The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 70r - the salamander, continued. De saura serpente; Of the serpent called the saura


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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.
and kills those who eat them. In addition, if it falls into a well, the strength of its poison kills those who drink the water. It resists fire and alone among creatures can put fires out. For it can exist in the midst of flames without pain and without being consumed by them, not only because it does not burn but because it puts the fire out. Of the snake called the saura

Text

Salamanders are proof against fire, they can poison all apples in a tree, poison water in a well, killing anyone who drinks from it. They can survive in flames and put a fire out. The saura snake.

Illustration

The tree writhes with salamanders; a salamander poisons a well; salamanders leap from flames; a man lies poisoned at the foot of the tree.

Comment

The image of a man lying dead at the foot of a tree relates to the Tree of Jesse iconography. Above him a salamander plunges into a tub, an episode illustrated in Bern 318 f. 14v. The other salamanders are poisoning fruit in a tree and surviving in a fire. In certain conditions a bonfire can appear to be releasing live, red, wriggling snakes when the wood is damp and the flying sparks carry long red tails. The star and roof at the top have seeped through from the next page.

Transcription

veneno, et eos qui edint occidit. Qui etiam vel si in puteum cadat\ vis veneni eius potantes interficit. Ista contra incendia repugnans\ ignes sola animalium extinguit. Vivit enim in mediis\ flammis sine dolore et consumptione, et non solum quia non uritur\ sed extinguit incendium. \ De saura serpente

Translation

and kills those who eat them. In addition, if it falls into a well, the strength of its poison kills those who drink the water. It resists fire and alone among creatures can put fires out. For it can exist in the midst of flames without pain and without being consumed by them, not only because it does not burn but because it puts the fire out. Of the snake called the saura
  • Commentary

    Text

    Salamanders are proof against fire, they can poison all apples in a tree, poison water in a well, killing anyone who drinks from it. They can survive in flames and put a fire out. The saura snake.

    Illustration

    The tree writhes with salamanders; a salamander poisons a well; salamanders leap from flames; a man lies poisoned at the foot of the tree.

    Comment

    The image of a man lying dead at the foot of a tree relates to the Tree of Jesse iconography. Above him a salamander plunges into a tub, an episode illustrated in Bern 318 f. 14v. The other salamanders are poisoning fruit in a tree and surviving in a fire. In certain conditions a bonfire can appear to be releasing live, red, wriggling snakes when the wood is damp and the flying sparks carry long red tails. The star and roof at the top have seeped through from the next page.

  • Translation
    and kills those who eat them. In addition, if it falls into a well, the strength of its poison kills those who drink the water. It resists fire and alone among creatures can put fires out. For it can exist in the midst of flames without pain and without being consumed by them, not only because it does not burn but because it puts the fire out. Of the snake called the saura
  • Transcription
    veneno, et eos qui edint occidit. Qui etiam vel si in puteum cadat\ vis veneni eius potantes interficit. Ista contra incendia repugnans\ ignes sola animalium extinguit. Vivit enim in mediis\ flammis sine dolore et consumptione, et non solum quia non uritur\ sed extinguit incendium. \ De saura serpente
Folio 70r - the salamander, continued. De saura serpente; Of the serpent called the saura | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen