The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 52v - the jay, continued. De lucinia; Of the nightingale


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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.
deceptive, he is as a result often mistaken. But it is of no advantage to this religious man to speak nothing but the truth. He promises that his church will benefit if he goes to the sick man, but he says nothing of the temptation to sin and the harm to his soul. You know, perhaps, of the monk and physician, called Justus - if only he had acted justly! - who hid three gold pieces in a remedy. Perhaps you know, too, what the blessed Gregory says of him. Although Gregory cared for Justus in his sickness, he did not, however, forbear to punish him. He forbade his brothers to speak to Justus before his death and after it, ordered him to be buried in a cess-pit. Moreover, after his death, Justus was absolved with the words: 'Thy money perish with thee' (see Acts, 8:20). Entertainers also, fickle of mind before conversion, when they come to conversion more often resort to fickleness and with fickleness leave the order. As for those who are used to wandering off to different places, if they feel oppressed by the irksome routine of the cloister, they quit it more quickly, because they have experienced the variety of life in other lands. Of the nightingale The nightingale is so called because it signals with its song the dawn of the new day; a light-bringer, lucenia, so to speak. It is an ever-watchful sentinel, warming its eggs in a hollow of its body, relieving the sleepless effort of the long night with the sweetness of its song. It seems to me that the main aim of the bird is to hatch its eggs and give life to its young with sweet music no less than with the warmth of its body. The poor but modest mother, her arm dragging the millstone around, that her children may not lack bread, imitates the nightingale, easing the misery of her poverty with a night-time song, and although she cannot imitate the sweetness of the bird,

Text

The nightingale.

Illustration

Portrait of the nightingale.

Comment

She sits on her nest singing to relieve the tedium of the night. 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.

Transcription

fallax ideo sepe fallitur, sed hoc religioso non expedit\ quod nisi vera loquatur. Promittit ecclesie sue lucrum si\ eat ad egrotum, sed tacet scandalum et anime sue damp\ num. Nostis forsitan de monacho medico Justo nomine,\ sed utinam iusto operatione qui in medicamine tres au\ reos absconderat quid de eo beatus Gregorius dicat, qui\ licet ei in infirmitate servierit, in correctione tamen\ ei non pepercit. Fratres ante mortem ei loqui prohibuit, post\ mortem vero in sterquilinio sepeliri[i] iussit. Sic autem est\ absolutus post mortem, pecunia tua tecum sit in perdicio\ nem. Sed et ioculatores ante conversionem leves cum ad\ conversionem veniunt, sepius usi levitate leviter recedunt.\ Illi vero qui per diversas regiones discurrere sunt consueti, si te\ dio claustri fuerint aggravati, citius a claustris exeunt\ quia terrarum diversitates noverunt. \ De lucinia \Lucinia avis inde nomen sumpsit quia cantu suo\ significare solet surgentis ex\ ortum diei quasi lucenia.\ Est enim pervigil custos cum\ ova quodam sinu corporis et\ gremio fovet, insompnem\ longe[i] noctis laborem cantile\ ne suavitate solatur. Ut mihi vi\ detur, hec summa eius est inten\ tio quo possit non minus dul\ cioribus modulis quam fotu corporis animare fetus ovaque fo\ vere. Hanc imitata tenuis illa mulier sed pudica, incussum\ mole lapidem brachio trahens ut possit alimentum panis\ suis parvulis non deesse nocturno cantu mestum pauperta\ tis mulcet affectum, et quamvis suavitatem lucinie non possit\

Translation

deceptive, he is as a result often mistaken. But it is of no advantage to this religious man to speak nothing but the truth. He promises that his church will benefit if he goes to the sick man, but he says nothing of the temptation to sin and the harm to his soul. You know, perhaps, of the monk and physician, called Justus - if only he had acted justly! - who hid three gold pieces in a remedy. Perhaps you know, too, what the blessed Gregory says of him. Although Gregory cared for Justus in his sickness, he did not, however, forbear to punish him. He forbade his brothers to speak to Justus before his death and after it, ordered him to be buried in a cess-pit. Moreover, after his death, Justus was absolved with the words: 'Thy money perish with thee' (see Acts, 8:20). Entertainers also, fickle of mind before conversion, when they come to conversion more often resort to fickleness and with fickleness leave the order. As for those who are used to wandering off to different places, if they feel oppressed by the irksome routine of the cloister, they quit it more quickly, because they have experienced the variety of life in other lands. Of the nightingale The nightingale is so called because it signals with its song the dawn of the new day; a light-bringer, lucenia, so to speak. It is an ever-watchful sentinel, warming its eggs in a hollow of its body, relieving the sleepless effort of the long night with the sweetness of its song. It seems to me that the main aim of the bird is to hatch its eggs and give life to its young with sweet music no less than with the warmth of its body. The poor but modest mother, her arm dragging the millstone around, that her children may not lack bread, imitates the nightingale, easing the misery of her poverty with a night-time song, and although she cannot imitate the sweetness of the bird,
  • Commentary

    Text

    The nightingale.

    Illustration

    Portrait of the nightingale.

    Comment

    She sits on her nest singing to relieve the tedium of the night. 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.

  • Translation
    deceptive, he is as a result often mistaken. But it is of no advantage to this religious man to speak nothing but the truth. He promises that his church will benefit if he goes to the sick man, but he says nothing of the temptation to sin and the harm to his soul. You know, perhaps, of the monk and physician, called Justus - if only he had acted justly! - who hid three gold pieces in a remedy. Perhaps you know, too, what the blessed Gregory says of him. Although Gregory cared for Justus in his sickness, he did not, however, forbear to punish him. He forbade his brothers to speak to Justus before his death and after it, ordered him to be buried in a cess-pit. Moreover, after his death, Justus was absolved with the words: 'Thy money perish with thee' (see Acts, 8:20). Entertainers also, fickle of mind before conversion, when they come to conversion more often resort to fickleness and with fickleness leave the order. As for those who are used to wandering off to different places, if they feel oppressed by the irksome routine of the cloister, they quit it more quickly, because they have experienced the variety of life in other lands. Of the nightingale The nightingale is so called because it signals with its song the dawn of the new day; a light-bringer, lucenia, so to speak. It is an ever-watchful sentinel, warming its eggs in a hollow of its body, relieving the sleepless effort of the long night with the sweetness of its song. It seems to me that the main aim of the bird is to hatch its eggs and give life to its young with sweet music no less than with the warmth of its body. The poor but modest mother, her arm dragging the millstone around, that her children may not lack bread, imitates the nightingale, easing the misery of her poverty with a night-time song, and although she cannot imitate the sweetness of the bird,
  • Transcription
    fallax ideo sepe fallitur, sed hoc religioso non expedit\ quod nisi vera loquatur. Promittit ecclesie sue lucrum si\ eat ad egrotum, sed tacet scandalum et anime sue damp\ num. Nostis forsitan de monacho medico Justo nomine,\ sed utinam iusto operatione qui in medicamine tres au\ reos absconderat quid de eo beatus Gregorius dicat, qui\ licet ei in infirmitate servierit, in correctione tamen\ ei non pepercit. Fratres ante mortem ei loqui prohibuit, post\ mortem vero in sterquilinio sepeliri[i] iussit. Sic autem est\ absolutus post mortem, pecunia tua tecum sit in perdicio\ nem. Sed et ioculatores ante conversionem leves cum ad\ conversionem veniunt, sepius usi levitate leviter recedunt.\ Illi vero qui per diversas regiones discurrere sunt consueti, si te\ dio claustri fuerint aggravati, citius a claustris exeunt\ quia terrarum diversitates noverunt. \ De lucinia \Lucinia avis inde nomen sumpsit quia cantu suo\ significare solet surgentis ex\ ortum diei quasi lucenia.\ Est enim pervigil custos cum\ ova quodam sinu corporis et\ gremio fovet, insompnem\ longe[i] noctis laborem cantile\ ne suavitate solatur. Ut mihi vi\ detur, hec summa eius est inten\ tio quo possit non minus dul\ cioribus modulis quam fotu corporis animare fetus ovaque fo\ vere. Hanc imitata tenuis illa mulier sed pudica, incussum\ mole lapidem brachio trahens ut possit alimentum panis\ suis parvulis non deesse nocturno cantu mestum pauperta\ tis mulcet affectum, et quamvis suavitatem lucinie non possit\
Folio 52v - the jay, continued. De lucinia; Of the nightingale | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen