form with Christian writers, and more than one cause may be assigned for it. Already there was, in the taste of the age when the Christian literature arose, a tendency to symbolism, which is seen outside the pale of Christianity. Moreover, the long time in which the profession of Christianity was dangerous, favoured the growth of symbolism as a covert means of mutual intelligence. Then Christian thought had in its own nature something which invited allegory, partly by its own hidden sympathies with Nature, and partly by its very immensity, for which all direct speech was felt to be inadequate. But what doubtless supplied this taste with continual nutriment was that all-pervading and unspeakable sweetness of Christ's teaching by parables. The Phoenix was used upon Roman coins to express the aspiration for renewed vitality in the empire; it was used by early Christian writers as an emblem of the Resurrection; and in the Anglo-Saxon poem the allegory is avowed.
To Lactantius also has been ascribed another