The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 55v - the phoenix, continued.

Folio 56r - the phoenix, continued.

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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:


  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:]


  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.



The phoenix. The bird turns to face the sun, beats its wings to fan the flames which will incinerate it. It rises from its ashes, a sign of the Resurrection.


A ventral view of the bird between two trees, with wings out stretched and head to one side, beating its wingsd and looking for the sun.


Possibly a faint sketch to left of initial F (type 2), in the margin. The rubric is missing. Initial type 2.



The phoenix. The bird makes a container for its ashes and rises again from the dead in its old form.


The phoenix turns to face the sun, beats its wings to fan the flames and is consumed. The image may equally show the bird rising from its own ashes, a symbol of the resurrection.


There is some pouncing around the bird and flames. This was probably done while the manuscript was being made because it is concealed by the back of f.56r being stuck to another sheet. Thus f. 56r and 56v are actually two sheets stuck back to back. The glued backing to this sheet conceals the hole in its vellum.