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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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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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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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…

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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.…

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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.…

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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…

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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,…

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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.…

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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…

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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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