The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 76r - 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.
satisfy its inner longing for some fresh air. Then the crab, stealthily inserting a pebble, stops the oyster from closing its shell and, finding what was shut now open, it inserts its claws in safety and feeds on the flesh inside. In the same way, therefore, there are evil men who, in the manner of the crab, deceive others by stealth, and bolster their own incapacity by a degree of cunning; they enmesh their brothers in deceit and feed off another's troubles. Be content with what is yours, and do not grow fat on the misfortunes of others. The right food is the sincerity of innocence. The man who has his own sense of worthiness cannot waylay others; he does not burn with the flames of avarice; profit he regards as loss of virtue and an incentive to greed. Therefore, blessed is poverty if it teaches a man to know truly the worth of his possessions; it is preferable to any treasure, for 'Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better a dinner of herbs where there is love, than a dinner of fatted calf where there is hatred' (see Proverbs, 15:16-17). Let us use our intelligence, therefore, to seek grace and attain salvation, not to deceive another in his innocence; and let us use the examples of sea-creatures to the advancement of our salvation, not to endanger others. The urchin is small, worthless and contemptible - I am talking about the maritime kind - and is customarily taken by seafarers as a sign of a storm ahead or as a herald of calm weather. When it senses that a stormy blast is on the way, it seizes a good-sized pebble and carries it as a kind of ballast, and drags it like an anchor lest it is thrown up by the swell. Thus it saves itself not by its own strength but by using weight from another source to steer a stable course. Sailors seize on this behaviour as a sign of bad weather to come and take precautions lest an unexpected hurricane should catch them unprepared. What mathematician, what astrologer, what Chaldean can make sense in this way of the course of the stars, or of the motions and signs of the heavens. By what instinct has the urchin acquired this skill?

Text

The sea urchin.

Transcription

aere visceris sui voluptatem quandam capiat, et tunc clan\culo calculum immittens impedit conclusionem ostrei, ac\ sic aperta claustra reperiens tuto inserit chelas, visceraque interna\ depascitur. Sic igitur homines viciosi sunt qui cancri usu in\ aliene usum circumscriptionis irrepunt, et infirmitatem\ proprie virtutis, astu quodam suffulciunt, fratri dolum\ nectunt, et alterius pascuntur erumpna. Tu autem propriis\ esto contentus, et aliena te dampna non pascant. Bonus\ cibus est simplicitas innocentie. Sua bona habens insidiari\ nescit alienis, nec avaricie facibus inardescit, cui lucrum\ omne ad virtutem dispendium est, ad cupiditatem incen\dium. Et ideo beata est si bona sua noverit cum veritate pau\pertas, et omnibus preferenda thesauris, quia melius est exigu\um cum dei timore, quam thesauri magni sine timore. Melior\ est enim hospitalitas in oleribus cum gratia, quam vitulorum\ pinguium preparatio cum discordia. Utamur ergo ingenio ad\ querendam gratiam et salutem tuendam, non ad alienam\ circumscribendam innocentiam, licet nobis uti exemplis\ maritimis ad profectum nostre salutis non ad aliene periculum.\ Echinus animal exiguum, vile ac despectabile maritimum\ loquor, plerumque index future tempestatis aut tranquillita\tis aut nuncius solet esse navigantibus. Denique cum procellam\ ventorum presenserit, calculum validum arripit, eumque\ velut saburram vehit, et tanquam anchoram trahit ne excu\ciatur fluctibus. Itaque non suis se liberat viribus sed alieno sta\bilit et regit pondere. Quo indicio naute velud signum fu\ture perturbationibus capessunt et sibi precavent ne eos impa\ratos turbo improvisus inveniat. Qui mathematicus qui astro\logus qui ve Caldeus potest siderum cursus, sic et celi mo\tus et signa comprehendere? Quo ingenio ista colligit,\

Translation

satisfy its inner longing for some fresh air. Then the crab, stealthily inserting a pebble, stops the oyster from closing its shell and, finding what was shut now open, it inserts its claws in safety and feeds on the flesh inside. In the same way, therefore, there are evil men who, in the manner of the crab, deceive others by stealth, and bolster their own incapacity by a degree of cunning; they enmesh their brothers in deceit and feed off another's troubles. Be content with what is yours, and do not grow fat on the misfortunes of others. The right food is the sincerity of innocence. The man who has his own sense of worthiness cannot waylay others; he does not burn with the flames of avarice; profit he regards as loss of virtue and an incentive to greed. Therefore, blessed is poverty if it teaches a man to know truly the worth of his possessions; it is preferable to any treasure, for 'Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better a dinner of herbs where there is love, than a dinner of fatted calf where there is hatred' (see Proverbs, 15:16-17). Let us use our intelligence, therefore, to seek grace and attain salvation, not to deceive another in his innocence; and let us use the examples of sea-creatures to the advancement of our salvation, not to endanger others. The urchin is small, worthless and contemptible - I am talking about the maritime kind - and is customarily taken by seafarers as a sign of a storm ahead or as a herald of calm weather. When it senses that a stormy blast is on the way, it seizes a good-sized pebble and carries it as a kind of ballast, and drags it like an anchor lest it is thrown up by the swell. Thus it saves itself not by its own strength but by using weight from another source to steer a stable course. Sailors seize on this behaviour as a sign of bad weather to come and take precautions lest an unexpected hurricane should catch them unprepared. What mathematician, what astrologer, what Chaldean can make sense in this way of the course of the stars, or of the motions and signs of the heavens. By what instinct has the urchin acquired this skill?
  • Commentary

    Text

    The sea urchin.

  • Translation
    satisfy its inner longing for some fresh air. Then the crab, stealthily inserting a pebble, stops the oyster from closing its shell and, finding what was shut now open, it inserts its claws in safety and feeds on the flesh inside. In the same way, therefore, there are evil men who, in the manner of the crab, deceive others by stealth, and bolster their own incapacity by a degree of cunning; they enmesh their brothers in deceit and feed off another's troubles. Be content with what is yours, and do not grow fat on the misfortunes of others. The right food is the sincerity of innocence. The man who has his own sense of worthiness cannot waylay others; he does not burn with the flames of avarice; profit he regards as loss of virtue and an incentive to greed. Therefore, blessed is poverty if it teaches a man to know truly the worth of his possessions; it is preferable to any treasure, for 'Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better a dinner of herbs where there is love, than a dinner of fatted calf where there is hatred' (see Proverbs, 15:16-17). Let us use our intelligence, therefore, to seek grace and attain salvation, not to deceive another in his innocence; and let us use the examples of sea-creatures to the advancement of our salvation, not to endanger others. The urchin is small, worthless and contemptible - I am talking about the maritime kind - and is customarily taken by seafarers as a sign of a storm ahead or as a herald of calm weather. When it senses that a stormy blast is on the way, it seizes a good-sized pebble and carries it as a kind of ballast, and drags it like an anchor lest it is thrown up by the swell. Thus it saves itself not by its own strength but by using weight from another source to steer a stable course. Sailors seize on this behaviour as a sign of bad weather to come and take precautions lest an unexpected hurricane should catch them unprepared. What mathematician, what astrologer, what Chaldean can make sense in this way of the course of the stars, or of the motions and signs of the heavens. By what instinct has the urchin acquired this skill?
  • Transcription
    aere visceris sui voluptatem quandam capiat, et tunc clan\culo calculum immittens impedit conclusionem ostrei, ac\ sic aperta claustra reperiens tuto inserit chelas, visceraque interna\ depascitur. Sic igitur homines viciosi sunt qui cancri usu in\ aliene usum circumscriptionis irrepunt, et infirmitatem\ proprie virtutis, astu quodam suffulciunt, fratri dolum\ nectunt, et alterius pascuntur erumpna. Tu autem propriis\ esto contentus, et aliena te dampna non pascant. Bonus\ cibus est simplicitas innocentie. Sua bona habens insidiari\ nescit alienis, nec avaricie facibus inardescit, cui lucrum\ omne ad virtutem dispendium est, ad cupiditatem incen\dium. Et ideo beata est si bona sua noverit cum veritate pau\pertas, et omnibus preferenda thesauris, quia melius est exigu\um cum dei timore, quam thesauri magni sine timore. Melior\ est enim hospitalitas in oleribus cum gratia, quam vitulorum\ pinguium preparatio cum discordia. Utamur ergo ingenio ad\ querendam gratiam et salutem tuendam, non ad alienam\ circumscribendam innocentiam, licet nobis uti exemplis\ maritimis ad profectum nostre salutis non ad aliene periculum.\ Echinus animal exiguum, vile ac despectabile maritimum\ loquor, plerumque index future tempestatis aut tranquillita\tis aut nuncius solet esse navigantibus. Denique cum procellam\ ventorum presenserit, calculum validum arripit, eumque\ velut saburram vehit, et tanquam anchoram trahit ne excu\ciatur fluctibus. Itaque non suis se liberat viribus sed alieno sta\bilit et regit pondere. Quo indicio naute velud signum fu\ture perturbationibus capessunt et sibi precavent ne eos impa\ratos turbo improvisus inveniat. Qui mathematicus qui astro\logus qui ve Caldeus potest siderum cursus, sic et celi mo\tus et signa comprehendere? Quo ingenio ista colligit,\
Folio 76r - Of fish, continued. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen