The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 34v - cedars, continued. De pellicano; Of the pelican


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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.
that is, birds of prey. They make nests there as robbers build strongholds on the estates of the rich. Their fledglings are their accomplices or henchmen. These birds hide in the the cedars in order to catch their prey, as robbers are empowered to commit crimes by evil rulers. But 'the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon' (Psalms, 29:5), that is, he will destroy the rich of the world, some by repentance, some by vengeance. The Lord will break some by repentance as he will humble the calf of Lebanon. He will humble them like the calf of Lebanon (see BSV, Psalmi, 28:6; NEB, Psalms, 29:6), in imitation of the life of Christ, making of each rich man a calf fit for sacrifice, who will mortify his flesh and carry his cross with Christ. He will break others by vengeance because they will be kept for eternal fire. Many profit from the felling of the aforesaid cedar, as when Christ with his death redeemed the world. 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John, 12:24). Therefore the felling of the cedar represents the death of Christ. Truly, many benefitted from the death of Christ; by descending into hell, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, he gave to the dying the hope of resurrection. For what good is there in living afflicted by distress and in dying at the end, if hope of resurrection does not follow? And what good is resurrection unless it is agreed that immortal man lives on without endless punishment? Likewise, when the cedar which the Lord planted is felled, it is of great profit, because it is transferred to the dwelling-place of eternal bliss. But if the cedar which the Lord did not plant is felled, it, too, will be of no little use, because the tree which bore no fruit in Lebanon, that is, in this secular world, may, when it is felled, support the weight of the building in a temple of the spirit. What I have said applies only if you cut down the pride of the cedar with repentance. If, however, you cut it down with vengeance, you consign it to the fires of Gehenna to be reduced forever to ashes. Of the pelican 'I am like pelican of the wilderness' (Psalms, 102:6). The pelican is a bird of Egypt, living in the wilderness of the River Nile, from which it gets its name. For Egypt is known as Canopos. It is devoted to its young. When it gives birth and the young begin to grow, they strike their parents in the face. But their parents, striking back, kill them. On the third day, however, the mother-bird, with a blow to her flank, opens up her side and lies

Text

Felling the cedars of Lebanon. The Pelican.

Comment

One text correction in margin: -??-uendo reservat [start unclear, but a correction for ‘reservandos’]. Initial type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • 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

id est raptores. Nidos componunt, quia in possessionibus divitum raptores\ munitiones construunt. Pulli sunt complices raptorum seu mini\stri. He volucres in cedris ut rapiant latent, quia raptores nocendi\ potentiam, a principibus perversis habent. Sed: dominus confringet cedros Libani, id est\ divites mundi, quosdam per penitentiam quosdam per vindictam. Per penitentiam\ confringet, [quando] [PL, quia] sicut vitulum Libani comminuet. Comminuet sicut vitulum\ Libani ad imitationem vite Christi, ut fiat vitulus sacrificiis aptus, ut car\nem mortificet, et cum Christo crucem portet. Per vindictam confringet alios\ quia eterno igni reservandos. Predicta cedrus succisa multis proficit, quia\ Christus morte propria mundum redemit. Nisi enim granum frumenti cadens in terram\ mortuum fuerit, ipsum solum manet. Si autem mortuum fuerit, multum fructum affert. Cedrus ergo succiditur dum Christus moritur.\ Mors siquidem Christi multis proficit, descendens ad inferos, surgens a mortuis\ ascendens in celos spem resurgendi morientibus dedit. Quid enim prodesset\ vivere tribulationibus concuti, ad extremum mori, nisi sequeretur spes resur\gendi? Et quid prodesset resurrexisse, nisi constans esset hominem immortalem\ absque supplicio sine fine manere? Similiter cum cedrus quam plantavit\ dominus succiditur, multum proficit quia ad eterne beatudinis edificium transfertur.\ Si autem cedrus quam non plantavit dominus succisa fuerit, non minime utilitatis e\rit, quia que nullum fructum ferebat in Libano, id est in seculo, pondus edificii succisa\ sustinet in spirituali templo. Ita dico si cedri superbiam succidas per penitenciam, si\ vero per vindictam succidas gehenne incendiis illam concremandam in perpetuum servas.\ De pellicano\ Similis factus sum pellicano solitudi\nis. Pellicanus Egiptiaca avis est, habitans in solitu\dine Nili fluminis unde et nomen sumpsit. Nam Canopos\ Egyptus dicitur. Amatorum est nimis filiorum. Qui cum genuerit\ natos et ceperint crescere, percuciunt parentes suos in faciem.\ Sed parentes repercucientes eos occidunt. Tercia vero die mater\ eorum percuciens costam suam aperit latus suum et incumbit \

Translation

that is, birds of prey. They make nests there as robbers build strongholds on the estates of the rich. Their fledglings are their accomplices or henchmen. These birds hide in the the cedars in order to catch their prey, as robbers are empowered to commit crimes by evil rulers. But 'the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon' (Psalms, 29:5), that is, he will destroy the rich of the world, some by repentance, some by vengeance. The Lord will break some by repentance as he will humble the calf of Lebanon. He will humble them like the calf of Lebanon (see BSV, Psalmi, 28:6; NEB, Psalms, 29:6), in imitation of the life of Christ, making of each rich man a calf fit for sacrifice, who will mortify his flesh and carry his cross with Christ. He will break others by vengeance because they will be kept for eternal fire. Many profit from the felling of the aforesaid cedar, as when Christ with his death redeemed the world. 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John, 12:24). Therefore the felling of the cedar represents the death of Christ. Truly, many benefitted from the death of Christ; by descending into hell, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, he gave to the dying the hope of resurrection. For what good is there in living afflicted by distress and in dying at the end, if hope of resurrection does not follow? And what good is resurrection unless it is agreed that immortal man lives on without endless punishment? Likewise, when the cedar which the Lord planted is felled, it is of great profit, because it is transferred to the dwelling-place of eternal bliss. But if the cedar which the Lord did not plant is felled, it, too, will be of no little use, because the tree which bore no fruit in Lebanon, that is, in this secular world, may, when it is felled, support the weight of the building in a temple of the spirit. What I have said applies only if you cut down the pride of the cedar with repentance. If, however, you cut it down with vengeance, you consign it to the fires of Gehenna to be reduced forever to ashes. Of the pelican 'I am like pelican of the wilderness' (Psalms, 102:6). The pelican is a bird of Egypt, living in the wilderness of the River Nile, from which it gets its name. For Egypt is known as Canopos. It is devoted to its young. When it gives birth and the young begin to grow, they strike their parents in the face. But their parents, striking back, kill them. On the third day, however, the mother-bird, with a blow to her flank, opens up her side and lies
  • Commentary

    Text

    Felling the cedars of Lebanon. The Pelican.

    Comment

    One text correction in margin: -??-uendo reservat [start unclear, but a correction for ‘reservandos’]. Initial type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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
    that is, birds of prey. They make nests there as robbers build strongholds on the estates of the rich. Their fledglings are their accomplices or henchmen. These birds hide in the the cedars in order to catch their prey, as robbers are empowered to commit crimes by evil rulers. But 'the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon' (Psalms, 29:5), that is, he will destroy the rich of the world, some by repentance, some by vengeance. The Lord will break some by repentance as he will humble the calf of Lebanon. He will humble them like the calf of Lebanon (see BSV, Psalmi, 28:6; NEB, Psalms, 29:6), in imitation of the life of Christ, making of each rich man a calf fit for sacrifice, who will mortify his flesh and carry his cross with Christ. He will break others by vengeance because they will be kept for eternal fire. Many profit from the felling of the aforesaid cedar, as when Christ with his death redeemed the world. 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John, 12:24). Therefore the felling of the cedar represents the death of Christ. Truly, many benefitted from the death of Christ; by descending into hell, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, he gave to the dying the hope of resurrection. For what good is there in living afflicted by distress and in dying at the end, if hope of resurrection does not follow? And what good is resurrection unless it is agreed that immortal man lives on without endless punishment? Likewise, when the cedar which the Lord planted is felled, it is of great profit, because it is transferred to the dwelling-place of eternal bliss. But if the cedar which the Lord did not plant is felled, it, too, will be of no little use, because the tree which bore no fruit in Lebanon, that is, in this secular world, may, when it is felled, support the weight of the building in a temple of the spirit. What I have said applies only if you cut down the pride of the cedar with repentance. If, however, you cut it down with vengeance, you consign it to the fires of Gehenna to be reduced forever to ashes. Of the pelican 'I am like pelican of the wilderness' (Psalms, 102:6). The pelican is a bird of Egypt, living in the wilderness of the River Nile, from which it gets its name. For Egypt is known as Canopos. It is devoted to its young. When it gives birth and the young begin to grow, they strike their parents in the face. But their parents, striking back, kill them. On the third day, however, the mother-bird, with a blow to her flank, opens up her side and lies
  • Transcription
    id est raptores. Nidos componunt, quia in possessionibus divitum raptores\ munitiones construunt. Pulli sunt complices raptorum seu mini\stri. He volucres in cedris ut rapiant latent, quia raptores nocendi\ potentiam, a principibus perversis habent. Sed: dominus confringet cedros Libani, id est\ divites mundi, quosdam per penitentiam quosdam per vindictam. Per penitentiam\ confringet, [quando] [PL, quia] sicut vitulum Libani comminuet. Comminuet sicut vitulum\ Libani ad imitationem vite Christi, ut fiat vitulus sacrificiis aptus, ut car\nem mortificet, et cum Christo crucem portet. Per vindictam confringet alios\ quia eterno igni reservandos. Predicta cedrus succisa multis proficit, quia\ Christus morte propria mundum redemit. Nisi enim granum frumenti cadens in terram\ mortuum fuerit, ipsum solum manet. Si autem mortuum fuerit, multum fructum affert. Cedrus ergo succiditur dum Christus moritur.\ Mors siquidem Christi multis proficit, descendens ad inferos, surgens a mortuis\ ascendens in celos spem resurgendi morientibus dedit. Quid enim prodesset\ vivere tribulationibus concuti, ad extremum mori, nisi sequeretur spes resur\gendi? Et quid prodesset resurrexisse, nisi constans esset hominem immortalem\ absque supplicio sine fine manere? Similiter cum cedrus quam plantavit\ dominus succiditur, multum proficit quia ad eterne beatudinis edificium transfertur.\ Si autem cedrus quam non plantavit dominus succisa fuerit, non minime utilitatis e\rit, quia que nullum fructum ferebat in Libano, id est in seculo, pondus edificii succisa\ sustinet in spirituali templo. Ita dico si cedri superbiam succidas per penitenciam, si\ vero per vindictam succidas gehenne incendiis illam concremandam in perpetuum servas.\ De pellicano\ Similis factus sum pellicano solitudi\nis. Pellicanus Egiptiaca avis est, habitans in solitu\dine Nili fluminis unde et nomen sumpsit. Nam Canopos\ Egyptus dicitur. Amatorum est nimis filiorum. Qui cum genuerit\ natos et ceperint crescere, percuciunt parentes suos in faciem.\ Sed parentes repercucientes eos occidunt. Tercia vero die mater\ eorum percuciens costam suam aperit latus suum et incumbit \
Folio 34v - cedars, continued. De pellicano; Of the pelican | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen