An allegory (from Greek αλλος, allos, "other", and αγορευειν, agoreuein, "to speak in public") is a figurative representation conveying a meaning other than and in addition to the literal. It is generally treated as a figure of rhetoric, but an allegory does not have to be expressed in language: it may be addressed to the eye, and is often found in painting, sculpture or some form of mimetic art. The etymological meaning of the word is wider than that which it bears in actual use. An allegory is distinguished from a metaphor by being longer sustained and more fully carried out in its details, and from an analogy by the fact that the one appeals to the imagination and the other to the reason. The fable or parable is a short allegory with one definite moral.

The allegory has been a favourite form in the literature of nearly every nation. The Hebrew scriptures present frequent instances of it, one of the most beautiful being the comparison of the history of Israel to the growth of a vine in the 80th Psalm. In classical literature one of the best known allegories is the story of the stomach and its members in the speech of Menenius Agrippa (Livy ii. 32); and several occur in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Some elaborate and successful specimens of allegory are to be found in the works of authors:

Allegorical artworks include:

Adapted from a public domain 1911 encyclopedia