The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 73v - Of dolphins, continued. De porcis marinis; Of sea-pigs. De cocodrillo; Of the crocodile.


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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.
They are correctly called simones. There is a species of dolphin in the River Nile, with a serrated back, which kills crocodiles by cutting into the soft parts of their bellies. Of sea-pigs Sea-pigs are commonly called swine, because when they seek food, they dig under the water like swine digging into the ground. For they have what serves as a mouth around their throat, and unless they immerse their snout in the sand, they cannot gather food. The sword-fish is so called because its snout is pointed; it sinks ships by piercing them with it. Sawfish, serra, are so called because they have a serrated crest; they swim under ships and saw through their keels. The sea-scorpion is so called because it wounds you if you pick it up in your hand; they say that if ten crabs are bound with a handful of basil, all the scorpions around will gather at that place. Of the crocodile The crocodile, cocodrillus, gets its name from its saffron colour, croceus; it comes from the River Nile, a four-legged creature, at home on land and in water, sometimes twenty cubits in length, armed with huge teeth and claws. So hard is its skin that even if you struck it on the back with blows from heavy stones, you would not harm it. It rests by night in the water, by day on the bank. It hatches its eggs on land, male and female taking turns to guard them. Certain fish with serrated crests kill it by cutting open the soft part of its belly. Its wolf-like greed for fish gives the pike its name, lupus. It is a tricky fish to catch. It is said that when it is finally surrounded by the folds of the net, it ploughs up the sand with its tail and, hidden, swims through the net. The mullet, mullus, is so called because it is delicate, mollis, and very tender; they say that eating it curbs lust; eating mullet can also impair your vision; men who often eat it give off a fishy smell. If you soak a dead mullet in wine, those who drink the liquor afterwards develop a loathing for wine. Another kind of mullet, mugilis, gets its name because it is extremely agile, multum agilis. For when it is aware of the way in which fishermen have set their nets for it, it does not delay, but pulls back, then leaps over the net, so that you can actually see the fish fly. The ways of fish are countless, as are their species. Some

Text

Sea-pigs, Sawfish, Crocodile The crocodile is saffron coloured. Mullet.

Comment

See the yellow colour indicator for the crocodile on f. 68v. Initials 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

videntur, hi proprie simones nominantur. Est et delfinum genus\ in Nilo flumine dorso seriato qui cocodrillos tenera ventrium\ secantes interimunt. \ De porcis marinis \ Porci marini qui vocantur vulgo suilli, quia dum que\ runt escam more suis terram sub aquis fodunt. Circa\ guttur enim habent oris officium, et nisi rostrum arenis inmer\gant, pastum non colligunt. Gladius dicitur eo quod rostro mu\crinato sit, ob hoc naves perfossas mergit. Serra nuncupata quia\ serratam cristam habent, et subter natans naves secat. Scorpio dictus\ quia ledit dum manu tollitur, tradunt decem cancris est comici [PL, cum ozymi] ma\nipulo alligatis omnes qui ibi sunt scorpiones ad eundem\ locum congregari. \ De cocodrillo \ Cocodrillus a croceo colore dictus, gignitur in Nilo flumi\ne animal quadrupes in terra et aqua valens, lon\gitudine plerumque viginti cubitorum, dentium et ungui\um immanitate armatum. Tantaque cutis duricia ut quam\vis fortium ictus lapidum tergo repercuciat, non nocet, nocte\ in aquis die in humo quescit. Ova in terra fovet, masculus\ et femina vices servant. Hunc pisces quidam serratam ha\bentes cristam tenera ventrium desecantes interimunt.\ Lupum aviditas piscem appellavit in captura ingeniosum.\ Denique circumdatus rete, fertur arenas arare cauda, atque\ ita conditus transire rete. Mullus vocatus quod mollis sit\ atque tenerrimus, cuius cibo tradunt libidinem inhibere,\ oculorum aciem hebetant, homines quibus sepe pastus pis\cem olent. Mullus in vino necatus hi qui inde biberint te\dium vini habent. Mugilis nomen habet, quod sit multum agilis.\ Nam ubi dispositas senserit piscatorum insidias, confestim\ retrorsum rediens ita transilit rete, ut volare piscem vide\as. Innumeri itaque usus innumera genera piscium. Alii\

Translation

They are correctly called simones. There is a species of dolphin in the River Nile, with a serrated back, which kills crocodiles by cutting into the soft parts of their bellies. Of sea-pigs Sea-pigs are commonly called swine, because when they seek food, they dig under the water like swine digging into the ground. For they have what serves as a mouth around their throat, and unless they immerse their snout in the sand, they cannot gather food. The sword-fish is so called because its snout is pointed; it sinks ships by piercing them with it. Sawfish, serra, are so called because they have a serrated crest; they swim under ships and saw through their keels. The sea-scorpion is so called because it wounds you if you pick it up in your hand; they say that if ten crabs are bound with a handful of basil, all the scorpions around will gather at that place. Of the crocodile The crocodile, cocodrillus, gets its name from its saffron colour, croceus; it comes from the River Nile, a four-legged creature, at home on land and in water, sometimes twenty cubits in length, armed with huge teeth and claws. So hard is its skin that even if you struck it on the back with blows from heavy stones, you would not harm it. It rests by night in the water, by day on the bank. It hatches its eggs on land, male and female taking turns to guard them. Certain fish with serrated crests kill it by cutting open the soft part of its belly. Its wolf-like greed for fish gives the pike its name, lupus. It is a tricky fish to catch. It is said that when it is finally surrounded by the folds of the net, it ploughs up the sand with its tail and, hidden, swims through the net. The mullet, mullus, is so called because it is delicate, mollis, and very tender; they say that eating it curbs lust; eating mullet can also impair your vision; men who often eat it give off a fishy smell. If you soak a dead mullet in wine, those who drink the liquor afterwards develop a loathing for wine. Another kind of mullet, mugilis, gets its name because it is extremely agile, multum agilis. For when it is aware of the way in which fishermen have set their nets for it, it does not delay, but pulls back, then leaps over the net, so that you can actually see the fish fly. The ways of fish are countless, as are their species. Some
  • Commentary

    Text

    Sea-pigs, Sawfish, Crocodile The crocodile is saffron coloured. Mullet.

    Comment

    See the yellow colour indicator for the crocodile on f. 68v. Initials 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
    They are correctly called simones. There is a species of dolphin in the River Nile, with a serrated back, which kills crocodiles by cutting into the soft parts of their bellies. Of sea-pigs Sea-pigs are commonly called swine, because when they seek food, they dig under the water like swine digging into the ground. For they have what serves as a mouth around their throat, and unless they immerse their snout in the sand, they cannot gather food. The sword-fish is so called because its snout is pointed; it sinks ships by piercing them with it. Sawfish, serra, are so called because they have a serrated crest; they swim under ships and saw through their keels. The sea-scorpion is so called because it wounds you if you pick it up in your hand; they say that if ten crabs are bound with a handful of basil, all the scorpions around will gather at that place. Of the crocodile The crocodile, cocodrillus, gets its name from its saffron colour, croceus; it comes from the River Nile, a four-legged creature, at home on land and in water, sometimes twenty cubits in length, armed with huge teeth and claws. So hard is its skin that even if you struck it on the back with blows from heavy stones, you would not harm it. It rests by night in the water, by day on the bank. It hatches its eggs on land, male and female taking turns to guard them. Certain fish with serrated crests kill it by cutting open the soft part of its belly. Its wolf-like greed for fish gives the pike its name, lupus. It is a tricky fish to catch. It is said that when it is finally surrounded by the folds of the net, it ploughs up the sand with its tail and, hidden, swims through the net. The mullet, mullus, is so called because it is delicate, mollis, and very tender; they say that eating it curbs lust; eating mullet can also impair your vision; men who often eat it give off a fishy smell. If you soak a dead mullet in wine, those who drink the liquor afterwards develop a loathing for wine. Another kind of mullet, mugilis, gets its name because it is extremely agile, multum agilis. For when it is aware of the way in which fishermen have set their nets for it, it does not delay, but pulls back, then leaps over the net, so that you can actually see the fish fly. The ways of fish are countless, as are their species. Some
  • Transcription
    videntur, hi proprie simones nominantur. Est et delfinum genus\ in Nilo flumine dorso seriato qui cocodrillos tenera ventrium\ secantes interimunt. \ De porcis marinis \ Porci marini qui vocantur vulgo suilli, quia dum que\ runt escam more suis terram sub aquis fodunt. Circa\ guttur enim habent oris officium, et nisi rostrum arenis inmer\gant, pastum non colligunt. Gladius dicitur eo quod rostro mu\crinato sit, ob hoc naves perfossas mergit. Serra nuncupata quia\ serratam cristam habent, et subter natans naves secat. Scorpio dictus\ quia ledit dum manu tollitur, tradunt decem cancris est comici [PL, cum ozymi] ma\nipulo alligatis omnes qui ibi sunt scorpiones ad eundem\ locum congregari. \ De cocodrillo \ Cocodrillus a croceo colore dictus, gignitur in Nilo flumi\ne animal quadrupes in terra et aqua valens, lon\gitudine plerumque viginti cubitorum, dentium et ungui\um immanitate armatum. Tantaque cutis duricia ut quam\vis fortium ictus lapidum tergo repercuciat, non nocet, nocte\ in aquis die in humo quescit. Ova in terra fovet, masculus\ et femina vices servant. Hunc pisces quidam serratam ha\bentes cristam tenera ventrium desecantes interimunt.\ Lupum aviditas piscem appellavit in captura ingeniosum.\ Denique circumdatus rete, fertur arenas arare cauda, atque\ ita conditus transire rete. Mullus vocatus quod mollis sit\ atque tenerrimus, cuius cibo tradunt libidinem inhibere,\ oculorum aciem hebetant, homines quibus sepe pastus pis\cem olent. Mullus in vino necatus hi qui inde biberint te\dium vini habent. Mugilis nomen habet, quod sit multum agilis.\ Nam ubi dispositas senserit piscatorum insidias, confestim\ retrorsum rediens ita transilit rete, ut volare piscem vide\as. Innumeri itaque usus innumera genera piscium. Alii\
Folio 73v - Of dolphins, continued. De porcis marinis; Of sea-pigs. De cocodrillo; Of the crocodile. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen