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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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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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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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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