The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 56r - the phoenix, 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.
is said to live in places in Arabia and to reach the great age of five hundred years. When it observes that the end of its life is at hand, it makes a container for itself out of frankincense and myrrh and other aromatic substances; when its time is come, it enters the covering and dies. From the fluid of its flesh a worm arises and gradually grows to maturity; when the appropriate time has come, it acquires wings to fly, and regains its Previous appearance and form. Let this bird teach us, therefore, by its own example to believe in the resurrection of the body; lacking both an example to follow and any sense of reason, it reinvests itself with the very signs of resurrection, showing without doubt that birds exist as an example to man, not man as an example to the birds. Let it be, therefore, an example to us that as the maker and creator of birds does not suffer his saints to to perish forever, he wishes the bird, rising again, to be restored with its own seed. Who, but he, tells the phoenix that the day of its death has come, in order that it might make its covering, fill it with perfumes, enter it and die

Text

The phoenix. The bird makes a container for its ashes and rises again from the dead in its old form.

Illustration

The phoenix turns to face the sun, beats its wings to fan the flames and is consumed. The image may equally show the bird rising from its own ashes, a symbol of the resurrection.

Comment

There is some pouncing around the bird and flames. This was probably done while the manuscript was being made because it is concealed by the back of f.56r being stuck to another sheet. Thus f. 56r and 56v are actually two sheets stuck back to back. The glued backing to this sheet conceals the hole in its vellum.

Folio Attributes

  • Pouncing

    Pouncing

    Pouncing
    Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

    Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.

Transcription

avis in locis Arabie perhibetur degere, atque eam\ usque ad annos quingentos longeva etate procede\ re. Que cum sibi finem vite esse adverterit, facit\ sibi [de] thecam de thure et mirra et ceteris odo\ ribus in quam impleto vite sue tempore intrat\ et moritur. De cuius humore carnis exurgit ver\ mis paulatimque adolescit, ac processu statuti tem\ poris, induit alarum remigia, atque in superioris a\ vis speciem formamque reparatur. Doceat nos igitur\ hec avis vel exemplo sui resurrectionem credere\ que et sine exemplo et sine rationis perceptione ip\ sa sibi insignia resurrectionis instaurat, et utique\ aves propter hominem sunt non homo propter avem.\ Sit igitur exemplum nobis quia auctor et creator\ avium\ sanctos suos\ imperpe\ tuum peri\ re non pas\ sus, resur\ gentem\ eam sui\ semine\ voluit\ reparari.\ Quis igitur huic\ annunti\ at diem\ mortis ut faciat sibi thecam et impleat eam bo\ nis odoribus atqe ingrediatur in eam et moriatur

Translation

is said to live in places in Arabia and to reach the great age of five hundred years. When it observes that the end of its life is at hand, it makes a container for itself out of frankincense and myrrh and other aromatic substances; when its time is come, it enters the covering and dies. From the fluid of its flesh a worm arises and gradually grows to maturity; when the appropriate time has come, it acquires wings to fly, and regains its Previous appearance and form. Let this bird teach us, therefore, by its own example to believe in the resurrection of the body; lacking both an example to follow and any sense of reason, it reinvests itself with the very signs of resurrection, showing without doubt that birds exist as an example to man, not man as an example to the birds. Let it be, therefore, an example to us that as the maker and creator of birds does not suffer his saints to to perish forever, he wishes the bird, rising again, to be restored with its own seed. Who, but he, tells the phoenix that the day of its death has come, in order that it might make its covering, fill it with perfumes, enter it and die
  • Commentary

    Text

    The phoenix. The bird makes a container for its ashes and rises again from the dead in its old form.

    Illustration

    The phoenix turns to face the sun, beats its wings to fan the flames and is consumed. The image may equally show the bird rising from its own ashes, a symbol of the resurrection.

    Comment

    There is some pouncing around the bird and flames. This was probably done while the manuscript was being made because it is concealed by the back of f.56r being stuck to another sheet. Thus f. 56r and 56v are actually two sheets stuck back to back. The glued backing to this sheet conceals the hole in its vellum.

    Folio Attributes

    • Pouncing

      Pouncing

      Pouncing
      Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

      Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.

  • Translation
    is said to live in places in Arabia and to reach the great age of five hundred years. When it observes that the end of its life is at hand, it makes a container for itself out of frankincense and myrrh and other aromatic substances; when its time is come, it enters the covering and dies. From the fluid of its flesh a worm arises and gradually grows to maturity; when the appropriate time has come, it acquires wings to fly, and regains its Previous appearance and form. Let this bird teach us, therefore, by its own example to believe in the resurrection of the body; lacking both an example to follow and any sense of reason, it reinvests itself with the very signs of resurrection, showing without doubt that birds exist as an example to man, not man as an example to the birds. Let it be, therefore, an example to us that as the maker and creator of birds does not suffer his saints to to perish forever, he wishes the bird, rising again, to be restored with its own seed. Who, but he, tells the phoenix that the day of its death has come, in order that it might make its covering, fill it with perfumes, enter it and die
  • Transcription
    avis in locis Arabie perhibetur degere, atque eam\ usque ad annos quingentos longeva etate procede\ re. Que cum sibi finem vite esse adverterit, facit\ sibi [de] thecam de thure et mirra et ceteris odo\ ribus in quam impleto vite sue tempore intrat\ et moritur. De cuius humore carnis exurgit ver\ mis paulatimque adolescit, ac processu statuti tem\ poris, induit alarum remigia, atque in superioris a\ vis speciem formamque reparatur. Doceat nos igitur\ hec avis vel exemplo sui resurrectionem credere\ que et sine exemplo et sine rationis perceptione ip\ sa sibi insignia resurrectionis instaurat, et utique\ aves propter hominem sunt non homo propter avem.\ Sit igitur exemplum nobis quia auctor et creator\ avium\ sanctos suos\ imperpe\ tuum peri\ re non pas\ sus, resur\ gentem\ eam sui\ semine\ voluit\ reparari.\ Quis igitur huic\ annunti\ at diem\ mortis ut faciat sibi thecam et impleat eam bo\ nis odoribus atqe ingrediatur in eam et moriatur
Folio 56r - the phoenix, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen