Ancient theories of metaphor and allegory are more sophisticated than we normally think. If we suppose they were viewed merely as decorative ‘tropes’, that is because we rely too heavily on the evidence of rhetorical handbooks without considering the restrictions implied by that context. The case of allegory provides a good way into reassessing the theory of ‘tropes’, because the philosophical approach to its use is so clearly at odds with the rhetoricians’ definition of it as ‘extended metaphor’.
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