pavo
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 the symbol of immortality left a notable trace in medieval culture. The text repeats the short story by Isidor /XII.VII.48/ citing the epigram by Martial on the beauty of the peacock and the cruelty of the cook who ventured to fry it. /Martial, XIII. 70/. The peacock gets its name “pavo” from its voice inspiring horror /”pavor”/. “Aviarium” /55/ gives a most complete symbolic interpretation of the peacock quoting the Holy Writ and Isidor. On its pages the peacock appears as an embodiment of all virtures of a genuine tutor and preacher, not as a bird associated with pride and humbleness, which is evidenced by the peacock’s splendid tail and ugly feet. “Aviarium” compares the cry of the peacock with the loquacity of a preacher.
In the description of Brunetto Latini /I.V.71/ the peacock has the voice of the Devil, the head of a snake and the gait of a thief; but, for all that, his chest is sapphire, and his tail resembles the wings of an angel. The luxurious tail and lofty gait are allegoric of arrogance, and he is so ashamed of his ugly feet that he may be associated with the image of mortification and humility. The hundred eyes on his tail turn him into a symbol of caution while the hardness of his meat is comparable to the callosity of a beauty’s heart. Albert the Great gives a detailed description of the bird’s natural features /XXIII.1.92/.