The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 79r - Item de arboribus; Again of trees.


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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.
for some time, then it is born up to the surface, contrary to nature, since like any waterlogged object, it should have remained at the bottom, held down by the weight of the water. It is said that when old people eat figs frequently, their wrinkled skin fills out. They say, too, that if you gather the fiercest bulls at the foot of a fig tree, they suddenly become docile. Again of trees The mulberry tree is called morus by Greeks; in Latin it is called rubus, because its fruit or its branches are red in colour. There is a wild species which bears fruit, which shepherds in the wilderness use to assuage their hunger and need. It is said that if you throw its leaves on a snake, you will kill it. Again of trees The sycamore, sicomorus, like morus, has a Greek name. It is so called because its leaf is like that of a mulberry tree. In Latin it is called celsa, from its height, because it is not short like the mulberry. The nut tree, nux, is so called because its shadow or the moisture that drips from its leaves does harm, nocere, to neighbouring trees; it has another Latin name, juglans, 'Jove's nut tree', so to speak, for this tree was consecrated by name to Jupiter. Its fruit is so strong that, set amid dishes of vegetables or mushrooms thought to be poisonous, it expels their poison in liquid form, draws it off and renders it harmless. Again of nut trees The word 'nuts', nuces, is generally applied to all fruit with a fairly hard shell like pine nuts, filberts, chestnuts and almonds. For this reason they are also called nuclei, because they are covered with a hard shell. In contrast, however, all fruit with soft skins are called mala, adding the place where they originated, like Persica, from Persia, a peach; Punica, from Carthage, a pomegranate; Mattiniana, Matian, a crab-apple. The word for almond, amigdala, is Greek; in Latin it is nux longa, 'long nut'. For of all trees, the almond is the first to blossom and produces its fruit before other trees. In Latin the chestnut, castanea, is called by its Greek name. It is so called because its twin fruits are concealed within a pod like testicles. When they are expelled from the pod, it is as if they were castrated. As soon as this tree is felled, it grows again, just like woodland trees. Again

Text

Various types of tree.

Comment

The spacing for the rubrics is incorrect. Initial types 1 and 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Rubrics

    Rubrics

    Rubrics
    Rubric for the title Nightingale. The Jay, cont. Detail from f.52v

    Rubrics are the red letters marking the beginning of each chapter. The scribe writing in black ink would leave the necessary gap at the head of each chapter and then return to the space later to fill in the red lettering. In quire H (f.49r-f.56v) many spaces for the rubrics have been left empty. The scribe filled in the blackbird and owl (f.49v, f.50r) but left out the hoopoe, bat, goose, heron, partridge (two sections), coot, phoenix (two sections) and caladrius. Within this section on birds only the nightingale has the rubrics written correctly (f.52v). It would appear the scribe had to pass on quire H, probably to the illuminator, before he finished the rubrics.

  • 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

aliquandiu iacuerit, deinde in superficiem sustollitur versa vice nature\ quoniam madefactum debuit humoris pondere residere. A senibus\ in cibo sepius sumpte ficus rugas eorum fertur distendere. Tau\ros quoque ferocissimos ad fici arborem colligatos, repente\ mansuescere dicunt. \ Item de arboribus \ Morus a Grecis vocata quam Latini rubum appellant\ eo quod fructus eius vel virgultum eius rubet. Est\ enim morus silvestris fructum afferens, quibus in deserto pa\storum fames ac penuria confovetur. Huius folia superiactata\ serpenti fertur interimi. \ Item \ Sicomorus sicut morus\ Greca nomina sunt, dicta autem sicomorus eo quod folium eius sit\ simile moro. Hanc Latini celsam appellant ab altitudine, quia\ non est brevis ut morus. \ Item \ [N]ux appellata quod\ umbra vel stillicidium foliorum eius proximis arboribus noceat,\ hanc alio nomine Latini iuglandem vocant, quasi Jovis glandem,\ fuit enim hec arbor nomine arbor consecrata Jovi. Cuius pomum tantam\ vim habet ut missum inter suspectos herbarum vel fungorum ci\bos, quicquid eis virulentium est exsudet, rapiat et extinguat.\ Item \ Nuces autem generaliter dicuntur omnia poma corio,\ duriori tecta, ut pinee nuces, avellane glandes, castanee, ami\gdale. Hinc et nuclei dicti quod sint duro corio tecti. At contra\ poma omnia mollia mala dicta sunt, sed cum adiectione terra\rum in quibus antea nata sunt ut Persica, Punica, Mattiniana.\ Amigdala Grecum nomen est, que Latine nux longa vocatur.\ Cunctis enim arboribus prior flore se vestit, et ad inferenda poma\ arbusta sequentia prevenit. Castaneam Latini a Greco appellant\ vocabulo. Hanc enim castaneam vocant, eo quod fructus eius\ gemini in modum testiculorum intra folliculum sunt reconditi.\ Qui dum eiciuntur, quasi castrantur. Hec arbor simul ut exci\sa fuerit, tanquam silva expullulare consuevit.\ Iterum

Translation

for some time, then it is born up to the surface, contrary to nature, since like any waterlogged object, it should have remained at the bottom, held down by the weight of the water. It is said that when old people eat figs frequently, their wrinkled skin fills out. They say, too, that if you gather the fiercest bulls at the foot of a fig tree, they suddenly become docile. Again of trees The mulberry tree is called morus by Greeks; in Latin it is called rubus, because its fruit or its branches are red in colour. There is a wild species which bears fruit, which shepherds in the wilderness use to assuage their hunger and need. It is said that if you throw its leaves on a snake, you will kill it. Again of trees The sycamore, sicomorus, like morus, has a Greek name. It is so called because its leaf is like that of a mulberry tree. In Latin it is called celsa, from its height, because it is not short like the mulberry. The nut tree, nux, is so called because its shadow or the moisture that drips from its leaves does harm, nocere, to neighbouring trees; it has another Latin name, juglans, 'Jove's nut tree', so to speak, for this tree was consecrated by name to Jupiter. Its fruit is so strong that, set amid dishes of vegetables or mushrooms thought to be poisonous, it expels their poison in liquid form, draws it off and renders it harmless. Again of nut trees The word 'nuts', nuces, is generally applied to all fruit with a fairly hard shell like pine nuts, filberts, chestnuts and almonds. For this reason they are also called nuclei, because they are covered with a hard shell. In contrast, however, all fruit with soft skins are called mala, adding the place where they originated, like Persica, from Persia, a peach; Punica, from Carthage, a pomegranate; Mattiniana, Matian, a crab-apple. The word for almond, amigdala, is Greek; in Latin it is nux longa, 'long nut'. For of all trees, the almond is the first to blossom and produces its fruit before other trees. In Latin the chestnut, castanea, is called by its Greek name. It is so called because its twin fruits are concealed within a pod like testicles. When they are expelled from the pod, it is as if they were castrated. As soon as this tree is felled, it grows again, just like woodland trees. Again
  • Commentary

    Text

    Various types of tree.

    Comment

    The spacing for the rubrics is incorrect. Initial types 1 and 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Rubrics

      Rubrics

      Rubrics
      Rubric for the title Nightingale. The Jay, cont. Detail from f.52v

      Rubrics are the red letters marking the beginning of each chapter. The scribe writing in black ink would leave the necessary gap at the head of each chapter and then return to the space later to fill in the red lettering. In quire H (f.49r-f.56v) many spaces for the rubrics have been left empty. The scribe filled in the blackbird and owl (f.49v, f.50r) but left out the hoopoe, bat, goose, heron, partridge (two sections), coot, phoenix (two sections) and caladrius. Within this section on birds only the nightingale has the rubrics written correctly (f.52v). It would appear the scribe had to pass on quire H, probably to the illuminator, before he finished the rubrics.

    • 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
    for some time, then it is born up to the surface, contrary to nature, since like any waterlogged object, it should have remained at the bottom, held down by the weight of the water. It is said that when old people eat figs frequently, their wrinkled skin fills out. They say, too, that if you gather the fiercest bulls at the foot of a fig tree, they suddenly become docile. Again of trees The mulberry tree is called morus by Greeks; in Latin it is called rubus, because its fruit or its branches are red in colour. There is a wild species which bears fruit, which shepherds in the wilderness use to assuage their hunger and need. It is said that if you throw its leaves on a snake, you will kill it. Again of trees The sycamore, sicomorus, like morus, has a Greek name. It is so called because its leaf is like that of a mulberry tree. In Latin it is called celsa, from its height, because it is not short like the mulberry. The nut tree, nux, is so called because its shadow or the moisture that drips from its leaves does harm, nocere, to neighbouring trees; it has another Latin name, juglans, 'Jove's nut tree', so to speak, for this tree was consecrated by name to Jupiter. Its fruit is so strong that, set amid dishes of vegetables or mushrooms thought to be poisonous, it expels their poison in liquid form, draws it off and renders it harmless. Again of nut trees The word 'nuts', nuces, is generally applied to all fruit with a fairly hard shell like pine nuts, filberts, chestnuts and almonds. For this reason they are also called nuclei, because they are covered with a hard shell. In contrast, however, all fruit with soft skins are called mala, adding the place where they originated, like Persica, from Persia, a peach; Punica, from Carthage, a pomegranate; Mattiniana, Matian, a crab-apple. The word for almond, amigdala, is Greek; in Latin it is nux longa, 'long nut'. For of all trees, the almond is the first to blossom and produces its fruit before other trees. In Latin the chestnut, castanea, is called by its Greek name. It is so called because its twin fruits are concealed within a pod like testicles. When they are expelled from the pod, it is as if they were castrated. As soon as this tree is felled, it grows again, just like woodland trees. Again
  • Transcription
    aliquandiu iacuerit, deinde in superficiem sustollitur versa vice nature\ quoniam madefactum debuit humoris pondere residere. A senibus\ in cibo sepius sumpte ficus rugas eorum fertur distendere. Tau\ros quoque ferocissimos ad fici arborem colligatos, repente\ mansuescere dicunt. \ Item de arboribus \ Morus a Grecis vocata quam Latini rubum appellant\ eo quod fructus eius vel virgultum eius rubet. Est\ enim morus silvestris fructum afferens, quibus in deserto pa\storum fames ac penuria confovetur. Huius folia superiactata\ serpenti fertur interimi. \ Item \ Sicomorus sicut morus\ Greca nomina sunt, dicta autem sicomorus eo quod folium eius sit\ simile moro. Hanc Latini celsam appellant ab altitudine, quia\ non est brevis ut morus. \ Item \ [N]ux appellata quod\ umbra vel stillicidium foliorum eius proximis arboribus noceat,\ hanc alio nomine Latini iuglandem vocant, quasi Jovis glandem,\ fuit enim hec arbor nomine arbor consecrata Jovi. Cuius pomum tantam\ vim habet ut missum inter suspectos herbarum vel fungorum ci\bos, quicquid eis virulentium est exsudet, rapiat et extinguat.\ Item \ Nuces autem generaliter dicuntur omnia poma corio,\ duriori tecta, ut pinee nuces, avellane glandes, castanee, ami\gdale. Hinc et nuclei dicti quod sint duro corio tecti. At contra\ poma omnia mollia mala dicta sunt, sed cum adiectione terra\rum in quibus antea nata sunt ut Persica, Punica, Mattiniana.\ Amigdala Grecum nomen est, que Latine nux longa vocatur.\ Cunctis enim arboribus prior flore se vestit, et ad inferenda poma\ arbusta sequentia prevenit. Castaneam Latini a Greco appellant\ vocabulo. Hanc enim castaneam vocant, eo quod fructus eius\ gemini in modum testiculorum intra folliculum sunt reconditi.\ Qui dum eiciuntur, quasi castrantur. Hec arbor simul ut exci\sa fuerit, tanquam silva expullulare consuevit.\ Iterum
Folio 79r - Item de arboribus; Again of trees. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen