The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 2r - Creation of the birds and fishes


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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.
'And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth under the firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day' (Genesis 1:20-23).

Text

Genesis 1:20-23.

Illustration

the Creation of Birds and Fishes. God stands in a three-quarters pose facing right. His right arm is raised and he looks down on his creation. He wears a blue tunic and red cloak and has no beard. He occupies nearly the full height of the picture. On the right are two compartments of birds, two of which extend beyond their frames. The birds in the top section are not easy to recognise but they are possibly sea birds. The black bird on the right swoops like a great skua. The large black bird with a long neck and beak is rather like a cormorant or shag, apart from its curled tail feathers and unwebbed feet. Below, the peacock can be identified but the lighter birds are not specific. Above the sea, a white stork holds a snake. The text on f.49 says correctly that storks eat snakes and there is an illustration of this in the fifth-century manuscript of Dioscorides (Cod.Vind.med. Gr. 1). The fish in the water include an eel or conger, a large one on the left with a big mouth, two salmon-like fish in the middle and at the top two small fish with large heads.The position of God standing above the waters, facing right with his right arm raised is found on a similar creation scene on the mosaics of the Palatine Chapel, Palermo. The triangular area around the fish is pricked for pouncing. Initial type 3.

Folio Attributes

  • Pouncing

    Pouncing

    Pouncing
    Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

    Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.

Transcription

D\ixit etiam\ deus: Pro\ducant\ aque rep\tile anime\ viventis\ et volatile\ super terram,\ sub firma\mento celi.\ Creavitque\ deus cete gran\dia, et om\nem ani\mam vi\ventem atque\ motabilem quam produxerant aque in species suas, et omne\ volatile secundum genus suum. Et vidit deus quod esset\ bonum, benedixitque eis dicens: Crescite et multiplicami\ni et replete aquas maris, avesque multiplicentur super\ terram. Et factum est vespere et mane dies quintus.\

Translation

'And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth under the firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day' (Genesis 1:20-23).
  • Commentary

    Text

    Genesis 1:20-23.

    Illustration

    the Creation of Birds and Fishes. God stands in a three-quarters pose facing right. His right arm is raised and he looks down on his creation. He wears a blue tunic and red cloak and has no beard. He occupies nearly the full height of the picture. On the right are two compartments of birds, two of which extend beyond their frames. The birds in the top section are not easy to recognise but they are possibly sea birds. The black bird on the right swoops like a great skua. The large black bird with a long neck and beak is rather like a cormorant or shag, apart from its curled tail feathers and unwebbed feet. Below, the peacock can be identified but the lighter birds are not specific. Above the sea, a white stork holds a snake. The text on f.49 says correctly that storks eat snakes and there is an illustration of this in the fifth-century manuscript of Dioscorides (Cod.Vind.med. Gr. 1). The fish in the water include an eel or conger, a large one on the left with a big mouth, two salmon-like fish in the middle and at the top two small fish with large heads.The position of God standing above the waters, facing right with his right arm raised is found on a similar creation scene on the mosaics of the Palatine Chapel, Palermo. The triangular area around the fish is pricked for pouncing. Initial type 3.

    Folio Attributes

    • Pouncing

      Pouncing

      Pouncing
      Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

      Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.

  • Translation
    'And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth under the firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day' (Genesis 1:20-23).
  • Transcription
    D\ixit etiam\ deus: Pro\ducant\ aque rep\tile anime\ viventis\ et volatile\ super terram,\ sub firma\mento celi.\ Creavitque\ deus cete gran\dia, et om\nem ani\mam vi\ventem atque\ motabilem quam produxerant aque in species suas, et omne\ volatile secundum genus suum. Et vidit deus quod esset\ bonum, benedixitque eis dicens: Crescite et multiplicami\ni et replete aquas maris, avesque multiplicentur super\ terram. Et factum est vespere et mane dies quintus.\
Folio 2r - Creation of the birds and fishes | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen