Allegory in the Middle Ages was a vital element in the synthesis of biblical and classical traditions into what would become recognizable as medieval culture. People of the Middle Ages consciously drew from the cultural legacies of the ancient world in shaping their institutions and ideas, and so allegory in medieval literature and medieval art was a prime mover for the synthesis and transformational continuity between the ancient world and the "new" Christian world.〔
People of the Middle Ages did not see the same break between themselves and their classical predecessors that modern observers see; rather, they saw continuity with themselves and the ancient world, using allegory as a synthesizing agent that brings together a whole image.〔
==Four types of interpretation or ''allēgoria''==
There were four categories of interpretation (or meaning) used in the Middle Ages, which had originated with the Bible commentators of the early Christian era.〔Stephen A. Barney (1989). "Allegory". ''Dictionary of the Middle Ages''. vol-1. ISBN 0-684-16760-3
# The first is simply the ''literal'' interpretation of the events of the story for historical purposes with no underlying meaning.
# The second is called ''typological'': it connects the events of the Old Testament with the New Testament; in particular drawing allegorical connections between the events of Christ's life with the stories of the Old Testament.
# The third is ''moral'' (or ''tropological''), which is how one should act in the present, the "moral of the story".
# The fourth type of interpretation is ''anagogical'', dealing with the future events of Christian history, heaven, hell, the last judgment; it deals with prophecies.
Thus the four types of interpretation (or meaning) deal with past events (literal), the connection of past events with the present (typology), present events (moral), and the future (anagogical).〔
Dante describes interpreting through a "four-fold method" (or "allegory of the theologians") in his epistle to Can Grande della Scala. He says the "senses" of his work are not simple, but:
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