The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 67v - the viper, continued. De aspide; Of the asp.


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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.
If you are severe by nature, you should moderate your manner in consideration of your married state and set aside your harshness out of regard for your relationship. There is another issue. Do not, O men, seek out someone else's bed, do not plot another liaison. Adultery is a serious sin; it does harm to nature. In the beginning God made two beings, Adam and Eve, that is, man and wife; and he made the woman from the man, that is, from Adam's rib; and he ordered them both to exist in one body and to live in one spirit. Why separate the single body, why divide the single spirit? Adultery happens in nature. The eager embrace of the lamprey and the viper makes the point: it takes place not according to the law of the species but from the heat of lust. Learn, O men, that he who seeks to seduce another man's wife is to be compared with that snake with whom he seeks a relationship. Let him hurry off to the viper, which slithers into his bosom, not by the honest way of truth but the slimy route of inconstant love. He hurries to a woman who recovers her poison as the viper does. For they say that after the task of mating is over, the viper sucks up the poison that it had spat out beforehand. Of the asp The asp, aspis, is so called because it injects poisons with its bite, spreading them throughout the body. For the Greek word for poison is ios, and from this comes the word aspis, because

Text

The asp has a poisonous bite.

Illustration

The asp is avoiding the sound of a snake charmer by putting one ear to the ground and putting his tail in the other ear. The snake charmer is protecting himself with a shield and stick.

Comment

One annotation in margin: 'as' with stress marks above, referring to the initial for Aspis. The charmer's foot overlaps the frame and the initial, type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Scribal Corrections

    Scribal Corrections

    Scribal Corrections
    The Bestiary scribe ends, the Lapidary scribe begins. Detail from f.94r

    When the ruling was complete the quires were ready to receive the text. At this point the scribe had a clear idea about the precise layout of each page. He had to leave the correct amount of space for the rubrics, capitals and illuminations to be added. The scribal hand is fairly uniform throughout, though Clark (2006, 223) observes the Gothic textura formata (the type of lettering) changes on f.19r, becoming ‘somewhat more compact and rounded’. There is a marked change of hand, below the illustration of the dove and hawk on f.26r, for only 5 lines. The quill is broader and the letters larger but less steady or uniform. Another scribe, with a later thirteenth-century hand, writes the lapidary section of the book, beginning on f.94r. Sometimes the scribe made mistakes or omissions which were picked up by a contemporary editor. On f.17r you can see corrections written lightly in the margin with part of the text erased and corrected accordingly. Most of the corrections occur in the Aviarium section, f.25r-f.63r.

  • Overlaps

    Overlaps

    Overlaps
    Painting covers script. Detail from f.12r

    It is clear that the illustrations were added after the text was complete. This can be seen for instance on f.12r, the Bonnacon, where the axe passes outside the frame and covers some text. In this case the initial was done before the illustration because the capital 'I' is overlapped by the spear. In some cases, the picture is placed over the initial (f.50r, f.59v, f.67v). In other instances the initial overlaps the picture frame (f.8v, f.31v, f.63r, f.68v). This suggests that both the initials and the illustrations were made by the same artist who chose, on each occasion, whether to begin with the image or the letter.

Transcription

Si habes naturalem rigorem, debes temperare eum contempla\tione coniugii, et reverentia coniunctionis deponere animi\ feritatem. Potest et sic accipi. Nolite querere viri thorum alie\num, nolite insidiari alie copule. Grave est adulterium, nature\ iniuria est. Duos primum deus fecit Adam et Evam, hoc est vi\rum et uxorem, et uxorem de viro hoc est de costa Ade et iussit\ ambos esse in uno corpore, et in uno spiritu vivere. Quid unum\ separas corpus, quid unum dividis spiritum? Nature adulterium est.\ Sed hoc docet murene et vipere non iure generis, sed ardore\ libidinis expetitus amplexus. Discite o viri quia [qui] alienam permol\lire querit uxorem. Cuius serpentis sibi asciscere cupiat contuber\nium, cui etiam comparandus ipse serpenti sit. Festinet ad\ viperam, que se in gremium ubi non directo tramite veritatis\ sed lubrico devii amoris infundit. Festinat ad eam que vene\num suum resumit ut vipera. Que fertur peracto coniunctionis\ munere, venenum quod vomuerat rursus haurire. \ De aspide \ Aspis vocata quod morsu venena immittit et spargit. Ios\ enim Greci venenum dicunt, et inde aspis quod morsu\

Translation

If you are severe by nature, you should moderate your manner in consideration of your married state and set aside your harshness out of regard for your relationship. There is another issue. Do not, O men, seek out someone else's bed, do not plot another liaison. Adultery is a serious sin; it does harm to nature. In the beginning God made two beings, Adam and Eve, that is, man and wife; and he made the woman from the man, that is, from Adam's rib; and he ordered them both to exist in one body and to live in one spirit. Why separate the single body, why divide the single spirit? Adultery happens in nature. The eager embrace of the lamprey and the viper makes the point: it takes place not according to the law of the species but from the heat of lust. Learn, O men, that he who seeks to seduce another man's wife is to be compared with that snake with whom he seeks a relationship. Let him hurry off to the viper, which slithers into his bosom, not by the honest way of truth but the slimy route of inconstant love. He hurries to a woman who recovers her poison as the viper does. For they say that after the task of mating is over, the viper sucks up the poison that it had spat out beforehand. Of the asp The asp, aspis, is so called because it injects poisons with its bite, spreading them throughout the body. For the Greek word for poison is ios, and from this comes the word aspis, because
  • Commentary

    Text

    The asp has a poisonous bite.

    Illustration

    The asp is avoiding the sound of a snake charmer by putting one ear to the ground and putting his tail in the other ear. The snake charmer is protecting himself with a shield and stick.

    Comment

    One annotation in margin: 'as' with stress marks above, referring to the initial for Aspis. The charmer's foot overlaps the frame and the initial, type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Scribal Corrections

      Scribal Corrections

      Scribal Corrections
      The Bestiary scribe ends, the Lapidary scribe begins. Detail from f.94r

      When the ruling was complete the quires were ready to receive the text. At this point the scribe had a clear idea about the precise layout of each page. He had to leave the correct amount of space for the rubrics, capitals and illuminations to be added. The scribal hand is fairly uniform throughout, though Clark (2006, 223) observes the Gothic textura formata (the type of lettering) changes on f.19r, becoming ‘somewhat more compact and rounded’. There is a marked change of hand, below the illustration of the dove and hawk on f.26r, for only 5 lines. The quill is broader and the letters larger but less steady or uniform. Another scribe, with a later thirteenth-century hand, writes the lapidary section of the book, beginning on f.94r. Sometimes the scribe made mistakes or omissions which were picked up by a contemporary editor. On f.17r you can see corrections written lightly in the margin with part of the text erased and corrected accordingly. Most of the corrections occur in the Aviarium section, f.25r-f.63r.

    • Overlaps

      Overlaps

      Overlaps
      Painting covers script. Detail from f.12r

      It is clear that the illustrations were added after the text was complete. This can be seen for instance on f.12r, the Bonnacon, where the axe passes outside the frame and covers some text. In this case the initial was done before the illustration because the capital 'I' is overlapped by the spear. In some cases, the picture is placed over the initial (f.50r, f.59v, f.67v). In other instances the initial overlaps the picture frame (f.8v, f.31v, f.63r, f.68v). This suggests that both the initials and the illustrations were made by the same artist who chose, on each occasion, whether to begin with the image or the letter.

  • Translation
    If you are severe by nature, you should moderate your manner in consideration of your married state and set aside your harshness out of regard for your relationship. There is another issue. Do not, O men, seek out someone else's bed, do not plot another liaison. Adultery is a serious sin; it does harm to nature. In the beginning God made two beings, Adam and Eve, that is, man and wife; and he made the woman from the man, that is, from Adam's rib; and he ordered them both to exist in one body and to live in one spirit. Why separate the single body, why divide the single spirit? Adultery happens in nature. The eager embrace of the lamprey and the viper makes the point: it takes place not according to the law of the species but from the heat of lust. Learn, O men, that he who seeks to seduce another man's wife is to be compared with that snake with whom he seeks a relationship. Let him hurry off to the viper, which slithers into his bosom, not by the honest way of truth but the slimy route of inconstant love. He hurries to a woman who recovers her poison as the viper does. For they say that after the task of mating is over, the viper sucks up the poison that it had spat out beforehand. Of the asp The asp, aspis, is so called because it injects poisons with its bite, spreading them throughout the body. For the Greek word for poison is ios, and from this comes the word aspis, because
  • Transcription
    Si habes naturalem rigorem, debes temperare eum contempla\tione coniugii, et reverentia coniunctionis deponere animi\ feritatem. Potest et sic accipi. Nolite querere viri thorum alie\num, nolite insidiari alie copule. Grave est adulterium, nature\ iniuria est. Duos primum deus fecit Adam et Evam, hoc est vi\rum et uxorem, et uxorem de viro hoc est de costa Ade et iussit\ ambos esse in uno corpore, et in uno spiritu vivere. Quid unum\ separas corpus, quid unum dividis spiritum? Nature adulterium est.\ Sed hoc docet murene et vipere non iure generis, sed ardore\ libidinis expetitus amplexus. Discite o viri quia [qui] alienam permol\lire querit uxorem. Cuius serpentis sibi asciscere cupiat contuber\nium, cui etiam comparandus ipse serpenti sit. Festinet ad\ viperam, que se in gremium ubi non directo tramite veritatis\ sed lubrico devii amoris infundit. Festinat ad eam que vene\num suum resumit ut vipera. Que fertur peracto coniunctionis\ munere, venenum quod vomuerat rursus haurire. \ De aspide \ Aspis vocata quod morsu venena immittit et spargit. Ios\ enim Greci venenum dicunt, et inde aspis quod morsu\
Folio 67v - the viper, continued. De aspide; Of the asp. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen