The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 74r - Of fish, 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.
lay eggs, like the speckled, large fish called trout, and leave them in the water to hatch. Water, therefore, gives the life and form and, a gentle mother to living things, fulfils this obligation as if she were obeying an immutable law. Other fish produce living offspring from their bodies, like the great whales, dolphins, seals and others of this sort; when they have produced their young and have, perhaps, a premonition that these are ever threatened by some kind of trap or in danger, in order to protect them or to calm with a mother's love the fear of those of tender years, they are said to open their mouths and hold their young, without harming them, in their teeth, and also to take them back into their body, concealed in their womb. What human affection can equal the sense of duty that we find in fish? For us, kisses suffice. For them, it is not enough to open the innermost parts of their body, to swallow their young then bring them back whole, to give their offspring life once again with their own warmth, to breathe into their young their own breath, and to live as two in one body until either they have carried them off to safety or by interposing their own bodies, have protected their young from the threatened danger. Which fisherman seeing this, even if he were still able to catch the fish, would not give in to such a display of duty? Who would not marvel and stand amazed that nature has preserved in fish a quality that is not found in men? Many men, acting out of mistrust, driven by malevolence and hatred, have killed their children; we have read of others, women, who have eaten their own children in times of famine. The mother thus becomes a tomb for her infants. To the spawn of the fish, however, the mother's womb is like a wall; she preserves her harmless brood by turning her innermost parts into a sort of fortress. The different species of fish, therefore, have different habits. Some lay eggs, others produce living, full-formed offspring. Those who lay eggs do not weave nests like birds; they do not go through the bother of a long process of hatching their young; and they do not have the trouble of feeding them. The egg has been laid, and the water has reared it on what is, in effect, her own natural bosom, like a gentle nurse, incubating the egg quickly so that it becomes a living thing. For, given life by the constant touch of its mother, the water, the egg disintegrates and the fish emerges. How pure and unspoiled this process of generation is, involving, as it does, no creature outside that particular species.

Text

Fish, how they reproduce and love their offspring.

Folio Attributes

  • Pricking

    Pricking

    Pricking
    Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

    Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

Transcription

ova generant ut varii maiores quos vocant tructas, et aquis\ fovenda committunt. Aqua igitur animat et creat, et adhuc\ mandati illius tanquam legis perpetue munus exesequitur,\ blanda quedam mater animantium. Alii vivos fetus edunt,\ de suo corpore ut cete ingentia, delphines et foce aliaque cetera\ huiusmodi, que cum ediderint partus siquid forte insidiarum\ terrorisque presenserint circa catulos suos unquam moliri, quo tu\eantur eos vel tenere etatis pavorem materno affectu compri\mant, aperire ora et innoxio partus suos dente suspendere,\ interno quoque recipere corpore, et genitali feruntur alvo abscondere.\ Quis humanus affectus hanc piscium pietatem possit imitari?\ Oscula nobis sacietati sunt, illis non satis est aperire viscera,\ natosque recipere, ac revocare integros, atque iterum fotu quodam\ sui caloris animare, et spiritu adolere suo duosque in corpore uno\ vivere donec aut [PL, ad] securitatem deferant, aut corporis sui obiectu\ natos suos defendant a periculis. Quis hec videns et si possit ob\tinere non tante piscium pietati cedat? Quis non miretur et stu\peat, ut servet natura in piscibus, quod non servat in hominibus?\ Plerique in suspicione novercalibus odiis appetiti, suos occiderunt\ filios, alie in fame ut legimus partus proprios comederunt. Huma\nis pignoribus mater sepulchrum facta est, piscium proli uterus paren\tis sicut murus vallo quodam intimorum viscerum pignora\ inoffensa conservat. Diversa igitur piscium genera, diversos usus habent.\ Alii ova generant, alii vivos et formatos pariunt fetus. Et qui\ ova generant, non nidos texunt ut aves, non diuturni fotus\ laborem induunt, non cum molestia sui nutriunt. Cecidit o\vum, quod aqua gremio quodam nature sue quasi nutrix blanda\ suscepit, et animal celeri fotu reddidit. Continuo, enim, tactu pa\rentis animatum ovum cecidit, et piscis exivit. Tum deinde\ quam pura et inviolata successio, ut nullus sed generi suo misceatur.\

Translation

lay eggs, like the speckled, large fish called trout, and leave them in the water to hatch. Water, therefore, gives the life and form and, a gentle mother to living things, fulfils this obligation as if she were obeying an immutable law. Other fish produce living offspring from their bodies, like the great whales, dolphins, seals and others of this sort; when they have produced their young and have, perhaps, a premonition that these are ever threatened by some kind of trap or in danger, in order to protect them or to calm with a mother's love the fear of those of tender years, they are said to open their mouths and hold their young, without harming them, in their teeth, and also to take them back into their body, concealed in their womb. What human affection can equal the sense of duty that we find in fish? For us, kisses suffice. For them, it is not enough to open the innermost parts of their body, to swallow their young then bring them back whole, to give their offspring life once again with their own warmth, to breathe into their young their own breath, and to live as two in one body until either they have carried them off to safety or by interposing their own bodies, have protected their young from the threatened danger. Which fisherman seeing this, even if he were still able to catch the fish, would not give in to such a display of duty? Who would not marvel and stand amazed that nature has preserved in fish a quality that is not found in men? Many men, acting out of mistrust, driven by malevolence and hatred, have killed their children; we have read of others, women, who have eaten their own children in times of famine. The mother thus becomes a tomb for her infants. To the spawn of the fish, however, the mother's womb is like a wall; she preserves her harmless brood by turning her innermost parts into a sort of fortress. The different species of fish, therefore, have different habits. Some lay eggs, others produce living, full-formed offspring. Those who lay eggs do not weave nests like birds; they do not go through the bother of a long process of hatching their young; and they do not have the trouble of feeding them. The egg has been laid, and the water has reared it on what is, in effect, her own natural bosom, like a gentle nurse, incubating the egg quickly so that it becomes a living thing. For, given life by the constant touch of its mother, the water, the egg disintegrates and the fish emerges. How pure and unspoiled this process of generation is, involving, as it does, no creature outside that particular species.
  • Commentary

    Text

    Fish, how they reproduce and love their offspring.

    Folio Attributes

    • Pricking

      Pricking

      Pricking
      Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

      Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

  • Translation
    lay eggs, like the speckled, large fish called trout, and leave them in the water to hatch. Water, therefore, gives the life and form and, a gentle mother to living things, fulfils this obligation as if she were obeying an immutable law. Other fish produce living offspring from their bodies, like the great whales, dolphins, seals and others of this sort; when they have produced their young and have, perhaps, a premonition that these are ever threatened by some kind of trap or in danger, in order to protect them or to calm with a mother's love the fear of those of tender years, they are said to open their mouths and hold their young, without harming them, in their teeth, and also to take them back into their body, concealed in their womb. What human affection can equal the sense of duty that we find in fish? For us, kisses suffice. For them, it is not enough to open the innermost parts of their body, to swallow their young then bring them back whole, to give their offspring life once again with their own warmth, to breathe into their young their own breath, and to live as two in one body until either they have carried them off to safety or by interposing their own bodies, have protected their young from the threatened danger. Which fisherman seeing this, even if he were still able to catch the fish, would not give in to such a display of duty? Who would not marvel and stand amazed that nature has preserved in fish a quality that is not found in men? Many men, acting out of mistrust, driven by malevolence and hatred, have killed their children; we have read of others, women, who have eaten their own children in times of famine. The mother thus becomes a tomb for her infants. To the spawn of the fish, however, the mother's womb is like a wall; she preserves her harmless brood by turning her innermost parts into a sort of fortress. The different species of fish, therefore, have different habits. Some lay eggs, others produce living, full-formed offspring. Those who lay eggs do not weave nests like birds; they do not go through the bother of a long process of hatching their young; and they do not have the trouble of feeding them. The egg has been laid, and the water has reared it on what is, in effect, her own natural bosom, like a gentle nurse, incubating the egg quickly so that it becomes a living thing. For, given life by the constant touch of its mother, the water, the egg disintegrates and the fish emerges. How pure and unspoiled this process of generation is, involving, as it does, no creature outside that particular species.
  • Transcription
    ova generant ut varii maiores quos vocant tructas, et aquis\ fovenda committunt. Aqua igitur animat et creat, et adhuc\ mandati illius tanquam legis perpetue munus exesequitur,\ blanda quedam mater animantium. Alii vivos fetus edunt,\ de suo corpore ut cete ingentia, delphines et foce aliaque cetera\ huiusmodi, que cum ediderint partus siquid forte insidiarum\ terrorisque presenserint circa catulos suos unquam moliri, quo tu\eantur eos vel tenere etatis pavorem materno affectu compri\mant, aperire ora et innoxio partus suos dente suspendere,\ interno quoque recipere corpore, et genitali feruntur alvo abscondere.\ Quis humanus affectus hanc piscium pietatem possit imitari?\ Oscula nobis sacietati sunt, illis non satis est aperire viscera,\ natosque recipere, ac revocare integros, atque iterum fotu quodam\ sui caloris animare, et spiritu adolere suo duosque in corpore uno\ vivere donec aut [PL, ad] securitatem deferant, aut corporis sui obiectu\ natos suos defendant a periculis. Quis hec videns et si possit ob\tinere non tante piscium pietati cedat? Quis non miretur et stu\peat, ut servet natura in piscibus, quod non servat in hominibus?\ Plerique in suspicione novercalibus odiis appetiti, suos occiderunt\ filios, alie in fame ut legimus partus proprios comederunt. Huma\nis pignoribus mater sepulchrum facta est, piscium proli uterus paren\tis sicut murus vallo quodam intimorum viscerum pignora\ inoffensa conservat. Diversa igitur piscium genera, diversos usus habent.\ Alii ova generant, alii vivos et formatos pariunt fetus. Et qui\ ova generant, non nidos texunt ut aves, non diuturni fotus\ laborem induunt, non cum molestia sui nutriunt. Cecidit o\vum, quod aqua gremio quodam nature sue quasi nutrix blanda\ suscepit, et animal celeri fotu reddidit. Continuo, enim, tactu pa\rentis animatum ovum cecidit, et piscis exivit. Tum deinde\ quam pura et inviolata successio, ut nullus sed generi suo misceatur.\
Folio 74r - Of fish, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen