The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 49v - the stork, continued. De [merula]; Of the blackbird.


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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.
prelates should feed their disciples with instruction according to their need. Likewise the prelates' flock should support them with their efforts and provide them with the necessities they lack. Thus the turtle-dove, the swallow and the stork are a living reproach to those who do not believe that Christ came in the flesh and do not go in fear of the judgement of the Lord to come. Of the blackbird Isidore says of the blackbird: 'The blackbird in ancient times was called medula, because it sang rhythmically.' Others say that it was called merula, because it flew on its own, mera volans, so to speak. Although it is black wherever it is found, there is a white species in Achaia. The blackbird is small but black. It represents those tainted by the blackness of sin. The blackbird both moves and charms itself by the sweetness of its own voice. It represents those who are tempted by the suggestion of carnal pleasures. In fact, the blessed Gregory refers to this in his book of Dialogues, when he recounts how the blackbird came on the wing to the blessed Benedict and how after the departure of the bird, he was tempted with the fire of lust. Gregory says: One day when the blessed Benedict was alone, the tempter appeared. For a small, black bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his head and to come up close to his face in a cheeky fashion, so that Benedict could have taken it in his hand if the saint had wanted to hold it. But he made the sign of the cross and the bird flew away. Such a temptation of the flesh as followed the departure of the bird, the saint had never experienced. For the evil spirit now brought before his inner eye the image of a woman whom Benedict had once seen. And the mind of the servant of God burned with such fire at the sight of her, that

Text

The blackbird is black and has a sweet voice.

Illustration

Portrait of the blackbird in a roundel.

Comment

It is painted brown either in ignorance of the text or because it is a female bird.

Transcription

discipuli, tamdiu verbo doctrine debent eos alere pre\ lati. Similiter subiecti prelatos suis laboribus fovere de\ bent, ut eis ministrent necessaria quibus egent. Turtur\ igitur et yrundo et ciconia illos reprehendunt, qui Christum in\ carne advenisse non credunt, et iudicium domini futurum\ non pertimescunt.\ De [merula] \ Ysidorus de merula: Merula\ antiquitus medula [PL, modula] vocabatur,\eo quod moduletur. Alii merulam\ aiunt vocitatam quia sola volat\ quasi mera volans. Hec cum in om\nibus locis nigra sit, in Achaia tamen\ candida est. Merula est avis parva\ sed nigra. Illos autem innuit, quos peca\ ti nigredo tingit. Merula dulcedine proprie vocis, mentem\ movet in affectum delectationis. Illos autem demonstrat\ figurate, quos voluptas carnis per suggestionem temptat. De ea\ siquidem beatus Gregorius in libro Dialogorum scribit qualiter\ beato Benedicto volitans occurrit, qualiter tantus post disces\ sum volucris, temptatus fuerit ardore libidinis. Ait enim:\ Quadam vero die dum solus esset beatus Benedictus, temptator affu\ it. Nam nigra parvaque avis que vulgo merula vocatur\ circa eius faciem volitare cepit, eiusque vultui importu\ ne insistere, ita ut capi manu posset, si hanc vir sanctus\ tenere voluisset. Sed signo crucis edito, recessit avis.\ Tanta autem carnis temptatio avi eadem recedente se\ cuta est, quantam vir sanctus nunquam fuerat expertus. Quan\ dam namque aliquando feminam viderat, quam ma\ lignus spiritus ante eius mentis oculos reduxit. Tan\ taque igne servi dei animum in specie illius accendit, ut\

Translation

prelates should feed their disciples with instruction according to their need. Likewise the prelates' flock should support them with their efforts and provide them with the necessities they lack. Thus the turtle-dove, the swallow and the stork are a living reproach to those who do not believe that Christ came in the flesh and do not go in fear of the judgement of the Lord to come. Of the blackbird Isidore says of the blackbird: 'The blackbird in ancient times was called medula, because it sang rhythmically.' Others say that it was called merula, because it flew on its own, mera volans, so to speak. Although it is black wherever it is found, there is a white species in Achaia. The blackbird is small but black. It represents those tainted by the blackness of sin. The blackbird both moves and charms itself by the sweetness of its own voice. It represents those who are tempted by the suggestion of carnal pleasures. In fact, the blessed Gregory refers to this in his book of Dialogues, when he recounts how the blackbird came on the wing to the blessed Benedict and how after the departure of the bird, he was tempted with the fire of lust. Gregory says: One day when the blessed Benedict was alone, the tempter appeared. For a small, black bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his head and to come up close to his face in a cheeky fashion, so that Benedict could have taken it in his hand if the saint had wanted to hold it. But he made the sign of the cross and the bird flew away. Such a temptation of the flesh as followed the departure of the bird, the saint had never experienced. For the evil spirit now brought before his inner eye the image of a woman whom Benedict had once seen. And the mind of the servant of God burned with such fire at the sight of her, that
  • Commentary

    Text

    The blackbird is black and has a sweet voice.

    Illustration

    Portrait of the blackbird in a roundel.

    Comment

    It is painted brown either in ignorance of the text or because it is a female bird.

  • Translation
    prelates should feed their disciples with instruction according to their need. Likewise the prelates' flock should support them with their efforts and provide them with the necessities they lack. Thus the turtle-dove, the swallow and the stork are a living reproach to those who do not believe that Christ came in the flesh and do not go in fear of the judgement of the Lord to come. Of the blackbird Isidore says of the blackbird: 'The blackbird in ancient times was called medula, because it sang rhythmically.' Others say that it was called merula, because it flew on its own, mera volans, so to speak. Although it is black wherever it is found, there is a white species in Achaia. The blackbird is small but black. It represents those tainted by the blackness of sin. The blackbird both moves and charms itself by the sweetness of its own voice. It represents those who are tempted by the suggestion of carnal pleasures. In fact, the blessed Gregory refers to this in his book of Dialogues, when he recounts how the blackbird came on the wing to the blessed Benedict and how after the departure of the bird, he was tempted with the fire of lust. Gregory says: One day when the blessed Benedict was alone, the tempter appeared. For a small, black bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his head and to come up close to his face in a cheeky fashion, so that Benedict could have taken it in his hand if the saint had wanted to hold it. But he made the sign of the cross and the bird flew away. Such a temptation of the flesh as followed the departure of the bird, the saint had never experienced. For the evil spirit now brought before his inner eye the image of a woman whom Benedict had once seen. And the mind of the servant of God burned with such fire at the sight of her, that
  • Transcription
    discipuli, tamdiu verbo doctrine debent eos alere pre\ lati. Similiter subiecti prelatos suis laboribus fovere de\ bent, ut eis ministrent necessaria quibus egent. Turtur\ igitur et yrundo et ciconia illos reprehendunt, qui Christum in\ carne advenisse non credunt, et iudicium domini futurum\ non pertimescunt.\ De [merula] \ Ysidorus de merula: Merula\ antiquitus medula [PL, modula] vocabatur,\eo quod moduletur. Alii merulam\ aiunt vocitatam quia sola volat\ quasi mera volans. Hec cum in om\nibus locis nigra sit, in Achaia tamen\ candida est. Merula est avis parva\ sed nigra. Illos autem innuit, quos peca\ ti nigredo tingit. Merula dulcedine proprie vocis, mentem\ movet in affectum delectationis. Illos autem demonstrat\ figurate, quos voluptas carnis per suggestionem temptat. De ea\ siquidem beatus Gregorius in libro Dialogorum scribit qualiter\ beato Benedicto volitans occurrit, qualiter tantus post disces\ sum volucris, temptatus fuerit ardore libidinis. Ait enim:\ Quadam vero die dum solus esset beatus Benedictus, temptator affu\ it. Nam nigra parvaque avis que vulgo merula vocatur\ circa eius faciem volitare cepit, eiusque vultui importu\ ne insistere, ita ut capi manu posset, si hanc vir sanctus\ tenere voluisset. Sed signo crucis edito, recessit avis.\ Tanta autem carnis temptatio avi eadem recedente se\ cuta est, quantam vir sanctus nunquam fuerat expertus. Quan\ dam namque aliquando feminam viderat, quam ma\ lignus spiritus ante eius mentis oculos reduxit. Tan\ taque igne servi dei animum in specie illius accendit, ut\
Folio 49v - the stork, continued. De [merula]; Of the blackbird. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen