The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 96r - the adamas stone, continued. De lapide qui dicitur mermecoleon; Of the stone called mermecoleon


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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.
holds and bears away the metal. They say also that it resembles amber, repelling poisons, banishing vain fears, resisting evil spells. There are six kinds of adamant. Of the stone called mermecoleon There is a stone in the sea which is called in Latin mermecoleon and in Greek concasabea, because it is both hollow and round. It is, moreover, divided into two parts, so that if it wants to, it can close up. The stone lies at the bottom of the sea and comes to life early in the morning. When it rises from its resting-place to the surface of the sea, it opens its mouth and takes in some heavenly dew, and the rays of the sun shine around it; thus there grows within the stone a most precious, shining pearl indeed, conceived from the heavenly dew and given lustre by the rays of the sun. The stone, therefore, is called conchus; it symbolizes Saint Mary, of whom Isaiah foretold, saying: 'There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse' (Isaiah, 11:1). And again: 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son' (Isaiah, 7:14). Of the rod and the virgin, Saint Mary, it is said: 'A flower was born of Saint Mary, our Lord Jesus Christ'. For just as the stone rises from the sea, so Saint Mary went up from the house of her father to the temple of God and there received the dew from heaven. These are the words which were said to her by the archangel Gabriel: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God' (Luke, 1:35). Behold these words

Text

The mermecoleon, based on the description of an oyster producing a pearl.

Illustration

A poor sketch by the same hand as f.94r. The open stone, lying on green water, takes in the heavenly dew in order to grow a pearl.

Comment

Folio marks "II II" at the bottom of the page.

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.

  • Sketches

    Sketches

    Sketches
    Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

    Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

Transcription

comprehendit et aufert. Fertur quoque in electri simili\tudine ven[en]a depellere metus vanos expellere malefi\cis resistere artibus, genera eius sex.\ De lapide qui dicitur mermecoleon \ Item lapis est in mari qui Latine dicitur mer\ mecoleon Grece concasabea, quia concava est et rotunda.\ Est autem in duas partes\ divisa, ita ut cum vo\luerit claudat. Hic ergo de fun\do maris et matutinis\ horis habet intra se car\nem. Ergo cum ascen\derit a loco suo supra mare, aperit os suum et susci\pit intra se de rore celi et circumfulget eum radius\ solis, et sic fit intra eum margarita preciosa et splen\dida valde, quippe que rore celi concepta est, et radio solis\ clarificata. Lapis ergo iste qui dicitur conchus, figuram ge\rit sancte Marie, de qua prophetavit Isaias dicens: Exiet\ virga de radice Jesse. Et iterum ipse. Ecce virgo con\ cipiet in utero et pariet. De qua virga et virgo [virgine] sancta Maria\ est dicta: Flos vero qui de sancta Maria natus est, dominus noster\ Jesus Christus est. Sicut enim de mari ascendit ille lapis, sic sancta Maria ascendit de domo patris sui ad templum dei,\ et ibi accepit rorem celestem. Hec sunt verba que dicta\ sunt ad eam ab archangelo Gabriele: Spiritus sanctus superveni\et in te, et virtus altissimi obumbrabit tibi, ideoque et\ quod nascetur ex te sanctum vocabitur filius dei. Ecce hii sermo\

Translation

holds and bears away the metal. They say also that it resembles amber, repelling poisons, banishing vain fears, resisting evil spells. There are six kinds of adamant. Of the stone called mermecoleon There is a stone in the sea which is called in Latin mermecoleon and in Greek concasabea, because it is both hollow and round. It is, moreover, divided into two parts, so that if it wants to, it can close up. The stone lies at the bottom of the sea and comes to life early in the morning. When it rises from its resting-place to the surface of the sea, it opens its mouth and takes in some heavenly dew, and the rays of the sun shine around it; thus there grows within the stone a most precious, shining pearl indeed, conceived from the heavenly dew and given lustre by the rays of the sun. The stone, therefore, is called conchus; it symbolizes Saint Mary, of whom Isaiah foretold, saying: 'There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse' (Isaiah, 11:1). And again: 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son' (Isaiah, 7:14). Of the rod and the virgin, Saint Mary, it is said: 'A flower was born of Saint Mary, our Lord Jesus Christ'. For just as the stone rises from the sea, so Saint Mary went up from the house of her father to the temple of God and there received the dew from heaven. These are the words which were said to her by the archangel Gabriel: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God' (Luke, 1:35). Behold these words
  • Commentary

    Text

    The mermecoleon, based on the description of an oyster producing a pearl.

    Illustration

    A poor sketch by the same hand as f.94r. The open stone, lying on green water, takes in the heavenly dew in order to grow a pearl.

    Comment

    Folio marks "II II" at the bottom of the page.

    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.

    • Sketches

      Sketches

      Sketches
      Sketch of dog. Detail from f.12v

      Several very faint sketches can be seen in the margins of the book. Most of these are preliminaries for final drawings. On f.32r the frames for the illustration have been blocked in. On f.12v, bottom right, is a sketch of a dog like that at the foot of f.5r. On f.28r there are two sketches of circles in squares and in the bottom roundel is a cat like that on f.5r. There is a faint circular outline on the right of f.44v. The most important sketches are those on f.93v. These show variations on the two firestones scenes which relate very closely to parallel illustrations in Ashmolean 1511, f.103v. They are described in detail on f.93v.

  • Translation
    holds and bears away the metal. They say also that it resembles amber, repelling poisons, banishing vain fears, resisting evil spells. There are six kinds of adamant. Of the stone called mermecoleon There is a stone in the sea which is called in Latin mermecoleon and in Greek concasabea, because it is both hollow and round. It is, moreover, divided into two parts, so that if it wants to, it can close up. The stone lies at the bottom of the sea and comes to life early in the morning. When it rises from its resting-place to the surface of the sea, it opens its mouth and takes in some heavenly dew, and the rays of the sun shine around it; thus there grows within the stone a most precious, shining pearl indeed, conceived from the heavenly dew and given lustre by the rays of the sun. The stone, therefore, is called conchus; it symbolizes Saint Mary, of whom Isaiah foretold, saying: 'There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse' (Isaiah, 11:1). And again: 'Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son' (Isaiah, 7:14). Of the rod and the virgin, Saint Mary, it is said: 'A flower was born of Saint Mary, our Lord Jesus Christ'. For just as the stone rises from the sea, so Saint Mary went up from the house of her father to the temple of God and there received the dew from heaven. These are the words which were said to her by the archangel Gabriel: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God' (Luke, 1:35). Behold these words
  • Transcription
    comprehendit et aufert. Fertur quoque in electri simili\tudine ven[en]a depellere metus vanos expellere malefi\cis resistere artibus, genera eius sex.\ De lapide qui dicitur mermecoleon \ Item lapis est in mari qui Latine dicitur mer\ mecoleon Grece concasabea, quia concava est et rotunda.\ Est autem in duas partes\ divisa, ita ut cum vo\luerit claudat. Hic ergo de fun\do maris et matutinis\ horis habet intra se car\nem. Ergo cum ascen\derit a loco suo supra mare, aperit os suum et susci\pit intra se de rore celi et circumfulget eum radius\ solis, et sic fit intra eum margarita preciosa et splen\dida valde, quippe que rore celi concepta est, et radio solis\ clarificata. Lapis ergo iste qui dicitur conchus, figuram ge\rit sancte Marie, de qua prophetavit Isaias dicens: Exiet\ virga de radice Jesse. Et iterum ipse. Ecce virgo con\ cipiet in utero et pariet. De qua virga et virgo [virgine] sancta Maria\ est dicta: Flos vero qui de sancta Maria natus est, dominus noster\ Jesus Christus est. Sicut enim de mari ascendit ille lapis, sic sancta Maria ascendit de domo patris sui ad templum dei,\ et ibi accepit rorem celestem. Hec sunt verba que dicta\ sunt ad eam ab archangelo Gabriele: Spiritus sanctus superveni\et in te, et virtus altissimi obumbrabit tibi, ideoque et\ quod nascetur ex te sanctum vocabitur filius dei. Ecce hii sermo\
Folio 96r - the adamas stone, continued. De lapide qui dicitur mermecoleon; Of the stone called mermecoleon | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen