The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 31v - the hawk, continued.


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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.
acquires new ones, as anyone entering the cloister is deprived of his former vices and adorned with the virtues of a new man. The hawk is not released from the mew until its old feathers have been cast off and the new ones are firmly in place. But when it is strong enough to fly and is released outside, it comes to settle on the hand. Likewise, if a convert leaves the cloister, he must settle on a virtuous way of life, and when he is flown from that perch he should soar with all his will to heavenly things, the object of his desires. Why the hawk is carried on the left hand The hawk is customarily carried on the left hand, so that when it has been let off the leash to catch something, it should fly back onto the right. 'His left hand', it is written, 'is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me' (Song of Solomon, 2:6). The left hand represents temporal possessions; the right, eternal life. Those who manage temporal possessions sit on the left. Those who desire eternal life with all their heart fly on the right. It is there that the hawk will catch the dove - that is, anyone who has changed for the better will receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. The end of the account of the dove and the hawk. The beginning of the account of the turtle dove and the sparrow. After the mournful note of the dove and the plaintive call of the hawk, lest I linger too long, I shall write more speedily of the lament of the turtle-dove and the cry of the sparrow - and not only write of them, but also portray them. My purpose is to show how the turtle-dove cherishes the solitude of the wilderness, and the sparrow cries ceaselessly, alone on the roof; so that, following the example of the turtle dove, you may cleave to the purity that comes of chastity, and following that of the sparrow, you may take pleasure in acting shrewdly and prudently; living chastely and going your way with caution. Of the turtle dove The turtle dove, so called from the sound it makes, turtur, is a shy bird, and stays all the time on mountain summits and in deserted, lonely places. It shuns the houses and society of men and keeps to the woods.

Text

Domestic and wild hawks; how the hawk moults; why the hawk is carried on the left hand; the end of the dove and hawk; the beginning of the dove and sparrow.

Illustration

A pair of turtle doves on top of a symmetrical tree is placed beside the heading of dove and sparrow.

Comment

The text on f.32r refers to the female turtle dove's chaste devotion to her mate, even when widowed. So, the illustration refers to the birds' faithful marriage. Initials type 2, colour indicator (V) for the vermilion initials 'A' and 'T'. The spacious initial 'P' is squeezed around the text and overlaps the frame of the illustration.

Folio Attributes

  • 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.

  • 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

assumit, quia quilibet claustralis [qui] pristinis viciis spoliatur, novi \hominis virtutibus adornatur. Nec inde extrahitur, nisi prius eiectis veteribus \pennis nove soliduntur. Sed cum firmus in volatu fuerit eiectus \foras ad manum venit. Similiter si aliquis conversus de claustro \exeat, necesse est ut ad manum bone operationis accedat, et inde \emissus volet, ut ad desideranda celestia toto nisu mentis \seipsum levet. \ Quod accipiter in sinistra manu gestatur \ Accipiter in sinistra manu gestari solet, ut in dexteram ad \aliquid capiendum emissus volet. Leva inquit eius \sub capite meo, et dextera illius amplexabitur me. Leva sunt \bona temporalia, dextera vero sunt eterna. In leva ergo sedet, qui \bonis temporalibus presidet. In dextera vero volat, qui toto affectu \mentis eterna desiderat. Ibi capiet accipiter columbam, id est, quilibet \mutatus in melius sancti spiriti recipiet gratiam. \ Explicit de columba et accipitro. Incipit de turture et de passere \ Post columbe gemitum et acci\pitris questum, ne diutius differam [,] \planctum turturis et clamorem pas\seris velocius scribam, nec tantum \scribam, sed etiam pingam. Qualiter \turtur heremi secretum diligat, et \passer solitarius in tecto clamare non \desinat, ut sub exemplo turturis, \teneas mundiciam castitatis, et sub \exemplo passeris, ames custodiam callide circumspectionis, \et ut vivas caste, et ambules caute. \ De turture \ Turtur de voce vocate, avis pudica, et semper in monti\um iugis, et in desertis solitudinibus commorans. Tecta \enim hominum et conversationem fugit, et commoratur in silvis. \

Translation

acquires new ones, as anyone entering the cloister is deprived of his former vices and adorned with the virtues of a new man. The hawk is not released from the mew until its old feathers have been cast off and the new ones are firmly in place. But when it is strong enough to fly and is released outside, it comes to settle on the hand. Likewise, if a convert leaves the cloister, he must settle on a virtuous way of life, and when he is flown from that perch he should soar with all his will to heavenly things, the object of his desires. Why the hawk is carried on the left hand The hawk is customarily carried on the left hand, so that when it has been let off the leash to catch something, it should fly back onto the right. 'His left hand', it is written, 'is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me' (Song of Solomon, 2:6). The left hand represents temporal possessions; the right, eternal life. Those who manage temporal possessions sit on the left. Those who desire eternal life with all their heart fly on the right. It is there that the hawk will catch the dove - that is, anyone who has changed for the better will receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. The end of the account of the dove and the hawk. The beginning of the account of the turtle dove and the sparrow. After the mournful note of the dove and the plaintive call of the hawk, lest I linger too long, I shall write more speedily of the lament of the turtle-dove and the cry of the sparrow - and not only write of them, but also portray them. My purpose is to show how the turtle-dove cherishes the solitude of the wilderness, and the sparrow cries ceaselessly, alone on the roof; so that, following the example of the turtle dove, you may cleave to the purity that comes of chastity, and following that of the sparrow, you may take pleasure in acting shrewdly and prudently; living chastely and going your way with caution. Of the turtle dove The turtle dove, so called from the sound it makes, turtur, is a shy bird, and stays all the time on mountain summits and in deserted, lonely places. It shuns the houses and society of men and keeps to the woods.
  • Commentary

    Text

    Domestic and wild hawks; how the hawk moults; why the hawk is carried on the left hand; the end of the dove and hawk; the beginning of the dove and sparrow.

    Illustration

    A pair of turtle doves on top of a symmetrical tree is placed beside the heading of dove and sparrow.

    Comment

    The text on f.32r refers to the female turtle dove's chaste devotion to her mate, even when widowed. So, the illustration refers to the birds' faithful marriage. Initials type 2, colour indicator (V) for the vermilion initials 'A' and 'T'. The spacious initial 'P' is squeezed around the text and overlaps the frame of the illustration.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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.

    • 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
    acquires new ones, as anyone entering the cloister is deprived of his former vices and adorned with the virtues of a new man. The hawk is not released from the mew until its old feathers have been cast off and the new ones are firmly in place. But when it is strong enough to fly and is released outside, it comes to settle on the hand. Likewise, if a convert leaves the cloister, he must settle on a virtuous way of life, and when he is flown from that perch he should soar with all his will to heavenly things, the object of his desires. Why the hawk is carried on the left hand The hawk is customarily carried on the left hand, so that when it has been let off the leash to catch something, it should fly back onto the right. 'His left hand', it is written, 'is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me' (Song of Solomon, 2:6). The left hand represents temporal possessions; the right, eternal life. Those who manage temporal possessions sit on the left. Those who desire eternal life with all their heart fly on the right. It is there that the hawk will catch the dove - that is, anyone who has changed for the better will receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. The end of the account of the dove and the hawk. The beginning of the account of the turtle dove and the sparrow. After the mournful note of the dove and the plaintive call of the hawk, lest I linger too long, I shall write more speedily of the lament of the turtle-dove and the cry of the sparrow - and not only write of them, but also portray them. My purpose is to show how the turtle-dove cherishes the solitude of the wilderness, and the sparrow cries ceaselessly, alone on the roof; so that, following the example of the turtle dove, you may cleave to the purity that comes of chastity, and following that of the sparrow, you may take pleasure in acting shrewdly and prudently; living chastely and going your way with caution. Of the turtle dove The turtle dove, so called from the sound it makes, turtur, is a shy bird, and stays all the time on mountain summits and in deserted, lonely places. It shuns the houses and society of men and keeps to the woods.
  • Transcription
    assumit, quia quilibet claustralis [qui] pristinis viciis spoliatur, novi \hominis virtutibus adornatur. Nec inde extrahitur, nisi prius eiectis veteribus \pennis nove soliduntur. Sed cum firmus in volatu fuerit eiectus \foras ad manum venit. Similiter si aliquis conversus de claustro \exeat, necesse est ut ad manum bone operationis accedat, et inde \emissus volet, ut ad desideranda celestia toto nisu mentis \seipsum levet. \ Quod accipiter in sinistra manu gestatur \ Accipiter in sinistra manu gestari solet, ut in dexteram ad \aliquid capiendum emissus volet. Leva inquit eius \sub capite meo, et dextera illius amplexabitur me. Leva sunt \bona temporalia, dextera vero sunt eterna. In leva ergo sedet, qui \bonis temporalibus presidet. In dextera vero volat, qui toto affectu \mentis eterna desiderat. Ibi capiet accipiter columbam, id est, quilibet \mutatus in melius sancti spiriti recipiet gratiam. \ Explicit de columba et accipitro. Incipit de turture et de passere \ Post columbe gemitum et acci\pitris questum, ne diutius differam [,] \planctum turturis et clamorem pas\seris velocius scribam, nec tantum \scribam, sed etiam pingam. Qualiter \turtur heremi secretum diligat, et \passer solitarius in tecto clamare non \desinat, ut sub exemplo turturis, \teneas mundiciam castitatis, et sub \exemplo passeris, ames custodiam callide circumspectionis, \et ut vivas caste, et ambules caute. \ De turture \ Turtur de voce vocate, avis pudica, et semper in monti\um iugis, et in desertis solitudinibus commorans. Tecta \enim hominum et conversationem fugit, et commoratur in silvis. \
Folio 31v - the hawk, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen