The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 44v - the vulture, 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.
and are not united with the other sex in the conjugal act of marriage; that the females conceive without the male seed and give birth without union with the male; and that their offspring live to a great age, so that the course of their life extends to one hundred years, and that an early death does not readily overtake them. What can they say, those people who are by nature accustomed to mock the mysteries of the Christian faith, when they hear that a virgin gave birth, yet maintain that childbirth is impossible for an unmarried woman, whose virginity is undefiled by intercourse with a man? What they do not deny is possible in vultures, they think is impossible in the mother of God. female bird gives birth without a male and no-one disputes it; but because Mary, betrothed as a virgin, gave birth, they question her chastity. Do we not make them aware that our Lord, from his very nature, affirms the truth? Vultures regularly foretell from certain signs that men will die. This is one such sign, from which they learn and make ready: when opposing armies prepare for the lamentable event of war, the birds follow in a large flock, signifying by this that many will fall in battle - to be the vultures' prey. Again of vultures 'There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen' (Job, 28:7). Who is meant here by the word 'bird' if not he who

Text

The vulture. The female vulture gives birth without copulation, like the Virgin Mary. Vultures know when death is near.

Illustration

two fierce birds oppose each other in a circle.

Comment

The Bestiary illustrators did not know vultures, so the bird tends to look similar to the eagle. There is a faint sketch of two concentric circles to the left of the illustration. Within the circles it is just possible to discern the neck of the right vulture. Initial type 2.

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.

  • Sketches

    Sketches

    Sketches
    Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

    Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

Transcription

usu nuptialis\ copule sorte\ misceri, atque\ ita sine ullo\ masculorum\ concipere semine\ et sine coniunc\ tione generare,\ natosque ex his\ in multam eta\ tis longevitatem\ procedere, ut usque\ ad centum an\ nos vite eorum\ series producatur, nec facile eos angusti evi finis excipiat. Quid\ aiunt qui solent natura ridere misteria cum audiunt quod virgo ge\ neravit et impossibilem innupte cuius pudorem nulla viri consue\ tudo temerasset existimant partum. Impossibile putatur in dei\ matre quod in vulturibus possibile non negatur. Avis sine masculo\ parit et nullus refellit, et quia desponsata Maria virgo peperit,\ pudoris eius faciunt questionem. Nonne advertimus quod dominus\ ex ipsa natura et astrueret veritatem. Vultures mortem homi\ num signis quibusdam annuntiare consueverunt, Quo indicio\ docti atque instructi sunt, ut cum bellum lacrimabile inter se\ adverse acies instruant, multo predicte volucres sequantur agmi\ ne et eo significent quod multitudo hominum casura sit bel\ lo, futura preda vulturibus.\ Item de vulturibus \ Semitam ignoravit avis, nec intuitus est oculos [oculus] vulturis.\ Quis hoc loco avis nomine nisi ille signatur, qui corpus\

Translation

and are not united with the other sex in the conjugal act of marriage; that the females conceive without the male seed and give birth without union with the male; and that their offspring live to a great age, so that the course of their life extends to one hundred years, and that an early death does not readily overtake them. What can they say, those people who are by nature accustomed to mock the mysteries of the Christian faith, when they hear that a virgin gave birth, yet maintain that childbirth is impossible for an unmarried woman, whose virginity is undefiled by intercourse with a man? What they do not deny is possible in vultures, they think is impossible in the mother of God. female bird gives birth without a male and no-one disputes it; but because Mary, betrothed as a virgin, gave birth, they question her chastity. Do we not make them aware that our Lord, from his very nature, affirms the truth? Vultures regularly foretell from certain signs that men will die. This is one such sign, from which they learn and make ready: when opposing armies prepare for the lamentable event of war, the birds follow in a large flock, signifying by this that many will fall in battle - to be the vultures' prey. Again of vultures 'There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen' (Job, 28:7). Who is meant here by the word 'bird' if not he who
  • Commentary

    Text

    The vulture. The female vulture gives birth without copulation, like the Virgin Mary. Vultures know when death is near.

    Illustration

    two fierce birds oppose each other in a circle.

    Comment

    The Bestiary illustrators did not know vultures, so the bird tends to look similar to the eagle. There is a faint sketch of two concentric circles to the left of the illustration. Within the circles it is just possible to discern the neck of the right vulture. Initial type 2.

    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.

    • Sketches

      Sketches

      Sketches
      Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

      Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

  • Translation
    and are not united with the other sex in the conjugal act of marriage; that the females conceive without the male seed and give birth without union with the male; and that their offspring live to a great age, so that the course of their life extends to one hundred years, and that an early death does not readily overtake them. What can they say, those people who are by nature accustomed to mock the mysteries of the Christian faith, when they hear that a virgin gave birth, yet maintain that childbirth is impossible for an unmarried woman, whose virginity is undefiled by intercourse with a man? What they do not deny is possible in vultures, they think is impossible in the mother of God. female bird gives birth without a male and no-one disputes it; but because Mary, betrothed as a virgin, gave birth, they question her chastity. Do we not make them aware that our Lord, from his very nature, affirms the truth? Vultures regularly foretell from certain signs that men will die. This is one such sign, from which they learn and make ready: when opposing armies prepare for the lamentable event of war, the birds follow in a large flock, signifying by this that many will fall in battle - to be the vultures' prey. Again of vultures 'There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen' (Job, 28:7). Who is meant here by the word 'bird' if not he who
  • Transcription
    usu nuptialis\ copule sorte\ misceri, atque\ ita sine ullo\ masculorum\ concipere semine\ et sine coniunc\ tione generare,\ natosque ex his\ in multam eta\ tis longevitatem\ procedere, ut usque\ ad centum an\ nos vite eorum\ series producatur, nec facile eos angusti evi finis excipiat. Quid\ aiunt qui solent natura ridere misteria cum audiunt quod virgo ge\ neravit et impossibilem innupte cuius pudorem nulla viri consue\ tudo temerasset existimant partum. Impossibile putatur in dei\ matre quod in vulturibus possibile non negatur. Avis sine masculo\ parit et nullus refellit, et quia desponsata Maria virgo peperit,\ pudoris eius faciunt questionem. Nonne advertimus quod dominus\ ex ipsa natura et astrueret veritatem. Vultures mortem homi\ num signis quibusdam annuntiare consueverunt, Quo indicio\ docti atque instructi sunt, ut cum bellum lacrimabile inter se\ adverse acies instruant, multo predicte volucres sequantur agmi\ ne et eo significent quod multitudo hominum casura sit bel\ lo, futura preda vulturibus.\ Item de vulturibus \ Semitam ignoravit avis, nec intuitus est oculos [oculus] vulturis.\ Quis hoc loco avis nomine nisi ille signatur, qui corpus\
Folio 44v - the vulture, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen