The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 58r - the quail, continued. De cornice ; Of the crow


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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.
of another species, through whom they guard against this early danger. There are two kinds of men, the good and the bad. The 'other species' is that of wicked men. The righteous, therefore, place the wicked before them, and watch closely what happens to them. By watching carefully, they see the early danger of sin, and avoid it. This bird, like man, suffers from the falling sickness, in the same way that the spiritually-minded man, just like the carnally-minded man, is said to sin at times. No matter how often he sins, he does not die, because the grace of penitence is not denied him. On this subject it is written: 'The righteous man falls seven times in a day' yet he does not cease to be righteous (see Proverbs, 24:16). For as often as the righteous man sins, so often does he go on to rise again. Of the crow The crow is a long-lived bird, called cornix in Latin and Greek. Soothsayers assert that the crow can represent by signs the concerns of men, show where an ambush is laid and foretell the future. It is a great crime to believe this - that God confides his intentions to crows. Among the many omens attributed to crows is that of presaging by their caws the coming of rain. Hence the line: 'Then the crow loudly cries for rain' (Virgil, Georgics, 1, 388). Let men learn from the crow's example and its sense of duty, to love their children. Crows follow their young in flight, escorting them attentively; they feed them anxiously in case they weaken. A very long time passes before they give up their responsibility for feeding their offspring. In contrast, women of our human race wean their babies as soon as they can, even the ones they love. Rich women are altogether averse to breastfeeding. If the women are poor, they cast out their infants, expose them and, when the babies are found, deny all knowledge of them. The rich themselves also kill their children in the womb, to avoid dividing their estate among many heirs; and with murderous concoctions

Text

The crow.

Illustration

Portrait if the crow.

Comment

Folio mark CC' in bottom left margin. Initial type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
    Folio Marks

    To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

  • 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

sollicitare generis externi per quem caveant prima discrimina.\ Duo sunt genera hominum, bonorum videlicet et malorum. Generis\ externi, sunt homines perversi. Iusti igitur perversos sibi preponunt, dum casus\ et eventus eorum diligenter attendunt. Dum hec igitur attente con\ siderant, prima peccandi discrimina considerando vitant. Hec avis\ sicut homo caducum morbum patitur, quia spiritalis homo sicut et car\ nalis aliquociens peccare perhibetur. Nec quociens peccat moritur, quia ei pe\ nitendi gratia non negatur. Unde scriptum est: Septies in die cadit iustus,\ nec tamen desinit esse iustus. Quociens enim iustus peccat, totiens\ adicit ut resurgat. \ De cornice \ Cornix annosa avis\ apud Latinos Greco nomine\ appellatur. Quam aiunt\ augures, hominum curas\ significationibus agere, insi\ diarum vias monstrare,\ futura predicere. Magnum\ nefas hec credere est, ut\ deus consilia sua cornicibus\ mandet. Huius inter multa auspicia tribuunt, et pluvias proten\ dere [PL, portendere] vocibus. Unde est illud: Tunc cornix plenam pluviam vo\ cat improba voce. Discant homines amare filios ex usu et pieta/te cornicum, que etiam volantes filios comitatu sedulo prose\ quuntur, et sollicite ne teneri forte deficiant, cibum suggerunt,\ ac plurimo temporis spacio nutriendi officia non relinquunt.\ At vero femine nostri generis cito ablactant etiam illos quos dili\ gunt, et cum se diciores sunt lactare fastidiunt. Pauperiores\ si fuerint abiciunt parvulos et exponuntur [PL, exponunt] et deprehensos\ abnegant. Ipse quoque divites ne per plures suum patrimonium\ dividatur, in utero proprios necant fetus, et parricidalibus succis\

Translation

of another species, through whom they guard against this early danger. There are two kinds of men, the good and the bad. The 'other species' is that of wicked men. The righteous, therefore, place the wicked before them, and watch closely what happens to them. By watching carefully, they see the early danger of sin, and avoid it. This bird, like man, suffers from the falling sickness, in the same way that the spiritually-minded man, just like the carnally-minded man, is said to sin at times. No matter how often he sins, he does not die, because the grace of penitence is not denied him. On this subject it is written: 'The righteous man falls seven times in a day' yet he does not cease to be righteous (see Proverbs, 24:16). For as often as the righteous man sins, so often does he go on to rise again. Of the crow The crow is a long-lived bird, called cornix in Latin and Greek. Soothsayers assert that the crow can represent by signs the concerns of men, show where an ambush is laid and foretell the future. It is a great crime to believe this - that God confides his intentions to crows. Among the many omens attributed to crows is that of presaging by their caws the coming of rain. Hence the line: 'Then the crow loudly cries for rain' (Virgil, Georgics, 1, 388). Let men learn from the crow's example and its sense of duty, to love their children. Crows follow their young in flight, escorting them attentively; they feed them anxiously in case they weaken. A very long time passes before they give up their responsibility for feeding their offspring. In contrast, women of our human race wean their babies as soon as they can, even the ones they love. Rich women are altogether averse to breastfeeding. If the women are poor, they cast out their infants, expose them and, when the babies are found, deny all knowledge of them. The rich themselves also kill their children in the womb, to avoid dividing their estate among many heirs; and with murderous concoctions
  • Commentary

    Text

    The crow.

    Illustration

    Portrait if the crow.

    Comment

    Folio mark CC' in bottom left margin. Initial type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
      Folio Marks

      To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

    • 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 another species, through whom they guard against this early danger. There are two kinds of men, the good and the bad. The 'other species' is that of wicked men. The righteous, therefore, place the wicked before them, and watch closely what happens to them. By watching carefully, they see the early danger of sin, and avoid it. This bird, like man, suffers from the falling sickness, in the same way that the spiritually-minded man, just like the carnally-minded man, is said to sin at times. No matter how often he sins, he does not die, because the grace of penitence is not denied him. On this subject it is written: 'The righteous man falls seven times in a day' yet he does not cease to be righteous (see Proverbs, 24:16). For as often as the righteous man sins, so often does he go on to rise again. Of the crow The crow is a long-lived bird, called cornix in Latin and Greek. Soothsayers assert that the crow can represent by signs the concerns of men, show where an ambush is laid and foretell the future. It is a great crime to believe this - that God confides his intentions to crows. Among the many omens attributed to crows is that of presaging by their caws the coming of rain. Hence the line: 'Then the crow loudly cries for rain' (Virgil, Georgics, 1, 388). Let men learn from the crow's example and its sense of duty, to love their children. Crows follow their young in flight, escorting them attentively; they feed them anxiously in case they weaken. A very long time passes before they give up their responsibility for feeding their offspring. In contrast, women of our human race wean their babies as soon as they can, even the ones they love. Rich women are altogether averse to breastfeeding. If the women are poor, they cast out their infants, expose them and, when the babies are found, deny all knowledge of them. The rich themselves also kill their children in the womb, to avoid dividing their estate among many heirs; and with murderous concoctions
  • Transcription
    sollicitare generis externi per quem caveant prima discrimina.\ Duo sunt genera hominum, bonorum videlicet et malorum. Generis\ externi, sunt homines perversi. Iusti igitur perversos sibi preponunt, dum casus\ et eventus eorum diligenter attendunt. Dum hec igitur attente con\ siderant, prima peccandi discrimina considerando vitant. Hec avis\ sicut homo caducum morbum patitur, quia spiritalis homo sicut et car\ nalis aliquociens peccare perhibetur. Nec quociens peccat moritur, quia ei pe\ nitendi gratia non negatur. Unde scriptum est: Septies in die cadit iustus,\ nec tamen desinit esse iustus. Quociens enim iustus peccat, totiens\ adicit ut resurgat. \ De cornice \ Cornix annosa avis\ apud Latinos Greco nomine\ appellatur. Quam aiunt\ augures, hominum curas\ significationibus agere, insi\ diarum vias monstrare,\ futura predicere. Magnum\ nefas hec credere est, ut\ deus consilia sua cornicibus\ mandet. Huius inter multa auspicia tribuunt, et pluvias proten\ dere [PL, portendere] vocibus. Unde est illud: Tunc cornix plenam pluviam vo\ cat improba voce. Discant homines amare filios ex usu et pieta/te cornicum, que etiam volantes filios comitatu sedulo prose\ quuntur, et sollicite ne teneri forte deficiant, cibum suggerunt,\ ac plurimo temporis spacio nutriendi officia non relinquunt.\ At vero femine nostri generis cito ablactant etiam illos quos dili\ gunt, et cum se diciores sunt lactare fastidiunt. Pauperiores\ si fuerint abiciunt parvulos et exponuntur [PL, exponunt] et deprehensos\ abnegant. Ipse quoque divites ne per plures suum patrimonium\ dividatur, in utero proprios necant fetus, et parricidalibus succis\
Folio 58r - the quail, continued. De cornice ; Of the crow | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen