The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 47r - the parrot, continued. De ibice; Of the ibis.


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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.
Characteristically, it greets you by saying in Latin or Greek: 'Ave' or 'Kere!' - 'Hail!' It will learn other words if you teach it. Which explains the lines: 'Like a parrot, I will learn other people's names from you, but this I have learned by myself to say: Hail, Caesar!' (Martial, Epigrams, 14, 73). The parrot's beak is of such hardness that if it falls from a height on to a rock, it takes the impact on its mouth, using it as base of uncommon toughness. Its skull is so thick, that if ever you have to admonish it with blows to learn - for it tries hard to speak like men - you should beat it with an iron rod. For when it is young, up to two years of age, it learns what it is told very quickly and keeps it firmly in mind; when it is a little older, it is forgetful and is difficult to teach. Of the ibis There is a bird called the ibis; it purges its stomach with its beak. It feeds on the eggs of snakes and on carrion, and from them carries back food to its young, which they eat with great pleasure. Yet it fears to go into water, because it does not know how to swim, but walks about near the shore day and night, looking for dead fish of a small size or corpses which have been washed up. The ibis signifies carnal men who feed, as it were, on deadly deeds, on which they nourish themselves to the condemnation of their wretched souls. But you, a Christian, reborn by water and the holy spirit, enter the spiritual waters of the mysteries of God

Text

The parrot has a hard beak and a tough skull. The ibis regurgitates snakes' eggs and carrion to feed its young.

Illustration

the parrot is correctly painted in green and red, perched on a branch. The Indian rose-ringed parakeet was the only member of the parrot family known in Europe in the middle ages. The ibis regurgitates food to its young and holds a snake (not the snake's egg mentioned in the text) in its claw. The text refers to the sacred ibis which lives at the water's edge. However it eats insects, not carrion. 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

Ex natura autem salutat di\ cens ave vel kere. Cetera nomina\ institutione discit. Hinc est illud.\ Psitacus a vobis aliorum nomina discam:\ Hoc didici per me dicere: Cesar ave.\ Cuius rostri tanta duricia est, ut cum\ e sublimi precipitatur in saxum, ni\ su oris se excipiat, et quodam quasi fun\ damento utatur extra ordinarie fir\ mitatis. Caput vero tantum valens, ut siquando ad discendum\ plagis sit admonendum nam studet ut quod ad homines lo\ quatur, ferrea sit ferula verberandus. Nam cum in pullo est atque\ adeo intra alterum etatis sue annum, que monstrata sunt et\ cicius discit et retinet tenacius, paulo senior obliviosus est et indocilis.\ De ibice \ Est avis que dicitur\ ibis rostro suo pur\ gans alvum. Hec serpen\ tum ovis utitur et mortici\ nis, et ex eis gratissimum\ cibum pullis suis repor\ tat. Nam in aqua ingredi\ timet, quia natandi natu\ ram nescit, sed iuxta litus\ die noctuque obambulat, querens aut mortuos pisciculos, aut\ aliqua cadavera que ab aqua eiecta fuerint foras. Signifi\ cat carnales homines qui mortiferis operibus quasi escis utuntur\ quibus misere anime nutriuntur ad penam. Tu vero Christiane qui aqua\ spirituque sancto renatus es, ingredere ad spirituales aquas misteriorum dei,\

Translation

Characteristically, it greets you by saying in Latin or Greek: 'Ave' or 'Kere!' - 'Hail!' It will learn other words if you teach it. Which explains the lines: 'Like a parrot, I will learn other people's names from you, but this I have learned by myself to say: Hail, Caesar!' (Martial, Epigrams, 14, 73). The parrot's beak is of such hardness that if it falls from a height on to a rock, it takes the impact on its mouth, using it as base of uncommon toughness. Its skull is so thick, that if ever you have to admonish it with blows to learn - for it tries hard to speak like men - you should beat it with an iron rod. For when it is young, up to two years of age, it learns what it is told very quickly and keeps it firmly in mind; when it is a little older, it is forgetful and is difficult to teach. Of the ibis There is a bird called the ibis; it purges its stomach with its beak. It feeds on the eggs of snakes and on carrion, and from them carries back food to its young, which they eat with great pleasure. Yet it fears to go into water, because it does not know how to swim, but walks about near the shore day and night, looking for dead fish of a small size or corpses which have been washed up. The ibis signifies carnal men who feed, as it were, on deadly deeds, on which they nourish themselves to the condemnation of their wretched souls. But you, a Christian, reborn by water and the holy spirit, enter the spiritual waters of the mysteries of God
  • Commentary

    Text

    The parrot has a hard beak and a tough skull. The ibis regurgitates snakes' eggs and carrion to feed its young.

    Illustration

    the parrot is correctly painted in green and red, perched on a branch. The Indian rose-ringed parakeet was the only member of the parrot family known in Europe in the middle ages. The ibis regurgitates food to its young and holds a snake (not the snake's egg mentioned in the text) in its claw. The text refers to the sacred ibis which lives at the water's edge. However it eats insects, not carrion. 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
    Characteristically, it greets you by saying in Latin or Greek: 'Ave' or 'Kere!' - 'Hail!' It will learn other words if you teach it. Which explains the lines: 'Like a parrot, I will learn other people's names from you, but this I have learned by myself to say: Hail, Caesar!' (Martial, Epigrams, 14, 73). The parrot's beak is of such hardness that if it falls from a height on to a rock, it takes the impact on its mouth, using it as base of uncommon toughness. Its skull is so thick, that if ever you have to admonish it with blows to learn - for it tries hard to speak like men - you should beat it with an iron rod. For when it is young, up to two years of age, it learns what it is told very quickly and keeps it firmly in mind; when it is a little older, it is forgetful and is difficult to teach. Of the ibis There is a bird called the ibis; it purges its stomach with its beak. It feeds on the eggs of snakes and on carrion, and from them carries back food to its young, which they eat with great pleasure. Yet it fears to go into water, because it does not know how to swim, but walks about near the shore day and night, looking for dead fish of a small size or corpses which have been washed up. The ibis signifies carnal men who feed, as it were, on deadly deeds, on which they nourish themselves to the condemnation of their wretched souls. But you, a Christian, reborn by water and the holy spirit, enter the spiritual waters of the mysteries of God
  • Transcription
    Ex natura autem salutat di\ cens ave vel kere. Cetera nomina\ institutione discit. Hinc est illud.\ Psitacus a vobis aliorum nomina discam:\ Hoc didici per me dicere: Cesar ave.\ Cuius rostri tanta duricia est, ut cum\ e sublimi precipitatur in saxum, ni\ su oris se excipiat, et quodam quasi fun\ damento utatur extra ordinarie fir\ mitatis. Caput vero tantum valens, ut siquando ad discendum\ plagis sit admonendum nam studet ut quod ad homines lo\ quatur, ferrea sit ferula verberandus. Nam cum in pullo est atque\ adeo intra alterum etatis sue annum, que monstrata sunt et\ cicius discit et retinet tenacius, paulo senior obliviosus est et indocilis.\ De ibice \ Est avis que dicitur\ ibis rostro suo pur\ gans alvum. Hec serpen\ tum ovis utitur et mortici\ nis, et ex eis gratissimum\ cibum pullis suis repor\ tat. Nam in aqua ingredi\ timet, quia natandi natu\ ram nescit, sed iuxta litus\ die noctuque obambulat, querens aut mortuos pisciculos, aut\ aliqua cadavera que ab aqua eiecta fuerint foras. Signifi\ cat carnales homines qui mortiferis operibus quasi escis utuntur\ quibus misere anime nutriuntur ad penam. Tu vero Christiane qui aqua\ spirituque sancto renatus es, ingredere ad spirituales aquas misteriorum dei,\
Folio 47r - the parrot, continued. De ibice; Of the ibis. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen