The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 59r - the swan, continued. De anatibus; Of the duck


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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.
as Emilianus said: 'When you are observing birds for omens, the swan is always the most favorable bird to see; sailors set great store by it because it does not plunge beneath the waves'. The swan has snow-white plumage and dark flesh. In a moral sense, the white colour of its plumage signifies the effect of deception, whereby the dark flesh is hidden, in the same way that a sin of the flesh is concealed by pretence. When the swan swims in a river, it holds its neck and head high, as a proud man is led astray by transitory things and even glories at the time in his temporary possessions. They say that in the far north, when bards are singing to their lyres, large numbers of swans fly there and sing in harmony with them. In the same way those who long for sensuous pleasure with all their hearts, like the swans flying north, harmonise with other pleasure-seekers. But when, at the very end, the swan dies, it is said to sing very sweetly as it is dying. Likewise, when the proud man departs this life, he still delights in the sweetness of this present world and, dying, remembers the evil he has done. When the swan is plucked of its white plumage, it is set on the spit and roasted at the fire. Likewise, when a rich, proud man is stripped at death of his worldly glory, he will descend to the fires of hell where he will be tormented; he who used to seek food in the lowest places, descending into the abyss, is fed into the fire. Of ducks The duck, anas, has been aptly named because it is constantly swimming, natare. Some of its species are called Germanie, 'from Germany', because they eat more than the rest. The goose, anser, derives its name from the duck, either because they are similar or because the goose too is constantly swimming. The goose marks the watches of the night by its constant cry. No other creature picks up the scent of man as it does. It was because of its noise, that the Gauls

Text

The swan sings sweetly when it dies. It may be plucked and roasted. Ducks are constantly swimming.

Illustration

The ducks are shown not swimming but on land. They are multi-coloured and include the green and brown mallard.

Comment

There is pouncing all around the illustration.Prick marks from the peacock illustration on f. 59v are visible just above the ducks. Initial indicator 'a' in right margin. The folio mark (which should be 'CCC') is missing. 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.

  • Pouncing

    Pouncing

    Pouncing
    Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

    Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.

Transcription

facere dicunt, sicut Emilianus ait: Cignus in auspiciis semper\ letissimus ales, hunc optant naute quia se non mergit in undis.\ Cignus plumam habet niveam et carnem nigrum. Moraliter color\ niveus in plumis designat effectum simulationis qua caro\ nigra tegitur, quia peccatum carnis simulatione velatur. Cignus dum\ in flumine natat, cervicem capitis erectam gestat, quia superbus qui\ cum rebus transitoriis trahitur, etiam labentium rerum possessione\ ad tempus gloriatur. Ferunt in hiperboreis partibus precinentibus citha\ redis olores plurimos advolare apteque admodum concinere,\ quia qui voluptatibus totis desideriis inhiant, quasi advolantes vo\ luptuosis concordant. Sed et in extremis cum cignus moritur,\ valde dulciter moriens canere perhibetur. Similiter cum de hac vita\ superbus egreditur, adhuc dulcedine presentis seculi delectatur et que\ male gessit ad memoriam moriens reducit. Cum vero pluma\ nivea cignis exuitur, in verum [PL, veru] positus ad ignem torretur.\ Similiter cum dives superbus moriens exuitur mundana gloria, des\ cendens ad flammas inferni cruciabitur per tormenta, et qui ci\ bum querere consueverat in imis, in abyssum descendens fit\ cibus ignis. \ De anatibus \ Anas ab assiduitate\ natandi nomen\ aptum accepit, ex quo\ genere quedam Germanie\ dicuntur quod plus ceteris\ nutriant. Anser anas\ nomen dedit per dirivati\ onem vel a similitudine\ vel quod ipsa natandi frequentiam habeat. Iste vigilias noc\ tis clangoris assiduitate testatur. Nullum autem animal ita\ odorem hominis sentit ut anser. Unde et clangore eius Gallorum

Translation

as Emilianus said: 'When you are observing birds for omens, the swan is always the most favorable bird to see; sailors set great store by it because it does not plunge beneath the waves'. The swan has snow-white plumage and dark flesh. In a moral sense, the white colour of its plumage signifies the effect of deception, whereby the dark flesh is hidden, in the same way that a sin of the flesh is concealed by pretence. When the swan swims in a river, it holds its neck and head high, as a proud man is led astray by transitory things and even glories at the time in his temporary possessions. They say that in the far north, when bards are singing to their lyres, large numbers of swans fly there and sing in harmony with them. In the same way those who long for sensuous pleasure with all their hearts, like the swans flying north, harmonise with other pleasure-seekers. But when, at the very end, the swan dies, it is said to sing very sweetly as it is dying. Likewise, when the proud man departs this life, he still delights in the sweetness of this present world and, dying, remembers the evil he has done. When the swan is plucked of its white plumage, it is set on the spit and roasted at the fire. Likewise, when a rich, proud man is stripped at death of his worldly glory, he will descend to the fires of hell where he will be tormented; he who used to seek food in the lowest places, descending into the abyss, is fed into the fire. Of ducks The duck, anas, has been aptly named because it is constantly swimming, natare. Some of its species are called Germanie, 'from Germany', because they eat more than the rest. The goose, anser, derives its name from the duck, either because they are similar or because the goose too is constantly swimming. The goose marks the watches of the night by its constant cry. No other creature picks up the scent of man as it does. It was because of its noise, that the Gauls
  • Commentary

    Text

    The swan sings sweetly when it dies. It may be plucked and roasted. Ducks are constantly swimming.

    Illustration

    The ducks are shown not swimming but on land. They are multi-coloured and include the green and brown mallard.

    Comment

    There is pouncing all around the illustration.Prick marks from the peacock illustration on f. 59v are visible just above the ducks. Initial indicator 'a' in right margin. The folio mark (which should be 'CCC') is missing. 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.

    • Pouncing

      Pouncing

      Pouncing
      Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

      Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.

  • Translation
    as Emilianus said: 'When you are observing birds for omens, the swan is always the most favorable bird to see; sailors set great store by it because it does not plunge beneath the waves'. The swan has snow-white plumage and dark flesh. In a moral sense, the white colour of its plumage signifies the effect of deception, whereby the dark flesh is hidden, in the same way that a sin of the flesh is concealed by pretence. When the swan swims in a river, it holds its neck and head high, as a proud man is led astray by transitory things and even glories at the time in his temporary possessions. They say that in the far north, when bards are singing to their lyres, large numbers of swans fly there and sing in harmony with them. In the same way those who long for sensuous pleasure with all their hearts, like the swans flying north, harmonise with other pleasure-seekers. But when, at the very end, the swan dies, it is said to sing very sweetly as it is dying. Likewise, when the proud man departs this life, he still delights in the sweetness of this present world and, dying, remembers the evil he has done. When the swan is plucked of its white plumage, it is set on the spit and roasted at the fire. Likewise, when a rich, proud man is stripped at death of his worldly glory, he will descend to the fires of hell where he will be tormented; he who used to seek food in the lowest places, descending into the abyss, is fed into the fire. Of ducks The duck, anas, has been aptly named because it is constantly swimming, natare. Some of its species are called Germanie, 'from Germany', because they eat more than the rest. The goose, anser, derives its name from the duck, either because they are similar or because the goose too is constantly swimming. The goose marks the watches of the night by its constant cry. No other creature picks up the scent of man as it does. It was because of its noise, that the Gauls
  • Transcription
    facere dicunt, sicut Emilianus ait: Cignus in auspiciis semper\ letissimus ales, hunc optant naute quia se non mergit in undis.\ Cignus plumam habet niveam et carnem nigrum. Moraliter color\ niveus in plumis designat effectum simulationis qua caro\ nigra tegitur, quia peccatum carnis simulatione velatur. Cignus dum\ in flumine natat, cervicem capitis erectam gestat, quia superbus qui\ cum rebus transitoriis trahitur, etiam labentium rerum possessione\ ad tempus gloriatur. Ferunt in hiperboreis partibus precinentibus citha\ redis olores plurimos advolare apteque admodum concinere,\ quia qui voluptatibus totis desideriis inhiant, quasi advolantes vo\ luptuosis concordant. Sed et in extremis cum cignus moritur,\ valde dulciter moriens canere perhibetur. Similiter cum de hac vita\ superbus egreditur, adhuc dulcedine presentis seculi delectatur et que\ male gessit ad memoriam moriens reducit. Cum vero pluma\ nivea cignis exuitur, in verum [PL, veru] positus ad ignem torretur.\ Similiter cum dives superbus moriens exuitur mundana gloria, des\ cendens ad flammas inferni cruciabitur per tormenta, et qui ci\ bum querere consueverat in imis, in abyssum descendens fit\ cibus ignis. \ De anatibus \ Anas ab assiduitate\ natandi nomen\ aptum accepit, ex quo\ genere quedam Germanie\ dicuntur quod plus ceteris\ nutriant. Anser anas\ nomen dedit per dirivati\ onem vel a similitudine\ vel quod ipsa natandi frequentiam habeat. Iste vigilias noc\ tis clangoris assiduitate testatur. Nullum autem animal ita\ odorem hominis sentit ut anser. Unde et clangore eius Gallorum
Folio 59r - the swan, continued. De anatibus; Of the duck | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen