The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 37v - De pica; the magpie.


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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.
In his book of Etymologies, Isidore says that the raven picks out the eyes in corpses first, as the Devil destroys the capacity for judgement in carnal men, and proceeds to extract the brain through the eye. The raven extracts the brain through the eye, as the Devil, when it has destroyed our capacity for judgement, destroys our mental faculties. Again, the raven can be taken to mean a sinner, since it is clad, so to speak, with the dark plumage of sin. There are some sinners who despair of God's mercy. Others pray that they may be helped to find it by the prayers of the pious. Of the second sort, it is said: 'The ravens fed Elijah' (see 1 Kings, 17:6). By 'ravens' we are meant to understand the sinners who support the religious from their own resources. Elijah signifies those who live hidden in the habit and house of a religious order. The former sinners who despair, long for worldly things and look outwards when they should look inwards. Of these the scripture says: 'The raven did not return to the ark' (see Genesis, 8:7); perhaps because it was caught up and perished in the flood, or perhaps because it found corpses and settled on them. In the same way, the sinner who gratifies himself outwardly with carnal desires, like the raven that did not return to the ark, is held back by external preoccupations. But the raven can also be interpreted in a good sense, as a learned preacher. On this subject, it says in the book of the blessed Job: 'Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat' (38:41). The raven, as the blessed Gregory says, is the learned teacher who cries out in a loud voice, carrying the memory of his sins like blackness around him. He produces disciples in the faith, but perhaps they cannot yet address their own weakness, perhaps they shun the memory of their former sins. As a result they do not show the blackness of humility, which they ought to adopt against worldly glory. They open their mouth as if for food when they seek instruction in the mysteries of religion. But their teacher imparts the nourishment of sublime preaching only to the extent

Text

The raven, a sinner and a teacher.

Comment

On the top line 'in libro' has been written twice and the duplicate is struck out. The scribe omitted the essential word 'devil' from the first sentence, added by the editor in the margin. '?s est diabolus' [ start unclear].

Folio Attributes

  • Ruling

    Ruling

    Ruling
    Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

    After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

  • 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.

Transcription

Ysidorus [in libro, deleted] in libro ethimologiarum dicit, quod corvus\ prius in cadaveribus petit oculum, quia in carnalibus intellectum discre\tionis extinguit, et sic per oculum extrahit cerebrum. Per oculum \ cerebrum extrahit, qui [PL, quia] extincto discretionis intellectu, sen\sum mentis evertit. Iterum per corvum quilibet peccator intelli\gitur, qui quasi peccatorum plumis nigrescentibus vestitur. Sunt autem\ quidam peccatores qui de misericordia dei desperant. Sunt et alii qui ad\ hoc religiosorum precibus [ad]iuventur exorant. De quibus dicitur:\ Corvi paverunt Heliam. Per corvos igitur peccatores intelligi volunt,\ qui de sua substantia religiosis pascunt. Illos enim Helias signi\ficat, quos locus et habitus religionis occultat. Sunt alii qui des\perant, terrenis inhiant, cum intus debent esse foras spectant. De\ quibus scriptura dicit: Corvus ad archam non rediit, quia forsitan\ aquis diluvii interceptus periit, vel cadaveribus inventis, forsitan\ supersedit. Similiter peccator qui carnalibus desideriis foras pascitur,\ quasi corvus qui ad archam non rediit, curis exterioribus detinetur.\ Sed in bona significatione corvus accipitur, ut per corvum quilibet\ doctus predicator intelligatur. Unde per beatum Job dicitur: Quis preparat\ corvo escam suam, quando pulli eius ad dominum clamant, vagantes eo quod\ non habeat cibos? Corvus sicut ait beatus Gregorius, est quisque predi\cator doctus, qui magna voce clamat, dum peccatorum suorum\ memoriam quasi quandam coloris nigredinem portat. Cui nascun\tur in fide discipuli, sed fortasse adhuc considerare infirmitatem\ propriam nescunt, fortasse a peccatis preteritis memoriam avertunt.\ Et per hoc eam quam assumi oportet contra huius mundi gloriam, hu\militatis nigredinem non ostendunt, hii velut ad accipiendas\ escas os aperiunt, cum doceri de secretis sublimibus querunt. Set\ eis doctor suus alimenta predicamentorum sublimium tanto \

Translation

In his book of Etymologies, Isidore says that the raven picks out the eyes in corpses first, as the Devil destroys the capacity for judgement in carnal men, and proceeds to extract the brain through the eye. The raven extracts the brain through the eye, as the Devil, when it has destroyed our capacity for judgement, destroys our mental faculties. Again, the raven can be taken to mean a sinner, since it is clad, so to speak, with the dark plumage of sin. There are some sinners who despair of God's mercy. Others pray that they may be helped to find it by the prayers of the pious. Of the second sort, it is said: 'The ravens fed Elijah' (see 1 Kings, 17:6). By 'ravens' we are meant to understand the sinners who support the religious from their own resources. Elijah signifies those who live hidden in the habit and house of a religious order. The former sinners who despair, long for worldly things and look outwards when they should look inwards. Of these the scripture says: 'The raven did not return to the ark' (see Genesis, 8:7); perhaps because it was caught up and perished in the flood, or perhaps because it found corpses and settled on them. In the same way, the sinner who gratifies himself outwardly with carnal desires, like the raven that did not return to the ark, is held back by external preoccupations. But the raven can also be interpreted in a good sense, as a learned preacher. On this subject, it says in the book of the blessed Job: 'Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat' (38:41). The raven, as the blessed Gregory says, is the learned teacher who cries out in a loud voice, carrying the memory of his sins like blackness around him. He produces disciples in the faith, but perhaps they cannot yet address their own weakness, perhaps they shun the memory of their former sins. As a result they do not show the blackness of humility, which they ought to adopt against worldly glory. They open their mouth as if for food when they seek instruction in the mysteries of religion. But their teacher imparts the nourishment of sublime preaching only to the extent
  • Commentary

    Text

    The raven, a sinner and a teacher.

    Comment

    On the top line 'in libro' has been written twice and the duplicate is struck out. The scribe omitted the essential word 'devil' from the first sentence, added by the editor in the margin. '?s est diabolus' [ start unclear].

    Folio Attributes

    • Ruling

      Ruling

      Ruling
      Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

      After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

    • 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.

  • Translation
    In his book of Etymologies, Isidore says that the raven picks out the eyes in corpses first, as the Devil destroys the capacity for judgement in carnal men, and proceeds to extract the brain through the eye. The raven extracts the brain through the eye, as the Devil, when it has destroyed our capacity for judgement, destroys our mental faculties. Again, the raven can be taken to mean a sinner, since it is clad, so to speak, with the dark plumage of sin. There are some sinners who despair of God's mercy. Others pray that they may be helped to find it by the prayers of the pious. Of the second sort, it is said: 'The ravens fed Elijah' (see 1 Kings, 17:6). By 'ravens' we are meant to understand the sinners who support the religious from their own resources. Elijah signifies those who live hidden in the habit and house of a religious order. The former sinners who despair, long for worldly things and look outwards when they should look inwards. Of these the scripture says: 'The raven did not return to the ark' (see Genesis, 8:7); perhaps because it was caught up and perished in the flood, or perhaps because it found corpses and settled on them. In the same way, the sinner who gratifies himself outwardly with carnal desires, like the raven that did not return to the ark, is held back by external preoccupations. But the raven can also be interpreted in a good sense, as a learned preacher. On this subject, it says in the book of the blessed Job: 'Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat' (38:41). The raven, as the blessed Gregory says, is the learned teacher who cries out in a loud voice, carrying the memory of his sins like blackness around him. He produces disciples in the faith, but perhaps they cannot yet address their own weakness, perhaps they shun the memory of their former sins. As a result they do not show the blackness of humility, which they ought to adopt against worldly glory. They open their mouth as if for food when they seek instruction in the mysteries of religion. But their teacher imparts the nourishment of sublime preaching only to the extent
  • Transcription
    Ysidorus [in libro, deleted] in libro ethimologiarum dicit, quod corvus\ prius in cadaveribus petit oculum, quia in carnalibus intellectum discre\tionis extinguit, et sic per oculum extrahit cerebrum. Per oculum \ cerebrum extrahit, qui [PL, quia] extincto discretionis intellectu, sen\sum mentis evertit. Iterum per corvum quilibet peccator intelli\gitur, qui quasi peccatorum plumis nigrescentibus vestitur. Sunt autem\ quidam peccatores qui de misericordia dei desperant. Sunt et alii qui ad\ hoc religiosorum precibus [ad]iuventur exorant. De quibus dicitur:\ Corvi paverunt Heliam. Per corvos igitur peccatores intelligi volunt,\ qui de sua substantia religiosis pascunt. Illos enim Helias signi\ficat, quos locus et habitus religionis occultat. Sunt alii qui des\perant, terrenis inhiant, cum intus debent esse foras spectant. De\ quibus scriptura dicit: Corvus ad archam non rediit, quia forsitan\ aquis diluvii interceptus periit, vel cadaveribus inventis, forsitan\ supersedit. Similiter peccator qui carnalibus desideriis foras pascitur,\ quasi corvus qui ad archam non rediit, curis exterioribus detinetur.\ Sed in bona significatione corvus accipitur, ut per corvum quilibet\ doctus predicator intelligatur. Unde per beatum Job dicitur: Quis preparat\ corvo escam suam, quando pulli eius ad dominum clamant, vagantes eo quod\ non habeat cibos? Corvus sicut ait beatus Gregorius, est quisque predi\cator doctus, qui magna voce clamat, dum peccatorum suorum\ memoriam quasi quandam coloris nigredinem portat. Cui nascun\tur in fide discipuli, sed fortasse adhuc considerare infirmitatem\ propriam nescunt, fortasse a peccatis preteritis memoriam avertunt.\ Et per hoc eam quam assumi oportet contra huius mundi gloriam, hu\militatis nigredinem non ostendunt, hii velut ad accipiendas\ escas os aperiunt, cum doceri de secretis sublimibus querunt. Set\ eis doctor suus alimenta predicamentorum sublimium tanto \
Folio 37v - De pica; the magpie. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen