Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

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Book Chapter

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The Cambridge Companion to Allegory

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In Late Antiquity a series of ideas emerges that adds a kind of buoyancy to allegorism. Readers' impulses toward other regions of knowledge begin to flow more consistently upward, drawn by various metaphysical currents that guide and support them. A whole manner of Platonist-inspired architectures structure the cosmos in the early centuries of the Common Era, among thinkers as diverse as the well-known Origen and the mysterious Numenius. Plato's understanding of appearances had always insisted on some higher, unfallen level of reality, in which the forms dwell, and to which we have no access through our senses. This other level seems to invite allegorical aspirations. Of course, Plato himself prominently declined the invitation, and it is no small irony that his work should have become the font of such heady visions.

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This material has been published in The Cambridge Companion to Allegory edited by Copeland, R. & Struck, P.T. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press.



Date Posted: 22 December 2017