Saturday, May 16, 2009


The discourse or narrative in which there is a literal and figurative sense, a patent and a connected meaning; the literal or patent sense being intended, by analogy or comparison, to indicate the figurative or concealed one. Its derivation from the to say some thing different, that is, to say something where the language, is one thing and the true meaning another, exactly expresses the character of an allegory. It has been said that there is no essential difference between an allegory and a symbol. There is not in design, but there is in their character. An allegory may be interpreted without any previous conventional agreement, but a symbol cannot. Thus the legend of the third degree is an allegory, evidently to be interpreted as teaching restoration to life; and this we learn from the legend itself, without any previous understanding. The sprig of acacia is a symbol of immortality of the soul. But this we know only because such meaning had been conventionally determined when the symbol was first established. It is evident, then, that an allegory whose meaning is obscure is imperfect. The enigmatical meaning should be easy of interpretation; and hence Lemiere, a French poet, has said: "L'allegorie habiteum palais diaphane," - Allegory lives in a transparent palace. All the legends of Freemasonry are more or less allegorical, and whatever truth there may be in some of them in a historical point of view, it is only as allegories or legendary symbols that are of of importance. The English lectures have therefore very properly defined Freemasonry to be "a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."

The allegory was a favorite figure among the ancients, and the allegorizing spirit are we to trace the construction of the Greek and Roman mythology. Not less did it prevail among the older Ayran nations, and its abundant use is exhibited in the religions of Brahma and Zoroaster. The Jewish Rabbins were greatly addicted to it, and carried its employment, Maimonides intimates, (More Nevochim, III., xliii.,) sometimes to an excess. Their Midrash, or system of commentaries on the sacred book, almost altogether allegorical. Aben Ezra, a learned Rabbi of the twelfth century, says, "The Scriptures are like bodies, and allegories are like the garments with which they are clothed. Some are thin like fine silk, and others are coqrse and thick like sackcloth." Our Lord, to whom this spirit of the Jewish teachers in his day was familiar, inculated many truths in parables, all of which were allegories. The primitive Fathers of the Christain Church were thus infected; and Origen, (Epist. ad Dam.,) who was especially addicted to the habit, tells us that all the Pagan philosophers should be read in this spirit: "hoc facere solemus quando philosohos legimus." Of modern allegorizing writers, the most interesting in Masons are Lee, the author of The Temple of of Solomon portrayed by Scripture Light, and John Bunyan, who wrote Solomon's Temple Spiritualized.

Encyclopedia of Freemasonry 1894