and above all Nathaniel Hawthorne - one the most well-known Allegoriker of the world literature - which Allegorie more positively faced.Nevertheless there were still allegorische paintings like the Allegorie of the liberty of Eugène Delacroix or the time of day pictures of Philipp Otto Runge. During the Wilhelmini time allegorische sculptures played an important role with the decoration of representative buildingsor monuments as for example the German Reichstag or the Niederwalddenkmal with being gene. Also artists 20. Century, like z. B. Max Beckmann, works occasionally with allegorische representations.

The exhibition of the German Guggenheim in Berlin showed 2005 under thatTitle Douglas Gordon 's The Vanity OF Allegory among other things works of Duchamp, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, one Ray, Andy be-get as well as the film directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, roll Disney, Federico Fellini, Jean Luc Godard, Stanley Kubrick, jetty Paolo Pasolini, Andrei Tarkovsky and Luchino Visconti.


triumph of the Medici in the clouds of the Olymp, Fresken in the gallery of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florenz, Luca Giordano, 1684-1686


  • Heinz Meyer: “To the relationship of Enzyklopädik and Allegorese in the Middle Ages”. Earlymedieval studies 24. 1990. S. 290-313
  • Rudolf Wittkower: Allegorie and the change of the symbols in antique ones and Renaissance. Cologne 1984.
  • Walter Benjamin: Origin of the German tragedy. (1928)


the Allegorie transforms the featureinto a term, the term into a picture, but so that the term in the picture is to keep still limited and complete and have and be expressed by the same.

The symbolism transforms the feature into idea, the idea intoa picture, and so the fact that the idea remains always infinite in the picture and, even in all languages expressed but would remain inexpressible. Goethe: Maxims and reflections. No. 1112 and 1113.

see also

Wiktionary: Allegorie - word origin,Synonymous one and translations

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