The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 11v - Ibex, continued. De yena; the hyena.


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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

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It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:

Text

  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]

Translation

  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.
who are accustomed to manage whatever problems they encounter, with the harmony of the two Testaments as if with a sound constitution; and, supported as by two horns, they sustain the good they do with the testimony of readings from the Old and New Testament. Of the hyena. There is an animal called the hyena, which inhabits the tombs of the dead and feeds on their bodies. Its nature is that it is sometimes male, sometimes female, and it is therefore an unclean animal. Since its spine is rigid, all in one piece, it cannot turn round except by turning its body right around. Solinus recounts many marvellous things about the hyena. First, it stalks the sheepfolds of shepherds and circles their houses by night, and by listening carefully learns their speech, so that it can imitate the human voice, in order to fall on any man whom it has lured out at night. The hyena also [imitates] human vomit and devours the dogs it has enticed with faked sounds of retching. If dogs hunting the hyena accidentally touch its shadow behind, they lose their voices and cannot bark. In its search for buried bodies, the hyena digs up graves. The sons of Israel resemble the hyena. At the beginning they served the living God. Later, addicted to wealth and luxury, they worshipped idols. For this reason the prophet compared the synagogue to an unclean animal: 'My heritage is to me as the den of a hyena.' (see Jeremiah, 12:8) Therefore those among us who are slaves to luxury and greed, are like this brute, since they are neither men nor

Text

The hyena.

Illustration

The hyena should not be eaten because it is dirty and has two natures, male and female. Both sexual organs are clearly shown. It dwells in the tombs of the dead and devours human bodies. Its spine is rigid and it must move its whole body in order to turn.

Comment

Pricking and ruling visible.. Prick marks for pouncing are particularly dense around the man's body and the eyes and body of the hyena. Initial indicator 'e' in left margin. Initial type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Pricking

    Pricking

    Pricking
    Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

    Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

  • Ruling

    Ruling

    Ruling
    Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

    After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

  • Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators
    Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

    When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

  • Initial Type 2

    Initial Type 2

    Initial Type 2
    Type 2 initial. Detail from f.5v

    Type 2 is much more common. The letter is made with burnished gold, filled with a blue or brown background which is decorated with a delicate white tracery. Many of these are embellished with red or blue traces or sprays. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a very early example of the use of sprays which culminates in the art of William de Brailes in the mid-thirteenth century (Morgan 1982,no.68). An elaborate spray is on f.41v. The fine white filigree pattern is also found on some of the illuminations (f.3r, f.11r, f.12r) suggesting that the main illuminator also made these initials. This type generally occupies two lines. This initial is generally used to introduce each new animal.

Transcription

torum consonantia quicquid eis adversi acciderit, quasi quodam\ salubri temptamento [A: teperamento] temperare solent, et velud duobus cornibus ful\ti, bona que perpetrant veteris testamenti ac evangelice lectionis attes\tatione sustentant.\ De Yena\ Est animal qui\ dicitur yena, in se\pulchris mortu\orum habitans, eorum\que corpora vescens.\ Cuius natura est ut ali\quando masculus\ sit, aliquando fem\ina, et ideo est immun\dum animal. Cui\ cum spina riget, con\tinua unitate\ flecti nequid nisi toto corporis circumactu. Solinus multa mira\ de ea refert, primum quod sequitur stabula pastorum, et circuit domos\ per noctem, et assiduo auditu addiscit vocamen, quod exprimere\ possit imitationem vocis humane, ut hominem astu accitum\ nocte seviat. Vomitus quoque humanos [intitur] falsisque singultibus\ sic sollicitatos canes devorat. Qui forte si venantes umbram\ eiusdem dum sequitur contigerint, latrare nequeunt voce perdita. Ea\dem yena inquisicione corporum sepultorum busta eruit. Huic as\similantur filii Israel, qui ab initio deo vivo servierunt. Postea divitiis\ et luxurie dediti ydola coluerunt. Ideo propheta comparavit sy\nagogam in mundo [A: inmundo] animali dicens: Facta est michi hereditas\ mea quasi spelunca yene. Quicumque igitur inter nos luxurie et\ avaricie inserviunt, huic belue comparantur cum nec viri nec\

Translation

who are accustomed to manage whatever problems they encounter, with the harmony of the two Testaments as if with a sound constitution; and, supported as by two horns, they sustain the good they do with the testimony of readings from the Old and New Testament. Of the hyena. There is an animal called the hyena, which inhabits the tombs of the dead and feeds on their bodies. Its nature is that it is sometimes male, sometimes female, and it is therefore an unclean animal. Since its spine is rigid, all in one piece, it cannot turn round except by turning its body right around. Solinus recounts many marvellous things about the hyena. First, it stalks the sheepfolds of shepherds and circles their houses by night, and by listening carefully learns their speech, so that it can imitate the human voice, in order to fall on any man whom it has lured out at night. The hyena also [imitates] human vomit and devours the dogs it has enticed with faked sounds of retching. If dogs hunting the hyena accidentally touch its shadow behind, they lose their voices and cannot bark. In its search for buried bodies, the hyena digs up graves. The sons of Israel resemble the hyena. At the beginning they served the living God. Later, addicted to wealth and luxury, they worshipped idols. For this reason the prophet compared the synagogue to an unclean animal: 'My heritage is to me as the den of a hyena.' (see Jeremiah, 12:8) Therefore those among us who are slaves to luxury and greed, are like this brute, since they are neither men nor
  • Commentary

    Text

    The hyena.

    Illustration

    The hyena should not be eaten because it is dirty and has two natures, male and female. Both sexual organs are clearly shown. It dwells in the tombs of the dead and devours human bodies. Its spine is rigid and it must move its whole body in order to turn.

    Comment

    Pricking and ruling visible.. Prick marks for pouncing are particularly dense around the man's body and the eyes and body of the hyena. Initial indicator 'e' in left margin. Initial type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Pricking

      Pricking

      Pricking
      Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

      Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

    • Ruling

      Ruling

      Ruling
      Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

      After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

    • Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators
      Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

      When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

    • Initial Type 2

      Initial Type 2

      Initial Type 2
      Type 2 initial. Detail from f.5v

      Type 2 is much more common. The letter is made with burnished gold, filled with a blue or brown background which is decorated with a delicate white tracery. Many of these are embellished with red or blue traces or sprays. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a very early example of the use of sprays which culminates in the art of William de Brailes in the mid-thirteenth century (Morgan 1982,no.68). An elaborate spray is on f.41v. The fine white filigree pattern is also found on some of the illuminations (f.3r, f.11r, f.12r) suggesting that the main illuminator also made these initials. This type generally occupies two lines. This initial is generally used to introduce each new animal.

  • Translation
    who are accustomed to manage whatever problems they encounter, with the harmony of the two Testaments as if with a sound constitution; and, supported as by two horns, they sustain the good they do with the testimony of readings from the Old and New Testament. Of the hyena. There is an animal called the hyena, which inhabits the tombs of the dead and feeds on their bodies. Its nature is that it is sometimes male, sometimes female, and it is therefore an unclean animal. Since its spine is rigid, all in one piece, it cannot turn round except by turning its body right around. Solinus recounts many marvellous things about the hyena. First, it stalks the sheepfolds of shepherds and circles their houses by night, and by listening carefully learns their speech, so that it can imitate the human voice, in order to fall on any man whom it has lured out at night. The hyena also [imitates] human vomit and devours the dogs it has enticed with faked sounds of retching. If dogs hunting the hyena accidentally touch its shadow behind, they lose their voices and cannot bark. In its search for buried bodies, the hyena digs up graves. The sons of Israel resemble the hyena. At the beginning they served the living God. Later, addicted to wealth and luxury, they worshipped idols. For this reason the prophet compared the synagogue to an unclean animal: 'My heritage is to me as the den of a hyena.' (see Jeremiah, 12:8) Therefore those among us who are slaves to luxury and greed, are like this brute, since they are neither men nor
  • Transcription
    torum consonantia quicquid eis adversi acciderit, quasi quodam\ salubri temptamento [A: teperamento] temperare solent, et velud duobus cornibus ful\ti, bona que perpetrant veteris testamenti ac evangelice lectionis attes\tatione sustentant.\ De Yena\ Est animal qui\ dicitur yena, in se\pulchris mortu\orum habitans, eorum\que corpora vescens.\ Cuius natura est ut ali\quando masculus\ sit, aliquando fem\ina, et ideo est immun\dum animal. Cui\ cum spina riget, con\tinua unitate\ flecti nequid nisi toto corporis circumactu. Solinus multa mira\ de ea refert, primum quod sequitur stabula pastorum, et circuit domos\ per noctem, et assiduo auditu addiscit vocamen, quod exprimere\ possit imitationem vocis humane, ut hominem astu accitum\ nocte seviat. Vomitus quoque humanos [intitur] falsisque singultibus\ sic sollicitatos canes devorat. Qui forte si venantes umbram\ eiusdem dum sequitur contigerint, latrare nequeunt voce perdita. Ea\dem yena inquisicione corporum sepultorum busta eruit. Huic as\similantur filii Israel, qui ab initio deo vivo servierunt. Postea divitiis\ et luxurie dediti ydola coluerunt. Ideo propheta comparavit sy\nagogam in mundo [A: inmundo] animali dicens: Facta est michi hereditas\ mea quasi spelunca yene. Quicumque igitur inter nos luxurie et\ avaricie inserviunt, huic belue comparantur cum nec viri nec\
Folio 11v - Ibex, continued. De yena; the hyena. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen