The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 15v - Bear, continued. De leucrota; the leucrota.


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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.
by virtue of the shagginess of their hair. Bears are bred in the same way, wherever they come from. They do not mate like other quadrupeds but embrace each other when they copulate, just like the couplings of humans. Winter arouses their desire. The males respect the pregant females, and honour them by leaving them alone; although they may share the same lair at the time of birth, they lie separated by a trench. Among bears the time of gestation is accelerated. Indeed, the thirtieth day sees the womb free of the cub. As a result of this rapid fertility, the cubs are created without form. The females produce tiny lumps of flesh, white in colour, with no eyes. These they shape gradually, holding them meanwhile to their breasts so that the cubs are warmed by the constant embrace and draw out the spirit of life. During this time bears eat no food at all in the first fortnight; the males fall so deeply asleep that they cannot be aroused even if they are wounded, and the females, after they have given birth, hide for three months. Soon after, when they emerge into the open, they are so unused to the light that you would think they had been blinded. They attack beehives and try hard to get honeycombs. There is nothing they seize more eagerly than honey. If they eat the fruit of the mandrake they die. But they prevent the misfortune from turning into disaster and eat ants to regain their health. If they attack bulls, they know the parts to threaten the most, and will not go for any part except the horns or nose: the nose, because the the pain is sharper in the more tender place. Of the leucrota The beast called leucrota comes from India. It is the swiftest of all wild animals. It is as big as an ass, with the hindquarters of a deer, the chest and legs of a lion, the head...

Text

The bear. The leocrota.

Illustration

The leocrota is a swift animal born in India. It is the size of an ass with the hindquarters of a stag, the chest and legs of a lion, [a horse's head and a mouth split open as far as its ears. It has a continuous jawbone instead of teeth].

Comment

The last part of the description is absent from this text but is clearly illustrated and occurs in other versions. Pricking and ruling are visible. Based on the contents of the Ashmole Bestiary, there are pages missing for leocrota, crocodile, manticore, and start of parander.

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

taxat villis profundioribus. Nam genitura par est, quoquo loco ge\nuerint. Coeunt non itidem quo quadrupedes alie, sed apti\ amplexibus mutuis velud humanis coniugationibus co\ pulantur. Desiderium veneris hyems suscitat. Secreti\ honore verentur, mares gravidas, et in isdem licet foveis\ partius tamen per scrobes se cubationibus dividuntur. Lu\cine illis properativum tempus est. Quippe uterum tricesimus dies liberat.\ Unde evenit ut precipitata fecunditas informes creat p\artus. Carnes paxillulas edunt, quibus color candidus, o\culi nulli. Has lambendo sensum [PL: sensim] figurant et interdum\ ad pectoratas fovent, ut assiduo incubitu calefacte, a\nimalem trahent spiritum. Interea cibus nullus sane diebus\ primis xiiii, mares in sompnum ita concidunt ut nec\ vulneribus excitari queant, enixeque ternis latent mensibus.\ Mox egresse in diem liberum, tantam paciuntur [patiuntur] inso\lentiam lucis, ut putes obsitas cecitate. Insidiantur\ alvearibus apum, maxime favos appetunt. Nec avidius\ aliquid quam mella captant. Cum gustaverint mandra\gore mala, moriuntur. Sed eunt obviam ne malum in perni\tiem convalescat, et formicas devorant, ad recuperandam\ sanitatem. Si quando tauros adoriuntur, sciunt quibus potissimum\ partibus minorantur, nec aliud quam cornua, aut nares pecunt.\ Nares ut acrior dolor sit in\ [loco] teneriore.\ De leucrota\ In India nascitur\ bestia nomine\ leucrota. Que velocitate prece\dit feras universas. Ipsa asini\ sit magnitudine, cervi clunibus\ pectore ac cruribus leonis, capita [A: capite]\

Translation

by virtue of the shagginess of their hair. Bears are bred in the same way, wherever they come from. They do not mate like other quadrupeds but embrace each other when they copulate, just like the couplings of humans. Winter arouses their desire. The males respect the pregant females, and honour them by leaving them alone; although they may share the same lair at the time of birth, they lie separated by a trench. Among bears the time of gestation is accelerated. Indeed, the thirtieth day sees the womb free of the cub. As a result of this rapid fertility, the cubs are created without form. The females produce tiny lumps of flesh, white in colour, with no eyes. These they shape gradually, holding them meanwhile to their breasts so that the cubs are warmed by the constant embrace and draw out the spirit of life. During this time bears eat no food at all in the first fortnight; the males fall so deeply asleep that they cannot be aroused even if they are wounded, and the females, after they have given birth, hide for three months. Soon after, when they emerge into the open, they are so unused to the light that you would think they had been blinded. They attack beehives and try hard to get honeycombs. There is nothing they seize more eagerly than honey. If they eat the fruit of the mandrake they die. But they prevent the misfortune from turning into disaster and eat ants to regain their health. If they attack bulls, they know the parts to threaten the most, and will not go for any part except the horns or nose: the nose, because the the pain is sharper in the more tender place. Of the leucrota The beast called leucrota comes from India. It is the swiftest of all wild animals. It is as big as an ass, with the hindquarters of a deer, the chest and legs of a lion, the head...
  • Commentary

    Text

    The bear. The leocrota.

    Illustration

    The leocrota is a swift animal born in India. It is the size of an ass with the hindquarters of a stag, the chest and legs of a lion, [a horse's head and a mouth split open as far as its ears. It has a continuous jawbone instead of teeth].

    Comment

    The last part of the description is absent from this text but is clearly illustrated and occurs in other versions. Pricking and ruling are visible. Based on the contents of the Ashmole Bestiary, there are pages missing for leocrota, crocodile, manticore, and start of parander.

    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
    by virtue of the shagginess of their hair. Bears are bred in the same way, wherever they come from. They do not mate like other quadrupeds but embrace each other when they copulate, just like the couplings of humans. Winter arouses their desire. The males respect the pregant females, and honour them by leaving them alone; although they may share the same lair at the time of birth, they lie separated by a trench. Among bears the time of gestation is accelerated. Indeed, the thirtieth day sees the womb free of the cub. As a result of this rapid fertility, the cubs are created without form. The females produce tiny lumps of flesh, white in colour, with no eyes. These they shape gradually, holding them meanwhile to their breasts so that the cubs are warmed by the constant embrace and draw out the spirit of life. During this time bears eat no food at all in the first fortnight; the males fall so deeply asleep that they cannot be aroused even if they are wounded, and the females, after they have given birth, hide for three months. Soon after, when they emerge into the open, they are so unused to the light that you would think they had been blinded. They attack beehives and try hard to get honeycombs. There is nothing they seize more eagerly than honey. If they eat the fruit of the mandrake they die. But they prevent the misfortune from turning into disaster and eat ants to regain their health. If they attack bulls, they know the parts to threaten the most, and will not go for any part except the horns or nose: the nose, because the the pain is sharper in the more tender place. Of the leucrota The beast called leucrota comes from India. It is the swiftest of all wild animals. It is as big as an ass, with the hindquarters of a deer, the chest and legs of a lion, the head...
  • Transcription
    taxat villis profundioribus. Nam genitura par est, quoquo loco ge\nuerint. Coeunt non itidem quo quadrupedes alie, sed apti\ amplexibus mutuis velud humanis coniugationibus co\ pulantur. Desiderium veneris hyems suscitat. Secreti\ honore verentur, mares gravidas, et in isdem licet foveis\ partius tamen per scrobes se cubationibus dividuntur. Lu\cine illis properativum tempus est. Quippe uterum tricesimus dies liberat.\ Unde evenit ut precipitata fecunditas informes creat p\artus. Carnes paxillulas edunt, quibus color candidus, o\culi nulli. Has lambendo sensum [PL: sensim] figurant et interdum\ ad pectoratas fovent, ut assiduo incubitu calefacte, a\nimalem trahent spiritum. Interea cibus nullus sane diebus\ primis xiiii, mares in sompnum ita concidunt ut nec\ vulneribus excitari queant, enixeque ternis latent mensibus.\ Mox egresse in diem liberum, tantam paciuntur [patiuntur] inso\lentiam lucis, ut putes obsitas cecitate. Insidiantur\ alvearibus apum, maxime favos appetunt. Nec avidius\ aliquid quam mella captant. Cum gustaverint mandra\gore mala, moriuntur. Sed eunt obviam ne malum in perni\tiem convalescat, et formicas devorant, ad recuperandam\ sanitatem. Si quando tauros adoriuntur, sciunt quibus potissimum\ partibus minorantur, nec aliud quam cornua, aut nares pecunt.\ Nares ut acrior dolor sit in\ [loco] teneriore.\ De leucrota\ In India nascitur\ bestia nomine\ leucrota. Que velocitate prece\dit feras universas. Ipsa asini\ sit magnitudine, cervi clunibus\ pectore ac cruribus leonis, capita [A: capite]\
Folio 15v - Bear, continued. De leucrota; the leucrota. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen