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Encyclopedia > Allegory in the Middle Ages
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Noah and the "baptismal flood" of the Old Testament (top panel) is "typographically linked" (prefigured) by the baptism of Jesus in the New Testament (bottom panel).

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; 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 forbears that modern observers see, rather they saw continuity with themselves and the ancient world, allegory was a synthesizing agent, bringing together a whole image. Noah or Nóach (Rest, Standard Hebrew נוֹחַ Nóaḥ, Tiberian Hebrew נֹחַ Nōªḥ; Arabic نوح Nūḥ), is a character from the Book of Genesis and the Quran who builds an ark to save his family and the worlds animals from the Deluge, the universal flood. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... An allegory (from Greek αλλος, allos, other, and αγορευειν, agoreuein, to speak in public) is a figurative representation conveying a meaning other than and in addition to the literal. ... Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe during the Middle Ages (roughly from the fall of the Western Roman Empire ca. ... Medieval Art is the art, including architecture, produced in Europe during the Middle Ages, i. ...

Contents

Four types of allegory

There were four categories of allegory used in the Middle Ages, which had originated with the Bible commentators of the early Christian era. The first is simply the literal interpretation of the events of the story for historical purposes with no underlying meaning. The second is called typological, which is connecting the events of the Old Testament with the New Testament; in particular drawing allegorical connections between the events of Christ's life with the stories of the Old Testament. The third is moral (or tropological), which is how one should act in the present, the "moral of the story". The fourth type of allegory is anagogical, dealing with the future events of Christian history, heaven, hell, the last judgment; it deals with prophecies for things of the future. This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The word typology literally means the study of types. ... The Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures (also called the Hebrew Bible) constitutes the first major part of the Bible according to Christianity. ... The New Testament, sometimes called the Greek Scriptures, is the name given to the part of the Christian Bible that was written after the birth of Jesus. ... Morality is a complex of principles based on cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which an individual determines whether his or her actions are right or wrong. ...


Thus the four types of allegory deal with past events (literal), the connection of past events with the present (typology), present events (moral), and the future (anagogical).


Dante describes the four meanings, or senses, of allegory in his epistle to Can Grande della Scala. He says the allegories of his work are not simple, but: Dante redirects here. ... An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of persons, usually a letter and a very formal, often didactic and elegant one. ...

Rather, it may be called "polysemous", that is, of many senses [allegories]. A first sense derives from the letters themselves, and a second from the things signified by the letters. We call the first sense "literal" sense, the second the "allegorical", or "moral" or "anagogical". To clarify this method of treatment, consider this verse: When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people: Judea was made his sanctuary, Israel his dominion (Psalm 113). Now if we examine the letters alone, the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt in the time of Moses is signified; in the allegory, our redemption accomplished through Christ; in the moral sense, the conversion of the soul from the grief and misery of sin to the state of grace; in the anagogical sense, the exodus of the holy soul from slavery of this corruption to the freedom of eternal glory.. they can all be called allegorical.

Medieval allegory began as a Christian method for synthesizing the discrepancies between the Old Testament and the New Testament. While both testaments were studied and seen as equally divinely inspired by God, the Old Testament contained discontinuities for Christians -- for example the Jewish kosher laws. The Old Testament was therefore seen in relation to how it would predict the events of the New Testament, in particular how the events of the Old Testament related to the events of Christs life. The events of the Old Testament were seen as part of the story, with the events of of Christs life bringing these stories to a full conclusion. The technical name for seeing the New Testament in the Old is called typology. The term God is used to designate a Supreme Being; however, there are countless definitions of God. ... The circled U indicates that this can of tuna is certified kosher by the Union of Orthodox Congregations. ... The word typology literally means the study of types. ...

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Christ rises from the tomb, alongside Jonah spit onto the beach, a typological allegory.

One example of typology is the story of Jonah and the whale from the Old Testament. Medieval allegorical interpretation of this story is that it prefigures Christ's burial, the stomach of the whale as Christ's tomb. Jonah was eventually freed from the whale after three days, so did Christ rise from his tomb after three days. Thus, whenever one finds an allusion to Jonah in Medieval art or literature, it is usually an allegory for the burial and resurrection of Christ. Another common typological allegory is with the four major Old testament prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. These four prophets prefigure the four Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. There was no end to the number of analogies that commentators could find between stories of the Old Testament and the New. Jonah (יוֹנָה Dove, Standard Hebrew Yona, Tiberian Hebrew Yônāh) was a person in the Bible Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh, the son of Amittai, from the Galilean village of Gath-hepher, near Nazareth. ... Isaiah or Yeshayáhu (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ Salvation of/is the LORD, Standard Hebrew Yəšaʿyáhu, Tiberian Hebrew Yəšaʿăyāhû) was the son of Amoz, and commonly considered the author of the Book of Isaiah. ... Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem by Rembrandt van Rijn Jeremiah or Yirmiyáhu (יִרְמְיָהוּ Raised-up/Appointed of the LORD, Standard Hebrew Yirməyáhu, Tiberian Hebrew Yirməyāhû) was one of the greater prophets of the Old Testament, and the son of Hilkiah, a priest of Anathoth. ... Ezekiel or Yechezkel (יְחֶזְקֵאל God will strengthen, Standard Hebrew Yəḥezqel, Tiberian Hebrew Yəḥezqêl) was a prophet in the Hebrew Bible, commonly regarded as the author of the biblical Book of Ezekiel. ... Daniels Answer to the King by Briton Rivière, R.A. (1840-1920), 1890 (Manchester City Art Gallery) For the song by Elton John, see Daniel (song) For the French rocket, see Daniel (rocket) See also: Book of Daniel Daniel (דָּנִיֵּאל, Standard Hebrew Daniyyel, Tiberian Hebrew Dāniyyêl) is the name... The name Matthew comes from Hebrew מתי Mattay, (Matthias in Greek) a short form of Hebrew מת(נ)יהו Mattanyāhû/Mattayyāhû, which is itself a variation of Hebrew נתניהו Nəṯanyāhû, which means gift of the LORD. Authentic Matthew - The Gospel of the Hebrews written by Matthew Gospel of Matthew - Book... As well as being a popular male name, Mark is the name of several things of interest: Biblical Mark the Evangelist - one of the gospel writers of the life of Jesus. ... Luke may refer to: Gospel of Luke, third book of the New Testament Luke the Evangelist Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars film trilogy This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... John is a common name for males. ...


There also existed a tradition in the Middle Ages of mythography -- the allegorical interpretation of pagan myths. Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses were standard textbooks throughout the Middle Ages, and each had a long tradition of allegorical interpretation. An illustrative example can be found in Sienna in a painting of a Christs crucifix (Sano di Pietro's Crucifix, 15th c). At the top of the cross can be seen a bird pecking its own breast, blood pouring forth from the wound and feeding its waiting chicks below. This is the pelican whose "story" was told by Roman naturalist Pliny. Thus by analogy to a "pagan" source, Christ feeds his own children with his own blood. A mythographer, according to a strict dictionary definition, is a compiler of myths. ... For other uses see Virgil (disambiguation). ... The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy where he became the ancestor of the Romans. ... Engraved frontispiece of George Sandyss 1632 London edition of Publius Ovidius Naso, (March 20, 43 BC – AD 17) Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. ... Disambiguation: This article is about the poem Metamorphoses written by the poet Ovid. ... This page is not about Siena, Italy. ... Species Pelecanus occidentalis Pelecanus thagus Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Pelecanus onocrotalis Pelecanus crispus Pelecanus rufescens Pelecanus philippensis Pelecanus conspicillatus A pelican is any of several very large water birds with a distinctive pouch under the beak belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae. ... There are two famous persons named Pliny: Pliny the Elder, a Roman nobleman, scientist and historian who died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD The great-nephew of the former, Pliny the Younger, a statesman, orator, and writer who lived between 62 AD and 113 AD. This... Pagan may refer to: A believer in Paganism or Neopaganism. ...


History of allegory

Late Antiquity

Before the 5th century the traditions of allegorical interpretations were created in a time when rhetorical training was common, when the classics of mythology were still standard teaching texts, when the Greek and Roman pantheon of Gods were still visible forms (if not always fully recognized by the more learned populace), and when the new religious such as Christianity adopted or rejected pagan elements by way of allegoresis (the study and interpretation of allegory).


It was in this period that the first pure, freestanding allegorical work was written in about 400 AD by Prudentius called Psychomachia ("Soul-War"). The plot consists of the personified "good" virtues of Hope, Sobriety, Chasity, Humility, etc.. fighting the personified "evil" vices of Pride, Wrath, Paganism, Avarice, etc.. It is interesting to note all of the personifications are women, because in Latin words for abstract concepts are in the feminine gender; an uninformed reader of the work might take the story literary as a tale of many angry women fighting one another, because as the first "pure" allegory Prudentius provides no context or explanation of the allegory. Aurelius Prudentius Clemens was an Roman Christian poet, born in the Roman province of Tarraconensis (in Northern Spain) in 348. ... The Psychomachia (Battle of Souls) by the medieval Latin poet Prudentius is probably the first and most influential medieval allegory, and inspired works as diverse as the Romance of the Rose, Everyman and Piers Plowman. ...


In this same period of the early 5th century three other authors of importance to the history of allegory emerged: Claudian, Macrobius and Martianus Capella. Little is known of these authors, even if they were truly Christian or not, but we do know they handed down the inclination to express learned material in allegorical form, mainly through personification, which later became a standard part of medieval schooling methods. Claudius Claudianus was the court poet to the Emperor Honorius and Stilicho. ... Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, Roman grammarian and philosopher, flourished during the reigns of Honorius and Arcadius (395-423). ... Martianus Minneus Felix Capella was a writer of the late Latin period, whose career flourished some time during the 5th century, before the year 439. ...


Claudians first work In Rufinum was an attack against the ruthless Rufinus and would become a model for the 12th century Anticlaudianus, a well known allegory for how to be an upstanding man. As well his Rape of Prosperpine was a litany of mythological allegories, personifications, and cosmological allegories. Macrobius wrote Commentary of the Dream of Scipio providing the Middle Ages with the tradition of a favorite topic, the allegorical treatment of dreams. Lastly Martianus wrote Marriage of Philology and Mercury, the title referring to the allegorical union of intelligent learning with the love of letters. It contained short treatises on the "seven liberal arts" (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music) and thus became a standard textbook, greatly influencing educators and students throughout the Middle Ages. Tyrannius Rufinus or Rufinus of Aquileia (between 340 and 345–410 CE) was a monk, historian, and theologian. ...


Lastly perhaps the most influential author of Late Antiquity was Boethius, in whose work Consolation of Philosophy we are first introduced to the personified Lady Philosophy, the source of innumerable later such personified figures (Lady Luck, etc..) Late Antiquity is a rough periodization (c. ... There are several persons called Bo thius: Philosophers: Anicius Manlius Severinus thius - to many scholars this is the Bo thius, a late-Roman writer best known for his works in philosophy and theology. ... This early printed book has many hand-painted illustrations depicting Lady Philosophy and scenes of daily life in fifteenth-century Ghent (1485) Consolation of Philosophy (Latin: Consolatio Philosophiae) is a philosophical work by Boethius written in about the year 524 AD. It has been described as the single most important...


Early Middle Ages

After Boethius there exists no known work of allegory literature until the 12th century, although allegorical thinking and elements and artwork abounds during this period, not until the rise of the Medieval university in the High Middle Ages does sustained allegorical work appear again.


High and Late Middle Ages

The earliest works were by Bernard Silvestris (Cosmographia, 1147), and Alanus de Insulis (Plaint of Nature, 1170, and Anticlaudianus) who pioneered the use of allegory (mainly personification) for the use of abstract speculation on metaphysics and scientific questions. Bernard Silvestris, also known as Bernardus Silvestris, was a Spanish born Medieval platonist magician and poet, author of the Cosmographia, which influenced Chaucer. ... Alain de Lille (Alanus de Insulis) (c. ...


The High and Late Midde Ages saw many allegorical works and techniques. There were four "great" works from this period.

  • The Four Great Medieval Allegories
    • Le Roman de la Rose. A major allegorical work, it had many lasting influences on western literature creating entire new genres and development of vernacular languages.
    • The Divine Comedy. Probably the greatest medieval work of literature, and the greatest work of allegory ever written.
    • Piers Plowman. An encyclopedic array of allegorical devices. Dream-vision; pilgrimage; personification; satire; typological story structure (the dreamers progress mirrors the progress of biblical history from the Fall of Adam to Apocalypse).
    • The Pearl. A plot based on an anagogical allegory; a dreamer is introduced to heavenly Jerusalem. Focus on the meaning of death. A religious response to Consolation of Philosophy.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Allegory in the Middle Ages (1083 words)
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 did not see the same break between themselves and their classical forbears that modern observers see; rather, they saw continuity with themselves and the ancient world, using allegory as a synthesizing agent, bringing together a whole image.
There were four categories of allegory used in the Middle Ages, which had originated with the Bible commentators of the early Christian era.
Allegory in the Middle Ages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1291 words)
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.
Allegory was even seen in the natural world, as animals, plants, and even non-living things were interpreted in books called bestiaries as symbols of Biblical figures and morals.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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