Wild Goat

Wild Goat /capra/ 10.2×6 cm Built according to the heraldic symmetry, the miniature illustrates the story of a wild goat who lives in the high mountains and sometimes comes down to the valley. She is known to be very sharp-sighted. The text of the bestiary originates from the description and interpretations of Greek “Physiologus”, in…

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Onager

Onager /onager/ 10X6 см The text of the bestiary about the onager combines two narratives of Greek “Physiologus”, the one about the onager castrating his young offsprings “for them not to multiply”, and the other about the onager and the monkey registering time. “Physiologus” compares the onager castrating his young ones with the Apostles preaching…

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Apes

Apes /simia/ 10.2×6.2 cm In the Latin versions of “Physiologus” and in bestiaries the text about the ape follows the story of the onager. The story presented in the bestiary is in fact a combination of passages from Isidor with the symbolic interpretation of “Physiologus”, though it does not associate the features of the monkey…

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Panther

Panther /panthera, pantera/ 10X6 cm Panther is the loveliest of all animals in the medieval bestiary. She is gentle and beautiful. “Physiologus” spares no colours describing its bright coat, which he compares to the many-coloured robes of Joseph and the queen in gold of Ophir /Psalms, 44:10/. In the bestiary the story taken from “Physiologus”…

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Wolf

Wolf /lupus/ 10X5.5 cm The chapter about the wolf, missing in original “Physiologus”, is based on the information derived from Isidore /XII.II.23—24/, Pliny /VIII. 22.34/ and Solinus /2.36/ who described the wolf as a rapacious and greedy animal. The wolf has a big chest and strong jaws. He steals up to the sheepfold and catches…

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Dogs

Dogs /canis/ 10.2 X 6 cm; 10.2×2.5 cm; 10..2 X 6.5 cm In original “Physiologus” the chapter on dogs was omitted. In the bestiary the antique tales about the dogs collected by Pliny and Solinus are being revised and newly interpreted. The text of the bestiary includes passages originating from Isidor /XII.II.25—27/ and from St.…

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Stag

Stag /cervus/ 10.2X6.1 cm То the text derived from Isidor /XII.1.18—19/ the bestiary adds the narrative from “Physiologus” about the stag which drove a snake away from its hole and thus came to be associated with Christ defeating the dragon. The idea that the stag and the snake are enemies comes from Oppian /Cinegetica, II/…

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Weasel

Weasel /mustela/ 10.3X2.4 cm Empedocles and Anaxagoras shared the antique notion that the weasel conceives by mouth and gives birth by ear, the notion which Aristotle called “a naive and rash utterance” /On the Origin of Animals, III.756 b 15/. Neither Albert the Great /XXII.I.79/ nor Brunetto Latini /I.V. 181/ mention it and still “Physiologus”…

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Ant

Ant /formica/ 9X5.5 cm The Saint Petersburg Bestiary similarly to the early versions of “Physiologus” begins the story of the ant with a quotation from the Proverbs of Solomon: “Go to the ant, О sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”. /Proverbs 6:6/. “Physiologus” treats the ant in strict adherence to the moral of the…

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Chamois

Chamois /ibex/ medallion 5.7 cm in diameter The chapter on the ibex or a stone ram is not included in the original “Physiologus”. It takes rise from Isidor /XII.1.16/ who derived his information from Pliny /VIII.53.79/, and from the symbolic interpretations of Gregory the Great to be found in his “Moralia in Job” /XXX. 10.36,…

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Fire Stones

Fire Stones /lapides igniferi, terebolem, turrobolen, terroboli/ medallion 6.3 cm in diameter “Physiologus” and the bestiaries ascribe to the fire stones such qualities which the antique writers did not see in “lapides piroboli” /pyritis/ /Pliny, XXXVI.21.39/. The bestiary distinguishes male and female stones and says that their contiguity produces an all-consuming flame. The bestiary tries…

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Ostrich

Ostrich /assida, struthiocamelon, struthio/ medallion 10.3×6 cm In the Latin versions the story of the ostrich which was among the latest additions to Greek “Physiologus” underwent considerable changes. The ostrich does not fly though she has wings. She has feet like those of a camel. That is why the Greek call it Struthiocamelon. She lays…

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Tiger

Tiger /tigris/ 9.7X8.3 cm The story of a tiger is one of the most moving and poetical tales of the bestiary. It proceeds from Isidor /XII.II.7/ and St. Ambrose /VI.4.21/ who derived information from Solinus /37.5/ and Pliny /VIII.18.25/. The tiger gets his name for his speedy pace, for the Persians and the Medes used…

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Lynx

Lynx /lynx/ 10.2X3.9 cm The text originates from Isidore /XII.II.20/ who proceeds from Pliny /XXVIII.8.32/. The lynx is a spotted beast, a kind of wolf. They say that his urine hardens into a precious stone called ligurius /”lynx-urins” is lynx’ urine/. For fear that the stone should get into the hands of man, the lynx…

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Griffon

Griffon /gryphus/ 9.6×6.3 cm The tale of the griffon repeats the story told by Isidor /XII.II.17/ whose version takes rise from Pliny /VII.12: X.49.70/. Of the antique sources Herodotus is known to be the first to mention it /III.116/. The impressive miniature of the Saint Petersburg bestiary shows the griffon clutching a wild boar. Of…

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Boar

Boar /aper/ 9.3X4.3 cm The text repeats the story by Isidor /XII.I.27/; who derived the word “aper” from “feritas”, meaning the beast’s ferocity. In the Saint Petersburg and New York manuscripts the chapter on the boar is detached from the section “De pecoribus en jumentis” by Isidor and is placed among chapters on fabulous beasts.…

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Bonnacon

Bonnacon /bonacon, bonasus/ 10.5X6.5 cm The story of the bonnacon is one of the latest insertions into the treatise, derived from Solinus /40.10/ and Pliny /VIII.15.16/. Isidor does not mention it. Pseudo-Hugh /III.5/ and Albert the Great /XXII.1.12/ give the description of the bonnacon. The bonaccon lives in Asia, he has a bullish head and…

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Bear

Bear /ursus/ 9.6X6.9 cm Proceeding from the text by Isidor /XII.II.22/ who derived information from Piiny /VIII.36.54/, the bestiary as well as Pseudo-Hugh /III.6/, emphasises the fact that the mother-bear gives premature birth to her cubs who appear as shapeless lumps. By licking them the mother gives them a proper shape. Bears often stand urpight…

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Sheep

Sheep /ovis/ medallion 6.8 cm in diameter The greater part of the text about the sheep in the bestiary and in the work by Pseudo-Hungh /III. 13/ is taken from Isidor /ХИЛ.9/ who had derived the name of the animal from “oblatio” — “offerings”. Describing this placid and defenseless creature, the text says that with…

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Ram

Ram /vervex, aries/ medallion 6.1 cm in diameter The bestiary and Pseudo-Hugh /11.14/ reproducing the text by Isidor /XII.1.10—11/ who quotes Celi-us Sedulius, a famous poet of the fifth century, explains the name “vervex” by “a viribus” which means strength, by his being a male /”vir”/ or else because he has maggots /vermes/ in his…

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Lamb

Lamb /agnus/ 10.2X4.8 cm The text of the bestiary and of Pseudo-Hugh /III. 15/ follow Isidor who derives the name “agnus” not from the Greek “ayvo’g” /pure/ but uses it as “pius”, which is “pious”. It is also believed that the name originates from “agnoscat” since the animal can recognize his mother among other animals.…

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He-goat

He-goat and Kids /hircus et haedi/ 10X6.5 cm The text about the he-goat reproduces the text by Isidor /XII.1.13—14/ who says, referring to Suetonius, that the he-goat has narrow eyes. In all probability, the medieval writer mistook “hircani” for “hirci”. The Hyrcani are the Mongoloid inhabitants of Hyrcania described by Suetonius. The story mentions that…

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