The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 62v - the eagle, 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.
as Nebuchadnezzar, seeking dominion over Judea, carried off the nobility of that kingdom as if they were the marrow of the cedar. And when he carried the weakest offspring of the kings from the throne of the kingdom by taking him captive, it was as if he had plucked the highest foliage of the cedar. The word 'eagle' represents the acute understanding of the saints. The same prophet, Ezekiel, when he described how he had seen the four evangelists in the form of animals, saw the fourth among them, that is, the one signifying John, as an eagle, which left the earth in flight; as John, on earth, penetrated the mysteries with his acute understanding by reflecting on the word. Likewise, those who still leave behind their earthly mind, seek heavenly things, as the eagle with John, through contemplation. Again, the blessed Gregory on the subject of the eagle: 'Like the eagle that hasteth to the prey' (Job, 9:26). It is the custom of the eagle to look at the sun's rays with unwavering gaze. But when it is driven by lack of food, it turns the gaze, formerly fixed on the sun's rays, to a search for a corpse. And although it flies high in the sky, it heads towards the earth for meat to seize. Clearly, the ancient fathers acted in the same way, contemplating the light of the Creator with an upward-reaching mind, insofar as their human frailty allowed. But when, foreseeing that he would become flesh at the end of the world, they turn their eyes as if from the sun's rays to the earth, and come down from the heights to the depths, they acknowledge God above all things and man amid all things. They see that God will suffer and die for mankind, knowing that by his death they will be restored and refashioned in newness of life, just as, in the manner of the eagle, after staring at the sun's rays, they seek food in a corpse. There is an another interpretation. 'Like the eagle that hasteth to the prey'. The eagle flies suspended at a great height and by the swift beating of its wings hangs poised in the air, but because of the longings of its stomach, it seeks the earth, hurling itself suddenly down from the heights. Thus, in the same way, the human race in the person of its first ancestor Adam, fell from the heights to the depths, because without doubt the dignity of his state

Text

The eagle, its allegory.

Transcription

quia Judee celsitudinem petens, nobilitatem eius regni quasi\ medullam cedri abstulit. Et dum tenerrimam regum pro\ lem a regni sui culmine captivando sustulit, quasi summi\ tatem frondium eius evulsit. Aquile vocabulo, subtilis sanctorum\ intelligentia exprimitur. Unde isdem propheta dum sub anima\ lium specie evangelistas quatuor se vidisse describeret, in eis quartum\ animal, id est Johannem significans qui volando terram deseruit, qui per subtilem intelligentiam in terra misteria verbum videndo pe\ netravit. Similiter qui adhuc [PL, haec] terrena mente deserunt, velut\ aquila cum Johanne per contemplationem petunt celestia. Item\ beatus Gregorius de aquila: Sicut aquila volans ad escam. Moris\ quippe aquile est ut irreverberata acie radios solis aspiciat.\ Sed cum refectionis indigentia urgetur, eandem oculorum\ aciem quam radio solis infixerat, ad respectum cadaveris\ inclinat. Et quamvis ad alta evolet, pro sumendis tamen carnibus\ terram petit. Sic videlicet sic antiqui patres fuerunt, qui\ in quantum humanitatis infirmitas admittebat, crea\ toris lucem erecta mente contemplati sunt. Sed incarnan\ dum hunc in mundi fine prescientes, quasi a solis radiis ad\ terram oculos deflexerunt, et quasi de summis adima veni\ unt, dum deum super omnia, et hominem inter omnia ag\ noscunt. Quem pro humano genere passurum morturumque\ conspiciunt, qua scilicet morte semetipsos refici atque reformari\ ad vitam noverunt, quasi more aquile post contemplatos\ radios solis in cadavere escam querunt. Aliter. Sicut aquila\ volans ad escam. Aquila enim alto valde volatu suspen\ ditur, et annisu prepeti ab ethere libratur, sed per appetitum ven\ tris terram expetit, seseque a sublimibus repente deorsum fun\ dit. Sic sic humanum genus in parente primo ad ima de sub\ limibus corruit, quod nimirum condicionis sue dignitas\

Translation

as Nebuchadnezzar, seeking dominion over Judea, carried off the nobility of that kingdom as if they were the marrow of the cedar. And when he carried the weakest offspring of the kings from the throne of the kingdom by taking him captive, it was as if he had plucked the highest foliage of the cedar. The word 'eagle' represents the acute understanding of the saints. The same prophet, Ezekiel, when he described how he had seen the four evangelists in the form of animals, saw the fourth among them, that is, the one signifying John, as an eagle, which left the earth in flight; as John, on earth, penetrated the mysteries with his acute understanding by reflecting on the word. Likewise, those who still leave behind their earthly mind, seek heavenly things, as the eagle with John, through contemplation. Again, the blessed Gregory on the subject of the eagle: 'Like the eagle that hasteth to the prey' (Job, 9:26). It is the custom of the eagle to look at the sun's rays with unwavering gaze. But when it is driven by lack of food, it turns the gaze, formerly fixed on the sun's rays, to a search for a corpse. And although it flies high in the sky, it heads towards the earth for meat to seize. Clearly, the ancient fathers acted in the same way, contemplating the light of the Creator with an upward-reaching mind, insofar as their human frailty allowed. But when, foreseeing that he would become flesh at the end of the world, they turn their eyes as if from the sun's rays to the earth, and come down from the heights to the depths, they acknowledge God above all things and man amid all things. They see that God will suffer and die for mankind, knowing that by his death they will be restored and refashioned in newness of life, just as, in the manner of the eagle, after staring at the sun's rays, they seek food in a corpse. There is an another interpretation. 'Like the eagle that hasteth to the prey'. The eagle flies suspended at a great height and by the swift beating of its wings hangs poised in the air, but because of the longings of its stomach, it seeks the earth, hurling itself suddenly down from the heights. Thus, in the same way, the human race in the person of its first ancestor Adam, fell from the heights to the depths, because without doubt the dignity of his state
  • Commentary

    Text

    The eagle, its allegory.

  • Translation
    as Nebuchadnezzar, seeking dominion over Judea, carried off the nobility of that kingdom as if they were the marrow of the cedar. And when he carried the weakest offspring of the kings from the throne of the kingdom by taking him captive, it was as if he had plucked the highest foliage of the cedar. The word 'eagle' represents the acute understanding of the saints. The same prophet, Ezekiel, when he described how he had seen the four evangelists in the form of animals, saw the fourth among them, that is, the one signifying John, as an eagle, which left the earth in flight; as John, on earth, penetrated the mysteries with his acute understanding by reflecting on the word. Likewise, those who still leave behind their earthly mind, seek heavenly things, as the eagle with John, through contemplation. Again, the blessed Gregory on the subject of the eagle: 'Like the eagle that hasteth to the prey' (Job, 9:26). It is the custom of the eagle to look at the sun's rays with unwavering gaze. But when it is driven by lack of food, it turns the gaze, formerly fixed on the sun's rays, to a search for a corpse. And although it flies high in the sky, it heads towards the earth for meat to seize. Clearly, the ancient fathers acted in the same way, contemplating the light of the Creator with an upward-reaching mind, insofar as their human frailty allowed. But when, foreseeing that he would become flesh at the end of the world, they turn their eyes as if from the sun's rays to the earth, and come down from the heights to the depths, they acknowledge God above all things and man amid all things. They see that God will suffer and die for mankind, knowing that by his death they will be restored and refashioned in newness of life, just as, in the manner of the eagle, after staring at the sun's rays, they seek food in a corpse. There is an another interpretation. 'Like the eagle that hasteth to the prey'. The eagle flies suspended at a great height and by the swift beating of its wings hangs poised in the air, but because of the longings of its stomach, it seeks the earth, hurling itself suddenly down from the heights. Thus, in the same way, the human race in the person of its first ancestor Adam, fell from the heights to the depths, because without doubt the dignity of his state
  • Transcription
    quia Judee celsitudinem petens, nobilitatem eius regni quasi\ medullam cedri abstulit. Et dum tenerrimam regum pro\ lem a regni sui culmine captivando sustulit, quasi summi\ tatem frondium eius evulsit. Aquile vocabulo, subtilis sanctorum\ intelligentia exprimitur. Unde isdem propheta dum sub anima\ lium specie evangelistas quatuor se vidisse describeret, in eis quartum\ animal, id est Johannem significans qui volando terram deseruit, qui per subtilem intelligentiam in terra misteria verbum videndo pe\ netravit. Similiter qui adhuc [PL, haec] terrena mente deserunt, velut\ aquila cum Johanne per contemplationem petunt celestia. Item\ beatus Gregorius de aquila: Sicut aquila volans ad escam. Moris\ quippe aquile est ut irreverberata acie radios solis aspiciat.\ Sed cum refectionis indigentia urgetur, eandem oculorum\ aciem quam radio solis infixerat, ad respectum cadaveris\ inclinat. Et quamvis ad alta evolet, pro sumendis tamen carnibus\ terram petit. Sic videlicet sic antiqui patres fuerunt, qui\ in quantum humanitatis infirmitas admittebat, crea\ toris lucem erecta mente contemplati sunt. Sed incarnan\ dum hunc in mundi fine prescientes, quasi a solis radiis ad\ terram oculos deflexerunt, et quasi de summis adima veni\ unt, dum deum super omnia, et hominem inter omnia ag\ noscunt. Quem pro humano genere passurum morturumque\ conspiciunt, qua scilicet morte semetipsos refici atque reformari\ ad vitam noverunt, quasi more aquile post contemplatos\ radios solis in cadavere escam querunt. Aliter. Sicut aquila\ volans ad escam. Aquila enim alto valde volatu suspen\ ditur, et annisu prepeti ab ethere libratur, sed per appetitum ven\ tris terram expetit, seseque a sublimibus repente deorsum fun\ dit. Sic sic humanum genus in parente primo ad ima de sub\ limibus corruit, quod nimirum condicionis sue dignitas\
Folio 62v - the eagle, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen