The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 61r - the peacock, continued. De aquila; Of the eagle


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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.
signifies that the preacher longs in his mind for heaven. The red colour in the the peacock's feathers signifies his love of contemplation. The length of the tail indicates the length of the life to come. The fact the peacock seems to have eyes in its tail, is a reference to every teacher's capacity to foresee the danger that threatens each of us at the end. The colour green, [on the peacock's serpent-like head], is also present in the tail, that the end might match the beginning. The diversity of the peacock's colouring, therefore, signifies the diversity of the virtues. Note also that the peacock, when it is praised, raises its tail, in the same way that any churchman gets ideas above his station out of vainglory at the praise of flatterers. The peacock sets out its feathers in an orderly fashion; in the same way, a teacher believes that no matter he does, he has done it in an orderly way. But when the peacock lifts its tail, it exposes its rear, in the same way that whatever is praised in the conduct of the teacher is derided when he succumbs to pride. The peacock, therefore, should keep its tail down, just as what a teacher does, he should do with humility. Of the eagle The eagle is so called because of the sharpness of its eyes, for it is said to be of such keen vision that it glides above the sea on unmoving wings, out of human sight, yet from such a height sees small fish swimmming below and, swooping down like a missile thrown from a siege engine, it seizes its prey on the wing and carries it to land. When the eagle grows old, however, its wings grow heavy, and its eyes grow dim. Then it seeks out a spring and, turning away from it, flies up into the atmosphere of the sun; there it sets its wings alight and, likewise, burns off the dimness in its eyes in the sun's rays. Descending at length, it immerses itself in the spring three times; immediately it is restored to the full strength of its wings, the former brightness of its eyes. In the same way, you, O man, with your old clothes and dim eyes, should seek the spiritual spring of the Lord and raise the eyes of your mind to God, the fount of righteousness, and your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle. It is also said of the eagle that that it exposes its young to the sun's rays, holding them in its claws in mid-air. If any of them, struck by the light beating down from the sun, maintains a fearless gaze without damaging its sight, this is taken as proof that it has shown itself true to its nature. But if the young bird turns its eyes away from the rays

Text

The peacock should keep his tail down. His pride exposes his bottom. The eagle has keen sight and catches fish. When the eagle grows old he refreshes himself by flying to the sun and plunging into a spring.

Comment

The repair to the top of this page took place after the script was finished. On this folio is has an uneven lower edge, but overleaf on f.61v it has been neatly spliced to avoid damaging the image. 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

desiderium designat [A in mente. Color r]ubeus in pennis, amo\ rem designat contemplationis. Longitudo caude, longitudi\ nem innuit future vite. Quod autem quasi oculos in cauda habet,\ ad hoc pertinet quod unusquisque doctor previdet quod periculum\ in fine singulis imminet. Est etiam in cauda color viridis, ut\ inicio conveniat finis. Varietas igitur colorum designat diversita\ tem virtutum. Nota etiam quod pavo dum laudatur caudam\ erigat, quia prelatus quilibet adulantium laudibus per vanam glo\ riam mentem levat. Pennas in ordine ponit, quia quicquid doctor\ agit se ordinate fecisse credit. Cum autem caudam erigit, po\ steriora nudantur, et sic quod laudatur in opere, deridetur in elati\ one. Oportet igitur ut pavo caudam summissam gerat, ut quod\ doctor agit, cum humilitate fiat.\ De aquila / Aquila ad acumine oculorum vocata, tanti enim dicitur esse\ contuitus ut super maria immobili penna feratur nec\ humanis pateat obtutibus de tanta sublimitate pisciculos na\ tare videat ad tormenti instar descendens, raptam predam pen\ nis ad litus pertrahat. Cum vero senuerit, gravantur ale ipsius, et\ obducuntur caligine oculi eius. Tunc querit fontem et contra eum\ evolat in altum usque ad aerem solis, et ibi incendit alas suas\ similiter et caliginem oculorum exurit in radio solis. Tunc de\ mum descendens in fontem trina vice se mergit, et statim reno\ vatur in multo vigore alarum, et splendore oculorum. Sic et tu\ homo qui vestimentum habes vetus, et caligant oculi tui, que\ re spiritualem fontem domini et eleva mentis oculos ad deum qui est\ fons iusticie et tunc renovabitur sicut aquile iuventus tua. Asse\ ritur quoque quod pullos suos radiis solis obiciat, et in medio ae\ ris ungue suspendat. Ac siquis repercusso solis lumine intrepidam\ oculorum aciem in offenso intuendi vigore servaverit, is probatur\ quod veritatem nature demonstravit. Qui vero lumina sua radio\

Translation

signifies that the preacher longs in his mind for heaven. The red colour in the the peacock's feathers signifies his love of contemplation. The length of the tail indicates the length of the life to come. The fact the peacock seems to have eyes in its tail, is a reference to every teacher's capacity to foresee the danger that threatens each of us at the end. The colour green, [on the peacock's serpent-like head], is also present in the tail, that the end might match the beginning. The diversity of the peacock's colouring, therefore, signifies the diversity of the virtues. Note also that the peacock, when it is praised, raises its tail, in the same way that any churchman gets ideas above his station out of vainglory at the praise of flatterers. The peacock sets out its feathers in an orderly fashion; in the same way, a teacher believes that no matter he does, he has done it in an orderly way. But when the peacock lifts its tail, it exposes its rear, in the same way that whatever is praised in the conduct of the teacher is derided when he succumbs to pride. The peacock, therefore, should keep its tail down, just as what a teacher does, he should do with humility. Of the eagle The eagle is so called because of the sharpness of its eyes, for it is said to be of such keen vision that it glides above the sea on unmoving wings, out of human sight, yet from such a height sees small fish swimmming below and, swooping down like a missile thrown from a siege engine, it seizes its prey on the wing and carries it to land. When the eagle grows old, however, its wings grow heavy, and its eyes grow dim. Then it seeks out a spring and, turning away from it, flies up into the atmosphere of the sun; there it sets its wings alight and, likewise, burns off the dimness in its eyes in the sun's rays. Descending at length, it immerses itself in the spring three times; immediately it is restored to the full strength of its wings, the former brightness of its eyes. In the same way, you, O man, with your old clothes and dim eyes, should seek the spiritual spring of the Lord and raise the eyes of your mind to God, the fount of righteousness, and your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle. It is also said of the eagle that that it exposes its young to the sun's rays, holding them in its claws in mid-air. If any of them, struck by the light beating down from the sun, maintains a fearless gaze without damaging its sight, this is taken as proof that it has shown itself true to its nature. But if the young bird turns its eyes away from the rays
  • Commentary

    Text

    The peacock should keep his tail down. His pride exposes his bottom. The eagle has keen sight and catches fish. When the eagle grows old he refreshes himself by flying to the sun and plunging into a spring.

    Comment

    The repair to the top of this page took place after the script was finished. On this folio is has an uneven lower edge, but overleaf on f.61v it has been neatly spliced to avoid damaging the image. 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
    signifies that the preacher longs in his mind for heaven. The red colour in the the peacock's feathers signifies his love of contemplation. The length of the tail indicates the length of the life to come. The fact the peacock seems to have eyes in its tail, is a reference to every teacher's capacity to foresee the danger that threatens each of us at the end. The colour green, [on the peacock's serpent-like head], is also present in the tail, that the end might match the beginning. The diversity of the peacock's colouring, therefore, signifies the diversity of the virtues. Note also that the peacock, when it is praised, raises its tail, in the same way that any churchman gets ideas above his station out of vainglory at the praise of flatterers. The peacock sets out its feathers in an orderly fashion; in the same way, a teacher believes that no matter he does, he has done it in an orderly way. But when the peacock lifts its tail, it exposes its rear, in the same way that whatever is praised in the conduct of the teacher is derided when he succumbs to pride. The peacock, therefore, should keep its tail down, just as what a teacher does, he should do with humility. Of the eagle The eagle is so called because of the sharpness of its eyes, for it is said to be of such keen vision that it glides above the sea on unmoving wings, out of human sight, yet from such a height sees small fish swimmming below and, swooping down like a missile thrown from a siege engine, it seizes its prey on the wing and carries it to land. When the eagle grows old, however, its wings grow heavy, and its eyes grow dim. Then it seeks out a spring and, turning away from it, flies up into the atmosphere of the sun; there it sets its wings alight and, likewise, burns off the dimness in its eyes in the sun's rays. Descending at length, it immerses itself in the spring three times; immediately it is restored to the full strength of its wings, the former brightness of its eyes. In the same way, you, O man, with your old clothes and dim eyes, should seek the spiritual spring of the Lord and raise the eyes of your mind to God, the fount of righteousness, and your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle. It is also said of the eagle that that it exposes its young to the sun's rays, holding them in its claws in mid-air. If any of them, struck by the light beating down from the sun, maintains a fearless gaze without damaging its sight, this is taken as proof that it has shown itself true to its nature. But if the young bird turns its eyes away from the rays
  • Transcription
    desiderium designat [A in mente. Color r]ubeus in pennis, amo\ rem designat contemplationis. Longitudo caude, longitudi\ nem innuit future vite. Quod autem quasi oculos in cauda habet,\ ad hoc pertinet quod unusquisque doctor previdet quod periculum\ in fine singulis imminet. Est etiam in cauda color viridis, ut\ inicio conveniat finis. Varietas igitur colorum designat diversita\ tem virtutum. Nota etiam quod pavo dum laudatur caudam\ erigat, quia prelatus quilibet adulantium laudibus per vanam glo\ riam mentem levat. Pennas in ordine ponit, quia quicquid doctor\ agit se ordinate fecisse credit. Cum autem caudam erigit, po\ steriora nudantur, et sic quod laudatur in opere, deridetur in elati\ one. Oportet igitur ut pavo caudam summissam gerat, ut quod\ doctor agit, cum humilitate fiat.\ De aquila / Aquila ad acumine oculorum vocata, tanti enim dicitur esse\ contuitus ut super maria immobili penna feratur nec\ humanis pateat obtutibus de tanta sublimitate pisciculos na\ tare videat ad tormenti instar descendens, raptam predam pen\ nis ad litus pertrahat. Cum vero senuerit, gravantur ale ipsius, et\ obducuntur caligine oculi eius. Tunc querit fontem et contra eum\ evolat in altum usque ad aerem solis, et ibi incendit alas suas\ similiter et caliginem oculorum exurit in radio solis. Tunc de\ mum descendens in fontem trina vice se mergit, et statim reno\ vatur in multo vigore alarum, et splendore oculorum. Sic et tu\ homo qui vestimentum habes vetus, et caligant oculi tui, que\ re spiritualem fontem domini et eleva mentis oculos ad deum qui est\ fons iusticie et tunc renovabitur sicut aquile iuventus tua. Asse\ ritur quoque quod pullos suos radiis solis obiciat, et in medio ae\ ris ungue suspendat. Ac siquis repercusso solis lumine intrepidam\ oculorum aciem in offenso intuendi vigore servaverit, is probatur\ quod veritatem nature demonstravit. Qui vero lumina sua radio\
Folio 61r - the peacock, continued. De aquila; Of the eagle | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen