Virtue vs Envy
No sooner is Virtue born than Envy comes into the world to attack it; and sooner will there be a body without a shadow than Virtue without Envy.
Envy must be represented with a contemptuous motion of the hand towards heaven, because if she could she would use her strength against God; make her with her face covered by a mask of fair seeming; show her as wounded in the eye by a palm branch and by an olive-branch, and wounded in the ear by laurel and myrtle, to signify that victory and truth are odious to her. Many thunderbolts should proceed from her to signify her evil speaking. Let her be lean and haggard because she is perpetual torment. Make her heart gnawed by a swelling serpent, and make her with a quiver with tongues serving as arrows, because this creature kills the lion out of envy and by deceit. Give her too a vase in her hand full of flowers and scorpions and toads and other venomous creatures; make her ride upon death, because Envy, never dying, never tires of ruling. Make her bridle and load her diverse kinds of arms because her weapons are deadly."- Leonardo da Vinci
Not only is this very true, it is also a great example of how an abstract/ imaginary image can be specifically symbolic. It also shows how difficult it would be to interpreted these sketches without a caption provided by the person who created it. If I were to see this drawing without an explanation I would have absolutely NO idea what it meant or what Leonardo was trying to represent. Would you?