Let them be forbidden access to this work, wrote Alan of Lille in his Anticlaudianus, who would only look for the image of sensuality and not the truth of reason . . . Do not allow those tasteless men, who cannot take their studies beyond the bounds of the senses, to impose their own interpretations on this book . . . lest the majesty of its secret meanings be profaned, like pearls cast before swine, when divulged to the unworthy. But what is this majestic secret significance which Alan wished to keep hidden from people so lacking in good taste as to want to probe it and misunderstand it? On the surface the Anticlaudianus, Alan’s most famous work, is an epic romance about a celestial journey and a great battle which is clearly being used as a moral treatise, a summa de virtutibus et vitiis. His long poem tells the story of how the goddess Nature, in council with the Virtues, seeks to make a new type of person, the homo perfectus. They realise that such a divine being cannot be created unless a soul is brought from God, whereupon Phronesis, the searcher after truth to whom the secrets of God are revealed, undertakes a journey to heaven in a chariot constructed by the seven liberal arts and drawn by the five senses. With the aid of Theology and Faith, Phronesis meets the heavenly host, the Virgin Mary, and eventually God himself, who has a soul made for her. She brings this soul, carefully sealed to keep it fresh, back to the waiting body, and the novus homo is complete. He then has to prove himself in a great pitched battle between the virtues and the vices.