The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 28r - De columbe pedibus; Of the feet of the dove. De pennis deargentatis; Of its feathers.


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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.
bequeathed by will. As a result, the sons of Levi, among the children of Israel, were to have no allotted portion, that is, no part of an inheritance, but were to support themselves from tithes. There are two inheritances. The earthly inheritance of the Old Testament and the eternal inheritance of the New. You 'sleep' between them, therefore, when you come to the end of your life with contempt for earthly things and hope for the things of heaven; when you do not gaze longingly at things of the present but wait patiently for those that are to come. 'And its tail feathers are in the pale colour of gold.' For the eyes of the righteous will see the king in his glory. You will have gold on your tail feathers, when the glory of the divine majesty appears in time to come. Kingly crowns are fashioned from the purest gold; and coins are minted from true silver, on which the royal portrait is stamped. On an ordinary coin of silver or bronze there is stamped a representation of the king's appearance; on a gold crown, the symbol of his victory. The coinage of God's word teaches us to imitate the life of Christ, but the crown of his victory teaches us that after our struggles in this world, there is an end of conflict. There is the gold, then, as if on the tail feathers of a dove. The silver, here on the flight feathers, is the silver of preaching; because when the dove comes to receive those gifts, it will no longer need the eloquence of the pulpit, but in recompense will live in the purity of perfection without end. Of the feet of the dove The dove, the subject of this account, is said to have red feet. This dove signifies the Church, which had feet on which it covered the extent of the whole world. The feet of the Church are its martyrs, who traverse the earth with as many steps as there are examples of righteous conduct whereby they demonstrate to their followers the way of righteousness. They touch the ground when they reprimand with fitting reproaches earthly deeds and desires. But when they tread on the earth, their feet are injured by its harshness. Thus the feet of the Church are turned red, because the martyrs shed their blood in the name of Christ. The red of the dove's feet, therefore, is the blood of martyrs. Of its feathers, sheathed in silver

Text

The mystic aspects of the dove. The dove's red feet. The silver wings.

Illustration

Two excisions on this folio. They would have been two paintings of doves inside a circle inside a square as seen in Ashmole 1511, f.39v. In Ashmole, as here, the rubric is squeezed in vertically, up the side of the illustration. On the top right margin are two faint sketches of circles in squares. The feature shown in the lower sketch may be like the cat on f.5r. Illegible text correction in margin but no corresponding alteration to the text. Initial type 2, quire mark of four 'matchsticks', colour indication in top right margin (a);Editorial addition in right margin, four lines from bottom: 'id est terrenorum'. The standard text reads 'id est terrenorum crudelitate/ that is the cruelty of earthly things' (Clark, 192, 130).

Folio Attributes

  • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
    Folio Marks

    To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

  • Scribal Corrections

    Scribal Corrections

    Scribal Corrections
    The Bestiary scribe ends, the Lapidary scribe begins. Detail from f.94r

    When the ruling was complete the quires were ready to receive the text. At this point the scribe had a clear idea about the precise layout of each page. He had to leave the correct amount of space for the rubrics, capitals and illuminations to be added. The scribal hand is fairly uniform throughout, though Clark (2006, 223) observes the Gothic textura formata (the type of lettering) changes on f.19r, becoming ‘somewhat more compact and rounded’. There is a marked change of hand, below the illustration of the dove and hawk on f.26r, for only 5 lines. The quill is broader and the letters larger but less steady or uniform. Another scribe, with a later thirteenth-century hand, writes the lapidary section of the book, beginning on f.94r. Sometimes the scribe made mistakes or omissions which were picked up by a contemporary editor. On f.17r you can see corrections written lightly in the margin with part of the text erased and corrected accordingly. Most of the corrections occur in the Aviarium section, f.25r-f.63r.

  • 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.

  • Sketches

    Sketches

    Sketches
    Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

    Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

  • Colour Indicators

    Colour Indicators

    Colour Indicators
    Colour instruction on the crocodile. Detail from f.68v

    Some colour guides have been provided for both the illuminations and the initials. On f.68v, the illustration of the hydrus, the word ictrie can be seen on the body of the crocodile. The word probably relates to icturus or ictère, jaundiced, indicating the yellow hue of the crocodile. On f.81r, showing Isidore at work, the word harie (or hane) is written on Isidore's desk. This probably means aerus or sky blue. A similar word harie/aerie appears to the left of the firestones scene on f.93v (this is interpreted as mine for minium, red by Clark 1992, 269). In the upper sketch on f.93v there are also rather indistinct letters bis[ors(?)]. Bis means grey in Old French. On f.32v the letters ni (niteur, clear or bright) may be deciphered. In the margin beside some initials are the letters a, v, and or. These stand for azur, blue; vermeil/vermiculum, pink and gold. Indicators for the initials are found on f.28v, f.31v, f.32v, f.41v, f.47v, f.72v. These annotations were added after drawing and before painting the images, and after writing but before illuminating the initials. It is likely they were a memo from the artist to himself, perhaps in response to a model he was copying. The use of Old French rather than primarily Latin indicates the artist was literate but used the vernacular as his working language, even within a scriptorium.

Transcription

mento. Inde contigit [A, ut filii Levi inter] filios Israel non haberent \sortem, id est heredit[A,-atis] partem, sed ex decimis \viverent. Due [A, sunt] autem hereditates. \Terrena veteris test-[amenti] et eterna novi. \In medio igitur istarum [A, dormit qui in con-] \temptu terrenarum et spe celestium vitam \finit, dum [PL, nec] nimis ardenter presentibus inhiat, \et futura pacienter expectat. Et posteriora dor-[A, si] \eius in pallore auri. Oculi enim iustorum videbunt \regem in decore suo. Tunc enim aurum in posterioribus habetis, \cum apparuerit in futuro gloria divine maiestatis. Corone siquidem \regum ex auro purissimo fabricantur, ex argento vero monete fi\unt quibus imagines regum imprimunt [PL, imprimuntur]. In moneta, notatur imi\tatio forme, in corona signum victorie. Moneta siquidem divi\ni eloquii, docet imitationem vite Christi. Corona vero victorie, \post labores presentis seculi finem pugne. Ibi igitur quasi in posterioribus \aurum, hic in pennis predicationis argentum, quia cum ad illa do\na columba pervenerit, iam predicationis eloquio non indigebit, sed \in eo quod in retributione percipiet, in puritate perfectionis sine fine vivet. \ De columbe pedibus \ Columba de qua hic agitur, \rubeos pedes habere perhibetur. Hec columba est ecclesia, que \pedes habuit, quibus tocius mundi spacium perambulavit. Pedes \sunt martyres, qui tot passibus terram perambulant, quot bonorum \operum exemplis viam iusticie sequentibus se demonstrant. Ter\ram tangunt cum dignis increpationibus actus et voluntates ter\renas reprehendunt. Sed, dum terra premitur, asperitate terre pedes vul\nerantur. Et sic pedes ecclesie rubei facti sunt, quia sanguinem su\um pro Christi nomine martyres effuderunt. Rubor igitur pedum \est cruor martyrum. \ De pennis deargentatis \

Translation

bequeathed by will. As a result, the sons of Levi, among the children of Israel, were to have no allotted portion, that is, no part of an inheritance, but were to support themselves from tithes. There are two inheritances. The earthly inheritance of the Old Testament and the eternal inheritance of the New. You 'sleep' between them, therefore, when you come to the end of your life with contempt for earthly things and hope for the things of heaven; when you do not gaze longingly at things of the present but wait patiently for those that are to come. 'And its tail feathers are in the pale colour of gold.' For the eyes of the righteous will see the king in his glory. You will have gold on your tail feathers, when the glory of the divine majesty appears in time to come. Kingly crowns are fashioned from the purest gold; and coins are minted from true silver, on which the royal portrait is stamped. On an ordinary coin of silver or bronze there is stamped a representation of the king's appearance; on a gold crown, the symbol of his victory. The coinage of God's word teaches us to imitate the life of Christ, but the crown of his victory teaches us that after our struggles in this world, there is an end of conflict. There is the gold, then, as if on the tail feathers of a dove. The silver, here on the flight feathers, is the silver of preaching; because when the dove comes to receive those gifts, it will no longer need the eloquence of the pulpit, but in recompense will live in the purity of perfection without end. Of the feet of the dove The dove, the subject of this account, is said to have red feet. This dove signifies the Church, which had feet on which it covered the extent of the whole world. The feet of the Church are its martyrs, who traverse the earth with as many steps as there are examples of righteous conduct whereby they demonstrate to their followers the way of righteousness. They touch the ground when they reprimand with fitting reproaches earthly deeds and desires. But when they tread on the earth, their feet are injured by its harshness. Thus the feet of the Church are turned red, because the martyrs shed their blood in the name of Christ. The red of the dove's feet, therefore, is the blood of martyrs. Of its feathers, sheathed in silver
  • Commentary

    Text

    The mystic aspects of the dove. The dove's red feet. The silver wings.

    Illustration

    Two excisions on this folio. They would have been two paintings of doves inside a circle inside a square as seen in Ashmole 1511, f.39v. In Ashmole, as here, the rubric is squeezed in vertically, up the side of the illustration. On the top right margin are two faint sketches of circles in squares. The feature shown in the lower sketch may be like the cat on f.5r. Illegible text correction in margin but no corresponding alteration to the text. Initial type 2, quire mark of four 'matchsticks', colour indication in top right margin (a);Editorial addition in right margin, four lines from bottom: 'id est terrenorum'. The standard text reads 'id est terrenorum crudelitate/ that is the cruelty of earthly things' (Clark, 192, 130).

    Folio Attributes

    • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
      Folio Marks

      To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

    • Scribal Corrections

      Scribal Corrections

      Scribal Corrections
      The Bestiary scribe ends, the Lapidary scribe begins. Detail from f.94r

      When the ruling was complete the quires were ready to receive the text. At this point the scribe had a clear idea about the precise layout of each page. He had to leave the correct amount of space for the rubrics, capitals and illuminations to be added. The scribal hand is fairly uniform throughout, though Clark (2006, 223) observes the Gothic textura formata (the type of lettering) changes on f.19r, becoming ‘somewhat more compact and rounded’. There is a marked change of hand, below the illustration of the dove and hawk on f.26r, for only 5 lines. The quill is broader and the letters larger but less steady or uniform. Another scribe, with a later thirteenth-century hand, writes the lapidary section of the book, beginning on f.94r. Sometimes the scribe made mistakes or omissions which were picked up by a contemporary editor. On f.17r you can see corrections written lightly in the margin with part of the text erased and corrected accordingly. Most of the corrections occur in the Aviarium section, f.25r-f.63r.

    • 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.

    • Sketches

      Sketches

      Sketches
      Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

      Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

    • Colour Indicators

      Colour Indicators

      Colour Indicators
      Colour instruction on the crocodile. Detail from f.68v

      Some colour guides have been provided for both the illuminations and the initials. On f.68v, the illustration of the hydrus, the word ictrie can be seen on the body of the crocodile. The word probably relates to icturus or ictère, jaundiced, indicating the yellow hue of the crocodile. On f.81r, showing Isidore at work, the word harie (or hane) is written on Isidore's desk. This probably means aerus or sky blue. A similar word harie/aerie appears to the left of the firestones scene on f.93v (this is interpreted as mine for minium, red by Clark 1992, 269). In the upper sketch on f.93v there are also rather indistinct letters bis[ors(?)]. Bis means grey in Old French. On f.32v the letters ni (niteur, clear or bright) may be deciphered. In the margin beside some initials are the letters a, v, and or. These stand for azur, blue; vermeil/vermiculum, pink and gold. Indicators for the initials are found on f.28v, f.31v, f.32v, f.41v, f.47v, f.72v. These annotations were added after drawing and before painting the images, and after writing but before illuminating the initials. It is likely they were a memo from the artist to himself, perhaps in response to a model he was copying. The use of Old French rather than primarily Latin indicates the artist was literate but used the vernacular as his working language, even within a scriptorium.

  • Translation
    bequeathed by will. As a result, the sons of Levi, among the children of Israel, were to have no allotted portion, that is, no part of an inheritance, but were to support themselves from tithes. There are two inheritances. The earthly inheritance of the Old Testament and the eternal inheritance of the New. You 'sleep' between them, therefore, when you come to the end of your life with contempt for earthly things and hope for the things of heaven; when you do not gaze longingly at things of the present but wait patiently for those that are to come. 'And its tail feathers are in the pale colour of gold.' For the eyes of the righteous will see the king in his glory. You will have gold on your tail feathers, when the glory of the divine majesty appears in time to come. Kingly crowns are fashioned from the purest gold; and coins are minted from true silver, on which the royal portrait is stamped. On an ordinary coin of silver or bronze there is stamped a representation of the king's appearance; on a gold crown, the symbol of his victory. The coinage of God's word teaches us to imitate the life of Christ, but the crown of his victory teaches us that after our struggles in this world, there is an end of conflict. There is the gold, then, as if on the tail feathers of a dove. The silver, here on the flight feathers, is the silver of preaching; because when the dove comes to receive those gifts, it will no longer need the eloquence of the pulpit, but in recompense will live in the purity of perfection without end. Of the feet of the dove The dove, the subject of this account, is said to have red feet. This dove signifies the Church, which had feet on which it covered the extent of the whole world. The feet of the Church are its martyrs, who traverse the earth with as many steps as there are examples of righteous conduct whereby they demonstrate to their followers the way of righteousness. They touch the ground when they reprimand with fitting reproaches earthly deeds and desires. But when they tread on the earth, their feet are injured by its harshness. Thus the feet of the Church are turned red, because the martyrs shed their blood in the name of Christ. The red of the dove's feet, therefore, is the blood of martyrs. Of its feathers, sheathed in silver
  • Transcription
    mento. Inde contigit [A, ut filii Levi inter] filios Israel non haberent \sortem, id est heredit[A,-atis] partem, sed ex decimis \viverent. Due [A, sunt] autem hereditates. \Terrena veteris test-[amenti] et eterna novi. \In medio igitur istarum [A, dormit qui in con-] \temptu terrenarum et spe celestium vitam \finit, dum [PL, nec] nimis ardenter presentibus inhiat, \et futura pacienter expectat. Et posteriora dor-[A, si] \eius in pallore auri. Oculi enim iustorum videbunt \regem in decore suo. Tunc enim aurum in posterioribus habetis, \cum apparuerit in futuro gloria divine maiestatis. Corone siquidem \regum ex auro purissimo fabricantur, ex argento vero monete fi\unt quibus imagines regum imprimunt [PL, imprimuntur]. In moneta, notatur imi\tatio forme, in corona signum victorie. Moneta siquidem divi\ni eloquii, docet imitationem vite Christi. Corona vero victorie, \post labores presentis seculi finem pugne. Ibi igitur quasi in posterioribus \aurum, hic in pennis predicationis argentum, quia cum ad illa do\na columba pervenerit, iam predicationis eloquio non indigebit, sed \in eo quod in retributione percipiet, in puritate perfectionis sine fine vivet. \ De columbe pedibus \ Columba de qua hic agitur, \rubeos pedes habere perhibetur. Hec columba est ecclesia, que \pedes habuit, quibus tocius mundi spacium perambulavit. Pedes \sunt martyres, qui tot passibus terram perambulant, quot bonorum \operum exemplis viam iusticie sequentibus se demonstrant. Ter\ram tangunt cum dignis increpationibus actus et voluntates ter\renas reprehendunt. Sed, dum terra premitur, asperitate terre pedes vul\nerantur. Et sic pedes ecclesie rubei facti sunt, quia sanguinem su\um pro Christi nomine martyres effuderunt. Rubor igitur pedum \est cruor martyrum. \ De pennis deargentatis \
Folio 28r - De columbe pedibus; Of the feet of the dove. De pennis deargentatis; Of its feathers. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen