The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 41v - the ostrich, 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.
and set you together with the princes of his people in his kingdom of glory. Again of the ostrich The wing of the ostrich resembles those of the gyrfalcon and the hawk. Who does not know how the speed of the gyrfalcon and hawk in flight exceeds that of other birds? The ostrich certainly has wings like theirs but not their speed of flight. Truly, it has not the capacity to be lifted from the ground and gives only the impression of spreading its wings as if to fly; however, it never supports itself above the earth in flight. It is exactly the same with all those hypocrites who pretend to live a life of piety, giving the impression of holiness without the reality of holy behaviour. They certainly have wings, as far as appearance goes, but in terms of action, they creep along the ground, because they spread their wings only to give an illusion of holiness, but they cannot possibly raise themselves from earth, weighed down as they are by the weight of worldly preoccupations. For the Lord rebuked the pretensions of the Pharisees as if he exposed the wing of the ostrich, which does one thing in deed and another in show, saying: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!' (Matthew, 23:14). It is as if he were saying: 'Your wings look as they they had the power to raise you up, but the weight of your life forces you down into the depths.' Of this weight, the prophet says: 'Sons of men, how long will you have a heavy heart?' (see BSV, NEB, Psalms, 4:2). The Lord promises that he will convert the hypocritical ostrich, saying through the prophet: 'The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the ostriches' (see BSV, NEB, Isaiah: 43:20). For what is meant by the word 'dragons', if not, clearly, malicious minds, which creep across the earth forever, revealing themselves in the basest thoughts? Who are signified by the word 'ostrich' if not those who pretend to be worthy? Those who lead a life of holiness, in appearance, like the wing that seems to have the power of flight, but do not put it into practice by their deeds. Thus the Lord declares that he will be glorified by the dragon or the ostrich, when he converts to his side, deep in their hearts, both those who are openly evil and those who pretend to be worthy. In considering the ostrich, we should look more carefully at the hawk and the gyrfalcon. Their bodies are small but their feathers are more densely packed; as a result, they fly at great speed, because they have little to weigh them down, much to uplift them. In contrast

Text

The ostrich cannot fly.

Comment

Initial type 2 in dark pink and gold, with colour indicator 'v' vermilion, in margin.

Folio Attributes

  • 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

et collocaret cum principibus populi sui in regno glorie sue.\ Item de strutione Penna strucionis similis est pennis herodii et\ accipitris. Quis herodium et accipitrem nesciat, aves\ reliquas quanto volatus sui velocitate transcendat? Strucio\ vere penne eorum similitudinem habet, sed volatus eorum celeritatem\ non habet. A terra quippe elevari non valet, et alas quasi ad volatum\ specie tenus erigit, sed tamen nunquam se a terra volando suspendit. Ita sunt\ nimirum omnes ypocrite qui dum bonorum vitam simulant,\ imitationem sancte visionis habent, sed veritatem sancte actionis non habent.\ Habent quippe volandi pennas per speciem, sed in terram repunt per action\ nem, quia alas per figuram sanctitatis extendunt, sed curarum secularium\ pondere pregravati, nullatenus a terra sublevantur.\ Speciem namque Phari\ seorum reprobans dominus quasi strucionis pennam redarguit,\ que in opere aliud exercuit, et in colore aliud ostendit dicens: Ve\ vobis scribe et Pharisei ypocrite. Ac si diceret: Sublevare vos videtur\ species penne; sed in infimis vos deprimit pondus vite. De hoc pondere\ per prophetam dicitur: Filii hominum usquequo graves corde. Huius strucionis con\ versurum se ypocrisim dominus pollicetur, in prophetam dicens: Glorificabit\ me bestia agri, dracones et struciones. Quid enim draconum nomine\ nisi in aperto maliciose mentes exprimuntur, que per terram semper in infimis\ cogitationibus repunt? Quid vero per strucionis\ vocabulum nisi hii qui\ se bonos simulant designantur? Qui sanctitatis vitam quasi volatus\ pennam per speciem retinent, sed per opera non exercent. Glorificari itaque se\ Dominus a dracone vel strucione asserit, quia et aperte malos et ficte\ bonos plerumque ad sua obsequia ex intima cogitatione convertit.\ Habemus quod in considerationem strucionis huius de accipitre et hero\ dio attentius perpendamus. Accipitris quippe et herodii parva sunt\ corpora sed pennis densioribus fulta, et iccirco cum celeritate transvo\ lant, quia eis parum inest quod aggravat, multum quod levat. At contra\

Translation

and set you together with the princes of his people in his kingdom of glory. Again of the ostrich The wing of the ostrich resembles those of the gyrfalcon and the hawk. Who does not know how the speed of the gyrfalcon and hawk in flight exceeds that of other birds? The ostrich certainly has wings like theirs but not their speed of flight. Truly, it has not the capacity to be lifted from the ground and gives only the impression of spreading its wings as if to fly; however, it never supports itself above the earth in flight. It is exactly the same with all those hypocrites who pretend to live a life of piety, giving the impression of holiness without the reality of holy behaviour. They certainly have wings, as far as appearance goes, but in terms of action, they creep along the ground, because they spread their wings only to give an illusion of holiness, but they cannot possibly raise themselves from earth, weighed down as they are by the weight of worldly preoccupations. For the Lord rebuked the pretensions of the Pharisees as if he exposed the wing of the ostrich, which does one thing in deed and another in show, saying: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!' (Matthew, 23:14). It is as if he were saying: 'Your wings look as they they had the power to raise you up, but the weight of your life forces you down into the depths.' Of this weight, the prophet says: 'Sons of men, how long will you have a heavy heart?' (see BSV, NEB, Psalms, 4:2). The Lord promises that he will convert the hypocritical ostrich, saying through the prophet: 'The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the ostriches' (see BSV, NEB, Isaiah: 43:20). For what is meant by the word 'dragons', if not, clearly, malicious minds, which creep across the earth forever, revealing themselves in the basest thoughts? Who are signified by the word 'ostrich' if not those who pretend to be worthy? Those who lead a life of holiness, in appearance, like the wing that seems to have the power of flight, but do not put it into practice by their deeds. Thus the Lord declares that he will be glorified by the dragon or the ostrich, when he converts to his side, deep in their hearts, both those who are openly evil and those who pretend to be worthy. In considering the ostrich, we should look more carefully at the hawk and the gyrfalcon. Their bodies are small but their feathers are more densely packed; as a result, they fly at great speed, because they have little to weigh them down, much to uplift them. In contrast
  • Commentary

    Text

    The ostrich cannot fly.

    Comment

    Initial type 2 in dark pink and gold, with colour indicator 'v' vermilion, in margin.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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
    and set you together with the princes of his people in his kingdom of glory. Again of the ostrich The wing of the ostrich resembles those of the gyrfalcon and the hawk. Who does not know how the speed of the gyrfalcon and hawk in flight exceeds that of other birds? The ostrich certainly has wings like theirs but not their speed of flight. Truly, it has not the capacity to be lifted from the ground and gives only the impression of spreading its wings as if to fly; however, it never supports itself above the earth in flight. It is exactly the same with all those hypocrites who pretend to live a life of piety, giving the impression of holiness without the reality of holy behaviour. They certainly have wings, as far as appearance goes, but in terms of action, they creep along the ground, because they spread their wings only to give an illusion of holiness, but they cannot possibly raise themselves from earth, weighed down as they are by the weight of worldly preoccupations. For the Lord rebuked the pretensions of the Pharisees as if he exposed the wing of the ostrich, which does one thing in deed and another in show, saying: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!' (Matthew, 23:14). It is as if he were saying: 'Your wings look as they they had the power to raise you up, but the weight of your life forces you down into the depths.' Of this weight, the prophet says: 'Sons of men, how long will you have a heavy heart?' (see BSV, NEB, Psalms, 4:2). The Lord promises that he will convert the hypocritical ostrich, saying through the prophet: 'The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the ostriches' (see BSV, NEB, Isaiah: 43:20). For what is meant by the word 'dragons', if not, clearly, malicious minds, which creep across the earth forever, revealing themselves in the basest thoughts? Who are signified by the word 'ostrich' if not those who pretend to be worthy? Those who lead a life of holiness, in appearance, like the wing that seems to have the power of flight, but do not put it into practice by their deeds. Thus the Lord declares that he will be glorified by the dragon or the ostrich, when he converts to his side, deep in their hearts, both those who are openly evil and those who pretend to be worthy. In considering the ostrich, we should look more carefully at the hawk and the gyrfalcon. Their bodies are small but their feathers are more densely packed; as a result, they fly at great speed, because they have little to weigh them down, much to uplift them. In contrast
  • Transcription
    et collocaret cum principibus populi sui in regno glorie sue.\ Item de strutione Penna strucionis similis est pennis herodii et\ accipitris. Quis herodium et accipitrem nesciat, aves\ reliquas quanto volatus sui velocitate transcendat? Strucio\ vere penne eorum similitudinem habet, sed volatus eorum celeritatem\ non habet. A terra quippe elevari non valet, et alas quasi ad volatum\ specie tenus erigit, sed tamen nunquam se a terra volando suspendit. Ita sunt\ nimirum omnes ypocrite qui dum bonorum vitam simulant,\ imitationem sancte visionis habent, sed veritatem sancte actionis non habent.\ Habent quippe volandi pennas per speciem, sed in terram repunt per action\ nem, quia alas per figuram sanctitatis extendunt, sed curarum secularium\ pondere pregravati, nullatenus a terra sublevantur.\ Speciem namque Phari\ seorum reprobans dominus quasi strucionis pennam redarguit,\ que in opere aliud exercuit, et in colore aliud ostendit dicens: Ve\ vobis scribe et Pharisei ypocrite. Ac si diceret: Sublevare vos videtur\ species penne; sed in infimis vos deprimit pondus vite. De hoc pondere\ per prophetam dicitur: Filii hominum usquequo graves corde. Huius strucionis con\ versurum se ypocrisim dominus pollicetur, in prophetam dicens: Glorificabit\ me bestia agri, dracones et struciones. Quid enim draconum nomine\ nisi in aperto maliciose mentes exprimuntur, que per terram semper in infimis\ cogitationibus repunt? Quid vero per strucionis\ vocabulum nisi hii qui\ se bonos simulant designantur? Qui sanctitatis vitam quasi volatus\ pennam per speciem retinent, sed per opera non exercent. Glorificari itaque se\ Dominus a dracone vel strucione asserit, quia et aperte malos et ficte\ bonos plerumque ad sua obsequia ex intima cogitatione convertit.\ Habemus quod in considerationem strucionis huius de accipitre et hero\ dio attentius perpendamus. Accipitris quippe et herodii parva sunt\ corpora sed pennis densioribus fulta, et iccirco cum celeritate transvo\ lant, quia eis parum inest quod aggravat, multum quod levat. At contra\
Folio 41v - the ostrich, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen