The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 69r - the ydrus, continued. De boa angue; Of the snake called boas.


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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.
Thus it is called aquatilis serpens, 'water-snake'. Those who are bitten by it swell up, a sickness called by some boa, because it can be cured by the dung of an ox, bos. The idra is a dragon with many heads of the kind that lived on the island, or marsh, of Lerna in the province of Arcadia. It is called in Latin excedra because when one of its heads is cut off, three grow in its place. This is a myth, however, for it is accepted that the hydra was a place where water gushed out, destroying the town nearby; where, as one outlet was closed up, many others burst open. Seeing this, Hercules drained the marsh and so closed the water-spouts. For the word idra is so called from the Greek word for water. The idrus is a worthy enemy of the crocodile and has this characteristic and habit: when it sees a crocodile sleeping on the shore, it enters the crocodile through its open mouth, rolling itself in mud in order to slide more easily down its throat. The crocodile therefore, instantly swallows the idrus alive. But the idrus, tearing open the crocodile's intestines, comes out whole and unharned. For this reason death and hell are symbolised by the crocodile; their enemy is our Lord Jesus Christ. For taking human flesh, he descended into hell and, tearing open its inner parts, he led forth those who were unjustly held there. He destroyed death itself by rising from the dead, and through the prophet mocks death, saying:'O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction' (Hosea, 13:14). Of the snake called boas The boas is a snake found in Italy; it is of a vast weight; it follows flocks of cattle and of gazelles, fastens on their udders when they are full of milk and sucking on these, kills the animals; from its ravaging of oxen, bos, it has got its name boas. Of the iaculus
The ydris kills crocodiles. Boas kill by sucking the life out of cows through their udders. The jaculus.

Illustration

The boa is designed as a spiral coiled lizard, with wings and feet. The jaculus, which is a snake that flies from trees, is shown as a lifeless stick. The black and green whip snake climbs, jumps and swims. It is called a flying serpent although it merely leaps.Marginal correction, top right, percussi [supplies omission 'struck']. 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

vocant. Inde dicitur aquatilis serpens a quo isti obturgescunt cuius\ morbum quidam boam dicunt, eo quod fimo bovis remedietur.\ Idra draco multorum capitum qualis fuit in Lerna insula vel\ pallude provincie Archadie. Hec Latine excedra dicitur quod uno\ ceso tria capita excrescebant, sed hoc fabulosum est, nam constat\ idram locum fuisse evomentem aquas, vastantem vicinam\ civitatem, in quo uno meatu clauso multi erumpebant. Quod\ Hercules videns loca exhausit, et sic aque clausit meatus. Nam\ idra ab aqua dicta est. Hic idrus satis est inimicus cocodrillo,\ et hanc habet naturam et consuetudinem, ut cum viderit coco\drillum dormientem in littore, vadit aperto ore et involuit\ se in luto quo facilius possit in faucibus eius illabi. Cocodrillus\ igitur subito vivum eum transglutit. Ille vero dilanians omnia\ viscera eius non solum unus, sed etiam exit illesus. Sic ergo mors\ et infernus figuram habent cocodrilli, quorum inimicus est\ dominus Jesus Christus. Nam assumens humanam carnem des[cen]\dit ad infernum, et dirumpens omnia viscera eius eduxit\ eos qui iniuste tenebantur ab eo. Mortificavit enim ipsam\ mortem resurgens ex mortuis, et illi insultat propheta dicens:\ O mors ero mors tua, morsus tuus ero inferne. \ De boa angue \ Boas anguis\ Italie immensa mo\les prosequitur greges armen\torum et bubalos et pluri\mo lacte irriguis se uberibus\ innectit, et sugens interimit,\ atque inde a bovum depopu\latione boas nomen accepit. \ De iaculo \

Translation

Thus it is called aquatilis serpens, 'water-snake'. Those who are bitten by it swell up, a sickness called by some boa, because it can be cured by the dung of an ox, bos. The idra is a dragon with many heads of the kind that lived on the island, or marsh, of Lerna in the province of Arcadia. It is called in Latin excedra because when one of its heads is cut off, three grow in its place. This is a myth, however, for it is accepted that the hydra was a place where water gushed out, destroying the town nearby; where, as one outlet was closed up, many others burst open. Seeing this, Hercules drained the marsh and so closed the water-spouts. For the word idra is so called from the Greek word for water. The idrus is a worthy enemy of the crocodile and has this characteristic and habit: when it sees a crocodile sleeping on the shore, it enters the crocodile through its open mouth, rolling itself in mud in order to slide more easily down its throat. The crocodile therefore, instantly swallows the idrus alive. But the idrus, tearing open the crocodile's intestines, comes out whole and unharned. For this reason death and hell are symbolised by the crocodile; their enemy is our Lord Jesus Christ. For taking human flesh, he descended into hell and, tearing open its inner parts, he led forth those who were unjustly held there. He destroyed death itself by rising from the dead, and through the prophet mocks death, saying:'O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction' (Hosea, 13:14). Of the snake called boas The boas is a snake found in Italy; it is of a vast weight; it follows flocks of cattle and of gazelles, fastens on their udders when they are full of milk and sucking on these, kills the animals; from its ravaging of oxen, bos, it has got its name boas. Of the iaculus
  • Commentary
    The ydris kills crocodiles. Boas kill by sucking the life out of cows through their udders. The jaculus.

    Illustration

    The boa is designed as a spiral coiled lizard, with wings and feet. The jaculus, which is a snake that flies from trees, is shown as a lifeless stick. The black and green whip snake climbs, jumps and swims. It is called a flying serpent although it merely leaps.Marginal correction, top right, percussi [supplies omission 'struck']. 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
    Thus it is called aquatilis serpens, 'water-snake'. Those who are bitten by it swell up, a sickness called by some boa, because it can be cured by the dung of an ox, bos. The idra is a dragon with many heads of the kind that lived on the island, or marsh, of Lerna in the province of Arcadia. It is called in Latin excedra because when one of its heads is cut off, three grow in its place. This is a myth, however, for it is accepted that the hydra was a place where water gushed out, destroying the town nearby; where, as one outlet was closed up, many others burst open. Seeing this, Hercules drained the marsh and so closed the water-spouts. For the word idra is so called from the Greek word for water. The idrus is a worthy enemy of the crocodile and has this characteristic and habit: when it sees a crocodile sleeping on the shore, it enters the crocodile through its open mouth, rolling itself in mud in order to slide more easily down its throat. The crocodile therefore, instantly swallows the idrus alive. But the idrus, tearing open the crocodile's intestines, comes out whole and unharned. For this reason death and hell are symbolised by the crocodile; their enemy is our Lord Jesus Christ. For taking human flesh, he descended into hell and, tearing open its inner parts, he led forth those who were unjustly held there. He destroyed death itself by rising from the dead, and through the prophet mocks death, saying:'O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction' (Hosea, 13:14). Of the snake called boas The boas is a snake found in Italy; it is of a vast weight; it follows flocks of cattle and of gazelles, fastens on their udders when they are full of milk and sucking on these, kills the animals; from its ravaging of oxen, bos, it has got its name boas. Of the iaculus
  • Transcription
    vocant. Inde dicitur aquatilis serpens a quo isti obturgescunt cuius\ morbum quidam boam dicunt, eo quod fimo bovis remedietur.\ Idra draco multorum capitum qualis fuit in Lerna insula vel\ pallude provincie Archadie. Hec Latine excedra dicitur quod uno\ ceso tria capita excrescebant, sed hoc fabulosum est, nam constat\ idram locum fuisse evomentem aquas, vastantem vicinam\ civitatem, in quo uno meatu clauso multi erumpebant. Quod\ Hercules videns loca exhausit, et sic aque clausit meatus. Nam\ idra ab aqua dicta est. Hic idrus satis est inimicus cocodrillo,\ et hanc habet naturam et consuetudinem, ut cum viderit coco\drillum dormientem in littore, vadit aperto ore et involuit\ se in luto quo facilius possit in faucibus eius illabi. Cocodrillus\ igitur subito vivum eum transglutit. Ille vero dilanians omnia\ viscera eius non solum unus, sed etiam exit illesus. Sic ergo mors\ et infernus figuram habent cocodrilli, quorum inimicus est\ dominus Jesus Christus. Nam assumens humanam carnem des[cen]\dit ad infernum, et dirumpens omnia viscera eius eduxit\ eos qui iniuste tenebantur ab eo. Mortificavit enim ipsam\ mortem resurgens ex mortuis, et illi insultat propheta dicens:\ O mors ero mors tua, morsus tuus ero inferne. \ De boa angue \ Boas anguis\ Italie immensa mo\les prosequitur greges armen\torum et bubalos et pluri\mo lacte irriguis se uberibus\ innectit, et sugens interimit,\ atque inde a bovum depopu\latione boas nomen accepit. \ De iaculo \
Folio 69r - the ydrus, continued. De boa angue; Of the snake called boas. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen