The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 12r - Hyena, continued. De bonnacon; the bonnacon.


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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.
omen, that is, neither faithful nor faithless, but are without doubt those of whom Solomon says: 'A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways'; (James, 1:8) of whom the Lord says: 'You cannot serve God and mammon.' (Matthew, 6:24) This beast has a stone in its eyes, called hyenia; anyone who keeps it under his tongue is believed to foretell the future. It is true that if the hyena walks three times around any animal, the animal cannot move. For this reason men declare that the hyena has magical properties. In a part of Ethiopia the hyena mates with the lioness; their union produces a monster, named crocote. Like the hyena, it too produces men's voices. It never tries to change the direction of its glance but strives to see without changing it. It has no gums in its mouth. Its single, continuous tooth is closed naturally like a casket so that it is never blunted. Of the bonnacon In Asia an animal is found which men call bonnacon. It has the head of a bull, and thereafter its whole body is of the size of a bull's with the maned neck of a horse. Its horns are convoluted, curling back on themselves in such a way that if anyone comes up against it, he is not harmed. But the protection which its forehead denies this monster is furnished by its bowels. For when it turns to flee, it discharges fumes from the excrement of its belly over a distance of three acres, the heat of which sets fire to anything it touches. In this way, it drives off its pursuers with its harmful excrement.

Text

The hyena. The bonnacon.

Illustration

The bonnacon is an Asian beast whose head is like a bull but his horns curl inwards so that they do not harm the victim. When the bonnacon is chased he expels dung which burns a wide area.

Comment

The illustration shows the wise hunter protecting himself with his shield, mentioned in other texts but not here.The hunter's axe extends beyond its frame and overlaps the text. Pricking and ruling are visible. The text is damaged by pricking for pouncing on f.12v. Initial indicator 'i' in the right 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.

  • Overlaps

    Overlaps

    Overlaps
    Painting covers script. Detail from f.12r

    It is clear that the illustrations were added after the text was complete. This can be seen for instance on f.12r, the Bonnacon, where the axe passes outside the frame and covers some text. In this case the initial was done before the illustration because the capital 'I' is overlapped by the spear. In some cases, the picture is placed over the initial (f.50r, f.59v, f.67v). In other instances the initial overlaps the picture frame (f.8v, f.31v, f.63r, f.68v). This suggests that both the initials and the illustrations were made by the same artist who chose, on each occasion, whether to begin with the image or the letter.

  • 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

femine sint id est nec fideles, nec perfidi sunt, sed sunt sine dubio, de\ quibus ait Salomon: Vir duplex animo, inconstans est in omnibus\ viis suis. De quibus ait dominus: Non potestis deo servire et mamone.\ Hec belua lapidem in oculis tenet, nomine yeniam, quem siquis sub lin\gua tenuerit, futura predicere creditur. Verum yena quodcumque \ animal ter lustraverit vomere [A: movere] se non potest. Quapropter magicam in\esse ei pronunciaverunt. In Ethiope parte coit cum leena unde nascitur\ monstrum cui crocote nomen est. Voces hominum et ipsi [A: ipsa] pariter effec\tat. Nunquam commutationem orbium sed in obtutum sine mu\tatione contendit. In ore gingiva nulla. Dens unus atque perpe\tuus qui ut nunquam retundatur, naturaliter capsularum modo clauditur.\ De bonnacon.\ In Asia ani\mal nas\citur quod bon\nacon di\cunt. Cui\ taurinum\ capud, ac \ deinceps\ corpus om\ne tantum\ iuba equi\na. Cornu\a autem ita multiplici fleu [A: flexu] in se recurrentia, ut si quis in\ eo offendat non vulneretur, sed quicquid presidii monstro illi frons\ negat, alvus sufficiat [A: sufficit]. Nam cum in fugam vertit proluvie citi ventris fumum egerit per longitudinem trium iugerum, cuius\ ardor quicquid attigerit adurit. Ita egerie noxia submovet insequentes\

Translation

omen, that is, neither faithful nor faithless, but are without doubt those of whom Solomon says: 'A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways'; (James, 1:8) of whom the Lord says: 'You cannot serve God and mammon.' (Matthew, 6:24) This beast has a stone in its eyes, called hyenia; anyone who keeps it under his tongue is believed to foretell the future. It is true that if the hyena walks three times around any animal, the animal cannot move. For this reason men declare that the hyena has magical properties. In a part of Ethiopia the hyena mates with the lioness; their union produces a monster, named crocote. Like the hyena, it too produces men's voices. It never tries to change the direction of its glance but strives to see without changing it. It has no gums in its mouth. Its single, continuous tooth is closed naturally like a casket so that it is never blunted. Of the bonnacon In Asia an animal is found which men call bonnacon. It has the head of a bull, and thereafter its whole body is of the size of a bull's with the maned neck of a horse. Its horns are convoluted, curling back on themselves in such a way that if anyone comes up against it, he is not harmed. But the protection which its forehead denies this monster is furnished by its bowels. For when it turns to flee, it discharges fumes from the excrement of its belly over a distance of three acres, the heat of which sets fire to anything it touches. In this way, it drives off its pursuers with its harmful excrement.
  • Commentary

    Text

    The hyena. The bonnacon.

    Illustration

    The bonnacon is an Asian beast whose head is like a bull but his horns curl inwards so that they do not harm the victim. When the bonnacon is chased he expels dung which burns a wide area.

    Comment

    The illustration shows the wise hunter protecting himself with his shield, mentioned in other texts but not here.The hunter's axe extends beyond its frame and overlaps the text. Pricking and ruling are visible. The text is damaged by pricking for pouncing on f.12v. Initial indicator 'i' in the right 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.

    • Overlaps

      Overlaps

      Overlaps
      Painting covers script. Detail from f.12r

      It is clear that the illustrations were added after the text was complete. This can be seen for instance on f.12r, the Bonnacon, where the axe passes outside the frame and covers some text. In this case the initial was done before the illustration because the capital 'I' is overlapped by the spear. In some cases, the picture is placed over the initial (f.50r, f.59v, f.67v). In other instances the initial overlaps the picture frame (f.8v, f.31v, f.63r, f.68v). This suggests that both the initials and the illustrations were made by the same artist who chose, on each occasion, whether to begin with the image or the letter.

    • 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
    omen, that is, neither faithful nor faithless, but are without doubt those of whom Solomon says: 'A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways'; (James, 1:8) of whom the Lord says: 'You cannot serve God and mammon.' (Matthew, 6:24) This beast has a stone in its eyes, called hyenia; anyone who keeps it under his tongue is believed to foretell the future. It is true that if the hyena walks three times around any animal, the animal cannot move. For this reason men declare that the hyena has magical properties. In a part of Ethiopia the hyena mates with the lioness; their union produces a monster, named crocote. Like the hyena, it too produces men's voices. It never tries to change the direction of its glance but strives to see without changing it. It has no gums in its mouth. Its single, continuous tooth is closed naturally like a casket so that it is never blunted. Of the bonnacon In Asia an animal is found which men call bonnacon. It has the head of a bull, and thereafter its whole body is of the size of a bull's with the maned neck of a horse. Its horns are convoluted, curling back on themselves in such a way that if anyone comes up against it, he is not harmed. But the protection which its forehead denies this monster is furnished by its bowels. For when it turns to flee, it discharges fumes from the excrement of its belly over a distance of three acres, the heat of which sets fire to anything it touches. In this way, it drives off its pursuers with its harmful excrement.
  • Transcription
    femine sint id est nec fideles, nec perfidi sunt, sed sunt sine dubio, de\ quibus ait Salomon: Vir duplex animo, inconstans est in omnibus\ viis suis. De quibus ait dominus: Non potestis deo servire et mamone.\ Hec belua lapidem in oculis tenet, nomine yeniam, quem siquis sub lin\gua tenuerit, futura predicere creditur. Verum yena quodcumque \ animal ter lustraverit vomere [A: movere] se non potest. Quapropter magicam in\esse ei pronunciaverunt. In Ethiope parte coit cum leena unde nascitur\ monstrum cui crocote nomen est. Voces hominum et ipsi [A: ipsa] pariter effec\tat. Nunquam commutationem orbium sed in obtutum sine mu\tatione contendit. In ore gingiva nulla. Dens unus atque perpe\tuus qui ut nunquam retundatur, naturaliter capsularum modo clauditur.\ De bonnacon.\ In Asia ani\mal nas\citur quod bon\nacon di\cunt. Cui\ taurinum\ capud, ac \ deinceps\ corpus om\ne tantum\ iuba equi\na. Cornu\a autem ita multiplici fleu [A: flexu] in se recurrentia, ut si quis in\ eo offendat non vulneretur, sed quicquid presidii monstro illi frons\ negat, alvus sufficiat [A: sufficit]. Nam cum in fugam vertit proluvie citi ventris fumum egerit per longitudinem trium iugerum, cuius\ ardor quicquid attigerit adurit. Ita egerie noxia submovet insequentes\
Folio 12r - Hyena, continued. De bonnacon; the bonnacon. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen