The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 10r - animal grandius...; the elephant [part].


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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:

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 elephant] ... no larger animal is seen. The Persians and Indians, carried in wooden towers on their backs, fight with javelins as from a wall. Elephants have a lively intelligence and a long memory; they move around in herds; they flee from a mouse; they mate back-to-back. The female is pregnant for two years, and gives birth no more than once, and not to several offspring but to one only. Elephants live for three hundred years. If an elephant wants to father sons, it goes to the East, near Paradise; there the tree called mandragora, the mandrake, grows. The elephant goes to it with his mate, who first takes fruit from the tree and gives it to her male. And she seduces him until he eats it; then she conceives at once in her womb. When the time comes for her to give birth, she goes out into a pool, until the water comes up to her udders. The male guards her while she is in labour, because elephants have an enemy - the dragon. If the elephant finds a snake, it kills it, trampling it until it is dead. The elephant strikes fear into bulls, yet fears the mouse. The elephant has this characteristic: if it falls down, it cannot rise. But it falls when it leans on a tree in order to sleep, for it has no joints in its knees. A hunter cuts part of the way through the tree, so that when the elephant leans against it, elephant and tree will fall together. As the elephant falls, it trumpets loudly; at once a big elephant goes to it but cannot lift it. Then they both trumpet and twelve elephants come, but they cannot lift the one who has fallen. Then they all trumpet, and immediately a little elephant comes and puts its trunk under the big one and lifts it up. The little elephant has this characteristic, that when some of its hair and bones have been burnt, nothing evil approaches, not even a dragon. The big elephant and its mate represent Adam and Eve. For when they were in the flesh pleasing to God, before their sin, they did not know how to mate and had no understanding

Text

The elephant.

Comment

Small cross in right margin. Pricking and ruling are visible.

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.

  • Ruling

    Ruling

    Ruling
    Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

    After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

Transcription

[De Elephante] animal grandius videtur. In eis enim Perse et Indi ligne\is turribus collati tanquam de muro iaculis dimicant. Intel\lectu et memoria multa vigent, gregatim incedunt, mu\rem fugiunt, aversa coheunt. Biennio autem parturiunt,\ nec amplius quam semel gignunt, nec plures sed tantum unum.\ Vivunt autem annos trescentos. Si autem voluerit facere filios, va\dit ad orientem prope Paradisum, et est ibi arbor qui vocatur\ mandragora, et vadit cum femina sua, que prius accipet\ de arbore et dat in masculo suo. Et seducit eum donec man\ducet, statimque in utero concipit. Cum vero tempus pariendi ve\nerit, exit in stagnum, et aqua venit usque ad ubera ma\tris. Elephans autem custodit eam parturientem, quia draco\ inimicus est elephanti. Si autem invenerit serpentem, occidit\ eum, quem conculcat donec moriatur. Est enim formida\ bilis tauris elephans, tamen murem timet. Hec est natura eius, si\ ceciderit non potest surgere. Cadit autem cum se inclinat in\ arborem ut dormiat. Non enim habet iuncturas geniculorum.\ Venator autem incidit arborem modicum, ut elephans eum se\ inclinaverit, similiter cum arbore cadat. Cadens autem for\titer clamat, et statim magnus elephans exit, et non potest eum\ levare. Tunc clamant ambo et veniunt duodecim ele\phantes, et non possunt levare eum qui cecidit. Deinde cla\mant omnes, et statim venit pusillus elephans, et mittit\ os suum cum permusicla subtus magnum elephantem, et e\levat eum. Habet autem pusillus elefans hanc naturam, ubi in\censum fuerit de capillis et ossibus eius, necque aliud mali acci\dit neque draco. Magnus elefans et mulier eius personam habent A\dam et Eve. Cum enim carne essent placentes deo, ante\ ipsorum privaricationem non sciebant coitum, necque intelligen\

Translation

[Of the elephant] ... no larger animal is seen. The Persians and Indians, carried in wooden towers on their backs, fight with javelins as from a wall. Elephants have a lively intelligence and a long memory; they move around in herds; they flee from a mouse; they mate back-to-back. The female is pregnant for two years, and gives birth no more than once, and not to several offspring but to one only. Elephants live for three hundred years. If an elephant wants to father sons, it goes to the East, near Paradise; there the tree called mandragora, the mandrake, grows. The elephant goes to it with his mate, who first takes fruit from the tree and gives it to her male. And she seduces him until he eats it; then she conceives at once in her womb. When the time comes for her to give birth, she goes out into a pool, until the water comes up to her udders. The male guards her while she is in labour, because elephants have an enemy - the dragon. If the elephant finds a snake, it kills it, trampling it until it is dead. The elephant strikes fear into bulls, yet fears the mouse. The elephant has this characteristic: if it falls down, it cannot rise. But it falls when it leans on a tree in order to sleep, for it has no joints in its knees. A hunter cuts part of the way through the tree, so that when the elephant leans against it, elephant and tree will fall together. As the elephant falls, it trumpets loudly; at once a big elephant goes to it but cannot lift it. Then they both trumpet and twelve elephants come, but they cannot lift the one who has fallen. Then they all trumpet, and immediately a little elephant comes and puts its trunk under the big one and lifts it up. The little elephant has this characteristic, that when some of its hair and bones have been burnt, nothing evil approaches, not even a dragon. The big elephant and its mate represent Adam and Eve. For when they were in the flesh pleasing to God, before their sin, they did not know how to mate and had no understanding
  • Commentary

    Text

    The elephant.

    Comment

    Small cross in right margin. Pricking and ruling are visible.

    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.

    • Ruling

      Ruling

      Ruling
      Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

      After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

  • Translation
    [Of the elephant] ... no larger animal is seen. The Persians and Indians, carried in wooden towers on their backs, fight with javelins as from a wall. Elephants have a lively intelligence and a long memory; they move around in herds; they flee from a mouse; they mate back-to-back. The female is pregnant for two years, and gives birth no more than once, and not to several offspring but to one only. Elephants live for three hundred years. If an elephant wants to father sons, it goes to the East, near Paradise; there the tree called mandragora, the mandrake, grows. The elephant goes to it with his mate, who first takes fruit from the tree and gives it to her male. And she seduces him until he eats it; then she conceives at once in her womb. When the time comes for her to give birth, she goes out into a pool, until the water comes up to her udders. The male guards her while she is in labour, because elephants have an enemy - the dragon. If the elephant finds a snake, it kills it, trampling it until it is dead. The elephant strikes fear into bulls, yet fears the mouse. The elephant has this characteristic: if it falls down, it cannot rise. But it falls when it leans on a tree in order to sleep, for it has no joints in its knees. A hunter cuts part of the way through the tree, so that when the elephant leans against it, elephant and tree will fall together. As the elephant falls, it trumpets loudly; at once a big elephant goes to it but cannot lift it. Then they both trumpet and twelve elephants come, but they cannot lift the one who has fallen. Then they all trumpet, and immediately a little elephant comes and puts its trunk under the big one and lifts it up. The little elephant has this characteristic, that when some of its hair and bones have been burnt, nothing evil approaches, not even a dragon. The big elephant and its mate represent Adam and Eve. For when they were in the flesh pleasing to God, before their sin, they did not know how to mate and had no understanding
  • Transcription
    [De Elephante] animal grandius videtur. In eis enim Perse et Indi ligne\is turribus collati tanquam de muro iaculis dimicant. Intel\lectu et memoria multa vigent, gregatim incedunt, mu\rem fugiunt, aversa coheunt. Biennio autem parturiunt,\ nec amplius quam semel gignunt, nec plures sed tantum unum.\ Vivunt autem annos trescentos. Si autem voluerit facere filios, va\dit ad orientem prope Paradisum, et est ibi arbor qui vocatur\ mandragora, et vadit cum femina sua, que prius accipet\ de arbore et dat in masculo suo. Et seducit eum donec man\ducet, statimque in utero concipit. Cum vero tempus pariendi ve\nerit, exit in stagnum, et aqua venit usque ad ubera ma\tris. Elephans autem custodit eam parturientem, quia draco\ inimicus est elephanti. Si autem invenerit serpentem, occidit\ eum, quem conculcat donec moriatur. Est enim formida\ bilis tauris elephans, tamen murem timet. Hec est natura eius, si\ ceciderit non potest surgere. Cadit autem cum se inclinat in\ arborem ut dormiat. Non enim habet iuncturas geniculorum.\ Venator autem incidit arborem modicum, ut elephans eum se\ inclinaverit, similiter cum arbore cadat. Cadens autem for\titer clamat, et statim magnus elephans exit, et non potest eum\ levare. Tunc clamant ambo et veniunt duodecim ele\phantes, et non possunt levare eum qui cecidit. Deinde cla\mant omnes, et statim venit pusillus elephans, et mittit\ os suum cum permusicla subtus magnum elephantem, et e\levat eum. Habet autem pusillus elefans hanc naturam, ubi in\censum fuerit de capillis et ossibus eius, necque aliud mali acci\dit neque draco. Magnus elefans et mulier eius personam habent A\dam et Eve. Cum enim carne essent placentes deo, ante\ ipsorum privaricationem non sciebant coitum, necque intelligen\
Folio 10r - animal grandius...; the elephant [part]. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen