The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 68r - the asp, 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.
it kills with a poisonous bite. It moves quickly with its mouth always open and emitting vapour. There are various kinds and species of asps which inflict harm with different effects. It is said that when the asp begins to endure a snake-charmer summoning it with music designed for that purpose, to bring it out of its cave, and it does not want to come out, it presses one ear to the ground, and blocks and covers the other with its tail, and deaf to those magic sounds, does not go out to the man who is charming him. Of a similar nature are the men of this world, who close one ear with earthly desires. The other they block with their deeds, lest they hear the voice of the Lord saying: 'Whosoever he be of you that foresaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple or servant' (see Luke, 14:33). Asps do no more than merely close their ears. Men of this world blind their eyes lest they see heaven and are reminded of the works of the Lord. The dissa is a kind of asp, called situla in Latin, because those it bites die of thirst, sitis. There is a kind of asp called ypnalis, because it kills you by sending you to sleep. It was this snake that Cleopatra applied to herself, and was released by death as if by sleep. The emorrosis is an asp, so called because it kills by making you sweat blood. If you are bitten by it, you grow weak, so that your veins open and your life is drawn forth in your blood. For the Greek word for 'blood' is emath. The prester is an asp that moves quickly with its mouth always open and emitting vapour, as the poet recalled like this: 'The greedy prester that opens wide its foaming mouth' (Lucan, Pharsalia, 9, 722). If it strikes you, you swell up and die of gross distention, for the swollen body putrefies immediately after. The spectaficus is an asp which, when it bites a man, destroys him, so that he turns entirely into fluid in the snake's mouth. The cerastis, is so called because it has horns on its head like a ram's. For the Greek word for 'horns' is ceraste. It has a set of four small horns and, displaying them, it persuades animals that they are good to eat, then kills its prey; for it covers its entire body with sand, so that no trace of it shows, except the part with which it catches the birds or animals it has attracted. It bends more than other snakes, so that

Text

The snake charmer; various types of death by snake bite.

Comment

Visible pricking for pouncing of the anphivena on f.68v. One margin annotation:' ita' with stress marks/ 'in that way', emphasising 'ista' in the text.

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.

Transcription

venenato interimit. Currit quidem semper patenti ore et vapo\ranti. Huius diversa genera et species et dispares effectus ad\ nocendum. Fertur autem cum ceperit pati incantatorem qui\ eam in quibusdam carminibus propriis evocat ut eam de caver\na producat, illa cum exire noluerit unam aurem in terram\ premit, alteram cauda obturat et operit, atque voces illas magicas\ non audiens, non exit ad incantantem. Tales quidem sunt\ homines istius mundi qui in desideriis terrenis aurem depri\munt unam. Aliam vero de perpetratis, ne audiant vocem domini\ dicentis: Qui non renuntiaverit omnibus que possidet, non po\test meus esse discipulus nec servus. Hoc quoque solum aspides fa\ciunt ut aures obturant. Isti vero et oculos suos excecant ne vide\ant celum neque recordentur operum domini. Dissa autem genus\ est aspidis que Latine situla dicitur, quia quem momorderit, siti perit.\ Ypnale genus aspidis dicta, quod sompno necat. Hanc sibi Cleo\patra apposuit, et ista morte quasi sompno soluta est. Emorro\sis aspis nuncupatus, quod sanguinem sudet. Qui ab eo morsus\ fuerit, ita languescit, ut dissolutis venis quicquid vite est per san\guinem evocet. Grece enim sanguis emath dicitur. Prester aspis\ semper ore patenti et vaporanti currit, cuius poeta sic meminit:\ Oraque distendens avibus [avidus] fumantia prester. Hic quem percusserit\ distenditur, enormique corpulentia necatur, extuberatum enim pu\tredo sequitur. Spectaficus aspis qui dum momorderit hominem\ statim eum consumit, ita ut liquefiat totus in ore serpentis.\ Cerastis serpens dictus, eo quod in capite cornua habeat similia\ arietum. Ceraste enim Grece cornua vocantur. Sunt autem illi quadrige\mina cornicula quorum ostentatione veluti esca illiciens sollicitata\ animalia perimit, totum enim corpus tegit arenis, nec ullum in\dicium sui prebet, nisi ex ea parte qua invitatas aves vel anima\lia capit. Est autem flexuosus plusquam alii serpentes, ita ut spinam\

Translation

it kills with a poisonous bite. It moves quickly with its mouth always open and emitting vapour. There are various kinds and species of asps which inflict harm with different effects. It is said that when the asp begins to endure a snake-charmer summoning it with music designed for that purpose, to bring it out of its cave, and it does not want to come out, it presses one ear to the ground, and blocks and covers the other with its tail, and deaf to those magic sounds, does not go out to the man who is charming him. Of a similar nature are the men of this world, who close one ear with earthly desires. The other they block with their deeds, lest they hear the voice of the Lord saying: 'Whosoever he be of you that foresaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple or servant' (see Luke, 14:33). Asps do no more than merely close their ears. Men of this world blind their eyes lest they see heaven and are reminded of the works of the Lord. The dissa is a kind of asp, called situla in Latin, because those it bites die of thirst, sitis. There is a kind of asp called ypnalis, because it kills you by sending you to sleep. It was this snake that Cleopatra applied to herself, and was released by death as if by sleep. The emorrosis is an asp, so called because it kills by making you sweat blood. If you are bitten by it, you grow weak, so that your veins open and your life is drawn forth in your blood. For the Greek word for 'blood' is emath. The prester is an asp that moves quickly with its mouth always open and emitting vapour, as the poet recalled like this: 'The greedy prester that opens wide its foaming mouth' (Lucan, Pharsalia, 9, 722). If it strikes you, you swell up and die of gross distention, for the swollen body putrefies immediately after. The spectaficus is an asp which, when it bites a man, destroys him, so that he turns entirely into fluid in the snake's mouth. The cerastis, is so called because it has horns on its head like a ram's. For the Greek word for 'horns' is ceraste. It has a set of four small horns and, displaying them, it persuades animals that they are good to eat, then kills its prey; for it covers its entire body with sand, so that no trace of it shows, except the part with which it catches the birds or animals it has attracted. It bends more than other snakes, so that
  • Commentary

    Text

    The snake charmer; various types of death by snake bite.

    Comment

    Visible pricking for pouncing of the anphivena on f.68v. One margin annotation:' ita' with stress marks/ 'in that way', emphasising 'ista' in the text.

    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.

  • Translation
    it kills with a poisonous bite. It moves quickly with its mouth always open and emitting vapour. There are various kinds and species of asps which inflict harm with different effects. It is said that when the asp begins to endure a snake-charmer summoning it with music designed for that purpose, to bring it out of its cave, and it does not want to come out, it presses one ear to the ground, and blocks and covers the other with its tail, and deaf to those magic sounds, does not go out to the man who is charming him. Of a similar nature are the men of this world, who close one ear with earthly desires. The other they block with their deeds, lest they hear the voice of the Lord saying: 'Whosoever he be of you that foresaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple or servant' (see Luke, 14:33). Asps do no more than merely close their ears. Men of this world blind their eyes lest they see heaven and are reminded of the works of the Lord. The dissa is a kind of asp, called situla in Latin, because those it bites die of thirst, sitis. There is a kind of asp called ypnalis, because it kills you by sending you to sleep. It was this snake that Cleopatra applied to herself, and was released by death as if by sleep. The emorrosis is an asp, so called because it kills by making you sweat blood. If you are bitten by it, you grow weak, so that your veins open and your life is drawn forth in your blood. For the Greek word for 'blood' is emath. The prester is an asp that moves quickly with its mouth always open and emitting vapour, as the poet recalled like this: 'The greedy prester that opens wide its foaming mouth' (Lucan, Pharsalia, 9, 722). If it strikes you, you swell up and die of gross distention, for the swollen body putrefies immediately after. The spectaficus is an asp which, when it bites a man, destroys him, so that he turns entirely into fluid in the snake's mouth. The cerastis, is so called because it has horns on its head like a ram's. For the Greek word for 'horns' is ceraste. It has a set of four small horns and, displaying them, it persuades animals that they are good to eat, then kills its prey; for it covers its entire body with sand, so that no trace of it shows, except the part with which it catches the birds or animals it has attracted. It bends more than other snakes, so that
  • Transcription
    venenato interimit. Currit quidem semper patenti ore et vapo\ranti. Huius diversa genera et species et dispares effectus ad\ nocendum. Fertur autem cum ceperit pati incantatorem qui\ eam in quibusdam carminibus propriis evocat ut eam de caver\na producat, illa cum exire noluerit unam aurem in terram\ premit, alteram cauda obturat et operit, atque voces illas magicas\ non audiens, non exit ad incantantem. Tales quidem sunt\ homines istius mundi qui in desideriis terrenis aurem depri\munt unam. Aliam vero de perpetratis, ne audiant vocem domini\ dicentis: Qui non renuntiaverit omnibus que possidet, non po\test meus esse discipulus nec servus. Hoc quoque solum aspides fa\ciunt ut aures obturant. Isti vero et oculos suos excecant ne vide\ant celum neque recordentur operum domini. Dissa autem genus\ est aspidis que Latine situla dicitur, quia quem momorderit, siti perit.\ Ypnale genus aspidis dicta, quod sompno necat. Hanc sibi Cleo\patra apposuit, et ista morte quasi sompno soluta est. Emorro\sis aspis nuncupatus, quod sanguinem sudet. Qui ab eo morsus\ fuerit, ita languescit, ut dissolutis venis quicquid vite est per san\guinem evocet. Grece enim sanguis emath dicitur. Prester aspis\ semper ore patenti et vaporanti currit, cuius poeta sic meminit:\ Oraque distendens avibus [avidus] fumantia prester. Hic quem percusserit\ distenditur, enormique corpulentia necatur, extuberatum enim pu\tredo sequitur. Spectaficus aspis qui dum momorderit hominem\ statim eum consumit, ita ut liquefiat totus in ore serpentis.\ Cerastis serpens dictus, eo quod in capite cornua habeat similia\ arietum. Ceraste enim Grece cornua vocantur. Sunt autem illi quadrige\mina cornicula quorum ostentatione veluti esca illiciens sollicitata\ animalia perimit, totum enim corpus tegit arenis, nec ullum in\dicium sui prebet, nisi ex ea parte qua invitatas aves vel anima\lia capit. Est autem flexuosus plusquam alii serpentes, ita ut spinam\
Folio 68r - the asp, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen