The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 32v - the turtle dove, continued. De palma; the palm tree


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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.
and is not affected by chance temptation. It cannot go back on its first pledge of love because it knows how to preserve the chastity which it plighted as the first duty of marriage. Of the palm-tree and the turtle dove 'I shall multiply my days as the palm' (see Job 29:18). The palm-tree 'multiplies its days', because it grows slowly before it reaches its full height. In the same way, a righteous man proceeds slowly before he attains what he strives for. For he longs to attain the kingdom of heaven. But worldly desire prevents him from attaining his chosen goal other than at a slow pace. The palm-tree multiplies its days. Neither the cold of winter nor the extreme heat of summer, however, prevent it from flourishing at all times. In the same way, a righteous man grows ever stronger and nothing hinders him in his pursuit of virtuous conduct. The cold of winter represents the sluggishness or heedlessness of a mind that lacks religious zeal. The extreme heat of summer represents the ardour of lust, or the flame of wrath or the smouldering fire of covetouness. As the palm-tree, therefore, does not wither in the cold nor burn in the great heat of summer, so a righteous man does not feel the pressure of any sort of temptation. The palm-tree multiplies its days in another sense, as when a righteous man recalls to his memory the days past and contemplates in his mind the years of eternity. He tells himself how few his past days have been and, looking at it from the other side, trusts in a long line of days to come. If you take this teaching to heart, you will grow to a great height, multiplying your days and triumphing over adversity, like the palm-tree. Again of the palm-tree 'Thy stature is like to a palm-tree' (Song of Solomon, 7:7).

Text

The palm tree and the turtle dove. The text refers to the palm tree, slow growing and forever flourishing. The rubric compares the nest of the turtle dove with the faith in Christ's passion.

Illustration

This dominating image shows the usual bland white turtle dove in its roundel and square perched in the arms of a cross. The cross represents the tree which conceals the nest, according to the rubric. In the Aviarium several stories are illustrated with heavily inscribed diagrams. For this scene, the Heiligenkreuz Aviary (f. 133v) shows a dove inside a circle in the centre of a cross . The circle and cross are covered in rubric and behind the cross is a rather bushy palm tree (Clark, 1992, fig.5). The Aberdeen artist has used a simplified version of this design, minus the palm tree and most of the rubric. There is a sketch of the cross in the right margin. In the centre of the cross Clark (1992, 269) has deciphered the colour indication ni, meaning niteur, bright or clear. At the lower right of the sketched circle may be the letters 'pp'. Two initials, type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • 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.

  • Sketches

    Sketches

    Sketches
    Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

    Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

  • Colour Indicators

    Colour Indicators

    Colour Indicators
    Colour instruction on the crocodile. Detail from f.68v

    Some colour guides have been provided for both the illuminations and the initials. On f.68v, the illustration of the hydrus, the word ictrie can be seen on the body of the crocodile. The word probably relates to icturus or ictère, jaundiced, indicating the yellow hue of the crocodile. On f.81r, showing Isidore at work, the word harie (or hane) is written on Isidore's desk. This probably means aerus or sky blue. A similar word harie/aerie appears to the left of the firestones scene on f.93v (this is interpreted as mine for minium, red by Clark 1992, 269). In the upper sketch on f.93v there are also rather indistinct letters bis[ors(?)]. Bis means grey in Old French. On f.32v the letters ni (niteur, clear or bright) may be deciphered. In the margin beside some initials are the letters a, v, and or. These stand for azur, blue; vermeil/vermiculum, pink and gold. Indicators for the initials are found on f.28v, f.31v, f.32v, f.41v, f.47v, f.72v. These annotations were added after drawing and before painting the images, and after writing but before illuminating the initials. It is likely they were a memo from the artist to himself, perhaps in response to a model he was copying. The use of Old French rather than primarily Latin indicates the artist was literate but used the vernacular as his working language, even within a scriptorium.

Transcription

non temptatur occasionis illecebra. Turtura nescit primam fidem\ irritam facere quia novit castimoniam servare, prima conu\bii sorte premissam.\ De palma et turture\ Sicut palma multipli\cabo dies. Palma dies\ multiplicat, quia tarde proficit\ priusquam in altum crescat. Si\militer iustus tarde proficit,\ priusquam ad hoc perveniat\ ad quod tendit.\ Est enim iusti\ desiderium, ut\ perveniat ad \ celeste regnum. Si ad [PL, Sed] hoc\ desiderium mundi impedit\ ut ad optata nisi tarde perveni\re possit. Palma multipli\cat dies, nec tamen eam frigus\ hiemis vel nimius calor\ estatis impediunt quin\ semper virescat. Similiter\ iustus semper viret nec\ aliquo impeditur quin in\ proposito bone operationis\ perseveret. Frigus hyemis,\ est torpor vel negligentia\ refrigerate mentis. Nimius\ calor estatis, est ardor libi\dinis, vel iracunde flamma\ seu incendium\ cupiditatis.\ Nec palma igitur \ marcescit fri\gore, nec nimio estatis u\ritur calore, sic nec iustus\ premitur qualicumque temp\tatione. Aliter palma dies\ multiplicat, quia iustus\ dies antiquos ad memori\am reducit, et annos eter\nos in mente tractat. Pau\citatem dierum sibi nuntiat,\ et ex alia parte longitudi\nem dierum in futuro sperat. Qui hec igitur intra se colligit, multipli\cando dies sicut palma vivendo [A, vincendo] in altum crescit.\ Item de palma\ Statura tua assimilata est palme\

Translation

and is not affected by chance temptation. It cannot go back on its first pledge of love because it knows how to preserve the chastity which it plighted as the first duty of marriage. Of the palm-tree and the turtle dove 'I shall multiply my days as the palm' (see Job 29:18). The palm-tree 'multiplies its days', because it grows slowly before it reaches its full height. In the same way, a righteous man proceeds slowly before he attains what he strives for. For he longs to attain the kingdom of heaven. But worldly desire prevents him from attaining his chosen goal other than at a slow pace. The palm-tree multiplies its days. Neither the cold of winter nor the extreme heat of summer, however, prevent it from flourishing at all times. In the same way, a righteous man grows ever stronger and nothing hinders him in his pursuit of virtuous conduct. The cold of winter represents the sluggishness or heedlessness of a mind that lacks religious zeal. The extreme heat of summer represents the ardour of lust, or the flame of wrath or the smouldering fire of covetouness. As the palm-tree, therefore, does not wither in the cold nor burn in the great heat of summer, so a righteous man does not feel the pressure of any sort of temptation. The palm-tree multiplies its days in another sense, as when a righteous man recalls to his memory the days past and contemplates in his mind the years of eternity. He tells himself how few his past days have been and, looking at it from the other side, trusts in a long line of days to come. If you take this teaching to heart, you will grow to a great height, multiplying your days and triumphing over adversity, like the palm-tree. Again of the palm-tree 'Thy stature is like to a palm-tree' (Song of Solomon, 7:7).
  • Commentary

    Text

    The palm tree and the turtle dove. The text refers to the palm tree, slow growing and forever flourishing. The rubric compares the nest of the turtle dove with the faith in Christ's passion.

    Illustration

    This dominating image shows the usual bland white turtle dove in its roundel and square perched in the arms of a cross. The cross represents the tree which conceals the nest, according to the rubric. In the Aviarium several stories are illustrated with heavily inscribed diagrams. For this scene, the Heiligenkreuz Aviary (f. 133v) shows a dove inside a circle in the centre of a cross . The circle and cross are covered in rubric and behind the cross is a rather bushy palm tree (Clark, 1992, fig.5). The Aberdeen artist has used a simplified version of this design, minus the palm tree and most of the rubric. There is a sketch of the cross in the right margin. In the centre of the cross Clark (1992, 269) has deciphered the colour indication ni, meaning niteur, bright or clear. At the lower right of the sketched circle may be the letters 'pp'. Two initials, type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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.

    • Sketches

      Sketches

      Sketches
      Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

      Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

    • Colour Indicators

      Colour Indicators

      Colour Indicators
      Colour instruction on the crocodile. Detail from f.68v

      Some colour guides have been provided for both the illuminations and the initials. On f.68v, the illustration of the hydrus, the word ictrie can be seen on the body of the crocodile. The word probably relates to icturus or ictère, jaundiced, indicating the yellow hue of the crocodile. On f.81r, showing Isidore at work, the word harie (or hane) is written on Isidore's desk. This probably means aerus or sky blue. A similar word harie/aerie appears to the left of the firestones scene on f.93v (this is interpreted as mine for minium, red by Clark 1992, 269). In the upper sketch on f.93v there are also rather indistinct letters bis[ors(?)]. Bis means grey in Old French. On f.32v the letters ni (niteur, clear or bright) may be deciphered. In the margin beside some initials are the letters a, v, and or. These stand for azur, blue; vermeil/vermiculum, pink and gold. Indicators for the initials are found on f.28v, f.31v, f.32v, f.41v, f.47v, f.72v. These annotations were added after drawing and before painting the images, and after writing but before illuminating the initials. It is likely they were a memo from the artist to himself, perhaps in response to a model he was copying. The use of Old French rather than primarily Latin indicates the artist was literate but used the vernacular as his working language, even within a scriptorium.

  • Translation
    and is not affected by chance temptation. It cannot go back on its first pledge of love because it knows how to preserve the chastity which it plighted as the first duty of marriage. Of the palm-tree and the turtle dove 'I shall multiply my days as the palm' (see Job 29:18). The palm-tree 'multiplies its days', because it grows slowly before it reaches its full height. In the same way, a righteous man proceeds slowly before he attains what he strives for. For he longs to attain the kingdom of heaven. But worldly desire prevents him from attaining his chosen goal other than at a slow pace. The palm-tree multiplies its days. Neither the cold of winter nor the extreme heat of summer, however, prevent it from flourishing at all times. In the same way, a righteous man grows ever stronger and nothing hinders him in his pursuit of virtuous conduct. The cold of winter represents the sluggishness or heedlessness of a mind that lacks religious zeal. The extreme heat of summer represents the ardour of lust, or the flame of wrath or the smouldering fire of covetouness. As the palm-tree, therefore, does not wither in the cold nor burn in the great heat of summer, so a righteous man does not feel the pressure of any sort of temptation. The palm-tree multiplies its days in another sense, as when a righteous man recalls to his memory the days past and contemplates in his mind the years of eternity. He tells himself how few his past days have been and, looking at it from the other side, trusts in a long line of days to come. If you take this teaching to heart, you will grow to a great height, multiplying your days and triumphing over adversity, like the palm-tree. Again of the palm-tree 'Thy stature is like to a palm-tree' (Song of Solomon, 7:7).
  • Transcription
    non temptatur occasionis illecebra. Turtura nescit primam fidem\ irritam facere quia novit castimoniam servare, prima conu\bii sorte premissam.\ De palma et turture\ Sicut palma multipli\cabo dies. Palma dies\ multiplicat, quia tarde proficit\ priusquam in altum crescat. Si\militer iustus tarde proficit,\ priusquam ad hoc perveniat\ ad quod tendit.\ Est enim iusti\ desiderium, ut\ perveniat ad \ celeste regnum. Si ad [PL, Sed] hoc\ desiderium mundi impedit\ ut ad optata nisi tarde perveni\re possit. Palma multipli\cat dies, nec tamen eam frigus\ hiemis vel nimius calor\ estatis impediunt quin\ semper virescat. Similiter\ iustus semper viret nec\ aliquo impeditur quin in\ proposito bone operationis\ perseveret. Frigus hyemis,\ est torpor vel negligentia\ refrigerate mentis. Nimius\ calor estatis, est ardor libi\dinis, vel iracunde flamma\ seu incendium\ cupiditatis.\ Nec palma igitur \ marcescit fri\gore, nec nimio estatis u\ritur calore, sic nec iustus\ premitur qualicumque temp\tatione. Aliter palma dies\ multiplicat, quia iustus\ dies antiquos ad memori\am reducit, et annos eter\nos in mente tractat. Pau\citatem dierum sibi nuntiat,\ et ex alia parte longitudi\nem dierum in futuro sperat. Qui hec igitur intra se colligit, multipli\cando dies sicut palma vivendo [A, vincendo] in altum crescit.\ Item de palma\ Statura tua assimilata est palme\
Folio 32v - the turtle dove, continued. De palma; the palm tree | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen