The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 33v - the palm tree, continued.De cedro; Of cedars


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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.
Again of the palm-tree 'I will go up to the palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof' (Song of Solomon, 7:8). The palm, near the ground, is slender and rough; towards the sky, it is thicker and beautiful. It is, therefore, difficult to climb, but the fruit is sweet. The effort of climbing is lessened when you can smell the scent of the fruit. The difficulty of climbing is removed by sweetness of its taste. The palm-tree is Christ; the fruit, his salvation: 'I am the salvation of the people' (see Psalms, 35:3), and 'O taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalms, 34:8). The hope of salvation is in the wood of the cross. Climb the palm, therefore, that is, strive for the victory of the cross. By climbing the ladder of the cross, you will attain the victor's throne. You. too, can carry your cross and follow Christ. Anyone who mortifies his flesh, carries the cross. The palm adorns the victor's hand, and the righteous man carries the palm of victory in the hand of victory, won by his virtuous conduct. There are said to be three things over which the righteous man must win victory. The world, the flesh and the Devil. He triumphs over the world when he scorns it with its delights. He overcomes the flesh when he subdues it by his abstinence. He conquers the Devil and forces him to submit when he banishes him from his life. He who triumphs over these three things by virtuous conduct, therefore, bears the palm of victory in his hand. Of the cedar and the sparrows that nest in its branches When the words 'cedar' and 'Lebanon' are placed together, it is in a good sense. As Solomon says in the Song of Songs: 'his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars' (5:15). Lebanon is a mountain of Phoenicia at the northern limit of Judaea. Its trees surpass the timber of other trees in height, appearance and strength. By Mount Lebanon we can doubtless understand excellence in virtues. It stands at the northern limit of Judaea, to prevent the Devil from entering by means of temptation the minds of those who are sincerely praising the Lord. Its trees surpass others in height, appearance and strength, as every faithful soul surpasses others in the exalted nature of its desire, the splendour of its chastity and the strength of its constancy. By the cedar we understand Christ. He is the tall cedar of Lebanon, similar in form to the hyssop

Text

The palm tree. The cedar and the sparrows in its branches.

Comment

Two corrections in left margin: 'cum' [correcting ‘dum’) ; 'que'. Initials type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • 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.

  • Scribal Corrections

    Scribal Corrections

    Scribal Corrections
    The Bestiary scribe ends, the Lapidary scribe begins. Detail from f.94r

    When the ruling was complete the quires were ready to receive the text. At this point the scribe had a clear idea about the precise layout of each page. He had to leave the correct amount of space for the rubrics, capitals and illuminations to be added. The scribal hand is fairly uniform throughout, though Clark (2006, 223) observes the Gothic textura formata (the type of lettering) changes on f.19r, becoming ‘somewhat more compact and rounded’. There is a marked change of hand, below the illustration of the dove and hawk on f.26r, for only 5 lines. The quill is broader and the letters larger but less steady or uniform. Another scribe, with a later thirteenth-century hand, writes the lapidary section of the book, beginning on f.94r. Sometimes the scribe made mistakes or omissions which were picked up by a contemporary editor. On f.17r you can see corrections written lightly in the margin with part of the text erased and corrected accordingly. Most of the corrections occur in the Aviarium section, f.25r-f.63r.

  • 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

Item de palma\ Ascendam in palmam et apprehendam \ fructus eius. Palma iuxta terram gracilis et aspera, versus ce\lum grossior et pulchra. Est igitur ascensus difficilis, sed fructus dulcis.\ Minuitur ascendentis labor, dum sentitur odor. Difficultatem as\census aufert dulcedo gustus. Palma est Christus, fructus salus:\ Salus inquit populi ego sum. Gustate et videte quoniam suavis est\ dominus. Spes salutis in ligno crucis. Ascende igitur in palmam, id est at\tende crucis victoriam. Per scalam siquidem crucis, ascendes ad\ solium victoris. Tolle et tu crucem tuam et sequere eum. Qui\ affligit carnem, tollit crucem. Palma manum victoris or\nat, et iustus palmam victorie, in manu victorie bene operando\ portat. Tria dicuntur esse de quibus iustus victoriam debet adquire\re. Mundus, caro, diabolus. Iustus mundum vincit, dum \ eum suis oblectationibus contempnit. Carnem superat, dum eam\ per abstinentiam domat. Diabolum domat et eum sibi subicit,\ dum a suis finibus expellit. Palmam igitur in manu gestat, qui de\ his tribus bene operando triumphat.\ De cedro et passeribus qui in ramis cedri nidificant\ In bona significatione cedrus et libanus quando \ ponuntur, sic in canticis canticorum per Salomonem dicitur: Spes [PL, species] eius ut\ Libani, electus ut cedri. Libanus Fenicis est mons terminus Judee\ contra septemtrionem. Arbores illius proceritate specie et robore ce\terarum silvarum ligna precellunt. Per montem Libanum sane intel\ligere possumus eminentiam virtutum. Terminus est Judee con\tra septemtrionem ne diabolus mentes vere confitentium intret\ per temptationem. Arbores illius proceritate specie et robore alias ar\bores precellunt, dum quelibet fideles anime proceritate desiderii,\ specie castitatis, robore perseverantie, alias antecedunt. Per cedrum\ intelligimus Christum. Hec est cedrus alta Libani conformata ysopo\

Translation

Again of the palm-tree 'I will go up to the palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof' (Song of Solomon, 7:8). The palm, near the ground, is slender and rough; towards the sky, it is thicker and beautiful. It is, therefore, difficult to climb, but the fruit is sweet. The effort of climbing is lessened when you can smell the scent of the fruit. The difficulty of climbing is removed by sweetness of its taste. The palm-tree is Christ; the fruit, his salvation: 'I am the salvation of the people' (see Psalms, 35:3), and 'O taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalms, 34:8). The hope of salvation is in the wood of the cross. Climb the palm, therefore, that is, strive for the victory of the cross. By climbing the ladder of the cross, you will attain the victor's throne. You. too, can carry your cross and follow Christ. Anyone who mortifies his flesh, carries the cross. The palm adorns the victor's hand, and the righteous man carries the palm of victory in the hand of victory, won by his virtuous conduct. There are said to be three things over which the righteous man must win victory. The world, the flesh and the Devil. He triumphs over the world when he scorns it with its delights. He overcomes the flesh when he subdues it by his abstinence. He conquers the Devil and forces him to submit when he banishes him from his life. He who triumphs over these three things by virtuous conduct, therefore, bears the palm of victory in his hand. Of the cedar and the sparrows that nest in its branches When the words 'cedar' and 'Lebanon' are placed together, it is in a good sense. As Solomon says in the Song of Songs: 'his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars' (5:15). Lebanon is a mountain of Phoenicia at the northern limit of Judaea. Its trees surpass the timber of other trees in height, appearance and strength. By Mount Lebanon we can doubtless understand excellence in virtues. It stands at the northern limit of Judaea, to prevent the Devil from entering by means of temptation the minds of those who are sincerely praising the Lord. Its trees surpass others in height, appearance and strength, as every faithful soul surpasses others in the exalted nature of its desire, the splendour of its chastity and the strength of its constancy. By the cedar we understand Christ. He is the tall cedar of Lebanon, similar in form to the hyssop
  • Commentary

    Text

    The palm tree. The cedar and the sparrows in its branches.

    Comment

    Two corrections in left margin: 'cum' [correcting ‘dum’) ; 'que'. Initials type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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.

    • Scribal Corrections

      Scribal Corrections

      Scribal Corrections
      The Bestiary scribe ends, the Lapidary scribe begins. Detail from f.94r

      When the ruling was complete the quires were ready to receive the text. At this point the scribe had a clear idea about the precise layout of each page. He had to leave the correct amount of space for the rubrics, capitals and illuminations to be added. The scribal hand is fairly uniform throughout, though Clark (2006, 223) observes the Gothic textura formata (the type of lettering) changes on f.19r, becoming ‘somewhat more compact and rounded’. There is a marked change of hand, below the illustration of the dove and hawk on f.26r, for only 5 lines. The quill is broader and the letters larger but less steady or uniform. Another scribe, with a later thirteenth-century hand, writes the lapidary section of the book, beginning on f.94r. Sometimes the scribe made mistakes or omissions which were picked up by a contemporary editor. On f.17r you can see corrections written lightly in the margin with part of the text erased and corrected accordingly. Most of the corrections occur in the Aviarium section, f.25r-f.63r.

    • 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
    Again of the palm-tree 'I will go up to the palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof' (Song of Solomon, 7:8). The palm, near the ground, is slender and rough; towards the sky, it is thicker and beautiful. It is, therefore, difficult to climb, but the fruit is sweet. The effort of climbing is lessened when you can smell the scent of the fruit. The difficulty of climbing is removed by sweetness of its taste. The palm-tree is Christ; the fruit, his salvation: 'I am the salvation of the people' (see Psalms, 35:3), and 'O taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalms, 34:8). The hope of salvation is in the wood of the cross. Climb the palm, therefore, that is, strive for the victory of the cross. By climbing the ladder of the cross, you will attain the victor's throne. You. too, can carry your cross and follow Christ. Anyone who mortifies his flesh, carries the cross. The palm adorns the victor's hand, and the righteous man carries the palm of victory in the hand of victory, won by his virtuous conduct. There are said to be three things over which the righteous man must win victory. The world, the flesh and the Devil. He triumphs over the world when he scorns it with its delights. He overcomes the flesh when he subdues it by his abstinence. He conquers the Devil and forces him to submit when he banishes him from his life. He who triumphs over these three things by virtuous conduct, therefore, bears the palm of victory in his hand. Of the cedar and the sparrows that nest in its branches When the words 'cedar' and 'Lebanon' are placed together, it is in a good sense. As Solomon says in the Song of Songs: 'his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars' (5:15). Lebanon is a mountain of Phoenicia at the northern limit of Judaea. Its trees surpass the timber of other trees in height, appearance and strength. By Mount Lebanon we can doubtless understand excellence in virtues. It stands at the northern limit of Judaea, to prevent the Devil from entering by means of temptation the minds of those who are sincerely praising the Lord. Its trees surpass others in height, appearance and strength, as every faithful soul surpasses others in the exalted nature of its desire, the splendour of its chastity and the strength of its constancy. By the cedar we understand Christ. He is the tall cedar of Lebanon, similar in form to the hyssop
  • Transcription
    Item de palma\ Ascendam in palmam et apprehendam \ fructus eius. Palma iuxta terram gracilis et aspera, versus ce\lum grossior et pulchra. Est igitur ascensus difficilis, sed fructus dulcis.\ Minuitur ascendentis labor, dum sentitur odor. Difficultatem as\census aufert dulcedo gustus. Palma est Christus, fructus salus:\ Salus inquit populi ego sum. Gustate et videte quoniam suavis est\ dominus. Spes salutis in ligno crucis. Ascende igitur in palmam, id est at\tende crucis victoriam. Per scalam siquidem crucis, ascendes ad\ solium victoris. Tolle et tu crucem tuam et sequere eum. Qui\ affligit carnem, tollit crucem. Palma manum victoris or\nat, et iustus palmam victorie, in manu victorie bene operando\ portat. Tria dicuntur esse de quibus iustus victoriam debet adquire\re. Mundus, caro, diabolus. Iustus mundum vincit, dum \ eum suis oblectationibus contempnit. Carnem superat, dum eam\ per abstinentiam domat. Diabolum domat et eum sibi subicit,\ dum a suis finibus expellit. Palmam igitur in manu gestat, qui de\ his tribus bene operando triumphat.\ De cedro et passeribus qui in ramis cedri nidificant\ In bona significatione cedrus et libanus quando \ ponuntur, sic in canticis canticorum per Salomonem dicitur: Spes [PL, species] eius ut\ Libani, electus ut cedri. Libanus Fenicis est mons terminus Judee\ contra septemtrionem. Arbores illius proceritate specie et robore ce\terarum silvarum ligna precellunt. Per montem Libanum sane intel\ligere possumus eminentiam virtutum. Terminus est Judee con\tra septemtrionem ne diabolus mentes vere confitentium intret\ per temptationem. Arbores illius proceritate specie et robore alias ar\bores precellunt, dum quelibet fideles anime proceritate desiderii,\ specie castitatis, robore perseverantie, alias antecedunt. Per cedrum\ intelligimus Christum. Hec est cedrus alta Libani conformata ysopo\
Folio 33v - the palm tree, continued.De cedro; Of cedars | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen