The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 54v - the partridge, continued. [De altione]; Of the halcyon


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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.
by the males' scent. Then, if any man approaches the place where the patridge is brooding, the mothers come out and deliberately show themselves to them; pretending that their feet or wings are injured, they put on a show of moving slowly, as if they could be caught in no time; by this trick they act as decoys to the approaching men and fool them into moving far away from the nest. The young are not slow, either, to watch out for themselves. When they sense that they have been seen, they lie on their backs holding up small clods of earth in their claws, camouflaging themselves so skilfully, that they lie hidden from detection. [Of the halcyon] The halcyon is a seabird which produces its young on the shore, depositing its eggs in the sand, around midwinter. It chooses as the time to hatch its young, the period when the sea is at its highest and the waves break more fiercely than usual on the shore; with the result that the grace with which this bird is endowed shines forth the more, with the dignity of an unexpected calm. For it is a fact that when the sea has been raging, once the halcyon's eggs have been laid, it suddenly becomes gentle, all the stormy winds subside, the strong breezes lighten, and as the wind drops, the sea lies calm, until the halcyon hatches its eggs. The eggs take seven days to hatch, at the end of which the halcyon brings forth its young and the hatching is at an end. The halcyon takes a further seven days to feed its chicks until they begin to grow into young birds. Such a short feeding-time is nothing to marvel at, since the completion

Text

The halcyon. The sea becomes calm when the halcyon has laid its eggs.

Illustration

Portrait of a blue bird with webbed feet and a saw bill.

Comment

The blue specks of the feathers derive from Aristotle's description of a kingfisher. The excision relates to the partridge on f.54r. 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

odore. Tunc siquis hom-[A, inum ubi incubat appropin]\ quaverit, egresse mat-[A, res sese venientibus sponte offe]\ runt, et simulata debili-[A, tate vel pedum vel alarum, quasi]\ statim capi possint, gre-[A, ssus fingunt tardiores, hoc men]\ datio illicitant obvios [A, et illudunt quo adprovecti long]\ gius a nidis avocentur. N-[A, ec in pullis studium segnius]\ ad cavendum. Cum vis-[A, os se persentiscunt resupinati]\ glebulas pedibus attoll-[A, unt, quorum obtentu tam cal-]\ lide proteguntur, ut la-[A, teant deprehensi.]\ [De altione] \ Altion mariti\ ma avis est\ que in littoribus fetus\ suos edere solet, ita\ ut arenis ova sua\ deponat medio fere\ hieme. Nam id tem\ poris fovendi habet\ deputatum partubus\ quando maxime\ insurgit mare litori\ busque vehementior\ fluctus illiditur, quo magis repentine placiditatis solemp\ nitate avis huius eluceat gratia. Namque ubi undosum fue\ rit mare positis ovis subito mitescunt, et omnes cadunt\ ventorum procelle flatusque aurarum mitescunt, ac placidum\ ventis stat mare, donec ova foveat altion sua. Septem\ autem dies fotus sunt, quibus decursis educit pullos, fetusque\ absolvit. Ilico alios quoque septem adiungit dies quibus\ enutriat partus suos, donec incipiant adolescere. Nec\ mireris tam exiguum nutrimenti tempus cum absolutio\

Translation

by the males' scent. Then, if any man approaches the place where the patridge is brooding, the mothers come out and deliberately show themselves to them; pretending that their feet or wings are injured, they put on a show of moving slowly, as if they could be caught in no time; by this trick they act as decoys to the approaching men and fool them into moving far away from the nest. The young are not slow, either, to watch out for themselves. When they sense that they have been seen, they lie on their backs holding up small clods of earth in their claws, camouflaging themselves so skilfully, that they lie hidden from detection. [Of the halcyon] The halcyon is a seabird which produces its young on the shore, depositing its eggs in the sand, around midwinter. It chooses as the time to hatch its young, the period when the sea is at its highest and the waves break more fiercely than usual on the shore; with the result that the grace with which this bird is endowed shines forth the more, with the dignity of an unexpected calm. For it is a fact that when the sea has been raging, once the halcyon's eggs have been laid, it suddenly becomes gentle, all the stormy winds subside, the strong breezes lighten, and as the wind drops, the sea lies calm, until the halcyon hatches its eggs. The eggs take seven days to hatch, at the end of which the halcyon brings forth its young and the hatching is at an end. The halcyon takes a further seven days to feed its chicks until they begin to grow into young birds. Such a short feeding-time is nothing to marvel at, since the completion
  • Commentary

    Text

    The halcyon. The sea becomes calm when the halcyon has laid its eggs.

    Illustration

    Portrait of a blue bird with webbed feet and a saw bill.

    Comment

    The blue specks of the feathers derive from Aristotle's description of a kingfisher. The excision relates to the partridge on f.54r. 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
    by the males' scent. Then, if any man approaches the place where the patridge is brooding, the mothers come out and deliberately show themselves to them; pretending that their feet or wings are injured, they put on a show of moving slowly, as if they could be caught in no time; by this trick they act as decoys to the approaching men and fool them into moving far away from the nest. The young are not slow, either, to watch out for themselves. When they sense that they have been seen, they lie on their backs holding up small clods of earth in their claws, camouflaging themselves so skilfully, that they lie hidden from detection. [Of the halcyon] The halcyon is a seabird which produces its young on the shore, depositing its eggs in the sand, around midwinter. It chooses as the time to hatch its young, the period when the sea is at its highest and the waves break more fiercely than usual on the shore; with the result that the grace with which this bird is endowed shines forth the more, with the dignity of an unexpected calm. For it is a fact that when the sea has been raging, once the halcyon's eggs have been laid, it suddenly becomes gentle, all the stormy winds subside, the strong breezes lighten, and as the wind drops, the sea lies calm, until the halcyon hatches its eggs. The eggs take seven days to hatch, at the end of which the halcyon brings forth its young and the hatching is at an end. The halcyon takes a further seven days to feed its chicks until they begin to grow into young birds. Such a short feeding-time is nothing to marvel at, since the completion
  • Transcription
    odore. Tunc siquis hom-[A, inum ubi incubat appropin]\ quaverit, egresse mat-[A, res sese venientibus sponte offe]\ runt, et simulata debili-[A, tate vel pedum vel alarum, quasi]\ statim capi possint, gre-[A, ssus fingunt tardiores, hoc men]\ datio illicitant obvios [A, et illudunt quo adprovecti long]\ gius a nidis avocentur. N-[A, ec in pullis studium segnius]\ ad cavendum. Cum vis-[A, os se persentiscunt resupinati]\ glebulas pedibus attoll-[A, unt, quorum obtentu tam cal-]\ lide proteguntur, ut la-[A, teant deprehensi.]\ [De altione] \ Altion mariti\ ma avis est\ que in littoribus fetus\ suos edere solet, ita\ ut arenis ova sua\ deponat medio fere\ hieme. Nam id tem\ poris fovendi habet\ deputatum partubus\ quando maxime\ insurgit mare litori\ busque vehementior\ fluctus illiditur, quo magis repentine placiditatis solemp\ nitate avis huius eluceat gratia. Namque ubi undosum fue\ rit mare positis ovis subito mitescunt, et omnes cadunt\ ventorum procelle flatusque aurarum mitescunt, ac placidum\ ventis stat mare, donec ova foveat altion sua. Septem\ autem dies fotus sunt, quibus decursis educit pullos, fetusque\ absolvit. Ilico alios quoque septem adiungit dies quibus\ enutriat partus suos, donec incipiant adolescere. Nec\ mireris tam exiguum nutrimenti tempus cum absolutio\
Folio 54v - the partridge, continued. [De altione]; Of the halcyon | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen