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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Manticora

Manticora /manticora/ 10.1X6.1 cm The tale of the manticora belongs to the latest additions to the tractates on animals derived from Solinus /52.31 /. The legend about the manticora — a terrifying monster which has three rows of teeth, a human face with bloodshot eyes, a lion’s body and a tail of a scorpion —…

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Parandrus, Yale

Parandrus /parandrus/ 9×5 cm The story of the parandrus whom Pliny /VIII.34.52/ calls “tarandrus” is derived from Solinus /30.25/. In the bestiaries and the writings by Pseudo-Hugh /Ш.9/ and Brunetto Latini /I.V.197/ the parandrus is an animal living in Ethiopia which has the tracks of an ibex, the branching horns of a stag, the colour…

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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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Bullock

Bullock /juvencus/ 10.3×6.9 cm The text of the bestiary and that of Preudo-Hueh is a repetition of the story by Isidor /XIII 28/ who, following Varron /V.96/, derived “juventus” from juvare” /to be useful for tilling soil/ Or it may be because it was always the bullock who was sacrificed to Jupiter. The wild Indian…

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Ox

Ox /bos/ 10.1X6.5 cm The chapter on the ox reproduces the text by Isidor /XII.1.30—32/ who repeats Varron saying that the Latins called them “triones” because they walked on the ground /terra/ /VII.74/. The chapter emphasizes the kindness of oxen, their extraordinary sense of comradeship which was mentioned also by St.Ambrose, and says that they…

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Camel

Camel /camelus/ 10.2X7.2 cm The story of the camel repeats the text by Isidore /XII.1.35/ who drew on writings by Pliny /VIII. 18.26/ and Solinus /49.9/, it is repeated by Pseudo-Hugh /111.20/. The word “camel” comes from the Greek — “camurus” which stands for “curved” or from “cami” which is “inclined” or “bent”. The text…

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Dromedary

Dromedary /dromedarius/, Ass /asinus/, Horse /equus/ The two sheets right after the story of the camel with the text on the dromedary and the ass and the beginning of the chapter on horses are missing in the Saint Petersburg bestiary and the text continues on sheet 44. The relevant texts in the New York bestiary…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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