The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 5r - Adam names the animals

Open Book View Download image for personal, teaching or research purposes Help Copyright


To explore the image, simply click the image to zoom, double-click to zoom out, or click-drag to pan. You can also zoom in and out using the mouse scroll wheel.


(Alt is Option on Macintosh)

  • Alt-click-drag to create a zoom-rectangle
  • Alt-click / Alt-double-click to zoom fully in / out
  • Alt-click-Reset button to return to the prior view

The thumbnail view in the top left can also be clicked or click-dragged to pan.

Keyboard shortcuts:

  • a to zoom in
  • z to zoom out
  • Arrow keys pan around the image
  • Escape resets initial view or exits fullscreen

Toolbar buttons

Use the Toolbar for exact navigation - if using a mouse, hold it over any button to see a helpful tip.

Zoom out

Zoom in

Pan left

Pan right

Pan up

Pan down

Reset Image

Full screen view

View translation alongside image

View double page - bi folio

Download image for personal, research or teaching purposes


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:


  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:]


  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.


Adam names the animals. Adam, clothed and on a throne, gives names to the animals. In Genesis 2:19-20 this takes place before the Fall when Adam was still naked. Here Adam's robes and his gesture of blessing match those of Christ on f.4v and the composition of the picture, with Adam on the left and the beasts in panels around him, mirrors those of God creating the animals (ff. 2r, 2v). Adam's clothes can be both a symbol of the Fall and the vestments of Grace after Redemption. Adam, created in God's image, responsible for sin and man's mortality, is thereby contrasted with God the creator of life and Christ, our source of immortality. Here Adam has Christ-like powers of domination over Creation. This scene illustrates the text from Isidore's Etymology (XII.II .1-8; XII. VII.I-9) in which the animals are named and classified. In several Bestiaries it is inserted in the middle of the account but within a group of six manuscripts it is given additional meaning by its position at the start of the book. (Bestiaries with this scene at the start are St Petersburg, Russian National Library, MS Lat Q v.V.I, f.5r; Cambridge, Gonville and Caius MS 372, f.2; Alnwick Castle Bestiary; Oxford, St Johns MS 61; Ashmole 1511, f.9r) The scene completes the Creation sequence and provides the essential link with the Bestiary text: the etymology of animals' names explains their symbolic role in God's universe. The group on the top right contains the great cats, lion, panther and leopard. Below them are a stag and hind, the wild quadrupeds 'not in man's charge', with two horses 'for use by men'. The next group contains domestic grazing animals: bull, ox, goat and sheep. The ox is a beast of burden and the rest are reared for food. Below Adam a goat turns to face a dog-like creature. The bottom left panel contains a rabbit/hare? and two cats. In the bottom right panels are a sheep(?), another dog and two boars. The dog, with a bushy brown coat, pricked ears and tufty, curly tail is rather like a husky or pomeranian. This specimen is sketched on f.12v. The full-page illumination has a completely gold background; the principal colours are blue, orange, brown and rosy pink. A small amount of green is used on the throne and the dog's hillock. A small amount of pricking is visible on the right edge of the page indicating that the page was originally intended to be ruled.



Folio 5r - Adam names the animals | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen