The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 48r - the swallow, 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.
remarkably, the swallow creates a regularly-proportioned home for itself without any assistance, like a skilled craftsman. For it gathers bits of straw in its mouth and smears them with mud so that they stick together; but because it cannot carry the mud in its claws, it dips the tips of its wings in water, so that dust sticks to them easily and turns into slime, with which to gather to itself bits of straw or tiny twigs, a few at a time, and makes them stick. It makes the whole fabric of the nest in this fashion, in order that its young can live safely as if on a solid floor in houses on the ground, lest any of them insert a foot between the small gaps in the woven fabric or the cold should get to the very young. This conscientiousness is fairly common among most birds, yet what is distinctive about the swallow is its special loving care, shrewd intelligence and the extraordinary quality of its understanding. Then there is its skill in the arts of healing: if its young are infected by blindness or pricked in the eye, it has some kind of healing power with which it can restore their vision. The swallow, as this example proves, can be taken to represent, in some cases, pride of mind; in others, the repentance of the afflicted heart. That the swallow signifies pride is illustrated by Tobit: When he lay down beside a wall, says Tobit, and fell asleep, it happened that warm excrement fell on his eyes from a swallows' nest as he slept and he became blind (see Tobit, 2:10). Bede Commentarys on this: 'The swallow, on account of its lightness in flight, represents pride and levity of heart; their impurity causes immediate blindness, and prevents one from seeing what he is. That we should interpret the swallow as the contrite heart is demonstrated by the prophet, who says: 'Like a crane or a swallow, so will I chatter' (see Isaiah, 38:14). We understand by the swallow, therefore, a discerning teacher; by the swallow's young, the teacher's disciple, crying out; by the cry, a contrite heart. The fledgling cries out as the disciple asks his teacher to preach to him. The fledgling cries out as, by confession, the disciple shows his teacher the contrition in his heart. If you know the cry

Text

The swallow builds its nest.

Comment

on this page the margins have been drawn incorrectly, joining the wrong prick marks.

Folio Attributes

  • 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.

  • 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.

Transcription

illud preclarum quod quadratam domum sibi sine ullo adiutore\ tanquam artis perita componit. Legit enim festucas ore easque luto\ linit ut glutinare possit, sed quia lutum pedibus deferre non potest\ summitates pennarum aqua infundit, ut facile his pulvis ad\ hereat, et limus fiat, quo paulatim festucas vel minutos surcu\ los sibi colligat atque adherere faciat. Eo genere nidi tocius fabricam\ struit, ut quasi pavimento solo pulli eius in terra edes suas sine\ offensione versentur, ne pedem aliquis interserat per rimulas textu\ rarum, aut teneris fetibus frigus irrepat. Sed hoc industrie offi\ cium prope commune multis avibus, illud vero singulare in quo est\ preclara cura pietatis et prudens intellectus et cognitionis insig\ ne, tum que[d]am medice artis pericia quod si qua pulli eius fuerint\ cecitate suffusi oculos sive compuncti, habet quoddam medendi genus\ quo po[s inserted]sit eorum lumina intercepto visui reformare. Per hyrundinem\ sicut auctoritas testatur, aliquando superbia mentis, aliquando contricio\ contribulati cordis intellegitur. Quod per yrundinem superbia desig\ netur, per Tobiam dicitur: Cum iactasset se inquit Tobias iuxta pa\ rietem et obdormisset, contigit ut ex nido hirundinum dor\ mienti illi calida stercora insiderent super oculos eius, fieretque cecus.\ Unde Beda super Tobiam: Hyrundo propter levem volatum, superbiam\ cordis levitatemque figurat, cuius immundicia confestim excecat,\ nec eum videre permittit qualis fuerit. Quod autem per irundinem\ contricio cordis intellegi debeat propheta dicens demonstrat: Sicut\ pullus yrundinis inquit sic clamabo. Intelligimus igitur per yrun\ dinem quemlibet discretum doctorem, per yrundinis pullum\ clamantem discipulum, per clamorem, mentis contricionem.\ Clamat pullus yrundinis, dum querit a magistro verbum predi\ cationis. Clamat pullus yrundinis, dum per confessionem ma\ gistro manifestat affectum contriti cordis. Si nosci clamorem\

Translation

remarkably, the swallow creates a regularly-proportioned home for itself without any assistance, like a skilled craftsman. For it gathers bits of straw in its mouth and smears them with mud so that they stick together; but because it cannot carry the mud in its claws, it dips the tips of its wings in water, so that dust sticks to them easily and turns into slime, with which to gather to itself bits of straw or tiny twigs, a few at a time, and makes them stick. It makes the whole fabric of the nest in this fashion, in order that its young can live safely as if on a solid floor in houses on the ground, lest any of them insert a foot between the small gaps in the woven fabric or the cold should get to the very young. This conscientiousness is fairly common among most birds, yet what is distinctive about the swallow is its special loving care, shrewd intelligence and the extraordinary quality of its understanding. Then there is its skill in the arts of healing: if its young are infected by blindness or pricked in the eye, it has some kind of healing power with which it can restore their vision. The swallow, as this example proves, can be taken to represent, in some cases, pride of mind; in others, the repentance of the afflicted heart. That the swallow signifies pride is illustrated by Tobit: When he lay down beside a wall, says Tobit, and fell asleep, it happened that warm excrement fell on his eyes from a swallows' nest as he slept and he became blind (see Tobit, 2:10). Bede Commentarys on this: 'The swallow, on account of its lightness in flight, represents pride and levity of heart; their impurity causes immediate blindness, and prevents one from seeing what he is. That we should interpret the swallow as the contrite heart is demonstrated by the prophet, who says: 'Like a crane or a swallow, so will I chatter' (see Isaiah, 38:14). We understand by the swallow, therefore, a discerning teacher; by the swallow's young, the teacher's disciple, crying out; by the cry, a contrite heart. The fledgling cries out as the disciple asks his teacher to preach to him. The fledgling cries out as, by confession, the disciple shows his teacher the contrition in his heart. If you know the cry
  • Commentary

    Text

    The swallow builds its nest.

    Comment

    on this page the margins have been drawn incorrectly, joining the wrong prick marks.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • Translation
    remarkably, the swallow creates a regularly-proportioned home for itself without any assistance, like a skilled craftsman. For it gathers bits of straw in its mouth and smears them with mud so that they stick together; but because it cannot carry the mud in its claws, it dips the tips of its wings in water, so that dust sticks to them easily and turns into slime, with which to gather to itself bits of straw or tiny twigs, a few at a time, and makes them stick. It makes the whole fabric of the nest in this fashion, in order that its young can live safely as if on a solid floor in houses on the ground, lest any of them insert a foot between the small gaps in the woven fabric or the cold should get to the very young. This conscientiousness is fairly common among most birds, yet what is distinctive about the swallow is its special loving care, shrewd intelligence and the extraordinary quality of its understanding. Then there is its skill in the arts of healing: if its young are infected by blindness or pricked in the eye, it has some kind of healing power with which it can restore their vision. The swallow, as this example proves, can be taken to represent, in some cases, pride of mind; in others, the repentance of the afflicted heart. That the swallow signifies pride is illustrated by Tobit: When he lay down beside a wall, says Tobit, and fell asleep, it happened that warm excrement fell on his eyes from a swallows' nest as he slept and he became blind (see Tobit, 2:10). Bede Commentarys on this: 'The swallow, on account of its lightness in flight, represents pride and levity of heart; their impurity causes immediate blindness, and prevents one from seeing what he is. That we should interpret the swallow as the contrite heart is demonstrated by the prophet, who says: 'Like a crane or a swallow, so will I chatter' (see Isaiah, 38:14). We understand by the swallow, therefore, a discerning teacher; by the swallow's young, the teacher's disciple, crying out; by the cry, a contrite heart. The fledgling cries out as the disciple asks his teacher to preach to him. The fledgling cries out as, by confession, the disciple shows his teacher the contrition in his heart. If you know the cry
  • Transcription
    illud preclarum quod quadratam domum sibi sine ullo adiutore\ tanquam artis perita componit. Legit enim festucas ore easque luto\ linit ut glutinare possit, sed quia lutum pedibus deferre non potest\ summitates pennarum aqua infundit, ut facile his pulvis ad\ hereat, et limus fiat, quo paulatim festucas vel minutos surcu\ los sibi colligat atque adherere faciat. Eo genere nidi tocius fabricam\ struit, ut quasi pavimento solo pulli eius in terra edes suas sine\ offensione versentur, ne pedem aliquis interserat per rimulas textu\ rarum, aut teneris fetibus frigus irrepat. Sed hoc industrie offi\ cium prope commune multis avibus, illud vero singulare in quo est\ preclara cura pietatis et prudens intellectus et cognitionis insig\ ne, tum que[d]am medice artis pericia quod si qua pulli eius fuerint\ cecitate suffusi oculos sive compuncti, habet quoddam medendi genus\ quo po[s inserted]sit eorum lumina intercepto visui reformare. Per hyrundinem\ sicut auctoritas testatur, aliquando superbia mentis, aliquando contricio\ contribulati cordis intellegitur. Quod per yrundinem superbia desig\ netur, per Tobiam dicitur: Cum iactasset se inquit Tobias iuxta pa\ rietem et obdormisset, contigit ut ex nido hirundinum dor\ mienti illi calida stercora insiderent super oculos eius, fieretque cecus.\ Unde Beda super Tobiam: Hyrundo propter levem volatum, superbiam\ cordis levitatemque figurat, cuius immundicia confestim excecat,\ nec eum videre permittit qualis fuerit. Quod autem per irundinem\ contricio cordis intellegi debeat propheta dicens demonstrat: Sicut\ pullus yrundinis inquit sic clamabo. Intelligimus igitur per yrun\ dinem quemlibet discretum doctorem, per yrundinis pullum\ clamantem discipulum, per clamorem, mentis contricionem.\ Clamat pullus yrundinis, dum querit a magistro verbum predi\ cationis. Clamat pullus yrundinis, dum per confessionem ma\ gistro manifestat affectum contriti cordis. Si nosci clamorem\
Folio 48r - the swallow, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen