Allegorical interpretation in homer: Penelope's dream and early Greek allegoresis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The invention of allegorical interpretation is usually attributed to Theagenes of Rhegium (6th century b.c.E.), who, Porphyry reports, interpreted the Homeric battle between the gods (Il. 20) as the opposition among physical elements. I argue that the practice of allegorical interpretation is present in Homer's text itself. I first establish the procedures and rationale behind allegorical interpretation in Theagenes, Metrodorus, and the Derveni Papyrus. I then reveal the presence of this interpretative practice in the interpretation of Penelope's dream in Od. 19. This result elucidates the Homeric text and indicates that our earliest instance of allegorical interpretation is to be found in a Homeric depiction of a dream interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Journal of Philology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Allegorical interpretation in homer: Penelope's dream and early Greek allegoresis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this