The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 50v - the owl, continued. [De hupupa] ; Of the hoopoe.


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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.
it is classed among the unclean creatures in Leviticus (see 11:16). Consequently, we can take the owl to mean any kind of sinner. The owl gets its name from the sound it makes, because its mouth speaks when its heart is overfull, for what it thinks about in its mind, it utters with its voice. It is said to be a filthy bird, because it fouls its nest with its droppings, as the sinner dishonours those with whom he lives, by the example of his evil ways. It is weighed down with its plumage, as the sinner is with an excess of carnal pleasure and with fickleness of mind; but it is truly hampered by the weight of its sloth. It is hindered by the weight of its idleness and sloth, as sinners are lazy and slothful in acting virtuously. It spends its days and nights around burial places, as the sinner delights in sin, which is like the stench of decaying human flesh. For it lives in caves like the sinner who will not emerge from darkness by means of confession but detests the light of truth. When other birds see the owl, they signal its presence with loud cries and harrass it with fierce assaults. In the same way, if a sinner comes into the light of understanding, he becomes an object of derision to the virtuous. And when he is caught openly in the act of sinning, his ears are filled with their reproaches. As the birds pull out the owl's feathers and tear at it with their beaks, the virtuous censure the carnal acts of the sinner and condemn his excesses. The owl is known, therefore, as a miserable bird, just as the sinner, who behaves in the way we have described above, is a miserable man. [Of the hoopoe] The Greeks call the bird by this name because it roosts in human ordure and feeds on stinking excrement. The filthiest of birds, it is capped with a prominent crest. It lives in burial places amid human ordure. If you rub yourself with its blood on your way to bed, you will have nightmares about demons suffocating you. On this subject, Rabanus says: 'This bird signifies wicked sinners, men who continually delight in the squalor of sin.' The hoopoe is said to take pleasure in grief, as the sorrow of this world

Text

The owl is a dirty bird. The hoopoe is the dirtiest bird.

Illustration

Hoopoe in a roundel.

Comment

The rubric for the hoopoe is missing. The hoopoe has a comb-like crest and startling black and white bars across its body. The crest illustrated is more like a peacock's crest. Compare the totally different version of the hoopoe on f. 36v. Initial type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • 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

inter immunda animalia in Levitico deputatur. Unde per bubonem\ intelligere possumus quemlibet peccatorem. Bubo a sono vocis dicitur\ quia os ex abundantia cordis loquitur, nam quod cogitat mente,\ profert voce. Avis feda esse dicitur, quia fimo eius locus in quo habitat\ commaculatur, quia peccator illos cum quibus habitat, exemplo\ perversi operis dehonestat. Avis onusta plumis, id est, superfluitate\ carnis et levitate mentis, sed gravi quidem detenta pigricia.\ Detinetur inertia et pigritia g[ra]ravi, quia peccatores ad bene operandum\ sunt inertes et pigri. Die noctuque moratur in sepulcris, nam de\ lectatur peccato, quod est fetor humane carnis. Habitat enim in ca\ vernis nec per confessionem exit foras, sed lucem veritatis odit.\ Ab aliis avibus visus, magnis earum clamoribus proditur, magnis\ etiam incursionibus vexatur. Si enim peccator ad lucem cogniti\ onis veniat, magnum bene agentibus derisionis questum\ prestat. Et cum in peccato deprehensus aperte fuerit, ab aliis repre\ hensionis verba audit. Plumas evellunt et rostro lacerant,\ quia et carnales actus peccatoris bene agentes reprehendunt, et\ superfluitatem dampnant. Infelix ergo dicitur, quia infelix est\ qui ea que prediximus operatur. \ [De hupupa] \ Hupupam Greci appellant, eo\ quod stercora humana consi\ deret [considat], et fetenti pascatur fimo, avis\ spurcissima et cristis exstantibus ga\ leata, semper in sepulcris et humano\ stercore commorans, cuius sanguine\ quisquis se inunxerit, dormitum\ pergens demones suffocantes se vide\ bit. Unde Rabanus: Hec avis sceleratos\ peccatores significat homines qui sordibus peccatorum assidue de\ lectantur. Hupupa etiam luctum amare dicitur, quia [seculi] tristicia\

Translation

it is classed among the unclean creatures in Leviticus (see 11:16). Consequently, we can take the owl to mean any kind of sinner. The owl gets its name from the sound it makes, because its mouth speaks when its heart is overfull, for what it thinks about in its mind, it utters with its voice. It is said to be a filthy bird, because it fouls its nest with its droppings, as the sinner dishonours those with whom he lives, by the example of his evil ways. It is weighed down with its plumage, as the sinner is with an excess of carnal pleasure and with fickleness of mind; but it is truly hampered by the weight of its sloth. It is hindered by the weight of its idleness and sloth, as sinners are lazy and slothful in acting virtuously. It spends its days and nights around burial places, as the sinner delights in sin, which is like the stench of decaying human flesh. For it lives in caves like the sinner who will not emerge from darkness by means of confession but detests the light of truth. When other birds see the owl, they signal its presence with loud cries and harrass it with fierce assaults. In the same way, if a sinner comes into the light of understanding, he becomes an object of derision to the virtuous. And when he is caught openly in the act of sinning, his ears are filled with their reproaches. As the birds pull out the owl's feathers and tear at it with their beaks, the virtuous censure the carnal acts of the sinner and condemn his excesses. The owl is known, therefore, as a miserable bird, just as the sinner, who behaves in the way we have described above, is a miserable man. [Of the hoopoe] The Greeks call the bird by this name because it roosts in human ordure and feeds on stinking excrement. The filthiest of birds, it is capped with a prominent crest. It lives in burial places amid human ordure. If you rub yourself with its blood on your way to bed, you will have nightmares about demons suffocating you. On this subject, Rabanus says: 'This bird signifies wicked sinners, men who continually delight in the squalor of sin.' The hoopoe is said to take pleasure in grief, as the sorrow of this world
  • Commentary

    Text

    The owl is a dirty bird. The hoopoe is the dirtiest bird.

    Illustration

    Hoopoe in a roundel.

    Comment

    The rubric for the hoopoe is missing. The hoopoe has a comb-like crest and startling black and white bars across its body. The crest illustrated is more like a peacock's crest. Compare the totally different version of the hoopoe on f. 36v. Initial type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • 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
    it is classed among the unclean creatures in Leviticus (see 11:16). Consequently, we can take the owl to mean any kind of sinner. The owl gets its name from the sound it makes, because its mouth speaks when its heart is overfull, for what it thinks about in its mind, it utters with its voice. It is said to be a filthy bird, because it fouls its nest with its droppings, as the sinner dishonours those with whom he lives, by the example of his evil ways. It is weighed down with its plumage, as the sinner is with an excess of carnal pleasure and with fickleness of mind; but it is truly hampered by the weight of its sloth. It is hindered by the weight of its idleness and sloth, as sinners are lazy and slothful in acting virtuously. It spends its days and nights around burial places, as the sinner delights in sin, which is like the stench of decaying human flesh. For it lives in caves like the sinner who will not emerge from darkness by means of confession but detests the light of truth. When other birds see the owl, they signal its presence with loud cries and harrass it with fierce assaults. In the same way, if a sinner comes into the light of understanding, he becomes an object of derision to the virtuous. And when he is caught openly in the act of sinning, his ears are filled with their reproaches. As the birds pull out the owl's feathers and tear at it with their beaks, the virtuous censure the carnal acts of the sinner and condemn his excesses. The owl is known, therefore, as a miserable bird, just as the sinner, who behaves in the way we have described above, is a miserable man. [Of the hoopoe] The Greeks call the bird by this name because it roosts in human ordure and feeds on stinking excrement. The filthiest of birds, it is capped with a prominent crest. It lives in burial places amid human ordure. If you rub yourself with its blood on your way to bed, you will have nightmares about demons suffocating you. On this subject, Rabanus says: 'This bird signifies wicked sinners, men who continually delight in the squalor of sin.' The hoopoe is said to take pleasure in grief, as the sorrow of this world
  • Transcription
    inter immunda animalia in Levitico deputatur. Unde per bubonem\ intelligere possumus quemlibet peccatorem. Bubo a sono vocis dicitur\ quia os ex abundantia cordis loquitur, nam quod cogitat mente,\ profert voce. Avis feda esse dicitur, quia fimo eius locus in quo habitat\ commaculatur, quia peccator illos cum quibus habitat, exemplo\ perversi operis dehonestat. Avis onusta plumis, id est, superfluitate\ carnis et levitate mentis, sed gravi quidem detenta pigricia.\ Detinetur inertia et pigritia g[ra]ravi, quia peccatores ad bene operandum\ sunt inertes et pigri. Die noctuque moratur in sepulcris, nam de\ lectatur peccato, quod est fetor humane carnis. Habitat enim in ca\ vernis nec per confessionem exit foras, sed lucem veritatis odit.\ Ab aliis avibus visus, magnis earum clamoribus proditur, magnis\ etiam incursionibus vexatur. Si enim peccator ad lucem cogniti\ onis veniat, magnum bene agentibus derisionis questum\ prestat. Et cum in peccato deprehensus aperte fuerit, ab aliis repre\ hensionis verba audit. Plumas evellunt et rostro lacerant,\ quia et carnales actus peccatoris bene agentes reprehendunt, et\ superfluitatem dampnant. Infelix ergo dicitur, quia infelix est\ qui ea que prediximus operatur. \ [De hupupa] \ Hupupam Greci appellant, eo\ quod stercora humana consi\ deret [considat], et fetenti pascatur fimo, avis\ spurcissima et cristis exstantibus ga\ leata, semper in sepulcris et humano\ stercore commorans, cuius sanguine\ quisquis se inunxerit, dormitum\ pergens demones suffocantes se vide\ bit. Unde Rabanus: Hec avis sceleratos\ peccatores significat homines qui sordibus peccatorum assidue de\ lectantur. Hupupa etiam luctum amare dicitur, quia [seculi] tristicia\
Folio 50v - the owl, continued. [De hupupa] ; Of the hoopoe. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen