S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 7 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 1 5 1 Rastislav Nemec 2 First Sources of Allegory – Rhetorical Allegory 2.1 Augustine’s Contribution to Allegory The problem of reading and its methods in the Middle Ages has its primary roots in ancient times and the opus of Au- relius Augustinus (†430). Augustine’s treatise De doctrina christiana represents the first manual for reading and inter - pretation in the history of Christianity and had a huge im pact on the approach of medieval scholars. On the one hand, it brought the fundamental truths of the faith (Lat. regula fidei ), and on the other it offered a certain kind of repertoire of rules for interpreting the Holy Scripture (Augustine 2014, 185). Augustine enriches this issue with traditional knowl- edge of Cicero’s and Quintilian’s rhetoric, and for this reason his works cannot be separated from the foundation and ap- plied rules of rhetoric (Lichner 2014, 139). Quintilian – just like Augustine later – understands allegory rhetorically as a term whose meaning is different than its spoken expression: “ aliud dicit, aliud sentit ”. He understands it as an instrument that resists strict systematization and preci- sion of the language. Augustine explains and defines it simi - larly when he speaks about signs [2] as the means of human communication. Augustine discerns natural (Lat. naturalia ) and agreed signs (Lat. placita ). He understands agreed signs to be those with one meaning or those with several meanings. He differentiates them because some signs are of human and others of divine origin. Those of divine origin have a clear meaning (smoke as a sign of fire, etc.), while agreed signs, which include spoken and written words, can have various meanings. Thus, Augustine distinguishes between proper (Lat. propria ) and figurative signs (Lat. translata ), with allegory be- longing to the group of metaphoric signs. According to Augustine, allegory enriches speech, preventing it from being “dull”. It also indicates another , spiritual mean- ing (from original Greek allé –“alius”) that does not result from the metaphoric meaning of words. From the epoch of the Greek Stoics, it was the privilege of philosophers to understand allegory and know how to interpret it. In the ep- och of Augustine this is the privilege of rhetors. Other readers (Lat. incognizant ) were not able to unveil the secrets hidden by means of allegory (Lichner 2020, 108).