The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 35r - the pelican, continued.


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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.
on her young and lets her blood pour over the bodies of the dead, and so raises them from the dead. In a mystic sense, the pelican signifies Christ; Egypt, the world. The pelican lives in solitude, as Christ alone condescended to be born of a virgin without intercourse with a man. It is solitary, because it is free from sin, as also is the life of Christ. It kills its young with its beak as preaching the word of God converts the unbelievers. It weeps ceaselessly for its young, as Christ wept with pity when he raised Lazarus. Thus after three days, it revives its young with its blood, as Christ saves us, whom he has redeemed with his own blood. In a moral sense, we can understand by the pelican not the righteous man, but anyone who distances himself far from carnal desire. By Egypt is meant our life, shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. For Egiptus can be translated as 'darkness'. In Egypt, therefore, we make a wilderness (see Joel, 3:19), when we are far from the preoccupations and desires of this world. Thus the righteous man creates solitude for himself in the city, when he keeps himself free from sin, as far as human frailty allows. The pelican kills its young with its beak because the righteous man considers and rejects his sinful thoughts and deeds

Text

The Pelican. Pelicans live in Egypt, and are devoted to their young. The fledglings fight their parents who kill them The mother bird pierces her side and as her blood flows over the bodies of her babies, they return to life.

Illustration

the narrative is divided into three scenes showing the babies attacking their parent, the parents killing the babies and the mother piercing her side to resurrect her offspring. Possibly the idea of mother pouring sustenance over her babies comes from the birds' habit of regurgitation. Folio mark of three horizontal 'match sticks' in top right corner.

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.

  • 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.

Transcription

super pullos suos et effundit sanguinem super corpora mor\tuorum, et sic suscitat eos a mortuis. Mistice pellicanus\ significat Christum, Egiptus mundum. Pellicanus habitat in so\litudine, quia Christus solus de virgine dignatus est nasci sine viri\li copulatione. Est autem solitudo pellicani, quod immu\nis est a peccato sic et vita Christi. Hec avis rostro suos pullos oc\cidit, quia verbo predicationis incredulos convertit. Super pullos\ suos flere non desinit, quia Christus cum resuscitaret Lazarum\ misericorditer flevit. Et sic post tres dies sanguine suo pullos vi\vificat, quia Christus proprio sanguine suo redemptos salvat. Mora\liter autem per pellicanum intelligere possumus non quemlibet iu\stum, sed a carnali voluptate longe remotum. Per Egyptum, vi\tam nostram ignorantie tenebris involutam. Egyptus enim\ tenebre interpretatur. In Egipto igitur solitudinem facimus, dum\ a curis et voluptatibus seculi longe sumus. Sic et iustus in civi\tate solitudinem facit, dum immunem se in quantum huma\na fragilitas patitur a peccato custodit. Rostro pellicanus pullos\ suos occidit, quia iustus cogitationes et opera que male gessit,\

Translation

on her young and lets her blood pour over the bodies of the dead, and so raises them from the dead. In a mystic sense, the pelican signifies Christ; Egypt, the world. The pelican lives in solitude, as Christ alone condescended to be born of a virgin without intercourse with a man. It is solitary, because it is free from sin, as also is the life of Christ. It kills its young with its beak as preaching the word of God converts the unbelievers. It weeps ceaselessly for its young, as Christ wept with pity when he raised Lazarus. Thus after three days, it revives its young with its blood, as Christ saves us, whom he has redeemed with his own blood. In a moral sense, we can understand by the pelican not the righteous man, but anyone who distances himself far from carnal desire. By Egypt is meant our life, shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. For Egiptus can be translated as 'darkness'. In Egypt, therefore, we make a wilderness (see Joel, 3:19), when we are far from the preoccupations and desires of this world. Thus the righteous man creates solitude for himself in the city, when he keeps himself free from sin, as far as human frailty allows. The pelican kills its young with its beak because the righteous man considers and rejects his sinful thoughts and deeds
  • Commentary

    Text

    The Pelican. Pelicans live in Egypt, and are devoted to their young. The fledglings fight their parents who kill them The mother bird pierces her side and as her blood flows over the bodies of her babies, they return to life.

    Illustration

    the narrative is divided into three scenes showing the babies attacking their parent, the parents killing the babies and the mother piercing her side to resurrect her offspring. Possibly the idea of mother pouring sustenance over her babies comes from the birds' habit of regurgitation. Folio mark of three horizontal 'match sticks' in top right corner.

    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.

    • 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.

  • Translation
    on her young and lets her blood pour over the bodies of the dead, and so raises them from the dead. In a mystic sense, the pelican signifies Christ; Egypt, the world. The pelican lives in solitude, as Christ alone condescended to be born of a virgin without intercourse with a man. It is solitary, because it is free from sin, as also is the life of Christ. It kills its young with its beak as preaching the word of God converts the unbelievers. It weeps ceaselessly for its young, as Christ wept with pity when he raised Lazarus. Thus after three days, it revives its young with its blood, as Christ saves us, whom he has redeemed with his own blood. In a moral sense, we can understand by the pelican not the righteous man, but anyone who distances himself far from carnal desire. By Egypt is meant our life, shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. For Egiptus can be translated as 'darkness'. In Egypt, therefore, we make a wilderness (see Joel, 3:19), when we are far from the preoccupations and desires of this world. Thus the righteous man creates solitude for himself in the city, when he keeps himself free from sin, as far as human frailty allows. The pelican kills its young with its beak because the righteous man considers and rejects his sinful thoughts and deeds
  • Transcription
    super pullos suos et effundit sanguinem super corpora mor\tuorum, et sic suscitat eos a mortuis. Mistice pellicanus\ significat Christum, Egiptus mundum. Pellicanus habitat in so\litudine, quia Christus solus de virgine dignatus est nasci sine viri\li copulatione. Est autem solitudo pellicani, quod immu\nis est a peccato sic et vita Christi. Hec avis rostro suos pullos oc\cidit, quia verbo predicationis incredulos convertit. Super pullos\ suos flere non desinit, quia Christus cum resuscitaret Lazarum\ misericorditer flevit. Et sic post tres dies sanguine suo pullos vi\vificat, quia Christus proprio sanguine suo redemptos salvat. Mora\liter autem per pellicanum intelligere possumus non quemlibet iu\stum, sed a carnali voluptate longe remotum. Per Egyptum, vi\tam nostram ignorantie tenebris involutam. Egyptus enim\ tenebre interpretatur. In Egipto igitur solitudinem facimus, dum\ a curis et voluptatibus seculi longe sumus. Sic et iustus in civi\tate solitudinem facit, dum immunem se in quantum huma\na fragilitas patitur a peccato custodit. Rostro pellicanus pullos\ suos occidit, quia iustus cogitationes et opera que male gessit,\
Folio 35r - the pelican, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen