Herald of

Symbolism of the Peace Dove from Antiquity to Modern Times

Dushenko K.V.


The symbolism of the dove of peace developed in the process of interaction of several topics belonging to two traditions: firstly, Judeo-Christian (the dove from Noah’s ark and the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit), and secondly, ancient (olive branch, doves of Venus). Starting from the 17th century, the victory of the peace over the war was symbolized, in addition to the dove with an olive branch, also by the doves that made a nest in the helmet of a warrior. This image goes back to the Latin distich, which was attributed to Petronius. The expression “dove of peace” entered the language in the 17th century. At first, the sacred and political meanings of the metaphor were in close connection; since the 18th century it began to be used also in a purely political sense. At the same time, the dove with olive branch appears in caricatures, which meant, in essence, the desacralization of the symbol. In the political language of the XIXth century, the dove was a symbol of peacekeeping diplomacy or the denial of war as such. In English language literature, “doves of peace” were often opposed to “war hawks”. The verbal symbolism of the pacifist League of Universal Brotherhood, founded by E. Burritt in 1846, in some respects anticipated the symbolism of the pro-Soviet peace movement.


Christian iconography; olive branch; pacifism; political caricature; Petronius; Sebastián de Covarrubias; E. Burritt.

DOI: 10.31249/hoc/2022.04.02

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