Personification and Allegory

by Walter Melion and Bart M. Ramakers

Talking about personification means talking about allegory. One reason for this is that texts and images which are considered allegories very often contain personifications. Where personification is used, allegories come into being. For this reason literary and art historians employ the term “personification allegory” to denote both the procedure and the result of creating allegory through personification. Some even speak of allegory and allegories when they in fact mean personification and personifications. Traditionally, the study of allegory is the realm of textual scholars, literary historians in particular. And this for obvious reasons, since some written allegories from the medieval and early-modern periods—a number of which are discussed in this volume—are amongst the greatest treasures of world literature.

There is another reason for the dominance of literary scholars amongst the students of allegory. This is that the word has two meanings or, to be more precise, that it refers to two procedures: a manner of writing and a manner of interpreting.[1] The latter is called allegoresis and refers to the procedure of figural, non-literal reading of mythological and scriptural texts, especially the Bible.[2] Others speak of critical or hermeneutical allegory or (in German) “auctores-Allegorese.”[3] Allegory as a reading method is older than allegory as a manner of composition or style, which is also called rhetorical or creative allegory, and emerged from the moment the Greek term allêgoria (speaking) came to replace the term hyponoia (other-speaking): “Allegoria came to denote a form of writing as well as a form of reading.”[4]

As a compositional technique, allegory has always been a part of rhetoric. As a figure of speech or trope it is classified under elocutio, the third of the five canons of classical rhetoric. Quintilian in his Institutio Oratoria (8.6.44) provides the standard and often repeated—well into early modernity—definition of it: “Allegory, which is translated in Latin by inversio, either presents one thing in words and another in meaning, or else something absolutely opposed to the meaning of the words. The first type is generally produced by a series of metaphors.”[5] Although he defines allegory in literary terms—the Institutio, after all, was a handbook of oratory—Quintilian and other rhetoricians, both classical and post-classical, are aware of the visual or pictorial aspects of this way of “other-speaking” (or writing). Its aesthetic attraction and effect are attributed to its ability to arouse the listener’s (or reader’s) imagination, to bring lively images before the mind’s eye.

This is also true for personification or prosopopoeia, which Quintilian takes to mean impersonation (from persona, meaning mask in Latin) and defines in the Institutio (9.2.29–32) as:

a device which lends wonderful variety and animation to oratory. By this means we display the inner thoughts of our adversaries as though they were talking with themselves . . . . [W]e are even allowed in this form of speech to bring down the gods from heaven and raise the dead, while cities also and peoples may find a voice. There are some authorities who restrict the term personification to cases where both persons and words are fictitious, and prefer to call imaginary conversations between men by the Greek name of dialogue, which some translate by the Latin sermocinatio. For my own part, I have included both under the same generally accepted term, since we cannot imagine a speech unless we also imagine a person to utter it.[6]

One aspect of allegory in general and of personification allegory in particular that is easily overlooked—especially by textual scholars preoccupied with the interpretation of allegories or with allegory as a hermeneutical procedure—is its mnemonic function.[7]  The most popular method of so-called artificial memory (memoria artificialis) was mentally to link the things to be remembered to images of living beings, objects, and the actions performed by and with them—so-called imagines agentes (acting images)—and place these within equally imagined spaces (loci) within larger constructs (usually buildings).[8]  Such mnemonic sequences amounted to allegories. In fact, the theatre—both the word and the edifice to which it refers—was used to designate or to represent such artificial memories.[9]

Few scholars clearly distinguish between narrative allegory and personification allegory,[10]  or even refer at all to the fact that much creative allegory is in fact personification allegory.[11]  Until the appearance in 1994 of James Paxson’s seminal monograph on the topic (see below),[12] literary scholars only dealt with it in books on allegory, albeit incidentally, if at all. Ernst Gombrich once remarked:

It seems to me sometimes that it [personification] is too familiar; 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 banknotes, and turns up in our cartoons and our posters.[13]

It apparently takes an art historian like Gombrich—or at least a literary historian with an interest in pictorial art (as well as a strong imagination)—not only to appreciate but also to describe and analyze the essentially visual character of personifications, be they created materially for us to see or evoked virtually for us to imagine. Gombrich again:

If we ask what it was that led to the marriage between poetry and personification the true answer lies hardly on the purely intellectual plane. It lies less in the invention of suitable defining attributes than in the attractions of psychological and physiognomic characterization. . . . What I mean is that the artistic personification is inexhaustible to rational analysis. It is to this that it owes what might be called its vitality or simply its vividness. While we are under its spell we are unlikely to ask whether such a creature really exists or is merely a figment of the artist’s imagination. And thus, the arts of poetry, of painting and sculpture, of drama and even of rhetoric aided by tradition can continue the functions of mythopoeic thought. Potentially personifications can always come to life again.[14]

Sometimes a distinction is made between two approaches to allegory: iconographic and rhetorical.[15]  Most studies fall within the latter category. They approach allegory with the apparatus of traditional narratology and word-based rhetoric. Allegories are treated as fictions with plots and characters, as stories that are told or recounted (diegesis), as opposed to shown and enacted (mimesis). Their metaphorical and prosopopoeic set-up is acknowledged, but the use of metaphor and prosopopoeia is analyzed on a theoretical and technical level only. We get definitions and interpretations, but we never learn how the mental imagery created through allegory affected audiences in the way Gombrich describes. Apodictic utterances such as, “All allegories are texts, words printed or hand-painted on a page. They are texts first and last; webs of words woven in such a way as constantly to call attention to themselves as texts”[16]—however true—do not bolster confidence that the vitality and vividness these words generated will receive due attention.

Since Quintilian defines allegory as “a series of metaphors,” studies of allegory almost always deal with metaphor. Given the fact that he also states that allegory (and metaphor for that matter) presents “one thing in words and another in meaning,” textual scholars in their analysis of allegories hardly reach beyond the words and tend to dwell on their meaning. Because prosopopoeia is not part of any classical definition of allegory, however constitutive it may be of it, personification is only addressed in passing—again, if at all.[17]  Even the recent Cambridge Companion to Allegory, despite its ambition to offer guidance to students and scholars of diverse historical specializations, only deals with hermeneutical and textual, not visual allegory. Personification and prosopopoeia are hardly ever mentioned. Even essays dealing with literary masterpieces of personification tend to concentrate on allegoresis. However informative the volume may be on the aspects it does discuss, the visual and imaginative elements of allegory disappear from sight.

We do find this element addressed and treated explicitly, though, in a collection of art historical essays: Early Modern Visual Allegory: Embodying Meaning.[18] In their introduction, editors Cristelle Baskins and Lisa Rosenthal state:

the dynamic function of allegory might be situated most fundamentally in its mobilization of the intersecting energies of interpellation and interpretation. Visual allegories engage these energies with distinct force, for as objects designed for particular settings and as images that represent abstract ideas in embodied form, they operate in the physical world of the senses.[19]

In this quotation, as in Gombrich’s, the energy or vitality expended on viewers (or readers with a strong capacity for imagination) by visual allegory, including the embodied allegory of personification, is prioritized. Not until the image, be it real or imagined, has been fully perceived, experienced, and analysed on this sensual, bodily level, can interpretation in the traditional iconological (or hermeneutical sense) begin. According to Baskins and Rosenthal, historians of visual culture “are uniquely positioned to contend with the materiality of the sign, with its powerful denotative as well as connotative effects as it is apprehended through the senses and experienced in a tangible form.”[20]  Since textual scholars from a semiotic point of view tend to deal with the signified, visual scholars can help provide a fuller understanding and appreciation of the signifier. Baskins and Rosenthal refer to the “[m]ore recent attention to allegory’s figural basis [which] builds upon over a decade of intense interdisciplinary focus on the body as a site of cultural meaning.”[21]  Personification: Embodying Meaning and Emotion shares this focus on embodied allegory and, more specifically, on personification allegory. Like Baskins and Rosenthal, we have endeavored to bring together both literary and art historians, asking them to reflect on personification as a mode of allegorical signification. Many of the questions posed in Early Modern Visual Allegory remain pertinent to the current volume: “What does it mean to allegorize the human figure; what pressures bear upon and shape personifications; what kinds of meaning escape orexceed allegorized bodies?”[22]

Several contributors to Personification: Embodying Meaning and Emotion refer to James Paxson’s The Poetics of Personification—and with good reason.[23]  It offers a thorough analysis of personification and prosopopoeia, tracing its theory from Antiquity to the Postmodern, offering a critical apparatus, especially to textual scholars, for analyzing the figure’s workings and meanings. Although Paxson, too, is primarily interested in narrative allegory, he is very much aware of the wider spectrum of allegorical usage, and consequently, of the visual and imaginative aspects of personification defined or alluded to bytheorists both classical and modern. He speaks of “localized,” “animate,” or “characterological”personification, and classifies it as a form of “[s]ubstanzialization,”which “subsumes all figural maneuvers wherein a literary text presentsthe translation of incorporeal abstractions into the corporeal members of several ontological categories.”[24]  Later he quotes William Wordsworth’s definitionof personification: “Voice assumes mouth, eye, and finally face, a chain that is manifest in the etymology of the trope’s name, prosopon poein, to confer amask or a face (prosopon).”[25]

Elsewhere Paxson deplores the fact that in allegory studies “personification theory often falls off the table,” and he asserts “that the relinking of allegory and prosopopeia is the key to revitalizing allegory theory for literary criticism and art history.”[26]  He makes this claim on the basis of a number of studiesthat appeared in the wake of The Poetics of Personification: they “treat allegory and personifications as central topics” and “champion a new materialism or enhanced materialism of allegory which [. . .] can help resuscitate interest in one of art and literature’s most important pre-modern modes of representation.”[27]  One does not necessarily have to share some of these authors’ (or Paxson’s own) enthusiasm for poststructuralist, postmodern, or deconstructivist writing on allegory in order to appreciate their “reappropriation of personification or prosopopeia as the mode of allegory’s most important trope via the foregrounding of the body or figura, classical rhetoric’s phenomenological locus.”[28]  Here Paxson refers to Quintilian, who in the Institutio(9.1.10) defines figure as a term that “applies to any form in which thought is expressed, just as it applies to bodies which, whatever their composition, must have some shape.”[29]  Thus, Paxson not only spans the distance between classical and postmodern literary theory, he also alerts us to the work of those literary and art historians of the twentieth century who share his fascination with the body as a carrier of meaning—not least, Erich Auerbach[30] and the aforementioned Gombrich.

There are older monographs as well, that approach textual allegory from a material, bodily perspective, written by authors who quite literally have an eye for the visual and, thus, for personification. It is no coincidence that all deal with late medieval and early modern examples of literary personification. One, of course, is C. S. Lewis.[31]  His understanding of allegory is principally visual: “It is of the very nature of thought and language to represent what is immaterial in picturable terms”; allegory “marries pairs of sensibles and insensibles, the fundamental equivalence between the material and the immaterial.”[32]  Another is Rosemond Tuve.[33]  She defines personification as “a most natural form” of allegory.[34]  Her conviction that “great allegories are usually the most concrete of all writings in texture,” and furthermore, that “it is not only by temperament that Spenser became the painter of the poets,” confirms the visual orientation already evident from the title of her book.[35]

The lack of attention to personification within studies of textual allegory may have something to do with the opinion—or charge—that the figure operates through characters who are seen to represent a concept merely through name, attributes, and ekphrasis. Because of their supposed lack of sophistication, they are deemed naive. But this assumption overlooks allegories such as Piers Plowman, wherein “the allegorical and the mimetic constantly converge, and the trope which most characteristically effects that convergence is personification.”[36]  Morton Bloomfield, one of the first to rehabilitate the literary study of personification, alludes to the fact that “[t]he personifier, like the cartoonist, throws his creativeness into what he has his figures do.”[37]  In other words: there is more life, more physical and psychological reality, more mimesis in personifications than we think.

In his concise introduction to allegory, Jeremy Tambling, too, allots personification a central position.[38]  Its importance for constituting allegory literally comes to the fore, since many of his leads are taken from images and the study of art history.[39]  Thus, he treats personifications as material and real. Being real, they are more—or at least potentially more—than mere representations, signs, or signifiers, establishing fixed relations with some hidden meaning, value, or truth.[40]  As narrative, dramatic, or pictorial characters they develop a distinct reality, one that might not be identical with real or natural persons, but which oscillates between appearance and meaning.[41]  They have a life of their own, carrying meaning within themselves, whereas allegory and allegoresis tend to pull one away from personification’s materiality:

Where allegoresis draws attention to hidden or abstract meanings, and allegory stresses that the surface meaning is not the ultimate quarry of interpretation, personification emphasizes the face which appears, which is, by definition, the surface meaning. In this way, allegory and personification work, characteristically, in opposite modes.[42]

Personification may also have suffered from the dismissal of allegory as merely conventional and mechanical, a charge made by the romantics, who opposed it to symbolism.[43]  Its reestablished prominence within allegory theory may well be connected with Paul de Man’s definition of prosopopoeia as “the master trope of poetic discourse,”[44] since all speaking and writing involves the anthropomorphization of reality—an echo of Lewis’s quotation above and at the same time a prospective formulation of cognitive studies’ current assertion that all our thinking is metaphorical and embodied.

To medieval and early modern audiences, moreover, the reality aspect of personification extended beyond that of being a material sign. Personifications were what they signified. As Johan Huizinga observes:

Was there any difference between the reality of the holy figures and the purely symbolic? . . . One may in all seriousness consider that Fortune and Faux-Semblant were just as alive as St. Barbara and St. Christopher. Let us not forget that one figure rose from free fantasy outside any dogmatic sanction and acquired a greater reality than any saint and survived them all: Death.[45]

It seems that literary scholars over the last two decades have become much more aware of personification; they now tend “to view personification not as a harbinger of allegory’s weakness, but a central discursive resource and rhetorical goal.”[46]  Two recent volumes of essays, Thinking Allegory Otherwise and On Allegory, give due consideration to visual allegory and personification.[47]  Brenda Machosky, in particular, defines the mode as both verbal and visual: “There is general agreement that the term allegory refers to a way of saying or showing one thing and meaning another.”[48]  She defines the study of allegory as phenomenological, “because it is a study of appearance, the way that phenomena appear by means of allegory. In allegory there is a phenomenologically simultaneous appearance of two things in the same image, in the same ‘space’ at the same time”; she thus devotes a whole chapter to “The Allegorical Image.”[49]

The currency of personification within modernist literary practice may be gauged from Marina Warner’s analysis of female personifications of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: “To lure, to delight, to appetize, to please, these [personifications] confer the power to persuade: as the spur to desire, as the excitement of the senses, as a weapon of delight.”[50]  This is all true, of course, but at the same time—and herein lies one of the reasons for the importance of personification in the pre-modern period—allegory was construed as a method of conveying and impressing opinions and truths, as an authorizing vehicle for the dissemination of cultural values: “Allegory flourishes at times of intense cultural disruption and reassessment. Not only the place of these texts within culture but the whole set of sociopolitical values that these texts are to justify and propound is what is really at issue.”[51]  Personification was deemed intensely expressive of mental and bodily states, ranging from contemplative quietude to passionate tumult, and as such, it was considered one of the most effective, persuasive, and exigent of figurative devices.[52]

Excerpt from "Personification: An Introduction," in Personification: Embodying Meaning and Emotion, ed. Walter S. Melion and Bart Ramakers (Leiden: Brill, 2016).

[1] Jeremy Tambling, Allegory (London, 2010), 21–23, and Rita Copeland and Peter T. Struck, “Introduction,” in The Cambridge Companion to Allegory, ed. Rita Copeland and Peter T. Struck (Cambridge, 2010), 1–11, p. 2. Also see Rita Copeland and Stephen Melville, “Allegory and Allegoresis, Rhetoric and Hermeneutics,” Exemplaria 3 (1991): 159–87.

[2] On allegory mainly as a narrative procedure and on allegorical reading and interpretation, see, for example, Deborah L. Madsen, Rereading Allegory: A Narrative Approach to Genre (New York, 1994).

[3] Christel Meier, “Uberlegungen zum gegenwartigen Stand der Allegorie-Forschung,” in Frühmittelalterliche Studien 10 (1976): 1–69, pp. 45–46. Also see Friedrich Ohly, “The Spiritual Sense of Words in the Middle Ages,” Forum for Modern Language Studies 41 (2005): 18–42; and Ernst Hellgardt, “Erkenntnistheoretisch-ontologische Probleme uneigentlicher Sprache in Rhetorik und Allegorese,” in Formen und Funktionen der Allegorie: SymposionWolfenbüttel 1978, ed. Walter Haug (Stuttgart, 1979) 25–37, pp. 26–27.

[4] Copeland and Struck, “Introduction,” 2.

[5] This quotation and the following are taken from Quintilian, The Institutio Oratoria, trans. H. E. Butler, 4 vols (Cambridge, MA, 1920–22). Also see Tambling, Allegory, 6; Copeland and Struck, “Introduction,” 4; Anselm Haverkamp, “Metaphora dis/continua: Figure in de/construction; Mit einem Kommentar zur Begriffsgeschichte von Quintilian bis Baumgarten,” in Allegorie: Konfigurationen von Text, Bild und Lektüre, ed. Eva Horn and Manfred Weinberg (Wiesbaden, 1998) 29–45, p. 42; Heinrich F. Plett, “Konzepte des Allegorischen in der englischen Renaissance,” in Formen und Funktionen, ed. Haug, 310–35, p. 311; and Gerhard Kurz, “Zu einer Hermeneutik der literarischen Allegorie,” in Formen und Funktionen, ed. Haug, 12–24, pp. 14–15.

[6] He also uses the term for “fictitious speeches supposed to be uttered, such as an advocate puts into the mouth of his client” (6.1.25); “character as revealed by speeches” (1.8.3.); “an imaginary person speaking on behalf of the accused” (4.1.69); and “the portrayal of the emotions of children, women, nations, and even of voiceless things” (11.1.41). Cicero, in De Oratore (3.53.205), refers to “impersonation of people” (“personarum ficta inductio”); see Cicero, De Oratore . . . , trans. E. W. Sutton and H. Rackham, 2 vols (1942; repr. Cambridge, MA, 1968). The Rhetorica ad Herennium (4.53.66) uses the term “conformation” (“conformatio”), and says it “consists in representing an absent person as present, or in making a mute thing or one lacking form articulate, and attributing to it a definite form and a language or a certain behavior to its character”; see [Cicero,] Ad C. Herennium de ratione dicendi (Rhetorica ad Herennium), trans. Harry Caplan (Cambridge, MA, 1954). Also see Jon Whitman, Allegory: The Dynamics of an Ancient and Medieval Technique (Cambridge, MA, 1987), 267.

[7] Plett, “Konzepte des Allegorischen,” 315–16; Michael Murrin, The Veil of Allegory: Some Notes toward a Theory of Allegorical Rhetoric in the English Renaissance (Chicago, 1969), 75–81; and Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Seeing through the Veil: Optical Theory and Medieval Allegory (Toronto, 2004), 9.

[8] Paolo Rossi, Logic and the Art of Memory: The Quest for a Universal Language (Chicago, 2000), 1–20.

[9] Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (1966; repr. London, 2014)

[10] Kurz, “Zu einer Hermeneutik,” 12–24.

[11] Meier, “Uberlegungen,” 46.

[12] James J. Paxson, The Poetics of Personification (Cambridge, 1994).

[13] Ernst H. Gombrich, “Personification,” in Classic Influences on European Culture A.D. 500–1500, ed. Robert R. Bolgar (Cambridge, 1971), 247–257, p. 248. On this indifference also see Satoshi Nishimura, “Personification: Its Functions and Boundaries,” Papers on Language and Literature 50 (2014): 90–107.

[14] “Personification,” 254–55.

[15] Akbari, Seeing through the Veil, 7.

[16] Maureen Quilligan, The Language of Allegory: Defining the Genre (Ithaca, 1979), 25.

[17] In Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays (Princeton, 1957), much personification allegory qualifies as “naive allegory,” that is, “a disguised form of discursive writing” which “belongs chiefly to educational literature on an elementary level: schoolroom moralities, devotional exempla, local pageants, and the like” (90). Angus Fletcher, in his classic Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode (1964; repr. Princeton, 2012), assures us that “[p]ersonified abstractions are probably the most obviously allegorical agents” (25), but he deals with them as characters, protagonists, heroes, or indeed agents in narratives, the interpretation of which forms the main focus of his attention. In Edward Honig’s Dark Conceit: The Making of Allegory (1959; repr. New York: 1966), the terms “personification” or “personification allegory” do occasionally pop up (5, 39, 52, 94), but the combination of the former with “crudest” (128), “limited” (180), and “conventional” (191), and its designation as “another form of literary analogy” (116), seem to suggest that he deems the figure to be one amongst many and mainly rudimentary. Maureen Quilligan’s Language of Allegory calls personification “one of the most trustworthy signals of allegory” (42) and “a wonderful tool for revealing intraphysic battles” (234), but that is as much as she has to offer on it. Jon Whitman’s Allegory  contains two appendices, one on the history of the term “allegory,” another on the term “personification,” but nowhere in his book does he put the latter on an equal footing with the former. It is no different in Morton W. Bloomfield’s and others’ contributions to Allegory, Myth, and Symbol, ed. Morton W. Bloomfield (Cambridge, MA, 1981).

[18] Early Modern Visual Allegory: Embodying Meaning, ed. Cristelle L. Baskins and Lisa Rosenthal (Aldershot, 2007).

[19] Cristelle L. Baskins and Lisa Rosenthal, “Introduction,” in Early Modern Visual Allegory, ed. Baskins and Rosenthal, 1–10, p. 1.

[20] Ibid., 3.

[21] Ibid., 4.

[22] Ibid., 3.

[23] Also see his later articles on the topic. Before Paxson’s book fundamental discussions of personification remained limited to essays such as Robert Worth, Jr., “The Art of Reading Medieval Personification Allegory,” ELH 20 (1953): 237–50; and Morton W. Bloomfield, “A Grammatical Approach to Personification Allegory,” Modern Philology 60 (1963): 161–71.

[24] Poetics of Personification, 30, 33, 40.

[25] Poetics of Personification, 69; cf. Tambling, Allegory, 43.

[26] “Re(facing) Prosopopeia and Allegory in Contemporary Theory and Iconography,” Studies in Iconography 22 (2001): 1–20, pp. 4–5.

[27] Ibid., 2–3.

[28] Ibid., 7.

[29] Ibid., 7n22.

[30] Eric Auerbach, “Figura,” in Scenes from the Drama of European Literature (New York, 1959), 11–78. On Auerbach and allegory, see Tambling, Allegory, 34–35.

[31] The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition (1936; repr. New York, 1958).

[32] Lewis, Allegory of Love, 44. Also see Bloomfield, “Grammatical Approach,” 168.

[33] Allegorical Imagery: Some Mediaeval Books and Their Posterity (Princeton, 1966).

[34] Ibid., 26.

[35] Tuve, Allegorical Imagery, 29. Another example is Susan Hagen’s Allegorical Remembrance: A Study of “The Pilgrimage of the Life of Man” as a Medieval Treatise on Seeing and Remembering (Athens, GA, 1990).

[36] Larry Scanlon, “Personification and Penance,” The Yearbook of Langland Studies 21 (2007): 1–29, p. 22. Also see Sarah Wood, Conscience and the Composition of “Piers Plowman” (Oxford, 2012), 6n27.

[37] “Grammatical Approach,” 166 (italics added).

[38] Allegory, 39–50.

[39] Two other studies, like Paxson’s dating from the mid-nineties, also take a more visual approach to allegory and include pictorial material in their analyses: Gordon Teskey, Allegory and Violence (Ithaca, 1996), and Theresa M. Kelley, Reinventing Allegory (Cambridge, 1997). The latter has a chapter on “Allegorical Persons” (70–92).

[40] Tambling, Allegory, 42. His account of allegory leads him to criticize Erwin Panofsky’s iconological method, even as he acknowledges, like others, the important contribution art historians, amongst them the afore-mentioned Gombrich, have made to both the understanding and appreciation of personification; see ibid., 40–42, 114–16, 171–72. Also see Paxson, Poetics of Personification, 29–30, 107, and Baskins and Rosenthal, “Introduction,” 2–3.

[41] Thomas Cramer, “Allegorie und Zeitgeschichte: Thesen zur Begrundung des Interesses an der Allegorie im Spatmittelalter,” Formen und Funktionen, ed. Haug, 265–76, p. 272.

[42] Tambling, Allegory, 171.

[43] Tambling, Allegory, 80–81, 115–16, 128. Also see Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, 90–91.

[44] Qtd. in Tambling, Allegory, 140.

[45] The Autumn of the Middle Ages, trans. Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch (1924; repr. Chicago, 1996), 246. He makes comparable observations in Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture (1944; repr. London, 1980), 139–40. Also see Gombrich, “Personification,” 255. This aspect may also be gauged from the way personification was used to concretize positions and relations in medieval society, as expressed in law. See Elizabeth Fowler, Literary Character: The Human Figure in Early English Writing (Ithaca, 2003), 24–27. The “quasi-independent, quasi-material existence” and other bodily aspects of personification in medieval texts, especially theatre, are succinctly treated in Helen Cooper, “The Afterlife of Personification,” in Medieval Shakespeare: Pasts and Presents, ed. Ruth Morse, Helen Cooper, and Peter Holland (Cambridge, 2013), 98–116, p. 104.

[46] Scanlon, “Personification and Penance,” 10.

[47] Thinking Allegory Otherwise, ed. Brenda Machosky (Stanford, 2005), and On Allegory: Some Medieval Aspects and Approaches, ed. Mary Carr, K. P. Clarke, and Marco Nievergelt (Cambridge, 2008).

[48] Structures of Appearing: Allegory and the Work of Literature (New York, 2012), 1 (italics added).

[49] Ibid., 1, 28–63. 

[50] Marina Warner, Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (1985; repr. London, 1987), xx.

[51] Madsen, Rereading Allegory, 135. Also see Tambling, Allegory, 8–9. 

[52] Tambling, Allegory, 10. Also see Rodney Stenning Edgecombe, “Ways of Personifying,” Style 31 (1997): 1–13, pp. 1–2, and John D. Lyons, “Meditation and the Inner Voice,” New Literary History 37 (2006): 525–38, pp. 527–28.


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