Cat

Cat /catus, musio/ 10X5 cm Pseudo-Hugh /III.24/ and the bestiaries which are close to Isidore’s version /XII.2.38/ derive the word “musio” from “mus” /mouse/, and “catus” from “captare” /capture/ because of the cat’s abilities to catch its prey; or from the Greek “catus” /acute/ implying the cat’s acute eyesight and his ability to see in…

Details

Mouse

Mouse /mus/ medallion 3.3 cm in diameter The text of the bestiary and that of Pseudo-Hugh /III.25/ come from “Etymologiae” by Isidor /XII. III.1.2./ who derived the word “mus” from the mouse being born of soil humidity /ex-humore, humus/. From Pliny /XI.37.76/ is derived the idea that the liver of a mouse gets bigger and…

Details

Mole

Mole /talpa/ medallion 4 cm in diameter The text of the bestiary and that of Pseudo-Hugh /III.26/ repeat the story by Isidore /XII.III.5/. The mole is condemned to life in eternal darkness underground. He has no eyes and always digs through the ground and eats the roots of plants. The description of the mole comes…

Details

Leucrota

Leucrota /leucrota/ 10X8.7 cm The legend of leucrota comes to the bestiary, to the treatise of Pseudo-Hugh /III.7/ and to writings by Brunetto Latini /I.V.194/ from Pliny /VIII.21.30/ and Solinus /52.34/. Leucrota lives in India and is very swift-footed. He is the size of an ass, has the haunches of a stag, the breast of…

Details

Eagle

Eagle /aquila/ 10×7.5 cm The chapter on the eagle, the king of all birds, opens the section on birds, just like the legend about the lion opens the section on beasts. In the original “Physiologus” the story of the eagle was not assigned so important a place, which is accounted for by the fact that…

Details

Vulture

Vulture /vultur/ 10X6.1 cm Absent in the early versions of “Physiologus”, versions ” Y”, “C” and “B”, the tale of the vulture is based on texts by Isidor /XII.VII.12/ and St.Ambrose /V.20.64; V.23.81/. Like Isidor, the bestiary compilers form the name “vultur” out of “a volatu tardo” which means slow flight. The text describes the…

Details

Swan

Swan /olon/ 10X7 cm The whole text is taken from Isidor /XII.VII.19/ who used a story by Pliny /X.23.32/. The swan is all white, and is called “olor” from the Greek “holos” which means “all”, since “Nobody has ever heard of a black swan”. The singing of the swan, already mentioned by Plato /Phedon 85…

Details

Crane

Crane /grus/ 10.2×6.9 cm The text originates from Isidor /XII.VII.14/ who quotes Lucan /Pharsalia,7.716/ and draws on writings by Pliny /23.80; X.29.42/ and Solinus /10.12— 16/, his story is also traceable to Aristotle /IX.614.B. 18/. In the text the chief emphasis is on the cranes’ strict orderliness in life; they fly in a strict line…

Details

Parrot

Parrot /psittacus, psitacus/ 10.2X4.4 cm The text is taken partly from the story by Isidore /XII.VII.24/ and also makes use of the knowledge provided by Pliny /X.41.58/ and Solinus /52.43/. It is a green bird with a red collar which lives in India only. It imitates human speech and while it is young it can…

Details

Stork

Stork /ciconia/ 10×6 cm The text which depicts the stork as an enemy of serpents and a herald of spring is taken from Isidor /XII.VIII.16—17/. The name “ciconia” is an ono-matopoec word as it imitates the sound produced by storks. It is first mentioned by Ovid /Metamorphoses, VI.97/. Pliny says that old storks are looked…

Details

Haltion

Haltion /halcyon/ medallion 6.1 cm in diameter The alcyon, the halcyon of romantic poetry and the “alkonost” of ancient Russian folklore, is a sea-bird. Halcyon was fabled by the ancient to have the power to charm winds and waves into calmness. In the middle of winter the bird lays eggs in coastal sand. For seven…

Details

Cinomolgus

Cinomolgus /cinnamolgus/ 8.7 X 14 cm Though the miniature showing the bird is placed next to the text about the halcyon and later the word “alciona” was written on the margins, it is a traditional illustration to a chapter about the cinomolgus given on f.51 v of the Saint Petersburg bestiary. The cinomolgus is an…

Details

Ercinee

Ercinee /hercinia, ercinee/ medallion 6.8 cm diameter The text is the exact repetition of the story by Isi-dor /XII.VII.31/. The ercinee is the bird of the German forests, her feathers shine so brightly that even in darkness they are dazzling. The bird is mentioned by Pliny /X.47.67/ and Solinus /20.3/ Pseudo-Hugh devotes a whole chapter…

Details

Partridge

Partridge /perdix/ medallion 5.4 cm in diameter The text is fairy similar to that to Pseudo-Hugh /III.32/. It tells about the partridge stealing eggs from other birds’ nests. The miniature is somewhat different from most miniatures in the bestiary. The thick colour layer, the bold black line, the use of colours that are rare in…

Details

Hawk

Hawk /accipiter/ medallion 5.7 cm in diameter The text repeats Isidor’s story /XII.7.55—56/ about a bird of prey better equipped in spirit than in its talons. He does not distinguish between a hawk and a falcon, deriving its name “accipiter” from “accipiendo, accipio” which means “to seize”. The story tells us about the courage of…

Details

Nightingale

Nightingale /luscinia, lucinia, lucina/ medallion 5.5 cm in diameter The ancient writers /Pliny, X.29.43/ and the medieval ones /St.Ambrose, V.12.39; Isidor, XII.VII.37; Psuedo-Hugh III.33/ as well as New European men of letters, especially poets, are unanimous in praising the wonderful singing of the nightingale. The text, originating from St.Ambrose and Isidor, relates the story of…

Details

Bats

Bats /vespertilio/ 10X6.3 cm Following Isidor /XII.VII.36/ in the bestiary “vespertilio” is derived from “vesper” /evening/. The writer seems a little surprised by the strange creature when he repeats the story by Isidor saying that these “mean creatures” have wings and four legs, and they do not lay eggs but bring forth the living young.…

Details

Raven, Crow

Raven /corvus, corax/ medaUion 5.4 cm in diameter Repeating Isidore /XII.VII.43/ the bestiary indicates that the name „corvus” comes from the croaking sound of the raven’s voice. It is said to be a bird which refuses to feed his children until black feathers grow on them and he recognizes in them his younglings. The belief…

Details

Swallow

Swallow /hirundo/ medallion 3.2 cm in diameter The tale of a swallow comes to us from Isidor /XII. VII.70/ and not from original “Physiologus”. Isidor explains the meaning of “hirundo” by the fact that the bird takes food while on the wing, that is in the air /haerendo, aerendo/. The swallow flies in circles and…

Details

Quail

Quail /coturnix/ medallion 3.5 cm in diameter The text is borrowed from Isidor /XII.VI.64—66/ who says that the Greek called the bird “ortygia” because quails were first seen on the island of Ortygia /Delos/ and describes the quails’ flying across the sea. While the flock is flying, the birds guard their leader against a falcon.…

Details

Peacock

Peacock /pavo/ 10X5.7 cm The tale of the peacock given in the bestiary is remote from the late Greek versions of “Physiologus”. Many antique descriptions of the peacock /Varron, V.75; Aelian 111.42/ and early Christian ones “Patro-logia Graeca” v. XLIII, p. 527/ are not used in it either. The image of the peacock associated with…

Details

Cock

Cock /gallus/ medallion 5 cm in diameter The text follows the story by Isidor /XII.VII.50/ and includes interpolations from St.Ambrose’s “Hexa-meron” /V.24.88/. The cock is named “gallus” after the emasculated priets of Cybele. The crowing of a cock wakes the sleeping, forewarns the anxious, consoles travellers. On hearing the cock the robber leaves his wiles,…

Details

Duck and Goose

Duck and Goose /anas et anser/ medallion 4 cm in diameter The text is taken from Isidore /XII.VII.51—52/ who explains the name “anas” by the bird’s capacity for constant swimming /ab assiduitate natandi/, “anser” — by its likeness to the duck. The story of the goose announcing the night hours by cackling and his ability…

Details

Bees

Bees /apes/ 9.5X4.5 cm The story of the bees is one of the fullest in the bestiary. Accounts from Pliny /XI.5.4—20.23/, St.Ambrose /V.58.21—70/, Isidor /XII.VIII.I/ the medieval compilers, Pseudo-Hugh among them /III.38/, describe their way of life, their art of making honey, the construction of their hives, the laws and customs of the bees’ kingdom.…

Details

Caladrius

Caladrius /caladrius/ 10.5X6 см Caladrius — charadrius in Deuteronomy translated by St.Jerome /14:18/ — is one of the most mysterious birds of the medieval bestiary; it is a completely white bird. Its dung cures the blind. The caladrius can tell whether the patient is going to live or die: when the sickness is mortal, the…

Details

Pelican

Pelican /pelicanus, onocrotalus/ 10.2X5.8 cm The Latin versions of the text about the pelican take rise in the Greek version. The bestiary, like version “B” of Latin “Physiologus”, opens the tale of the pelican with the quotation of the woebegone psalmist compared to a pelican in the desert /Psalms 101:7/. When the pelican younglings have…

Details

Eagle-Owl

Eagle-Owl /noctua, nycticorax/ medallion 5 cm in diameter In the bestiary, like in the old Latin versions of “Phy-siologus”, the story of the eagle-owl follows the story of the pelican since the former is mentioned in the psalm of the same woebegone psalmist /”I am … like an owl of the waste places …, Psalms…

Details

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,…

Details

Hoopoe

Hoopoe /epopus, upupa/ medallion 4.7 cm in diameter By medieval tradition hoopoe is an “unclean” bird /Isidor, XII.VII. 66/ but it is noted for its love and affection for its parents. The birds, when they grow up, preen the feathers of the parents and keep them warm as if wishing to thank them for being…

Details