The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 8r - Lions, continued. Tigris/ the tiger.


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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.
In the years which follow, they reduce the number by one at a time. Afterwards, when they are down to one cub, the fertility of the mother is diminished; they become sterile for ever. The lion disdains to eat the Previous day's meat and turns away from the remains of its own meal. Which beast dares to rouse the lion, whose voice, by its nature, inspires such terror, that many living things which could evade its attack by their speed, grow faint at the sound of its roar as if dazed and overcome by force. A sick lion seeks out an ape to devour it, in order to be cured. The lion fears the cock, especially the white one. King of the beasts, it is tormented by the tiny sting of the scorpion and is killed by the venom of the snake. We learn of small beasts called leontophones, lion-killers. When captured, they are burnt; meat contaminated by a sprinkling of their ashes and thrown down at crossroads kills lions, even if they eat only a small an amount. For this reason, lions pursue leontophones with an instinctive hatred and, when they have the opportunity, they refrain from biting them but kill them by rending them to pieces under their paws. The tiger is named for its swiftness in flight; the Persians and Greeks call it 'arrow'. It is a beast distinguished by its varied

Text

The lion's enemies. The tiger.

Illustration

The horseman has stolen a cub and has been pursued by the tiger. The thief can stop the tiger by a trick: he throws down a glass sphere and the tiger, seeing its own reflection, stops to nurse the sphere like a cub. She ends by losing both her revenge and her child.

Comment

The reflective glass sphere appears to be painted with tarnished silver. There is a '*' on the top right corner to indicate the second folio of quire B. Pricking and ruling are clearly indicated. In the right margin, a small cross, four lines above the image, and initial indicator 't' at lower right. Initial type 2.

Folio Attributes

  • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

    Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
    Folio Marks

    To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

  • Pricking

    Pricking

    Pricking
    Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

    Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

  • Ruling

    Ruling

    Ruling
    Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

    After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

  • Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators

    Initial Indicators
    Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

    When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

  • 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

inde per singulos numerum decoquunt annis in sequentibus.\ Et postremo cum ad unum pervenerint, materna fecunditas\ reciditur, sterilescunt in eternum. Leo cibum fastidit hester\num, et ipsas sue esce reliquias aversatur. Que autem ei se cire fere\ audeat; cuius voci tantus naturaliter inest terror ut multa animan\tium que per celeritatem possunt evadere eius impetum, rugitus eius\ sonitum velud quadam vi attonita atque victa deficiant?\ Leo eger simiam querit ut devoret, quo possit sanari. Leo \ gallum et maxime album veretur. Leo quidem rex ferarum,\ exiguo scorpionis aculeo exagitatur, et veneno serpentis\ occiditur. Leontophones vocari accipimus modicas bestias.\ Que capte exuruntur ut earum cineres [A: cineris] aspergine carnes pol\lute iacteque carnes pita [A:per compita] concurrentium semitarum leones ne\cent, si quantulumcumque ex illis sumpserint. Propterea leones\ naturali eas primunt odio atque ubi facultas data est morsu\ quidem abstinent, sed dilaniatas exanimant pedum nisibus.\ Tigris vocata propter volucrem fugam ita eum nominant\ perse greci et medi sagittam. Est enim bestia variis\

Translation

In the years which follow, they reduce the number by one at a time. Afterwards, when they are down to one cub, the fertility of the mother is diminished; they become sterile for ever. The lion disdains to eat the Previous day's meat and turns away from the remains of its own meal. Which beast dares to rouse the lion, whose voice, by its nature, inspires such terror, that many living things which could evade its attack by their speed, grow faint at the sound of its roar as if dazed and overcome by force. A sick lion seeks out an ape to devour it, in order to be cured. The lion fears the cock, especially the white one. King of the beasts, it is tormented by the tiny sting of the scorpion and is killed by the venom of the snake. We learn of small beasts called leontophones, lion-killers. When captured, they are burnt; meat contaminated by a sprinkling of their ashes and thrown down at crossroads kills lions, even if they eat only a small an amount. For this reason, lions pursue leontophones with an instinctive hatred and, when they have the opportunity, they refrain from biting them but kill them by rending them to pieces under their paws. The tiger is named for its swiftness in flight; the Persians and Greeks call it 'arrow'. It is a beast distinguished by its varied
  • Commentary

    Text

    The lion's enemies. The tiger.

    Illustration

    The horseman has stolen a cub and has been pursued by the tiger. The thief can stop the tiger by a trick: he throws down a glass sphere and the tiger, seeing its own reflection, stops to nurse the sphere like a cub. She ends by losing both her revenge and her child.

    Comment

    The reflective glass sphere appears to be painted with tarnished silver. There is a '*' on the top right corner to indicate the second folio of quire B. Pricking and ruling are clearly indicated. In the right margin, a small cross, four lines above the image, and initial indicator 't' at lower right. Initial type 2.

    Folio Attributes

    • Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks

      Gatherings, quire marks, folio marks
      Folio Marks

      To make a normal gathering, a sheet of vellum (the skin of a calf, lamb or kid) would be folded over twice and cut around the edges. This would make a gathering or quire of eight folios with sixteen sides. In the Bestiary there are fifteen quires, thirteen of which are made with the usual eight folios. The last two quires, added in the late thirteenth century, have six and four folios respectively. The folios are not precisely cut but in the most regular quires (B and C) they measure 300mm high and 210mm wide. In order to assemble the quires in the correct sequence they were labelled in lead point with letters of the alphabet. Some are missing with the result that the sequence runs -,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,K,-(folio missing),M,N. The last two quires (O and P) are the later additions and are not marked. The quire system was examined by MR James when the book was being rebound and he was able to produce the following analysis of the gatherings: A8 (wants folio 2, 8); B8 (4,5); C8 (4,8); D8 (4,5); E8-L8 (1); M8; N8; O6; P4 (4). Individual sheets in the quire needed to be marked. Although there were eight folios only the first four needed marking because they were folded with the last four. Each sheet was distinctively marked to make sure the quires could not get muddled up. The asterisk sign is repeated in quires B and M but they remain distinct because the B sign is in the top right corner while the M signs are all in the bottom left corner.

    • Pricking

      Pricking

      Pricking
      Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

      Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

    • Ruling

      Ruling

      Ruling
      Ruling continues under the illustration. Detail from f.16r

      After the leaves had been pricked, they were ready for ruling. Most pages up to quire F have 29 lines (except for the heavily illustrated quire A). The remaining quires use 28, 30 or 31 lines. The most regular ruling is found in B and C: the two top and bottom lines extend across the whole page. The lines in A, B and C are ruled in a grey colour. From D onwards the lines are a darker brown. The horizontal lines here are also neater, not overlapping the vertical margins. This would suggest that the ruling in A,B and C was done by a different person from the rest. In D and E there is a triple spaced double line across the top and bottom of the page but thereafter the ruling patterns become somewhat arbitrary. Sometimes there are double spaced top and bottom lines, sometimes the number of lines varies. On f.18v, the normal pattern of 29 lines is inadequate. It would appear that the scribe himself had to add two additional lines below the bottom margin, in order to complete his tale. Generally, the written space is 185 x 110/115mm. The ruling appears to have been made without any plan for the illuminations: on f.14r and f.16r the ruled lines pass under the illustration. Two pairs of leaves were left blank. F.3v-f.4r were probably intended to be glued together in order to support the weight of paint and gold leaf on f.4v. f.6r and f.6v precede the Lion story. In the Ashmole Bestiary, the lion has two full page illustrations, which were probably intended here. Two pairs of leaves are glued together. F.56r has a hole in it, which is concealed by being glued to the next page, f.56v. F.93r is glued to f.93v, probably because of the gilded double illumination on f.93v.

    • Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators

      Initial Indicators
      Initial indicator 'v'. Detail from f.16r

      When the scribe was writing he would leave a gap on the page where an initial was supposed to be inserted. To make sure that the illuminated letter was correct, the scribe would write a very small initial in the margin. They are written on the outside edge of the sheet. Over 30 of these small letters survive. Up to quire C they are marked with the same black ink as the text. After that both black and red ink are used.

    • 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
    In the years which follow, they reduce the number by one at a time. Afterwards, when they are down to one cub, the fertility of the mother is diminished; they become sterile for ever. The lion disdains to eat the Previous day's meat and turns away from the remains of its own meal. Which beast dares to rouse the lion, whose voice, by its nature, inspires such terror, that many living things which could evade its attack by their speed, grow faint at the sound of its roar as if dazed and overcome by force. A sick lion seeks out an ape to devour it, in order to be cured. The lion fears the cock, especially the white one. King of the beasts, it is tormented by the tiny sting of the scorpion and is killed by the venom of the snake. We learn of small beasts called leontophones, lion-killers. When captured, they are burnt; meat contaminated by a sprinkling of their ashes and thrown down at crossroads kills lions, even if they eat only a small an amount. For this reason, lions pursue leontophones with an instinctive hatred and, when they have the opportunity, they refrain from biting them but kill them by rending them to pieces under their paws. The tiger is named for its swiftness in flight; the Persians and Greeks call it 'arrow'. It is a beast distinguished by its varied
  • Transcription
    inde per singulos numerum decoquunt annis in sequentibus.\ Et postremo cum ad unum pervenerint, materna fecunditas\ reciditur, sterilescunt in eternum. Leo cibum fastidit hester\num, et ipsas sue esce reliquias aversatur. Que autem ei se cire fere\ audeat; cuius voci tantus naturaliter inest terror ut multa animan\tium que per celeritatem possunt evadere eius impetum, rugitus eius\ sonitum velud quadam vi attonita atque victa deficiant?\ Leo eger simiam querit ut devoret, quo possit sanari. Leo \ gallum et maxime album veretur. Leo quidem rex ferarum,\ exiguo scorpionis aculeo exagitatur, et veneno serpentis\ occiditur. Leontophones vocari accipimus modicas bestias.\ Que capte exuruntur ut earum cineres [A: cineris] aspergine carnes pol\lute iacteque carnes pita [A:per compita] concurrentium semitarum leones ne\cent, si quantulumcumque ex illis sumpserint. Propterea leones\ naturali eas primunt odio atque ubi facultas data est morsu\ quidem abstinent, sed dilaniatas exanimant pedum nisibus.\ Tigris vocata propter volucrem fugam ita eum nominant\ perse greci et medi sagittam. Est enim bestia variis\
Folio 8r - Lions, continued. Tigris/ the tiger. | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen