The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 46v - the cranes, continued. De milvo; Of the kite. De psitaco; Of the parrot


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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.
For the old change their love of former pleasures into the sadness of repentance. Behold how, through the nature of birds, we can teach the nature of the religious life. Of the kite It is weak in strength and in flight - a puny bird, mollis avis, from which it gets its name, milvus. It is, however, a bird of prey, always preying on domestic birds. As we read in the book of Etymologies of Isidore: 'The kite, milvus, derives its name from mollis volatu, weak in flight. For the kite is a weakly bird.' The kite signifies those who are tempted by effete pleasures. It feeds on corpses, as pleasure-seekers take delight in carnal desires. It constantly hovers around kitchens and meat-markets so that if pieces of raw meat are thrown out from them, it can seize them quickly. In this the kite represents to us those who are motivated by concern for their stomach. Those who are of this world, therefore, seek pleasure, frequent meat-markets and gaze with longing at kitchens. The kite is timid in big matters, bold in small. It dares not seize wild birds but customarily preys on domestic ones. It lies in wait to seize their young and when it encounters unwary youngsters, it kills them quickly. In the same way, the effete and pleasure-seeking seize infants of tender years, in the sense that they teach the more simple and undiscerning their own habits and lead them into perversion. As kites deceive the unwary by flying over them slowly, the pleasure-seekers lead the young astray by flattering them with sweet words. See how birds who lack the capacity of rational thought instruct through examples of evil conduct men who are experienced and intelligent. Of the parrot India alone produces the bird called the parrot, green in colour, with a deep-red neck and a large tongue, broader than those of other birds, with which it utters distinct words; so that if you did not see it, you would think it was a man talking

Text

The kite a puny bird of prey. The parrot is green in colour with a deep red neck.

Illustration

a portrait of the kite in a roundel. Both the Aberdeen and Ashmole Bestiaries have a good depiction of this bird whose forked tail suggests that it is a red kite. Initials type 2. Red initial guide ('s') in left margin.

Folio Attributes

  • Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators
    Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

    When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

  • 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

Mutat enim amorem pristine delectationis in dolorem contricio\ nis. Ecce qualiter per naturam volucrum doceri potest vita religi\ osorum. \ De milvo \ Milvus mollis et [PL, est] viribus et vo\ latu, quasi mollis avis,\ unde et nuncupatur rapacissimum\ tamen et semper domesticis avibus insidi\ atur. Sicut enim in libro ethimo\ logiarum Ysidori legitur: milvus\ a molli volatu nominatur. Est enim\ milvus mollis viribus. Illos autem mil\ vus significat quos mollices voluptates [PL, mollities voluptatis] temptant. Cadaveribus\ milvus vescitur, quia carnalibus desideriis voluptuosi delectantur. Circa\ coquinas et macella milvus assidue volitat, ut siquid crude\ carnis ab eis proiciatur fori[a inserted]s, velocius rapiat. Per hoc enim milvus eos\ nobis innuit, quos cura ventris sollicitos reddit. Qui igitur huius mundi\ sunt, voluptuosa querunt, macella frequentant, et coquinis in\ hiant. Milvus timidus est in magnis; audax in minimis. Sil\ vestres volucres rapere non audet, domesticis autem insidiari so\ let. Insidiatur pullis ut illos rapiat, et quos incautos repperit, velo\ cius necat. Sic molles et voluptuosi teneros pullos rapiunt, quia\ simpliciores et indiscretos suis moribus aptant, et ad perversos usus per\ trahunt. Super eos lente volando incautos decipiunt, dum eos\ blandis sermonibus adulando seducunt. Ecce quomodo volucres que\ ratione carent peritos homines et ratione intentos per exempla per\ verse operationis docent. \ De psitaco Sola India mittit avem psitacum colore viridi torque pu\ nicea, grandi lingua, et ceteris avibus laciore, unde et articu\ lata verba exprimit, ita ut si eam non videris, homine loqui putes.\

Translation

For the old change their love of former pleasures into the sadness of repentance. Behold how, through the nature of birds, we can teach the nature of the religious life. Of the kite It is weak in strength and in flight - a puny bird, mollis avis, from which it gets its name, milvus. It is, however, a bird of prey, always preying on domestic birds. As we read in the book of Etymologies of Isidore: 'The kite, milvus, derives its name from mollis volatu, weak in flight. For the kite is a weakly bird.' The kite signifies those who are tempted by effete pleasures. It feeds on corpses, as pleasure-seekers take delight in carnal desires. It constantly hovers around kitchens and meat-markets so that if pieces of raw meat are thrown out from them, it can seize them quickly. In this the kite represents to us those who are motivated by concern for their stomach. Those who are of this world, therefore, seek pleasure, frequent meat-markets and gaze with longing at kitchens. The kite is timid in big matters, bold in small. It dares not seize wild birds but customarily preys on domestic ones. It lies in wait to seize their young and when it encounters unwary youngsters, it kills them quickly. In the same way, the effete and pleasure-seeking seize infants of tender years, in the sense that they teach the more simple and undiscerning their own habits and lead them into perversion. As kites deceive the unwary by flying over them slowly, the pleasure-seekers lead the young astray by flattering them with sweet words. See how birds who lack the capacity of rational thought instruct through examples of evil conduct men who are experienced and intelligent. Of the parrot India alone produces the bird called the parrot, green in colour, with a deep-red neck and a large tongue, broader than those of other birds, with which it utters distinct words; so that if you did not see it, you would think it was a man talking
  • Commentary

    Text

    The kite a puny bird of prey. The parrot is green in colour with a deep red neck.

    Illustration

    a portrait of the kite in a roundel. Both the Aberdeen and Ashmole Bestiaries have a good depiction of this bird whose forked tail suggests that it is a red kite. Initials type 2. Red initial guide ('s') in left margin.

    Folio Attributes

    • Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators
      Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

      When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

    • 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
    For the old change their love of former pleasures into the sadness of repentance. Behold how, through the nature of birds, we can teach the nature of the religious life. Of the kite It is weak in strength and in flight - a puny bird, mollis avis, from which it gets its name, milvus. It is, however, a bird of prey, always preying on domestic birds. As we read in the book of Etymologies of Isidore: 'The kite, milvus, derives its name from mollis volatu, weak in flight. For the kite is a weakly bird.' The kite signifies those who are tempted by effete pleasures. It feeds on corpses, as pleasure-seekers take delight in carnal desires. It constantly hovers around kitchens and meat-markets so that if pieces of raw meat are thrown out from them, it can seize them quickly. In this the kite represents to us those who are motivated by concern for their stomach. Those who are of this world, therefore, seek pleasure, frequent meat-markets and gaze with longing at kitchens. The kite is timid in big matters, bold in small. It dares not seize wild birds but customarily preys on domestic ones. It lies in wait to seize their young and when it encounters unwary youngsters, it kills them quickly. In the same way, the effete and pleasure-seeking seize infants of tender years, in the sense that they teach the more simple and undiscerning their own habits and lead them into perversion. As kites deceive the unwary by flying over them slowly, the pleasure-seekers lead the young astray by flattering them with sweet words. See how birds who lack the capacity of rational thought instruct through examples of evil conduct men who are experienced and intelligent. Of the parrot India alone produces the bird called the parrot, green in colour, with a deep-red neck and a large tongue, broader than those of other birds, with which it utters distinct words; so that if you did not see it, you would think it was a man talking
  • Transcription
    Mutat enim amorem pristine delectationis in dolorem contricio\ nis. Ecce qualiter per naturam volucrum doceri potest vita religi\ osorum. \ De milvo \ Milvus mollis et [PL, est] viribus et vo\ latu, quasi mollis avis,\ unde et nuncupatur rapacissimum\ tamen et semper domesticis avibus insidi\ atur. Sicut enim in libro ethimo\ logiarum Ysidori legitur: milvus\ a molli volatu nominatur. Est enim\ milvus mollis viribus. Illos autem mil\ vus significat quos mollices voluptates [PL, mollities voluptatis] temptant. Cadaveribus\ milvus vescitur, quia carnalibus desideriis voluptuosi delectantur. Circa\ coquinas et macella milvus assidue volitat, ut siquid crude\ carnis ab eis proiciatur fori[a inserted]s, velocius rapiat. Per hoc enim milvus eos\ nobis innuit, quos cura ventris sollicitos reddit. Qui igitur huius mundi\ sunt, voluptuosa querunt, macella frequentant, et coquinis in\ hiant. Milvus timidus est in magnis; audax in minimis. Sil\ vestres volucres rapere non audet, domesticis autem insidiari so\ let. Insidiatur pullis ut illos rapiat, et quos incautos repperit, velo\ cius necat. Sic molles et voluptuosi teneros pullos rapiunt, quia\ simpliciores et indiscretos suis moribus aptant, et ad perversos usus per\ trahunt. Super eos lente volando incautos decipiunt, dum eos\ blandis sermonibus adulando seducunt. Ecce quomodo volucres que\ ratione carent peritos homines et ratione intentos per exempla per\ verse operationis docent. \ De psitaco Sola India mittit avem psitacum colore viridi torque pu\ nicea, grandi lingua, et ceteris avibus laciore, unde et articu\ lata verba exprimit, ita ut si eam non videris, homine loqui putes.\
Folio 46v - the cranes, continued. De milvo; Of the kite. De psitaco; Of the parrot | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen