The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 41r - the cock, continued. De strucione; the ostrich.


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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.
yet they are ignorant of their duties under the law of God. They sit and say nothing; they attend to their own spiritual nourishment, but they do not lead the flock committed to them to the green pastures of eternity. Let them take care, therefore, those who are endowed with understanding and do not use it to preach the word of God, and those who say nothing because they do not know what to say, lest like the cock they fall from their perch. Eli often reprimanded his sons, but because he did not reinforce his rebukes with his hand, he fell from his seat and broke his neck. Before he died he witnessed the death of his sons and learned that the ark of the Lord had been captured by another tribe (see Samuel 1, 2:22-25; 4:18). Of the ostrich There is an animal called assida which the Greeks call stratocamelon, but Latin-speakers strucio, the ostrich. It has wings but does not fly, and its feet are like those of the camel. When the time comes for it to lay eggs, it raises its eyes to the sky and looks to see if the star called Vergiliae, the Pleiades, has appeared, for it will not lay its eggs until that star has risen. When the ostrich sees the star, around the month of June, it digs in the ground, deposits its eggs in the hole it has made and covers them with sand. When it gets up from the hole, it immediately forgets the eggs and never returns to them. The effect of the calm, mild air seems to be that the sand in the summer heat hatches the eggs, bringing forth the chicks. If, therefore, the ostrich knows its time and forgets its young, and pursues heavenly things to the exclusion of earthly ones, how much more, O man, should you strive for the prize of the summons from on high, you for whom God was made man, to deliver you from the power of darkness

Text

The ostrich. It has wings but does not fly and has feet like a camel. It looks for the Pleiades in the sky before laying its eggs in a hole in the sand. The eggs hatch while covered by warm sand.

Illustration

One ostrich looks at a star in the margin while the other buries eggs in the sand with its beak.

Comment

There is an attempt to make the claws look like camels' feet but otherwise the birds are not very realistic. They were common in north Africa until the nineteenth century. Two quire marks, a 'g' in pencil and another in ink at bottom centre. Chevron folio mark at top right corner. Initial type 2.

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.

  • 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

occupant, et tamen officium divine legis ignorant. Sedent et ta\ cent, seipsos pascunt, nec gregem [mark] sibi commissum ad pascua\ eterne viriditatis ducunt. Et hic igitur cui intelligentia datur nec\ populo verbum dei predicat, et hic qui tacet quia nescit quid dicat\ uterque caveat, ne quasi gallus de pertica cadat, filios suos Heli\ sepe corripuit, sed quia manum correctioni non adhibuit, fractis\ cervicibus de sella cecidit. Antequam moreretur mortem filiorum vidit,\ et archam domini ab allophilis captam fuisse cognovit.\ De strucione Est animal quod dicitur\ assida, quod Greci strato\ camelon vocant, Lati\ ni vero strucion. Habet\ quidem pennas, sed non\ volat, pedes autem cameli\ similes. Cum vero venerit\ tempus ut ova sua pa\ riat, elevat oculos suos\ ad celum et intendit\ si illa stella que dicitur Virgilia appareat, non enim ponit ova\ sua, nisi quando oritur illa stella. Quando enim viderit circa mensem iu\ nium ipsam stellam fodit in terram ubi ponat ova sua et coo\ perit sabulo, cum ascenderit de loco illo statim obliviscitur eorum\ et nunquam redit ad ova sua. Tranquillitas quidem aeris et temperies\ hoc prestare videtur ut estate calefacta arena excoquat ova sua\ et educat pullos. Si ergo assida cognoscit tempus suum et obli\ viscitur posteritatis suo[e] ac terrena postponens sequitur celestia, quanto\ magis o homo tibi ad bravium superne vocationis tendendum est,\ propter quem deus homo factus est, ut eriperet te de potestate tenebrarum,\

Translation

yet they are ignorant of their duties under the law of God. They sit and say nothing; they attend to their own spiritual nourishment, but they do not lead the flock committed to them to the green pastures of eternity. Let them take care, therefore, those who are endowed with understanding and do not use it to preach the word of God, and those who say nothing because they do not know what to say, lest like the cock they fall from their perch. Eli often reprimanded his sons, but because he did not reinforce his rebukes with his hand, he fell from his seat and broke his neck. Before he died he witnessed the death of his sons and learned that the ark of the Lord had been captured by another tribe (see Samuel 1, 2:22-25; 4:18). Of the ostrich There is an animal called assida which the Greeks call stratocamelon, but Latin-speakers strucio, the ostrich. It has wings but does not fly, and its feet are like those of the camel. When the time comes for it to lay eggs, it raises its eyes to the sky and looks to see if the star called Vergiliae, the Pleiades, has appeared, for it will not lay its eggs until that star has risen. When the ostrich sees the star, around the month of June, it digs in the ground, deposits its eggs in the hole it has made and covers them with sand. When it gets up from the hole, it immediately forgets the eggs and never returns to them. The effect of the calm, mild air seems to be that the sand in the summer heat hatches the eggs, bringing forth the chicks. If, therefore, the ostrich knows its time and forgets its young, and pursues heavenly things to the exclusion of earthly ones, how much more, O man, should you strive for the prize of the summons from on high, you for whom God was made man, to deliver you from the power of darkness
  • Commentary

    Text

    The ostrich. It has wings but does not fly and has feet like a camel. It looks for the Pleiades in the sky before laying its eggs in a hole in the sand. The eggs hatch while covered by warm sand.

    Illustration

    One ostrich looks at a star in the margin while the other buries eggs in the sand with its beak.

    Comment

    There is an attempt to make the claws look like camels' feet but otherwise the birds are not very realistic. They were common in north Africa until the nineteenth century. Two quire marks, a 'g' in pencil and another in ink at bottom centre. Chevron folio mark at top right corner. Initial type 2.

    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.

    • 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
    yet they are ignorant of their duties under the law of God. They sit and say nothing; they attend to their own spiritual nourishment, but they do not lead the flock committed to them to the green pastures of eternity. Let them take care, therefore, those who are endowed with understanding and do not use it to preach the word of God, and those who say nothing because they do not know what to say, lest like the cock they fall from their perch. Eli often reprimanded his sons, but because he did not reinforce his rebukes with his hand, he fell from his seat and broke his neck. Before he died he witnessed the death of his sons and learned that the ark of the Lord had been captured by another tribe (see Samuel 1, 2:22-25; 4:18). Of the ostrich There is an animal called assida which the Greeks call stratocamelon, but Latin-speakers strucio, the ostrich. It has wings but does not fly, and its feet are like those of the camel. When the time comes for it to lay eggs, it raises its eyes to the sky and looks to see if the star called Vergiliae, the Pleiades, has appeared, for it will not lay its eggs until that star has risen. When the ostrich sees the star, around the month of June, it digs in the ground, deposits its eggs in the hole it has made and covers them with sand. When it gets up from the hole, it immediately forgets the eggs and never returns to them. The effect of the calm, mild air seems to be that the sand in the summer heat hatches the eggs, bringing forth the chicks. If, therefore, the ostrich knows its time and forgets its young, and pursues heavenly things to the exclusion of earthly ones, how much more, O man, should you strive for the prize of the summons from on high, you for whom God was made man, to deliver you from the power of darkness
  • Transcription
    occupant, et tamen officium divine legis ignorant. Sedent et ta\ cent, seipsos pascunt, nec gregem [mark] sibi commissum ad pascua\ eterne viriditatis ducunt. Et hic igitur cui intelligentia datur nec\ populo verbum dei predicat, et hic qui tacet quia nescit quid dicat\ uterque caveat, ne quasi gallus de pertica cadat, filios suos Heli\ sepe corripuit, sed quia manum correctioni non adhibuit, fractis\ cervicibus de sella cecidit. Antequam moreretur mortem filiorum vidit,\ et archam domini ab allophilis captam fuisse cognovit.\ De strucione Est animal quod dicitur\ assida, quod Greci strato\ camelon vocant, Lati\ ni vero strucion. Habet\ quidem pennas, sed non\ volat, pedes autem cameli\ similes. Cum vero venerit\ tempus ut ova sua pa\ riat, elevat oculos suos\ ad celum et intendit\ si illa stella que dicitur Virgilia appareat, non enim ponit ova\ sua, nisi quando oritur illa stella. Quando enim viderit circa mensem iu\ nium ipsam stellam fodit in terram ubi ponat ova sua et coo\ perit sabulo, cum ascenderit de loco illo statim obliviscitur eorum\ et nunquam redit ad ova sua. Tranquillitas quidem aeris et temperies\ hoc prestare videtur ut estate calefacta arena excoquat ova sua\ et educat pullos. Si ergo assida cognoscit tempus suum et obli\ viscitur posteritatis suo[e] ac terrena postponens sequitur celestia, quanto\ magis o homo tibi ad bravium superne vocationis tendendum est,\ propter quem deus homo factus est, ut eriperet te de potestate tenebrarum,\
Folio 41r - the cock, continued. De strucione; the ostrich. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen