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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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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