The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 71v - the nature of snakes, 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.
of the darkness of this world, then the serpent, that is, the Devil, cannot attack you. The snake, at the onset of blindness, wards it off by eating fennel. Thus, when it feels its eyes growing dim, it has recourse to remedies it knows, knowing that it can rely on their effect. The tortoise, when it feeds on the snake's entrails and becomes aware of the venom spreading through its own body, cures itself with oregano. If a snake tastes the spittle of a fasting man, it dies. Pliny says:It is believed that if the head of a snake escapes, even if only two fingers' length of the body is attached, it continues to live. For this reason it places its whole body in the way to protect its head against its assailants. All snakes suffer from poor sight; they can rarely see what is in front of them. This is not without reason, since their eyes are not at the front but in the temples of the head, so that they hear better than they see. No creature moves its tongue as swiftly as the snake, to such an extent that it seems to have a triple tongue, when in fact there is only one. The bodies of snakes are moist, so that wherever they go, they mark their path with moisture. The tracks of snakes are such that, since they seem to lack feet, they crawl using their flanks and the pressure of their scales, which are laid out in the same pattern from the throat to the lowest part of the belly. For they support themselves on their scales as if on claws, and on their flanks as if on legs. As a result, if a snake is struck on any part of the body, from the belly to the head, it is disabled and cannot get away quickly, because where the blow falls, it dislocates the spine, through which the foot-like movement of the flanks and the motion of the body are activated. Snakes are said to live for a long time, to such an extent that it also claimed that when they shed their old skins, they shed their old age and regain their youth. The snake's skin is called exuvie, because they shed it, exuere, when they grow old. We refer to clothing as both exuvie and induvie because it is both taken off, exuere, and put on, induere. Pythagoras says that the snake is created from the marrow of dead men, which is to be found in the spine. Ovid has the same point in mind in the Metamorphoses, when he says: 'There are those who believe that when the spine has rotted in the grave, the human

Text

Snakes have poor sight and moist bodies.

Comment

In fact, only grass snakes have moist bodies.

Transcription

seculo huius tenebrarum, tunc non poterit exilire in te serpens, id est\ diabolus. Serpens quoque pastu feniculi cecitatem repellit ex\ceptam. Itaque ubi oculos sibi obduci senserit, nota remedia pe\tit, ne fraudatur effectu. Testudo visceribus pasta serpentis,\ cum venenum adverterit sibi serpere, origano medicinam sue sa\lutis exercet. Ieiuni hominis sputum si serpens gustaverit, moritur.\ Dicit autem Plinius: Creditur quod si serpentis caput etiam si cum\ duobus digitis evaserit, nichilominus vivit. Unde et totum\ corpus obicit pro capite ferientibus. Anguibus universis hebes visus\ est, raro in adversum contuentur. Nec frustra cum oculos non\ in fronte sed in timporibus habeant, adeo ut cicius audiant quam\ aspiciant. Nullum autem animal in tanta celeritate linguam\ movet ut serpens, adeo ut triplicem linguam habere videatur,\ cum una sit. Serpentium humida sunt corpora, adeo ut quaque\ eunt viam humore designent. Vestigia sunt serpentium talia\ ut cum pedibus carere videantur, costis tamen et squamarum ni\sibus repunt, quas a summo gutture usque ad imam alvum pa\rili modo dispositas habent. Squamis enim quasi unguibus, costis\ quasi cruribus innituntur. Unde si in qualibet corporis parte ab\ alvo usque ad caput aliquo ictu collidatur, debilis reddita cursum\ habere non possit, quia ubicumque ille ictus inciderit, spinam sol\vit, per quam costarum pedes et motus corporis agebantur. Serpen\tes autem diu vivere dicuntur, adeo ut deposita veteri tunica\ senectutem deponere atque in iuventutem redire perhibeantur.\ Tunice serpentium exuvie nuncupantur, eo quod his quando\ senescunt sese exuunt. Dicuntur autem exuvie et induvie quia\ exuuntur et induuntur. Pytagoras dicit de medulla hominis\ mortui que in spina est serpentem creari. Quod etiam Ovidius\ in Metamorphoseorum libris commemorat dicens: Sunt qui\ cum putrefacta spina sepulchro mutari credant, humanas\

Translation

of the darkness of this world, then the serpent, that is, the Devil, cannot attack you. The snake, at the onset of blindness, wards it off by eating fennel. Thus, when it feels its eyes growing dim, it has recourse to remedies it knows, knowing that it can rely on their effect. The tortoise, when it feeds on the snake's entrails and becomes aware of the venom spreading through its own body, cures itself with oregano. If a snake tastes the spittle of a fasting man, it dies. Pliny says:It is believed that if the head of a snake escapes, even if only two fingers' length of the body is attached, it continues to live. For this reason it places its whole body in the way to protect its head against its assailants. All snakes suffer from poor sight; they can rarely see what is in front of them. This is not without reason, since their eyes are not at the front but in the temples of the head, so that they hear better than they see. No creature moves its tongue as swiftly as the snake, to such an extent that it seems to have a triple tongue, when in fact there is only one. The bodies of snakes are moist, so that wherever they go, they mark their path with moisture. The tracks of snakes are such that, since they seem to lack feet, they crawl using their flanks and the pressure of their scales, which are laid out in the same pattern from the throat to the lowest part of the belly. For they support themselves on their scales as if on claws, and on their flanks as if on legs. As a result, if a snake is struck on any part of the body, from the belly to the head, it is disabled and cannot get away quickly, because where the blow falls, it dislocates the spine, through which the foot-like movement of the flanks and the motion of the body are activated. Snakes are said to live for a long time, to such an extent that it also claimed that when they shed their old skins, they shed their old age and regain their youth. The snake's skin is called exuvie, because they shed it, exuere, when they grow old. We refer to clothing as both exuvie and induvie because it is both taken off, exuere, and put on, induere. Pythagoras says that the snake is created from the marrow of dead men, which is to be found in the spine. Ovid has the same point in mind in the Metamorphoses, when he says: 'There are those who believe that when the spine has rotted in the grave, the human
  • Commentary

    Text

    Snakes have poor sight and moist bodies.

    Comment

    In fact, only grass snakes have moist bodies.

  • Translation
    of the darkness of this world, then the serpent, that is, the Devil, cannot attack you. The snake, at the onset of blindness, wards it off by eating fennel. Thus, when it feels its eyes growing dim, it has recourse to remedies it knows, knowing that it can rely on their effect. The tortoise, when it feeds on the snake's entrails and becomes aware of the venom spreading through its own body, cures itself with oregano. If a snake tastes the spittle of a fasting man, it dies. Pliny says:It is believed that if the head of a snake escapes, even if only two fingers' length of the body is attached, it continues to live. For this reason it places its whole body in the way to protect its head against its assailants. All snakes suffer from poor sight; they can rarely see what is in front of them. This is not without reason, since their eyes are not at the front but in the temples of the head, so that they hear better than they see. No creature moves its tongue as swiftly as the snake, to such an extent that it seems to have a triple tongue, when in fact there is only one. The bodies of snakes are moist, so that wherever they go, they mark their path with moisture. The tracks of snakes are such that, since they seem to lack feet, they crawl using their flanks and the pressure of their scales, which are laid out in the same pattern from the throat to the lowest part of the belly. For they support themselves on their scales as if on claws, and on their flanks as if on legs. As a result, if a snake is struck on any part of the body, from the belly to the head, it is disabled and cannot get away quickly, because where the blow falls, it dislocates the spine, through which the foot-like movement of the flanks and the motion of the body are activated. Snakes are said to live for a long time, to such an extent that it also claimed that when they shed their old skins, they shed their old age and regain their youth. The snake's skin is called exuvie, because they shed it, exuere, when they grow old. We refer to clothing as both exuvie and induvie because it is both taken off, exuere, and put on, induere. Pythagoras says that the snake is created from the marrow of dead men, which is to be found in the spine. Ovid has the same point in mind in the Metamorphoses, when he says: 'There are those who believe that when the spine has rotted in the grave, the human
  • Transcription
    seculo huius tenebrarum, tunc non poterit exilire in te serpens, id est\ diabolus. Serpens quoque pastu feniculi cecitatem repellit ex\ceptam. Itaque ubi oculos sibi obduci senserit, nota remedia pe\tit, ne fraudatur effectu. Testudo visceribus pasta serpentis,\ cum venenum adverterit sibi serpere, origano medicinam sue sa\lutis exercet. Ieiuni hominis sputum si serpens gustaverit, moritur.\ Dicit autem Plinius: Creditur quod si serpentis caput etiam si cum\ duobus digitis evaserit, nichilominus vivit. Unde et totum\ corpus obicit pro capite ferientibus. Anguibus universis hebes visus\ est, raro in adversum contuentur. Nec frustra cum oculos non\ in fronte sed in timporibus habeant, adeo ut cicius audiant quam\ aspiciant. Nullum autem animal in tanta celeritate linguam\ movet ut serpens, adeo ut triplicem linguam habere videatur,\ cum una sit. Serpentium humida sunt corpora, adeo ut quaque\ eunt viam humore designent. Vestigia sunt serpentium talia\ ut cum pedibus carere videantur, costis tamen et squamarum ni\sibus repunt, quas a summo gutture usque ad imam alvum pa\rili modo dispositas habent. Squamis enim quasi unguibus, costis\ quasi cruribus innituntur. Unde si in qualibet corporis parte ab\ alvo usque ad caput aliquo ictu collidatur, debilis reddita cursum\ habere non possit, quia ubicumque ille ictus inciderit, spinam sol\vit, per quam costarum pedes et motus corporis agebantur. Serpen\tes autem diu vivere dicuntur, adeo ut deposita veteri tunica\ senectutem deponere atque in iuventutem redire perhibeantur.\ Tunice serpentium exuvie nuncupantur, eo quod his quando\ senescunt sese exuunt. Dicuntur autem exuvie et induvie quia\ exuuntur et induuntur. Pytagoras dicit de medulla hominis\ mortui que in spina est serpentem creari. Quod etiam Ovidius\ in Metamorphoseorum libris commemorat dicens: Sunt qui\ cum putrefacta spina sepulchro mutari credant, humanas\
Folio 71v - the nature of snakes, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen