The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 48v - the swallow, continued. De ciconia; Of the stork.


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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.
of the swallow, it signifies, unless I am mistaken, the lament of the penitent soul. The swallow does not feed on the ground but eats what it catches in the air, as those who have no love for earthly things, seek, far away from them, the things of heaven. It is said to twitter, like those who frequently take pleasure in plaintive pleas. It flies in winding circles, as those who bend their minds in submission to the rules of obedience. The swallow is expert in building nests and bringing up its young. In constructing a nest, it resembles those who fix their hope in the faith of Christ's passion. It is skilled in bringing up its young, that is, like those who are skilled in teaching the brethren in their charge. The swallow has a kind of foresight, because it tells us which buildings which are about to fall by refusing to nest on their tops. Those who are truly penitent have a kind of foresight, in that they flee from the fall of this world and seek life without end. It is not harassed by other birds and is never their prey. Birds of prey never fall upon it, in the same way that the contrite of heart are never the prey of devils. The swallow flies across the sea, as the truly penitent long to quit the sorrows and commotions of this world. There it stays during in winter. As, when winter assails us, and the cold comes, the righteous man migrates to the warm region of love. There he waits patiently until the coldness of temptation passes from his mind. The pious bird knows how to proclaim, in witness of its coming, the beginning of spring. The swallow returns after the cold of winter to announce the beginning of spring. Likewise, the righteous man returns after the coldness of great temptation to the temperate climate of a well-regulated mind, in order that, having escaped the cold of temptation, he may ascend by means of good works to summer, that is, the warmth of the due measure of love. This, then, is the nature of the swallow, that is to say, of the penitent soul: it longs all the time for the beginning of spring, as the soul holds to the way of good judgement and moderation in all things. See how something simple, like the swallow, can teach those to whom divine providence from the beginning gave the capacity of discernment. Of the stork Storks get their name, ciconie, from the creaking sound they make, like crickets, cicanie. The sound comes from their mouth rather than their voice, because they make it by clashing their bills. Storks are the heralds of spring; they share a sense of community;

Text

The swallow twitters and flies across the sea. The stork makes a creaking sound with its bill.

Comment

Two text corrections in the margin:Two text corrections in the margin: ad diversa [correcting ‘adversa’]; accedit [correcting ‘antecedit’]. 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

yrundinis, nisi fallor questum designat anime penitentis. Hi\ rundo cibos residens non sumit, sed in aere quas capit escas edit, quia\ qui terrena non diligit, remotus a terrenis celestia querit. Garrula\ avis esse dicitur quia querulosis orationibus sepius delectatur, per fluxuosos cir\ cuitus pervolat, ut adversa obedientie precepta mentem subiectus\ flectat. In nidis construendis educandisque fetibus sollertissima.\ Nidum construit, quia in fide passionis Christi spem fixam ponit. Sol\ lers in educandis fetibus, id est in docendis subiectis fratribus. Habet etiam\ quiddam pre[s]cium, quod deserat lapsura, nec appetat culmina. Quid\ dam enim pre[s]cium habent qui vere penitent, quod casum presentis seculi\ fugiant, et per mansura sine fine querunt. Hyrundo aliis avibus\ non impetitur nec unquam preda est. Rapaces aves nunquam yrundinem\ rapiunt, quia contriti corde demonibus nunquam preda sunt. Yrun\ do maria transvolat, quia vere penitet amaritudines et tumul\ tus huius mundi exire desiderat. Ibique hieme commoratur. Cum enim\ yemps ingruit et frigus antecedit [PL, accedit] tunc iustus ad calorem cari\ tatis transit. Ibique pacienter expectat, donec frigus temptationis a\ mente recedat. Novit pia avis annuntiare adventus sui testi\ monio, veris inicium. Revertitur yrundo post frigus yemis, ut an\ nuntiet inicium veris. Similiter iustus post frigus nimie temp\ tationis revertitur ad temperantiam moderate mentis, ut qui frigus\ temptationis evaserat, ad estatem, id est dilectionis amorem [PL, calorem] mo\ derate per ascensus boni operis accedat. Hec est igitur natura yrundinis,\ id est anime penitentis, que semper querit veris inicium, quia in omnibus\ tenet discrecionis et temperantie modum. Ecce qualiter simplex\ eos instruit, quos ab inicio divina providentia discretos facit.\ De ciconia \ Ciconie vocate a sono quo crepitant\ quasi cicanie que sonum oris pocius esse quam vocis quia\ quatiente rostro faciunt. Hee veris nuntie, societatis comites,\

Translation

of the swallow, it signifies, unless I am mistaken, the lament of the penitent soul. The swallow does not feed on the ground but eats what it catches in the air, as those who have no love for earthly things, seek, far away from them, the things of heaven. It is said to twitter, like those who frequently take pleasure in plaintive pleas. It flies in winding circles, as those who bend their minds in submission to the rules of obedience. The swallow is expert in building nests and bringing up its young. In constructing a nest, it resembles those who fix their hope in the faith of Christ's passion. It is skilled in bringing up its young, that is, like those who are skilled in teaching the brethren in their charge. The swallow has a kind of foresight, because it tells us which buildings which are about to fall by refusing to nest on their tops. Those who are truly penitent have a kind of foresight, in that they flee from the fall of this world and seek life without end. It is not harassed by other birds and is never their prey. Birds of prey never fall upon it, in the same way that the contrite of heart are never the prey of devils. The swallow flies across the sea, as the truly penitent long to quit the sorrows and commotions of this world. There it stays during in winter. As, when winter assails us, and the cold comes, the righteous man migrates to the warm region of love. There he waits patiently until the coldness of temptation passes from his mind. The pious bird knows how to proclaim, in witness of its coming, the beginning of spring. The swallow returns after the cold of winter to announce the beginning of spring. Likewise, the righteous man returns after the coldness of great temptation to the temperate climate of a well-regulated mind, in order that, having escaped the cold of temptation, he may ascend by means of good works to summer, that is, the warmth of the due measure of love. This, then, is the nature of the swallow, that is to say, of the penitent soul: it longs all the time for the beginning of spring, as the soul holds to the way of good judgement and moderation in all things. See how something simple, like the swallow, can teach those to whom divine providence from the beginning gave the capacity of discernment. Of the stork Storks get their name, ciconie, from the creaking sound they make, like crickets, cicanie. The sound comes from their mouth rather than their voice, because they make it by clashing their bills. Storks are the heralds of spring; they share a sense of community;
  • Commentary

    Text

    The swallow twitters and flies across the sea. The stork makes a creaking sound with its bill.

    Comment

    Two text corrections in the margin:Two text corrections in the margin: ad diversa [correcting ‘adversa’]; accedit [correcting ‘antecedit’]. 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
    of the swallow, it signifies, unless I am mistaken, the lament of the penitent soul. The swallow does not feed on the ground but eats what it catches in the air, as those who have no love for earthly things, seek, far away from them, the things of heaven. It is said to twitter, like those who frequently take pleasure in plaintive pleas. It flies in winding circles, as those who bend their minds in submission to the rules of obedience. The swallow is expert in building nests and bringing up its young. In constructing a nest, it resembles those who fix their hope in the faith of Christ's passion. It is skilled in bringing up its young, that is, like those who are skilled in teaching the brethren in their charge. The swallow has a kind of foresight, because it tells us which buildings which are about to fall by refusing to nest on their tops. Those who are truly penitent have a kind of foresight, in that they flee from the fall of this world and seek life without end. It is not harassed by other birds and is never their prey. Birds of prey never fall upon it, in the same way that the contrite of heart are never the prey of devils. The swallow flies across the sea, as the truly penitent long to quit the sorrows and commotions of this world. There it stays during in winter. As, when winter assails us, and the cold comes, the righteous man migrates to the warm region of love. There he waits patiently until the coldness of temptation passes from his mind. The pious bird knows how to proclaim, in witness of its coming, the beginning of spring. The swallow returns after the cold of winter to announce the beginning of spring. Likewise, the righteous man returns after the coldness of great temptation to the temperate climate of a well-regulated mind, in order that, having escaped the cold of temptation, he may ascend by means of good works to summer, that is, the warmth of the due measure of love. This, then, is the nature of the swallow, that is to say, of the penitent soul: it longs all the time for the beginning of spring, as the soul holds to the way of good judgement and moderation in all things. See how something simple, like the swallow, can teach those to whom divine providence from the beginning gave the capacity of discernment. Of the stork Storks get their name, ciconie, from the creaking sound they make, like crickets, cicanie. The sound comes from their mouth rather than their voice, because they make it by clashing their bills. Storks are the heralds of spring; they share a sense of community;
  • Transcription
    yrundinis, nisi fallor questum designat anime penitentis. Hi\ rundo cibos residens non sumit, sed in aere quas capit escas edit, quia\ qui terrena non diligit, remotus a terrenis celestia querit. Garrula\ avis esse dicitur quia querulosis orationibus sepius delectatur, per fluxuosos cir\ cuitus pervolat, ut adversa obedientie precepta mentem subiectus\ flectat. In nidis construendis educandisque fetibus sollertissima.\ Nidum construit, quia in fide passionis Christi spem fixam ponit. Sol\ lers in educandis fetibus, id est in docendis subiectis fratribus. Habet etiam\ quiddam pre[s]cium, quod deserat lapsura, nec appetat culmina. Quid\ dam enim pre[s]cium habent qui vere penitent, quod casum presentis seculi\ fugiant, et per mansura sine fine querunt. Hyrundo aliis avibus\ non impetitur nec unquam preda est. Rapaces aves nunquam yrundinem\ rapiunt, quia contriti corde demonibus nunquam preda sunt. Yrun\ do maria transvolat, quia vere penitet amaritudines et tumul\ tus huius mundi exire desiderat. Ibique hieme commoratur. Cum enim\ yemps ingruit et frigus antecedit [PL, accedit] tunc iustus ad calorem cari\ tatis transit. Ibique pacienter expectat, donec frigus temptationis a\ mente recedat. Novit pia avis annuntiare adventus sui testi\ monio, veris inicium. Revertitur yrundo post frigus yemis, ut an\ nuntiet inicium veris. Similiter iustus post frigus nimie temp\ tationis revertitur ad temperantiam moderate mentis, ut qui frigus\ temptationis evaserat, ad estatem, id est dilectionis amorem [PL, calorem] mo\ derate per ascensus boni operis accedat. Hec est igitur natura yrundinis,\ id est anime penitentis, que semper querit veris inicium, quia in omnibus\ tenet discrecionis et temperantie modum. Ecce qualiter simplex\ eos instruit, quos ab inicio divina providentia discretos facit.\ De ciconia \ Ciconie vocate a sono quo crepitant\ quasi cicanie que sonum oris pocius esse quam vocis quia\ quatiente rostro faciunt. Hee veris nuntie, societatis comites,\
Folio 48v - the swallow, continued. De ciconia; Of the stork. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen