Phoenix

Phoenix /phoenix, fenix/ two medallions 4.1 cm in diameter each The legend of the phoenix, which originated in the sphere of ancient oriental symbolism, occupies pride of place in Greek and Latin culture and is widely interpreted by medieval writers (Hubaux J., Levy M. Le Mythe du fenix dans les litteratures greque et latine. Liege,…

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Ibis

Ibis /ibis, ibex/ 10X5.8 cm Ibis, which the bestiary mistakingly calls “ibex” taking it for a chamois, is one of the foulest birds. Isidor /XII.VII.33/ takes his information from Pliny /X.28.40; VIII.27.41/ and Aelian /X.29/ when he says that the bird feeds on cadavers and snakes’ eggs which he also brings to his younglings. The…

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Coot

Coot /fulica/ medallion 6.2 cm in diameter The early Latin versions of “Physiologus” did not distinguish between a heron and a coot /version “Y” says: “Herodius id est fulica”/- Version “B”, which the bestiary adheres to ascribes the qualities of the heron to the coot, while the heron itself is given other features. In the…

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Partridge

/ medallion 4 cm in diameter Following version “В” of Latin “Physiologus” the bestiary expands the symbolic interpretation of the partridge and adds to it some information from Isidor /XII.VII.63/ and St.Ambrose /VI.3.13/both of whom obviously proceeded from Pliny /X.33.51/. Telling us about the bird’s cunning and malice the bestiary refers to the indication made…

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Turtle-dove

Turtle-dove /turtur/ medallion 4.7 cm in diameter The chapter about the turtle-dove in Latin “Physio-logus” and in the bestiaries differs from that of the first Greek versions. It repeats the quotation from the Song of Solomon /Song 2:12/ about the voice of the turtle-dove foretelling the approach of spring but ascribes to her the qualities…

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Dove

Dove /columbus/ 10.5×6 cm In the story of the dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit /John 1:32/, the bestiary follows the narration of “Physiologus” about the diversity of colours in the dove’s plumage comparing it with the diversity of means by which the Holy Spirit addresses himself to Man. The white doves seem to…

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Sea pigs

Sea pigs /porci marini/ 8.8X5.9 cm The miniature illuminating the text from Isidor /XII.VII.12—17/ is one of the most vivid and interesting in the bestiary. The text provides information on sea pigs, digging up earth under water, on the sword-fish /gladius/ on the flying fish /serra/ and the sea-scorpion /scorpio/. This miniature is clearly different…

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Whale

Whale /aspidochelone, cetus, balena/ 10X13.7 cm The story of a huge sea monster, which sailors once mistook for an islet, was fairly popular in the ancient times and in the Middle Ages. The story originates from Arrian /Indica, XXXI/ and Strabon /Geography, XV, 2.13/. It appears also in many medieval writings about far-away lands and…

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Crocodile

Crocodile /cocodrillus/ 10.1 X 9 cm The impressive miniature featuring a fantastic monster, all bristled up as if it is about to rend its prey, illustrates the text describing the crocodile reappearing in the bestiary, this time in the section on reptiles. The text is taken from Isidor /XII.VI.19—20/ who drew on the knowledge provided…

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Dragon

Dragon /draco major/ 10.1X7.7 cm Dating back to Pliny /VIII.II.ll —13/ and Solinus /25.10—13/, the story of the dragon strangling the elephant had come all through the Middle Ages /Isidor, XII.IV.4—5; Pseudo Hugh, 11.24; Guillaume le Clerc, 2221—2238; Albert the Great, XXV.II.27; Brunetto Latini, I.V.142/. The text of the bestiary is close to the description…

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Snakes

Snakes /anguis/ 10×2.6 cm The introductory text about snakes was borrowed from Isidor /XII.IV.1.—3/. They are called “anguis”, a modification of “angulosus” /bent/, “coluber” because a snake looks for a shade /colat umbras/ or “serpens” because it sneaks or creeps /serpit/ to an object. Snakes vary in shape and colour. The miniature pictures two intertwined…

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Viper-echidna

Viper-echidna /vipera/ 10X5.7 cm Although the story of the viper-echidna is traced back to the tales of the original “Physiologus”, the bestiary mainly follows the description by Isidor /XII.IV. 10—11/, deriving the name from the word “vis” /force, violence/, as the birth of a viper is accompanied by violence /generatio viperarum/ /Matthew, 3:7/. The Greek…

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Asp

Asp /aspis/ 10.1X7.2 cm The borrowings from the text by Isidore /XII.IV.12/ are joined together in the bestiary with the story of the asp from the “Physiologus”, a development of what had been written about the asp in the chapter about the weasel, which later in the Latin versions grew into a separate chapter. In…

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Hydra

Hydra /hydrus/ 10X6.1 cm The text repeats the description by Isidor /XII.IV. 22—23/ and is close to the text of ff.l6v. and 17. The miniature pictures a crocodile swallowing a hydra, but the crocodile on the miniature largely differs from the fantastic bristled-up animal drawn on ff.75 and 16 v. where it is shown lying…

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The Lizard

The Lizard Relief. Church in Saint-Denis. XII century Lizard /lacerta/ medallion 5.4 cm in diameter The text, which was borrowed from Isidor /XII. IV.34—35/, enumerates several kinds of lizards. Listed among them are salamandras, tritons and frogs. The early Latin versions of the “Physiologus” included the tale about the sunny lizard /saura/ in the chapter…

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Scitalis

Scitalis /scitalis/ 10.1 X5.2 cm The text of the bestiary and that of Pseudo-Hugh /11.43/ is a borrowing from Isidor /XII.IV.19/ who qouted Lukan /Pharsalia, IX, 717/ and repeated Solinus /27.29/. The scitalis is distinguished for the beauty of its spotty skin. It never follows its prey but waits until the prey, charmed by its…

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