The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 29r - De oculis columbe; Of the eyes of the dove. De colore reliqui corporis; Of the colour of the rest of the dove's body. De diversis proprietatibus columbe; Of the different characteristics of the dove.


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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

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.
Of the eyes of the dove 'Thou hast doves' eyes' (Song of Solomon, 1:15). The dove spends much of its time sitting on water, so that if it sees the shadow of a hawk that is flying overhead, it can avoid it by fleeing. The Church protects itself with the scriptures, in order to escape the deceits of the Devil who plots against it. The dove, therefore, has saffron-coloured eyes. The colour of saffron in the eyes, therefore, signifies the discernment that comes with mature reflection. For when anyone considers deliberately what he should do or think, it is as if he adorns the eyes of the spirit with saffron. Saffron has the colour of ripe fruit. Therefore a saffron-coloured eye signifies the perceptivity that comes with maturity. Of the colour of the rest of the dove's body The rest of the dove's body matches the colour of a wild sea. The sea, raging with the motion of the waves, boils; the flesh, boiling with the motion of the senses, rages. The sea, in its wildness, shifts and uplifts the sands; the flesh, with its carnal pleasures, beats upon the frail soul. The sea, flowing beyond its bounds, rushes to meet quiet waters; the flesh, lusting, pounds against quiet streams of tears. The sea, with stormy winds from different directions, hampers the passage of vessels; the tempests of the flesh send to the bottom the principles of righteous living. When the sea is whipped up by storms of such force, earth is mixed with the water under the impact of the waves; and thus from the violent intermingling of sea and land, the sea acquires a mixed hue. Likewise, when the spirit will not condone the impulses of the flesh, this creates a certain colour in the body, like black mixed with white; formed from opposites, this colour is called neutral. The sea-like colour of the dove's breast, therefore, signifies the distressed state of the human mind. Of the different characteristics of the dove I have found various references to its different characteristics, which I have included in this work, and on which I have made it my business to Commentary. The first characteristic of the dove is that instead of song it brings forth a lament. The second, is that it lacks bile; the third, it likes to kiss; the fourth, it flies in flocks; the fifth, it does not live by theft; the sixth, it gathers better-quality grain; the seventh, it does not feed on corpses; the eighth, it nests in holes in rocks; the ninth, it rests on flowing water so that if it catches sight of the shadow of a hawk, it can more swiftly avoid its approach; the tenth, it rears twin chicks.

Text

The eyes of a dove, body colour and its characteristics.

Comment

Initials type 2, and textual comment in right margin.

Folio Attributes

  • 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 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

De oculis columbe \ Oculi tui columbarum. Columba super aquas \sedere sepissime solet, ut cum viderit umbram supervenien\tis accipitris fugiens declinet. Ecclesia vero scripturis se munit, ut insidi\antis diaboli fraudes evitare possit. Hec igitur columba croceos oculos \habet. Color itaque croceus in oculis discretionem designat mature con\siderationis. Dum enim aliquis quid agat vel quid cogitet mature \considerat, quasi croco spiritales oculos adornat. Habet enim crocus \colorem maturi fructus. Croceus igitur oculus est maturitatis sensus. \ De colore reliqui corporis \ Color reliqui corporis, imitatur colorem \turbati maris. Mare motu fluctuum seviens ebullit, \caro motu sensium ebulliens sevit. Mare perturbationibus suis \arenas movet et sublevat, caro delectationibus suis animi levita\tem pulsat. Mare terminos suos egrediens, aquis dulcibus occurrit, \caro lasciviens, lacrimarum dulces rivulos obtundit. Mare di\versis procellarum turbinibus navigantium cursus impedit, caro \procellosa recte viventium mores in profundum mergit. Dum tantis mare \tempestatibus agitatur, undarum collisione terra fluctibus inmiscetur, et sic \ex collisione maris et terre colorem mixtum recipit mare. Similiter dum \caro suggerit, et animus non consentit, quasi ex nigro et niveo qui\dam in corpore color efficitur, qui ex diversis factus color medius ap\pellatur. Marinus igitur color in pectore columbe, tribulationem desig\nat in humana mente. \ De diversis proprietatibus columbe \ In diversis locis diversas proprietates repperi, quas inserens huic operi, an\notare curavi. Prima natura columbe est, quod pro cantu gemitum profert. \Secunda, quod felle caret. Tercia, quod osculis instat. Quarta, quod gregatim \volat. Quinta, quod ex rapto non vivit. Sexta, quod grana meliora col\ligit. Septima, quod non vescitur cadaveribus. Octava, quod nidificat \in petre foraminibus. Nona, quod super fluenta residet, ut visa accipitris \umbra, venientem cicius devitet. Decima, quod geminos nutrit pullos. \

Translation

Of the eyes of the dove 'Thou hast doves' eyes' (Song of Solomon, 1:15). The dove spends much of its time sitting on water, so that if it sees the shadow of a hawk that is flying overhead, it can avoid it by fleeing. The Church protects itself with the scriptures, in order to escape the deceits of the Devil who plots against it. The dove, therefore, has saffron-coloured eyes. The colour of saffron in the eyes, therefore, signifies the discernment that comes with mature reflection. For when anyone considers deliberately what he should do or think, it is as if he adorns the eyes of the spirit with saffron. Saffron has the colour of ripe fruit. Therefore a saffron-coloured eye signifies the perceptivity that comes with maturity. Of the colour of the rest of the dove's body The rest of the dove's body matches the colour of a wild sea. The sea, raging with the motion of the waves, boils; the flesh, boiling with the motion of the senses, rages. The sea, in its wildness, shifts and uplifts the sands; the flesh, with its carnal pleasures, beats upon the frail soul. The sea, flowing beyond its bounds, rushes to meet quiet waters; the flesh, lusting, pounds against quiet streams of tears. The sea, with stormy winds from different directions, hampers the passage of vessels; the tempests of the flesh send to the bottom the principles of righteous living. When the sea is whipped up by storms of such force, earth is mixed with the water under the impact of the waves; and thus from the violent intermingling of sea and land, the sea acquires a mixed hue. Likewise, when the spirit will not condone the impulses of the flesh, this creates a certain colour in the body, like black mixed with white; formed from opposites, this colour is called neutral. The sea-like colour of the dove's breast, therefore, signifies the distressed state of the human mind. Of the different characteristics of the dove I have found various references to its different characteristics, which I have included in this work, and on which I have made it my business to Commentary. The first characteristic of the dove is that instead of song it brings forth a lament. The second, is that it lacks bile; the third, it likes to kiss; the fourth, it flies in flocks; the fifth, it does not live by theft; the sixth, it gathers better-quality grain; the seventh, it does not feed on corpses; the eighth, it nests in holes in rocks; the ninth, it rests on flowing water so that if it catches sight of the shadow of a hawk, it can more swiftly avoid its approach; the tenth, it rears twin chicks.
  • Commentary

    Text

    The eyes of a dove, body colour and its characteristics.

    Comment

    Initials type 2, and textual comment in right margin.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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 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
    Of the eyes of the dove 'Thou hast doves' eyes' (Song of Solomon, 1:15). The dove spends much of its time sitting on water, so that if it sees the shadow of a hawk that is flying overhead, it can avoid it by fleeing. The Church protects itself with the scriptures, in order to escape the deceits of the Devil who plots against it. The dove, therefore, has saffron-coloured eyes. The colour of saffron in the eyes, therefore, signifies the discernment that comes with mature reflection. For when anyone considers deliberately what he should do or think, it is as if he adorns the eyes of the spirit with saffron. Saffron has the colour of ripe fruit. Therefore a saffron-coloured eye signifies the perceptivity that comes with maturity. Of the colour of the rest of the dove's body The rest of the dove's body matches the colour of a wild sea. The sea, raging with the motion of the waves, boils; the flesh, boiling with the motion of the senses, rages. The sea, in its wildness, shifts and uplifts the sands; the flesh, with its carnal pleasures, beats upon the frail soul. The sea, flowing beyond its bounds, rushes to meet quiet waters; the flesh, lusting, pounds against quiet streams of tears. The sea, with stormy winds from different directions, hampers the passage of vessels; the tempests of the flesh send to the bottom the principles of righteous living. When the sea is whipped up by storms of such force, earth is mixed with the water under the impact of the waves; and thus from the violent intermingling of sea and land, the sea acquires a mixed hue. Likewise, when the spirit will not condone the impulses of the flesh, this creates a certain colour in the body, like black mixed with white; formed from opposites, this colour is called neutral. The sea-like colour of the dove's breast, therefore, signifies the distressed state of the human mind. Of the different characteristics of the dove I have found various references to its different characteristics, which I have included in this work, and on which I have made it my business to Commentary. The first characteristic of the dove is that instead of song it brings forth a lament. The second, is that it lacks bile; the third, it likes to kiss; the fourth, it flies in flocks; the fifth, it does not live by theft; the sixth, it gathers better-quality grain; the seventh, it does not feed on corpses; the eighth, it nests in holes in rocks; the ninth, it rests on flowing water so that if it catches sight of the shadow of a hawk, it can more swiftly avoid its approach; the tenth, it rears twin chicks.
  • Transcription
    De oculis columbe \ Oculi tui columbarum. Columba super aquas \sedere sepissime solet, ut cum viderit umbram supervenien\tis accipitris fugiens declinet. Ecclesia vero scripturis se munit, ut insidi\antis diaboli fraudes evitare possit. Hec igitur columba croceos oculos \habet. Color itaque croceus in oculis discretionem designat mature con\siderationis. Dum enim aliquis quid agat vel quid cogitet mature \considerat, quasi croco spiritales oculos adornat. Habet enim crocus \colorem maturi fructus. Croceus igitur oculus est maturitatis sensus. \ De colore reliqui corporis \ Color reliqui corporis, imitatur colorem \turbati maris. Mare motu fluctuum seviens ebullit, \caro motu sensium ebulliens sevit. Mare perturbationibus suis \arenas movet et sublevat, caro delectationibus suis animi levita\tem pulsat. Mare terminos suos egrediens, aquis dulcibus occurrit, \caro lasciviens, lacrimarum dulces rivulos obtundit. Mare di\versis procellarum turbinibus navigantium cursus impedit, caro \procellosa recte viventium mores in profundum mergit. Dum tantis mare \tempestatibus agitatur, undarum collisione terra fluctibus inmiscetur, et sic \ex collisione maris et terre colorem mixtum recipit mare. Similiter dum \caro suggerit, et animus non consentit, quasi ex nigro et niveo qui\dam in corpore color efficitur, qui ex diversis factus color medius ap\pellatur. Marinus igitur color in pectore columbe, tribulationem desig\nat in humana mente. \ De diversis proprietatibus columbe \ In diversis locis diversas proprietates repperi, quas inserens huic operi, an\notare curavi. Prima natura columbe est, quod pro cantu gemitum profert. \Secunda, quod felle caret. Tercia, quod osculis instat. Quarta, quod gregatim \volat. Quinta, quod ex rapto non vivit. Sexta, quod grana meliora col\ligit. Septima, quod non vescitur cadaveribus. Octava, quod nidificat \in petre foraminibus. Nona, quod super fluenta residet, ut visa accipitris \umbra, venientem cicius devitet. Decima, quod geminos nutrit pullos. \
Folio 29r - De oculis columbe; Of the eyes of the dove. De colore reliqui corporis; Of the colour of the rest of the dove's body. De diversis proprietatibus columbe; Of the different characteristics of the dove. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen