The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 45v - the vulture, continued. De [gruibus]; Of cranes.


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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.
a sinner delights the in carnal desires which bring about death. The vulture willingly goes on foot, and for this reason is called by some gradipes, 'footslogger', in the same way that the sinner loves and longs for earthly things. Sometimes the vulture flies on high, as the sinner also raises his mind to heavenly things, but with what purpose no-one else knows. For who looks at the eyes of the vulture, that is, at what lies behind men's thoughts? The Almighty reserves this to himself; he alone knows the thoughts of men. Note also that Isidore says that the vulture gets its name from volatu tardus, slow in flight. For it leaves the ground slowly when it takes flight, as the sinner hardly ever or never abandons his earthly desires. Of cranes Cranes take their name, grues, from the sound of their own particular call. or such is the low, muttering sound they make. It is interesting to recall how cranes organise their journeys. They go to some extent in military formation, and in case the wind should be against them on their way to their chosen land, they eat sand and ballast themselves to a reasonable weight by picking up small stones. Then they fly as high as they can, so that a from higher vantage point they can look out for the lands they seek. As they fly swiftly on their way, they follow one of their number in a V-shaped formation. Confident in its navigation, it leads the flocks. It scolds the laggards and keeps the formation together with its calls. When it grows hoarse, another takes over. Cranes are united in their concern for those who tire, to such an extent that if any drop out, they all surround the exhausted birds and support them until their strength is restored by this period of rest. At night cranes keep careful watch. You can see the sentinels at their posts; while the other members of the flock sleep,

Text

The vulture continued. Cranes.

Illustration

This refers to the text on f.46r which says cranes keep watch in turn at night, holding a pebble in their claw to ward off sleep. Initial 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.

  • 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

carnalibus desderiis que mortem generant delectatur. Vultur\ etiam pedibus libenter graditur, unde et a quibusdam gradipes appel\ pellatur, quia terrena peccator amat, et terrenis inhiat, quandoque etiam\ vultur in altum volat, quia peccator ad celestia mentem quoque le\ vat, sed qua intentione hoc faciat, alter ignorat. Quis \enim intuetur\ oculos [oculus] vulturis, id est\ intentionem cogitationis? Hoc enim omnipotens sibi\ reliquid quod cogitationes hominum solus novit. Nota etiam ut\ ait Ysidorus a volatu tardo nominetur. Tarde enim cum volare ce\ perit a terra recedit, quia peccator aut vix aut nunquam terrena de\ sideria derelinquit. De [gruibus] Grues de propria voce\ nomen sumpserunt.\ Tali enim sono susur\ rant. Nec piguerit me\ minisse quatinus expedi\ tiones suas dirigant.\ Sub quodam milicie eunt\ signo, et ne pergentibus ad\ destinatam terram vis\ flatuum renitatur, are\ nas devorant, sublatisque lapillulis a[d] moderatam gravitatem sabu\ rantur. Tunc contendunt in altissima, ut de excelsiori specula\ intueantur quas petant terras. Hee autem dum properant, unam\ sequuntur litterato, fidens meatu preit cateruas. Volatus desidia\ castigat, voceque cogit agmen. Et ubi obraucata est, succedit alia.\ Concors cura omnium pro fatigatis adeo ut si qua defecerit con\ gruant universe lassatasque sustollant, usque dum vires ocio\ recuperentur. Grues in nocte sollicitam exercent\ custodiam.\ Dispositos vigiles cernas, et ceteris consortibus gregis quiescentibus,\

Translation

a sinner delights the in carnal desires which bring about death. The vulture willingly goes on foot, and for this reason is called by some gradipes, 'footslogger', in the same way that the sinner loves and longs for earthly things. Sometimes the vulture flies on high, as the sinner also raises his mind to heavenly things, but with what purpose no-one else knows. For who looks at the eyes of the vulture, that is, at what lies behind men's thoughts? The Almighty reserves this to himself; he alone knows the thoughts of men. Note also that Isidore says that the vulture gets its name from volatu tardus, slow in flight. For it leaves the ground slowly when it takes flight, as the sinner hardly ever or never abandons his earthly desires. Of cranes Cranes take their name, grues, from the sound of their own particular call. or such is the low, muttering sound they make. It is interesting to recall how cranes organise their journeys. They go to some extent in military formation, and in case the wind should be against them on their way to their chosen land, they eat sand and ballast themselves to a reasonable weight by picking up small stones. Then they fly as high as they can, so that a from higher vantage point they can look out for the lands they seek. As they fly swiftly on their way, they follow one of their number in a V-shaped formation. Confident in its navigation, it leads the flocks. It scolds the laggards and keeps the formation together with its calls. When it grows hoarse, another takes over. Cranes are united in their concern for those who tire, to such an extent that if any drop out, they all surround the exhausted birds and support them until their strength is restored by this period of rest. At night cranes keep careful watch. You can see the sentinels at their posts; while the other members of the flock sleep,
  • Commentary

    Text

    The vulture continued. Cranes.

    Illustration

    This refers to the text on f.46r which says cranes keep watch in turn at night, holding a pebble in their claw to ward off sleep. Initial 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.

    • 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
    a sinner delights the in carnal desires which bring about death. The vulture willingly goes on foot, and for this reason is called by some gradipes, 'footslogger', in the same way that the sinner loves and longs for earthly things. Sometimes the vulture flies on high, as the sinner also raises his mind to heavenly things, but with what purpose no-one else knows. For who looks at the eyes of the vulture, that is, at what lies behind men's thoughts? The Almighty reserves this to himself; he alone knows the thoughts of men. Note also that Isidore says that the vulture gets its name from volatu tardus, slow in flight. For it leaves the ground slowly when it takes flight, as the sinner hardly ever or never abandons his earthly desires. Of cranes Cranes take their name, grues, from the sound of their own particular call. or such is the low, muttering sound they make. It is interesting to recall how cranes organise their journeys. They go to some extent in military formation, and in case the wind should be against them on their way to their chosen land, they eat sand and ballast themselves to a reasonable weight by picking up small stones. Then they fly as high as they can, so that a from higher vantage point they can look out for the lands they seek. As they fly swiftly on their way, they follow one of their number in a V-shaped formation. Confident in its navigation, it leads the flocks. It scolds the laggards and keeps the formation together with its calls. When it grows hoarse, another takes over. Cranes are united in their concern for those who tire, to such an extent that if any drop out, they all surround the exhausted birds and support them until their strength is restored by this period of rest. At night cranes keep careful watch. You can see the sentinels at their posts; while the other members of the flock sleep,
  • Transcription
    carnalibus desderiis que mortem generant delectatur. Vultur\ etiam pedibus libenter graditur, unde et a quibusdam gradipes appel\ pellatur, quia terrena peccator amat, et terrenis inhiat, quandoque etiam\ vultur in altum volat, quia peccator ad celestia mentem quoque le\ vat, sed qua intentione hoc faciat, alter ignorat. Quis \enim intuetur\ oculos [oculus] vulturis, id est\ intentionem cogitationis? Hoc enim omnipotens sibi\ reliquid quod cogitationes hominum solus novit. Nota etiam ut\ ait Ysidorus a volatu tardo nominetur. Tarde enim cum volare ce\ perit a terra recedit, quia peccator aut vix aut nunquam terrena de\ sideria derelinquit. De [gruibus] Grues de propria voce\ nomen sumpserunt.\ Tali enim sono susur\ rant. Nec piguerit me\ minisse quatinus expedi\ tiones suas dirigant.\ Sub quodam milicie eunt\ signo, et ne pergentibus ad\ destinatam terram vis\ flatuum renitatur, are\ nas devorant, sublatisque lapillulis a[d] moderatam gravitatem sabu\ rantur. Tunc contendunt in altissima, ut de excelsiori specula\ intueantur quas petant terras. Hee autem dum properant, unam\ sequuntur litterato, fidens meatu preit cateruas. Volatus desidia\ castigat, voceque cogit agmen. Et ubi obraucata est, succedit alia.\ Concors cura omnium pro fatigatis adeo ut si qua defecerit con\ gruant universe lassatasque sustollant, usque dum vires ocio\ recuperentur. Grues in nocte sollicitam exercent\ custodiam.\ Dispositos vigiles cernas, et ceteris consortibus gregis quiescentibus,\
Folio 45v - the vulture, continued. De [gruibus]; Of cranes. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen