The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 73r - [De balena]; Of the whale. De belua que dicitur serra; Of the monster called the flying-fish. De delfinibus; Of dolphins.


Translation Open Book View Download image for personal, teaching or research purposes Help Copyright

Help

To explore the image, simply click the image to zoom, double-click to zoom out, or click-drag to pan. You can also zoom in and out using the mouse scroll wheel.

Shortcuts

(Alt is Option on Macintosh)

  • Alt-click-drag to create a zoom-rectangle
  • Alt-click / Alt-double-click to zoom fully in / out
  • Alt-click-Reset button to return to the prior view

The thumbnail view in the top left can also be clicked or click-dragged to pan.

Keyboard shortcuts:

  • a to zoom in
  • z to zoom out
  • Arrow keys pan arround the image
  • Escape resets initial view or exits fullscreen

Toolbar buttons

Use the Toolbar for exact navigation - if using a mouse, hold it over any button to see a helpful tip.


Zoom out

Zoom in

Pan left

Pan right

Pan up

Pan down

Reset Image

Full screen view

View translation alongside image

View double page - bi folio

Download image for personal, research or teaching purposes

Help

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.
[Of the whale] [They suffer in the same way, those who are unbelievers and know nothing of the Devil's cunning, who place their hope in him,] bind themselves to do his work, together they will be plunged with him into the fires of Gehenna. The nature of this animal is such that when it feeds, it opens its mouth and breathes out from it a kind of sweet-smelling odour, so that when smaller fish scent it, they gather in its mouth. When the whale feels that its mouth is full, it closes it suddenly and swallows the fish. They suffer in the same way, those who are of limited faith, who succumb to the food of desires and enticements, they are suddenly devoured by the Devil as if they had been overwhelmed by certain scents Again of the whale Whales are beasts of huge size, so called because of their habit of drawing in and spouting out water; for they make waves higher than other sea creatures; the Greek word balenim [balein] means 'to emit'. The male is called musculus; for it is alleged that the females conceive by intercourse. Of the monster called the flying-fish. There is a sea monster called the flying-fish, which has huge wings. When it sees a ship under sail on the sea, it raises its wings over the water and tries to keep pace with the ship for three or four miles; when it fails to keep pace, it lowers its wings and folds them. The waves carry it, exhausted, back to its home in their depths. The flying-fish represents this world. The ship symbolises the righteous, who sail through its storms and tempests without putting their faith in danger or at risk of shipwreck. But the flying-fish, which could not keep up with the ship, represents those who at the start apply themselves to good works, but do not afterwards persevere with them and yield to all sorts of vice, which carry them, like the restless waves of the sea, down to hell. For the prize goes not to those who begin the race, but to those who stay the course. Of dolphins Dolphins are known by that particular name or word because they follow the sound of men's voices, or gather in schools at the sound of music. There is no swifter creature in the sea. For they often leap through the air over ships; but when they play beforehand in the swell and leap headlong through the mighty waves, they seem to foretell storms.

Text

The whale, flying fish, dolphins.

Comment

Folio mark 'll' in top right corner. This represents folio 2 of quire 'L', but folio 1 is missing. Initials, type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
    Folio Marks

    To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

  • Initial Type 2

    Initial Type 2

    Initial Type 2
    Type 2 initial. Detail from f.5v

    Type 2 is much more common. The letter is made with burnished gold, filled with a blue or brown background which is decorated with a delicate white tracery. Many of these are embellished with red or blue traces or sprays. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a very early example of the use of sprays which culminates in the art of William de Brailes in the mid-thirteenth century (Morgan 1982,no.68). An elaborate spray is on f.41v. The fine white filigree pattern is also found on some of the illuminations (f.3r, f.11r, f.12r) suggesting that the main illuminator also made these initials. This type generally occupies two lines. This initial is generally used to introduce each new animal.

Transcription

[De balena] \ [A ... Sic illi paciuntur qui incredulo animo sunt, et ignorant diaboli astucias spem suam in eum ponentes, atqe suis operibus se obligan-]tes, simul merguntur cum illo in Gehennam ignis. Natura belue est\ talis quando esurit aperit os suum, et odorem quendam bene\ olentem exalat de ore eius, cuius dulcedinem ut sentiunt mino\res pisces, congregant se in ore eius. Cum vero senserit os suum\ esse repletum, subito claudit os suum et transglutit eos. Sic pa\ciuntur illi qui sunt modice fidei addicti voluptatibus et leno\ciniis ad escam, quamsi quibusdam odoribus subito absorbentur a diabolo.\ Item de balena \ Balene autem sunt immense\ magnitudinis bestie ab emittendo et fundendo aquas\ vocate ceteris enim bestiis maris alcius iaciunt undas, balenim\ Grece emittere dicitur. Masculus balene est musculus enim\ coitu concipere hec belua perhibetur. \De belua que dicitur serra \ Est belua in mari que dicitur serra, pennas habens immanes.\ Hec cum viderit navim in pelago velificantem, elevat\ pennas suas super aquam et contendit velificare contra navim\ stadiis triginta vel quadraginta, et non sustinens laborem deficit, et deponens\ pennas ad se attrahit eas. Unde vero maris iam lassam reportant\ ad locum suum in profundum. Hec belua figuram habet seculi. Navis\ vero iustorum habet exemplum, qui sine periculo et naufragio fidei\ transierunt per medias huius mundi procellas et tempestates. Serra vero\ id est belua illa que non valuit velificare cum navi, figuram il\lorum gerit, qui in inicio ceperunt bonis operibus insistere, postea\ non permanentes in eis, victi sunt diversis viciorum generibus que\ illos tanquam fluctuantes maris unde mergunt usque ad inferos. Non\ enim incipientibus sed perseverantibus premium promittitur. \ De delfinibus \ Delfines certum habent nomen vel vocabulum\ quod voces hominum sequantur, vel quod ad simphoniam\ gregatim conveniunt. Nichil in mari velocius. Nam plerumque\ naves salientes transvolant, quando autem preludunt in fluctibus et un\darum se molibus saltu precipiti feriunt, tempestates significare\

Translation

[Of the whale] [They suffer in the same way, those who are unbelievers and know nothing of the Devil's cunning, who place their hope in him,] bind themselves to do his work, together they will be plunged with him into the fires of Gehenna. The nature of this animal is such that when it feeds, it opens its mouth and breathes out from it a kind of sweet-smelling odour, so that when smaller fish scent it, they gather in its mouth. When the whale feels that its mouth is full, it closes it suddenly and swallows the fish. They suffer in the same way, those who are of limited faith, who succumb to the food of desires and enticements, they are suddenly devoured by the Devil as if they had been overwhelmed by certain scents Again of the whale Whales are beasts of huge size, so called because of their habit of drawing in and spouting out water; for they make waves higher than other sea creatures; the Greek word balenim [balein] means 'to emit'. The male is called musculus; for it is alleged that the females conceive by intercourse. Of the monster called the flying-fish. There is a sea monster called the flying-fish, which has huge wings. When it sees a ship under sail on the sea, it raises its wings over the water and tries to keep pace with the ship for three or four miles; when it fails to keep pace, it lowers its wings and folds them. The waves carry it, exhausted, back to its home in their depths. The flying-fish represents this world. The ship symbolises the righteous, who sail through its storms and tempests without putting their faith in danger or at risk of shipwreck. But the flying-fish, which could not keep up with the ship, represents those who at the start apply themselves to good works, but do not afterwards persevere with them and yield to all sorts of vice, which carry them, like the restless waves of the sea, down to hell. For the prize goes not to those who begin the race, but to those who stay the course. Of dolphins Dolphins are known by that particular name or word because they follow the sound of men's voices, or gather in schools at the sound of music. There is no swifter creature in the sea. For they often leap through the air over ships; but when they play beforehand in the swell and leap headlong through the mighty waves, they seem to foretell storms.
  • Commentary

    Text

    The whale, flying fish, dolphins.

    Comment

    Folio mark 'll' in top right corner. This represents folio 2 of quire 'L', but folio 1 is missing. Initials, type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
      Folio Marks

      To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

    • Initial Type 2

      Initial Type 2

      Initial Type 2
      Type 2 initial. Detail from f.5v

      Type 2 is much more common. The letter is made with burnished gold, filled with a blue or brown background which is decorated with a delicate white tracery. Many of these are embellished with red or blue traces or sprays. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a very early example of the use of sprays which culminates in the art of William de Brailes in the mid-thirteenth century (Morgan 1982,no.68). An elaborate spray is on f.41v. The fine white filigree pattern is also found on some of the illuminations (f.3r, f.11r, f.12r) suggesting that the main illuminator also made these initials. This type generally occupies two lines. This initial is generally used to introduce each new animal.

  • Translation
    [Of the whale] [They suffer in the same way, those who are unbelievers and know nothing of the Devil's cunning, who place their hope in him,] bind themselves to do his work, together they will be plunged with him into the fires of Gehenna. The nature of this animal is such that when it feeds, it opens its mouth and breathes out from it a kind of sweet-smelling odour, so that when smaller fish scent it, they gather in its mouth. When the whale feels that its mouth is full, it closes it suddenly and swallows the fish. They suffer in the same way, those who are of limited faith, who succumb to the food of desires and enticements, they are suddenly devoured by the Devil as if they had been overwhelmed by certain scents Again of the whale Whales are beasts of huge size, so called because of their habit of drawing in and spouting out water; for they make waves higher than other sea creatures; the Greek word balenim [balein] means 'to emit'. The male is called musculus; for it is alleged that the females conceive by intercourse. Of the monster called the flying-fish. There is a sea monster called the flying-fish, which has huge wings. When it sees a ship under sail on the sea, it raises its wings over the water and tries to keep pace with the ship for three or four miles; when it fails to keep pace, it lowers its wings and folds them. The waves carry it, exhausted, back to its home in their depths. The flying-fish represents this world. The ship symbolises the righteous, who sail through its storms and tempests without putting their faith in danger or at risk of shipwreck. But the flying-fish, which could not keep up with the ship, represents those who at the start apply themselves to good works, but do not afterwards persevere with them and yield to all sorts of vice, which carry them, like the restless waves of the sea, down to hell. For the prize goes not to those who begin the race, but to those who stay the course. Of dolphins Dolphins are known by that particular name or word because they follow the sound of men's voices, or gather in schools at the sound of music. There is no swifter creature in the sea. For they often leap through the air over ships; but when they play beforehand in the swell and leap headlong through the mighty waves, they seem to foretell storms.
  • Transcription
    [De balena] \ [A ... Sic illi paciuntur qui incredulo animo sunt, et ignorant diaboli astucias spem suam in eum ponentes, atqe suis operibus se obligan-]tes, simul merguntur cum illo in Gehennam ignis. Natura belue est\ talis quando esurit aperit os suum, et odorem quendam bene\ olentem exalat de ore eius, cuius dulcedinem ut sentiunt mino\res pisces, congregant se in ore eius. Cum vero senserit os suum\ esse repletum, subito claudit os suum et transglutit eos. Sic pa\ciuntur illi qui sunt modice fidei addicti voluptatibus et leno\ciniis ad escam, quamsi quibusdam odoribus subito absorbentur a diabolo.\ Item de balena \ Balene autem sunt immense\ magnitudinis bestie ab emittendo et fundendo aquas\ vocate ceteris enim bestiis maris alcius iaciunt undas, balenim\ Grece emittere dicitur. Masculus balene est musculus enim\ coitu concipere hec belua perhibetur. \De belua que dicitur serra \ Est belua in mari que dicitur serra, pennas habens immanes.\ Hec cum viderit navim in pelago velificantem, elevat\ pennas suas super aquam et contendit velificare contra navim\ stadiis triginta vel quadraginta, et non sustinens laborem deficit, et deponens\ pennas ad se attrahit eas. Unde vero maris iam lassam reportant\ ad locum suum in profundum. Hec belua figuram habet seculi. Navis\ vero iustorum habet exemplum, qui sine periculo et naufragio fidei\ transierunt per medias huius mundi procellas et tempestates. Serra vero\ id est belua illa que non valuit velificare cum navi, figuram il\lorum gerit, qui in inicio ceperunt bonis operibus insistere, postea\ non permanentes in eis, victi sunt diversis viciorum generibus que\ illos tanquam fluctuantes maris unde mergunt usque ad inferos. Non\ enim incipientibus sed perseverantibus premium promittitur. \ De delfinibus \ Delfines certum habent nomen vel vocabulum\ quod voces hominum sequantur, vel quod ad simphoniam\ gregatim conveniunt. Nichil in mari velocius. Nam plerumque\ naves salientes transvolant, quando autem preludunt in fluctibus et un\darum se molibus saltu precipiti feriunt, tempestates significare\
Folio 73r - [De balena]; Of the whale. De belua que dicitur serra; Of the monster called the flying-fish. De delfinibus; Of dolphins. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen