The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 47v - De yrundine; Of the swallow.


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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.
and thereafter eat the purest of food of which the apostle spoke, saying: 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace longsuffering etc' (see Galatians, 5:22). If the sun and moon did not send forth their rays, they would give no light. If birds did not spread their wings, they could not fly. Thus, you, O man, if you do not protect yourself with the sign of the cross, and spread the wings of twofold love, you will not be able to pass through the tempests of this world to that most peaceful haven of the heavenly land. 'And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed' (Exodus, 17:11). Of the swallow 'The turtle-dove and the stork and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But my people know not the judgment of the Lord' (see Jeremiah, 8:7). We have talked of the turtle-dove; that leaves the swallow and after it the stork to be discussed Isidore says this about it: 'The swallow is so called because it does not feed on the ground but catches its food and eats it in the air. It is a twittering bird that flies in twisting, turning loops and circuits, is highly skilled in building its nest and rearing its young, and has also a kind of foresight because it lets you know when buildings are about to fall by refusing to nest on their tops. In addition, it is not harrassed by birds of prey nor is it ever their victim. It flies across the sea and winters there.' The swallow is a tiny bird but of an eminently pious nature; lacking in everything, it constructs nests which are more valuable than gold because it builds them wisely. For the nest of wisdom is more precious than gold. And what is wiser than to have, as the swallow does, the capacity to fly where it likes and to entrust its nest and its young to the houses of men, where none will attack them. For there is something attractive in the way that the swallow accustoms its young from their earliest days to the company of people and keeps them safe from the attacks of hostile bird Then

Text

The swallow is a skilful nest builder and migrates.

Illustration

the portrait of the swallow depicts the bird quite accurately with a forked tail, dark back and red breast. This precise depiction is also found in the Ashmole Bestiary and British Library Roy 12C xix(T). One text correction in the margin. Initial is type 2, with a colour guide ('a') azure in the margin.Editorial correction: 'aliis' [for ‘adiris’] , meaning 'The swallow is not attacked by other birds'

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.

  • Colour Indicators

    Colour Indicators

    Colour Indicators
    Colour instruction on the crocodile. Detail from f.68v

    Some colour guides have been provided for both the illuminations and the initials. On f.68v, the illustration of the hydrus, the word ictrie can be seen on the body of the crocodile. The word probably relates to icturus or ictère, jaundiced, indicating the yellow hue of the crocodile. On f.81r, showing Isidore at work, the word harie (or hane) is written on Isidore's desk. This probably means aerus or sky blue. A similar word harie/aerie appears to the left of the firestones scene on f.93v (this is interpreted as mine for minium, red by Clark 1992, 269). In the upper sketch on f.93v there are also rather indistinct letters bis[ors(?)]. Bis means grey in Old French. On f.32v the letters ni (niteur, clear or bright) may be deciphered. In the margin beside some initials are the letters a, v, and or. These stand for azur, blue; vermeil/vermiculum, pink and gold. Indicators for the initials are found on f.28v, f.31v, f.32v, f.41v, f.47v, f.72v. These annotations were added after drawing and before painting the images, and after writing but before illuminating the initials. It is likely they were a memo from the artist to himself, perhaps in response to a model he was copying. The use of Old French rather than primarily Latin indicates the artist was literate but used the vernacular as his working language, even within a scriptorium.

Transcription

et inde sume tibi mundissimos cibos quos enumerat apostolus dicens:\ Fructus autem spiritus est caritas, gaudium, pax, pacientia, longani\ mitas, et cetera. Nisi sol et luna extenderint radios suos, non lucent.\ Volucres nisi extenderint alas suas, volare non poterunt. Sic ergo tu homo\ si te signo crucis non munieris, gemineque dilectionis alas non\ extenderis, ad quietissimum portum celestis patrie per medias huius\ mundi procellas transmeare non poteris. Denique cum Moyses elevaret\ manus suas, superabat Israel. Cum vero remitteret manus suas, superabat Ama\ lech. \ De yrundine \ Turtur et yrundo et ciconia\ cognoverunt adventus sui\ diem. Israel autem non cognovit\ iudicium domini. De turture\ superius diximus, restat autem\ ut de yrundine et ciconia postea\ disseramus. Unde Ysidorus: yrundo\ dicta quod cibos non sumit residens, sed in aere escas capiat et comme\ dat. Garrula avis per tortuosos orbes et flexuosos volans circuitus\ pervolans, et in nidis construendis, educandisque fetibus sollertis\ sima habens etiam quiddam prescium, quod lapsura deferat, nec appe\ tat culmina. A diris quoque avibus non impeditur, nec unquam preda est,\ maria transvolat ibique hyeme commoratur. Hirundo miniscula avis\ corpore, sed egregie pio sublimis affectu, indiga rerum omnium,\ preciosiores auro nidos, quia sapienter nidificat. Nidus enim\ sapientie preciosior est auro. Quid enim sapientius quam ut volandi\ vaga libertate pociatur, et hominum domiciliis parvulos suos et\ tecta commendet ubi sobolem nullus incurset. Nam illud est\ pulchrum ut a primo ortu pullos humane usu conversationis\ assuescat, et prestet ab iminicarum avium insidiis tuciores. Tum\

Translation

and thereafter eat the purest of food of which the apostle spoke, saying: 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace longsuffering etc' (see Galatians, 5:22). If the sun and moon did not send forth their rays, they would give no light. If birds did not spread their wings, they could not fly. Thus, you, O man, if you do not protect yourself with the sign of the cross, and spread the wings of twofold love, you will not be able to pass through the tempests of this world to that most peaceful haven of the heavenly land. 'And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed' (Exodus, 17:11). Of the swallow 'The turtle-dove and the stork and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But my people know not the judgment of the Lord' (see Jeremiah, 8:7). We have talked of the turtle-dove; that leaves the swallow and after it the stork to be discussed Isidore says this about it: 'The swallow is so called because it does not feed on the ground but catches its food and eats it in the air. It is a twittering bird that flies in twisting, turning loops and circuits, is highly skilled in building its nest and rearing its young, and has also a kind of foresight because it lets you know when buildings are about to fall by refusing to nest on their tops. In addition, it is not harrassed by birds of prey nor is it ever their victim. It flies across the sea and winters there.' The swallow is a tiny bird but of an eminently pious nature; lacking in everything, it constructs nests which are more valuable than gold because it builds them wisely. For the nest of wisdom is more precious than gold. And what is wiser than to have, as the swallow does, the capacity to fly where it likes and to entrust its nest and its young to the houses of men, where none will attack them. For there is something attractive in the way that the swallow accustoms its young from their earliest days to the company of people and keeps them safe from the attacks of hostile bird Then
  • Commentary

    Text

    The swallow is a skilful nest builder and migrates.

    Illustration

    the portrait of the swallow depicts the bird quite accurately with a forked tail, dark back and red breast. This precise depiction is also found in the Ashmole Bestiary and British Library Roy 12C xix(T). One text correction in the margin. Initial is type 2, with a colour guide ('a') azure in the margin.Editorial correction: 'aliis' [for ‘adiris’] , meaning 'The swallow is not attacked by other birds'

    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.

    • Colour Indicators

      Colour Indicators

      Colour Indicators
      Colour instruction on the crocodile. Detail from f.68v

      Some colour guides have been provided for both the illuminations and the initials. On f.68v, the illustration of the hydrus, the word ictrie can be seen on the body of the crocodile. The word probably relates to icturus or ictère, jaundiced, indicating the yellow hue of the crocodile. On f.81r, showing Isidore at work, the word harie (or hane) is written on Isidore's desk. This probably means aerus or sky blue. A similar word harie/aerie appears to the left of the firestones scene on f.93v (this is interpreted as mine for minium, red by Clark 1992, 269). In the upper sketch on f.93v there are also rather indistinct letters bis[ors(?)]. Bis means grey in Old French. On f.32v the letters ni (niteur, clear or bright) may be deciphered. In the margin beside some initials are the letters a, v, and or. These stand for azur, blue; vermeil/vermiculum, pink and gold. Indicators for the initials are found on f.28v, f.31v, f.32v, f.41v, f.47v, f.72v. These annotations were added after drawing and before painting the images, and after writing but before illuminating the initials. It is likely they were a memo from the artist to himself, perhaps in response to a model he was copying. The use of Old French rather than primarily Latin indicates the artist was literate but used the vernacular as his working language, even within a scriptorium.

  • Translation
    and thereafter eat the purest of food of which the apostle spoke, saying: 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace longsuffering etc' (see Galatians, 5:22). If the sun and moon did not send forth their rays, they would give no light. If birds did not spread their wings, they could not fly. Thus, you, O man, if you do not protect yourself with the sign of the cross, and spread the wings of twofold love, you will not be able to pass through the tempests of this world to that most peaceful haven of the heavenly land. 'And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed' (Exodus, 17:11). Of the swallow 'The turtle-dove and the stork and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But my people know not the judgment of the Lord' (see Jeremiah, 8:7). We have talked of the turtle-dove; that leaves the swallow and after it the stork to be discussed Isidore says this about it: 'The swallow is so called because it does not feed on the ground but catches its food and eats it in the air. It is a twittering bird that flies in twisting, turning loops and circuits, is highly skilled in building its nest and rearing its young, and has also a kind of foresight because it lets you know when buildings are about to fall by refusing to nest on their tops. In addition, it is not harrassed by birds of prey nor is it ever their victim. It flies across the sea and winters there.' The swallow is a tiny bird but of an eminently pious nature; lacking in everything, it constructs nests which are more valuable than gold because it builds them wisely. For the nest of wisdom is more precious than gold. And what is wiser than to have, as the swallow does, the capacity to fly where it likes and to entrust its nest and its young to the houses of men, where none will attack them. For there is something attractive in the way that the swallow accustoms its young from their earliest days to the company of people and keeps them safe from the attacks of hostile bird Then
  • Transcription
    et inde sume tibi mundissimos cibos quos enumerat apostolus dicens:\ Fructus autem spiritus est caritas, gaudium, pax, pacientia, longani\ mitas, et cetera. Nisi sol et luna extenderint radios suos, non lucent.\ Volucres nisi extenderint alas suas, volare non poterunt. Sic ergo tu homo\ si te signo crucis non munieris, gemineque dilectionis alas non\ extenderis, ad quietissimum portum celestis patrie per medias huius\ mundi procellas transmeare non poteris. Denique cum Moyses elevaret\ manus suas, superabat Israel. Cum vero remitteret manus suas, superabat Ama\ lech. \ De yrundine \ Turtur et yrundo et ciconia\ cognoverunt adventus sui\ diem. Israel autem non cognovit\ iudicium domini. De turture\ superius diximus, restat autem\ ut de yrundine et ciconia postea\ disseramus. Unde Ysidorus: yrundo\ dicta quod cibos non sumit residens, sed in aere escas capiat et comme\ dat. Garrula avis per tortuosos orbes et flexuosos volans circuitus\ pervolans, et in nidis construendis, educandisque fetibus sollertis\ sima habens etiam quiddam prescium, quod lapsura deferat, nec appe\ tat culmina. A diris quoque avibus non impeditur, nec unquam preda est,\ maria transvolat ibique hyeme commoratur. Hirundo miniscula avis\ corpore, sed egregie pio sublimis affectu, indiga rerum omnium,\ preciosiores auro nidos, quia sapienter nidificat. Nidus enim\ sapientie preciosior est auro. Quid enim sapientius quam ut volandi\ vaga libertate pociatur, et hominum domiciliis parvulos suos et\ tecta commendet ubi sobolem nullus incurset. Nam illud est\ pulchrum ut a primo ortu pullos humane usu conversationis\ assuescat, et prestet ab iminicarum avium insidiis tuciores. Tum\
Folio 47v - De yrundine; Of the swallow. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen