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Medieval Sourcebook:
A Medieval Bestiary, c 1180
from British Library Additional Manuscript 11283

Medieval bestiaries describe the appearance and behaviors of real and legendary animals but also communicate Christian meanings and moral lessons through allegory. The manuscripts often include illustrations and draw particularly on a Greek text called the Physiologus, as well as other ancient Greek and early medieval authors.

British Library Additional Manuscript 11283, dated to c. 1180 in Chester (England), is the earliest extant manuscript of a Second Family Bestiary, which consists of three major parts. The first (f. 1r-32r) is separated broadly into entries on various “animals”, “reptiles”, and “fish”; the second covers different trees (32r-34r); and the third centers on the “Nature of Man” (34r-41r). It sometimes differs, however, in formatting and contents. Unlike other Second Family bestiaries, for example, it places Adam’s naming of the animals not at the beginning but after several animals have already been described. The order of animals is mostly consistent with Second Family bestiaries but with some differences: for instance, the section on trees is largely absent from Add. MS. 11283.

The texts on individual animals are not consistent; thus the entry on dogs in Add. Ms. (9v-11v) contains four subsections on four folios, while the entry on horses is only one section spanning four folios (13v-15r). These subsections are formatted with capitals identical to new entries. Like most medieval bestiaries, Add. MS. 11283 records several mythical animals, including humanoids such as the satyr and siren. The siren, curiously, appears in the middle of the bird section. Since this cites Physiologus, its placement may perhaps be a remnant of pre-Christian iconography that depicted sirens as half bird rather than half fish. Additionally, there are no titles for any sections, and therefore titles have been inserted in the appropriate section breaks to demarcate both animals from each other and subsections within animal groups.

The illustrations are simple yet detailed enough to match the physical characteristics or descriptions of the behavior of individual animals and were clearly drawn from examples in other bestiaries. Color is used in alternating blue and red capitals to denote sections, but most illustrations are done in brown ink. Color is, however, used for the Phoenix, Tiger, shading of the Lion (which is curiously green), Cinnamon Bird (which matches the Phoenix), Peacock, Rooster, and the final folio (41r) depicting a lake of fire.

The manuscript contains multiple marginal notes that mainly signal information taken from Polyhistor written in the third century by the Roman geographer and grammarian, Gaius Julius Solinus. This work, originally titled both De Mirabilibus Mundi (On the Marvels of the World) and Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium (Collection of Remarkable Things) before being given the title Polyhistor (Many-Stories), achieved “unrivaled popularity in the Middle Ages” according to historian G.H.T. Kimble. Whether for popularity, brevity, preference, or availability, the author of this MS has frequently cited Polyhistor, and seems to derive much of the non-Biblical sections from this compilation of curiosities.

The accompanying marginal notes (see the illustrated example below) are translated (when legible) in the footnotes, which are placed approximately where the marginal note appears in the text. Notes by the translators appear in square brackets.

[Image: BL Add MS 11283 fol 1r Solinus ref and lion. The British Library permits usage in this way.]


This translation, which includes the text on folios 1-15v, was completed as a high school Latin project by Calvin Chmelir, Megan Mayerle, Aidan Flaherty, Caitlin Callahan, and Solus Cutler, five students at St. Mary’s School in Medford, OR, under the guidance of Fordham University alumnus Martin Nelson (M.A., 2018). The students worked directly from the digitized manuscript available on the British Library. Add MS 11283, British Library, Digitised Manuscripts, accessed January-June 2021.


Lion: [1r, 1v]

The Lion, the strongest of beasts, shall fear no encounter.

The word “beasts” is especially appropriate for the group of lions, panthers and tigers, wolves and foxes, select dogs, and certain other animals that rage with mouths or claws, except serpents. They are called beasts because of the strength with which they rage. They are called feral for their enjoyment of natural freedom and how they are motivated by their desire. For they go freely where they will, wander here and there, and are brought where their instincts lead. The word “Lion” is of Greek origin but was altered in Latin; for he is called “Leon” in Greek, which is in part corrupted. The Greek word “Leon” is interpreted as “king” in Latin, for he is first of all beasts.

There are said to be three kinds. Of these the short ones with curled manes are peaceful; the tall ones with straight hair are fierce. Their brow and tail show their character, their chest shows their courage, and their strength is shown in their head. They fear the rumble of the wheel, but they fear fire more. The lion is proud of his own natural strength, but he does not know how to mix with other kinds of fierce animals and is just like a king who disdains the company of many [1].

Natural philosophers say that Lions have three natural characteristics. The first characteristic is that he likes to roam mountain peaks. And if he is pursued by hunters, he follows the scent of the hunters, then covers his own tracks with his tail. Then the hunters are unable to seek him out. Thus our savior, who is known to be a spiritual Lion, from the tribe of Judah, rooted in Jesse, son of David, hid the traces of his love in heaven until, sent by the father, he descended into the womb of the Virgin Mary and saved the human race which had wasted away. And we know that the ignorant Devil, enemy of the human race, tried to tempt him as if he was a pure man. Even the ignorant angels who were up on high, when Jesus had ascended there to the father, were saying to those who had ascended with him, “Who is this king of glory” [Psalm 24:8-10]?

Its second nature is that when it sleeps, it seems to have open eyes. And thus, our Lord’s body fell asleep into death on the cross, was buried, and awakened in his divinity, as is said in the Song of Songs, “I sleep and my heart remains awake” [Song of Solomon 5:2]. And in the Psalms, “Behold, He who watches over Israel will neither sleep nor slumber” [Psalm 121:4].

The third nature is that when a lioness bears her own cubs, she births them dead, and cares for them for three days until their father comes on the third day and breathes into their faces and gives them life. Thus the all powerful Father awakened our Lord Jesus Christ on the third day from death, as Jacob says, “He will fall asleep just as a lion, and like a lion cub he will be awakened” [Genesis 49:9].

It is the nature of lions not to be angry around humans unless they become annoyed. Rational men ought to consider this example, for they become angry even when they are not harmed, and oppress the innocent despite Christian law that orders the guilty to be set free. The lion’s mercy is well known by constant example [2], as they spare those who have been knocked down and send their hostile captives back to their homeland. They rage more against men than women. They do not kill children unless in a great hunger. Equally, they restrain from feeding lavishly. First, because on some days they take water and other days they take food, but often, if they have not digested it, they move their feeding to the next day. Then, because they are weighed down, having devoured more meat than is proper, they put their claws into their mouths and drag it out. And when they must flee, they sensibly do the same as when they are full.

Weak teeth show the age of a lion. They mate facing each other, as do lynxes, camels, elephants, rhinoceros, and tigers. Lionesses, when they first give birth, bear five cubs. Then in the following years, they suffer the loss of one of their cubs each year, then, after she gives birth to only one, her motherly fertility recedes, and she becomes barren forever.

The lion is scornful of the food left over from the previous day and turns his attention away from the remains of his own meat. Whichever beast dares to know [this should be “rouse”, but author has written scire rather than cire] the lion, whose voice, by its very nature instills such fear that many living things that might be able to avoid its attacks with speed, grow faint at the strength of sound of his roar, as if they were conquered in awe. The sick lion seeks to devour the monkey, so that he might be healed. The lion fears the rooster, and most of all the white one. Indeed, the lion is the king of wild beasts, except for the small scorpion, whose stinger disturbs him. We learn that these little beasts are called “leontophones”. When captured, they are burnt up, so that their poisonous ashes may be dusted over meat, which is then thrown in front of the crossroads to kill lions running on that path if they take and eat even a small bite. Therefore they are the lion’s greatest natural enemy, and when they are given the chance, lions indeed refrain from biting the scorpion, but kill it by tearing it to pieces by pressing down their paw.

Tiger: [2r]

The tiger is called so on account of its swift flight, for those in Persia and Greece named him the arrow. It is a distinctive beast because of its varied appearance, its marvelous virtue, and its miraculous velocity, by which the Tigris river is named, as it is quickest of all the rivers. Hyrcania [a region on the southeast shores of the Caspian Sea] is their main home.

When the tiger discovers its den pillaged and empty of cubs, it immediately pursues the tracks of the thief. But the thief, although he rides a swift horse, will use a trick when he sees that the speedy beast will overtake him: when he sees her near, he throws down a sphere of glass. She is tricked by the image and thinks it is her offspring and rushes back, eager to gather up her cub. Having been delayed by the illusion, she turns back and with all her strength seeks out the horse, urged quickly forward by anger, threatening the fleeing thief. Once again, he delays her pursuit with a thrown sphere, yet the memory of the trick does not prevent the devotion of the mother. She turns towards the empty image and remains there as if about to suckle the cub. Thus, trapped by her sense of loyal zeal, she loses both her revenge and her cub.

Pardus [Leopard]: [2r][4]

The pardus is a species of different types that is mottled and also very fast and runs headlong towards blood, for it charges and pounces to kill. The leopard is born from the adultery of a lioness and the pardus, which brings about this third race just as Pliny said in his natural history: the lion lays with the pardus or the pardus with the lioness, and in both ways they create the birth of these degenerate offspring, just as the mule and the hinny.

Panther: [2v, 3r] [5]

There is an animal called the panther which has various colors and is the most handsome and exceedingly gentle beast. Physiologus says of it that the only enemy it has is the dragon. When he eats and is satisfied, he returns to his cave and sleeps. After three days, he emerges from his slumber, and emits a great roar. And from his mouth comes a very sweet scent just as if it were of all the spices. Moreover, when other animals nearby hear his voice, the sweetness of the odor makes them go wherever he goes. And only the dragon, when he hears the panther’s call, is filled with terror and flees to the caves beneath the earth. When he is not able to withstand the odor, he himself becomes immobile and remains unmoving, as if dead. Thus our lord Jesus Christ, the true panther descending from the heavens, rescues us from the power of the Devil. And then, through his incarnation, he joined us to him as sons, taking everything, and “leading captivity captive, he gave gifts to humanity” [Ephesians 4:8].

Because the animal may be many colored, it signifies the realized Spirit, the united Spirit, the complex, true, merciful, firm, stable, secure, all-powerful, and all-seeing wisdom of the Father, as Solomon says of Christ. For this animal may be beautiful, just as said by David about Christ, “You are more fair than the sons of man” [Psalm 45:2]. Moreover, this animal is merciful just as Isaiah says, “Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Zion, oh proclaimed daughter of Jerusalem, why your merciful king comes for you” [Zephaniah 3:14].

When he is full, he conceals himself in a cave, where he both returns and sleeps. Since the Lord Jesus Christ had been tortured by the mocking, the whips, the blows, the injustices, the indignities, and the thorns of the Jews, suspended by the hands on the cross, pierced by nails, drinking vinegar and bile and stabbed by a spear, and dying, he rested in the tomb and descended into hell, that place where he binds the great dragon. ​​Moreover, he rose from his sleep on the third day and uttered a great roar, smelling sweetly, and thus our master Jesus Christ rose from death on the third day, according to the words of David: "Having woken up just as a sleeping master drinking is intoxicated with wine," [Psalm 78:65] and exclaimed in a loud voice, and his sound was heard by all of the land, and his words were heard around the earth. And just as the attractive odor exited the panther's mouth, and all the nearby beasts and those which gathered from far away followed it, thus the Jews, who sometimes have the senses of beasts, but were nearby following law, and those peoples that were far from the law, and who were without law, hearing the voice of Christ, followed him, saying with the prophet: "How sweet is your eloquence to my tongue, that it is sweeter than honey and its comb to my mouth" [Psalm 119:103]. Likewise of another: "Grace is poured into your lips, for the master blessed you in eternity" [Psalm 45:2]. And Solomon said: "The smell of your oils is above all spices" [Song of Solomon 4:10]. Similarly: "We hurry to the scent of your oils" [Song of Solomon 1:3]. And after a little while: "My king brought me into his room" [Song of Solomon 1:4]. Just as young women do, it is proper for us to run after the anointed commandments of Christ, so that our souls may be renewed in baptism: to depart from earth to the heavens, so that the king may introduce us into his palace in Jerusalem, the city of the Lord, on the mountain of all the saints.

The panther is a beast decorated with small spots and thus their yellow eyes are distinguished from the black and white variations. The female gives birth only once, because although three cubs can be nourished in the mother’s womb and could be born healthy, they hate the delays of time, and so they mangle the mother’s womb, which is burdened with fetuses and hindered by the claws of the offspring. She births an offspring if it is preferable to force it out rather than restricting the pain. Afterwards the fruitful seminal fluid, when inserted and accepted, does not stick to the broken and scarred body, but falls out useless. For, as said by Pliny, animals with sharp claws are unable to give birth frequently, for they are damaged by the internal movement of their offspring.

Antelope: [3r]

There is an animal, called the antelope, which is so vigorous that no hunter is able to approach him; moreover, he has long horns in the the shape of swords, so that he can cut back the high trees and knock them to the ground. Moreover, when he is thirsty, he rushes to the great river Euphrates. Also, there is a shrub which the Greeks call hericine, which has slender and lengthy brushwood; and the antelope to plays with the hericine with his horns; and while he plays he binds his horns in the plant's stalks, and, fighting all day, is not able to free himself, and cries out in a great voice. The hunter, hearing his voice, comes and slays him. In such a way, you, O fellow, who strives to be sober and chaste, and to live spiritually, have two horns which are the Two Testaments that can cut back and destroy all corporal and spiritual sins: beware drunkenness, lest you are bound by luxury and pleasure, and destroyed by the Devil. For wine and women make men forsake the Lord.

Unicorn: [3r] [6]

The Unicorn, which is called rhinoceros by the Greeks, has this nature: the animal is slightly similar to a young goat, has one horn with a sharp point in the middle of its head, and no hunter can capture it. But it is captured in this way: a virgin girl can be led to where the unicorn lives, and there left in the forest alone. But as soon as it has seen her, it leaps into her lap, being both embraced and thus taken by her. Thus our lord Jesus Christ is spiritually the unicorn, of which it is said, “and as the beloved son of unicorns” [Psalm 28:6]. And in another Psalm: "Thus it will be exalted like that of a unicorn" [Psalm 91:11] and Zacharias: "He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David" [Luke 1:69]. Moreover, [the unicorn] that which has one horn on its head, signifies this which He [Jesus] himself said: “The father and I are one” [John 30:10], and according to the apostle. “The head of Christ is the Lord” [Corinthians 11:3]. Moreover, [the unicorn] is said to be most sagacious since “...neither rulerships, nor powers, nor thrones, nor dominions” [Colossians 1:16] could understand him. And Hell could not hold him, and the Devil was not powerful enough to seek him out nor understand him, but only by the will of the Father did he descend into the womb of the virgin on account of our salvation. It is called a small animal due to the humility of its body, as it is said, “Learned of me because I am meek and gentle in heart” [Matthew 11:29]. There is a resemblance between the young goat and the unicorn, and since the “Savior himself was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, [God] has condemned the sin and not the sinner” [Romans 8:3]. The unicorn often battles with elephants, and will strike them down with a wound to the belly.

Lynx: [3r][7]

The beast called lynx is counted in the wolf family, spotted on his back like the panther, but similar to the wolf. It is said that his urine changes into the hardness of a precious stone, which is called the ligure. This is shown to be true in that the lynx themselves perceive this. He conceals this liquid discharged by his kidneys in any way he is able to, because of his natural spite, lest that discharge is taken for human use. Pliny says the lynx does not bear more than one offspring.

Griffin: [3r][8]

The Griffin is so named because it is winged and four-legged. This type of beast is born in the northern territories, indeed in mountains; its body has all the parts of a lion, its wings and face similar to the eagle. It is exceedingly hostile to horses, and mutilates any man it sees.

Elephant: [4r, 4v] [9][10]

There is an animal called the elephant which has no sexual desire. The Greeks call it the elephant because they think the body has the size of a mountain, for in Greek mountains are called eliphio; but from his trumpeting and teeth, the Indians call it barro, since it sounds like a war-cry [barritus]. It has ivory teeth. The beak is called a trunk, by which it moves food to its mouth, is similar to a snake, and is fortified by ivory spikes. No greater animal is seen. For in Persia and India, people build towers of wood [on them] and brandish spears in battle as if they were behind walls. The elephant’s intelligence and memory is strong; they congregate as they march; they flee from mice; they have sex facing each other. Moreover, they are pregnant for two years and give birth to not many at the same time, but one at a time. Moreover, they live for three hundred years. If, however, they wish to make a son, they hurry to the East, where, near Paradise there is a tree called the mandrake. The elephant goes there with his mate [female], and she accepts what the tree gives, and gives it to him. She seduces him until he devours it [the fruit], and immediately, she conceives a child in her uterus. When the time comes for her to give birth, she goes out into the water until it comes to her udders. The male elephant, moreover, guards her when she is giving birth, because dragons [snakes] are the enemy of the elephant, and if a snake comes, he will kill him, by trampling down until he is dead. The elephant makes bulls afraid, but is afraid of the mouse, and his nature is such that if he falls he cannot get up. He falls, however, when he leans himself against a tree to sleep, for he has no joints in his knee. The hunter will cut, in part, through the tree, so the elephant will fall with the tree when he leans against it. When the elephant falls he sounds a great shout, and immediately a larger elephant comes but cannot lift him. Then they both trumpet and twelve elephants come, but they are unable to lift the one who has fallen. Then they all trumpet, and immediately a tiny elephant comes, with his trunk under the big elephant, lifts him up. Moreover, this is a trait of the little elephant, that when his hair and bones have been burnt, nothing evil approaches, not even a dragon. The big elephant and its mate are the figures of Adam and Eve, for before when they were free of sex and did not know sin they were pleasing to God. But when the woman ate the fruit of the mandrake tree, that is to say that she gave the understanding of sin/the fruit to her man, then she became pregnant, and that is why they left Paradise. For while they were in Paradise, Adam did not mate with Eve. For it is written: “Adam knew his wife and she conceived” [Genesis 4:1] and she gave birth in the waters of guilt. The prophet says of this “Save me, O God, for the waters are come unto my soul” [Psalm 69:1]. And at once the dragon led them unto ruin and made them foreign to their refuge, for they displeased God. Then came the big elephant, he is the [Old] Law, who did not lift up man, just as the priest did not lift he who fell among thieves. Nor did the twelve elephants, that is the chorus of prophets, raise mankind, just as the Levite did not raise the wounded man whom we spoke of; but the elephant who understands is our Lord Jesus Christ, who, although he is greater than all, became smallest of all, for he humbles himself, becoming obedient to death so that humankind may be raised up [Philippians 2:8]. He is the intelligible Samaritan who put [a wounded man] upon his own beast. For [Christ], himself wounded, bore our infirmities and carried our sins. Moreover, the Samaritan is understood as a guardian; of this David says: “The Lord watching over the children” [Psalm 114:6]. Moreover, when the Lord is present, the Devil cannot approach.

Elephants break whatever they wrap their trunks around; whatever they trample underfoot is crushed in great ruin. They have no battle over females, for they are not familiar with adultery. In them there is good mercy. Naturally, if they see a man wandering while in the desert they will lead him to a known road. Or if they meet a herd of animals, they make their way coaxingly and peacefully so as not to spear an animal with their tusks. If they fight in battle, they have no attention for the wounded, for they take the exhausted back into their midst.

Beaver: [5r][11]

The animal which is called the beaver is meek, the testicles of which are very suitable for medicine, about which Physiologus says that when it learns of hunters chasing it, it bites off a portion of its testicles, and throws them down in the sight of the hunters, and thus, fleeing, escapes. If it learns another hunter is pursuing it again, it stimulates itself and shows its own “virility” [either an erect penis or its testicles, given the previous and following passage] to the hunters. When the hunter sees that the beaver is without its testicles, the hunter departs. Thus all those who desire to live justly in the law of God, cut from themselves all vices and shameful acts, and cast them down into the face of the Devil. Then, seeing that they have nothing of their own, the Devil departs from them confused. That man who truly lives in God, and not the grasp of the Devil, he says “I will pursue, I will overtake them” [Exodus 15:9]. The beaver is named castor by its castration.

Ibex: [5r] [12]

There is an animal which is called the ibex, which has two horns of such great strength that if it drops from the high peaks of the mountains, its entire body can endure the fall without injury by the strength of these two horns. The ibex signifies the wise man, who is accustomed to tempering any adversity with the harmony of the two testaments, and just as the ibex is supported by its two horns, the good deeds which men accomplish maintain the testimony through the reading of the Old Testament and the New.

Hyena: [5r, 5v]

There is an animal called the hyena, which lives in the tombs of the dead and feeds on their corpses. It is natural for them to be sometimes male, sometimes female, and it is therefore a filthy animal. Since its spine is rigid, all united, it is unable to turn its whole body around. Solinus recounts many marvelous things about the hyena. First, it stalks the herds of shepherds and circles their homes at night, and by listening intently, it learns their words, so that it can imitate the human voice, to attack a person whom it has summoned outside at night. The hyena also imitates human vomit and devours the dogs it has enticed with false sounds of vomiting. If dogs hunting the hyena accidentally touch its shadow, they lose their voices and are unable to bark. In its search for buried bodies, the hyena digs up tombs. They resemble the sons of Israel, who from the beginning live in servitude to their living God. Afterward, having surrendered to wealth and luxury, they worshiped idols. For this, the prophet compared the synagogue to an unclean animal, saying: "That which my heritage is to me is to the den of a hyena" [Jeremiah 12:8]. Therefore, those of us who are in servitude to luxury and greed are like this beast since they are neither men nor women, neither loyal nor unloyal, but are without doubt those of whom Solomon says: "A two-minded man is reckless in all his ways," [James 1:8] to whom the Lord says, "You are unable to serve God and Mammon” [Matthew 6:24]. This beast has a stone in its eyes, called hyenia. Anyone who keeps it under their tongue is believed to foretell the future. It is true that if the hyena walks three times around any animal, the animal is unable to move. For this reason, people say that the hyena has magical skills.

Crocotta: [5v]

In a part of Ethiopia the hyena mates with the lioness, and their union produces a monster, which is named crocotta. Like the hyena, it also imitates human voices. It never attempts to move its gaze, but stares constantly. Its mouth has no gums; it has one continuous tooth that closes naturally like a casket so that it is never blunted.

Bonnacon: [5v][13]

In Asia there is born an animal which they call the bonnacon, (also Bonasum), with the head of a bull and entire body like a bull and a mane of a horse. However, its horns are turned back upon itself with so many curves that if anything attacks that area it is not wounded; but whatever protection the front might lack, the stomach provides. For when it turns in flight, it makes a flood of quick winds [it farts] for a length of three acres, scorching whatever it touches with its heat. Thus this noxious discharge dissuades all pursuers.

Ape: [6r] [14]

Called simia in Latin, apes are so named due to their similarities to humans; they exult in the first beginnings of the new moon, and are saddened when it wanes. The nature of the [female] ape is such that when it brings forth birthed twins, it praises one and disdains another. If it happens that she is attacked by hunters, she will hold the one they love in her arms and carry the one which they hate on her back. But when she tires from running on two legs, she willingly casts off the baby she loves and unwillingly carries the one she hates.

The ape does not have a tail. The Devil has its form, which has a head and does not have a tail. All of the ape is repulsive, and its hind is even more disgraceful and horrible. The Devil had a beginning in Heaven with the angels. But he was deceitful and a hypocrite, and lost the tail because each man will perish in the end. Thus the apostle said: “The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth” [2 Thessalonians 2:8].

The ape’s Greek name is rooted in its pressed nose. Hence we call them apes, whose noses might be pressed down and give the faces of their offspring wrinkles with the disgusting bags of their nostrils; although the she-goat also has a pressed-in nose. The circopetici have tails, and this alone distinguishes them from the other apes. The cenofali also number among the apes, and are most abundant in parts of Ethiopia. They jump violently and kill with their teeth. Even if they are not necessarily raging, they are never gentle. Within the ranks of apes are sphinxes. They are shaggy in their arms and are easily taught to forget their savage nature.

Satyr: [6r] [15]

There are those [types of apes] which they call satyrs which are exceedingly pleasant and move about restlessly. The callitrices are different from the others in every aspect; their face is bearded, their tails broad. They are not hard to catch, but they are rare to find. They do not live anywhere other than in Ethiopia, since there they can see the sky.

Stag: [6r, 6v] [16]

The Greeks call the stag apotoy ceraton [“is with horns”] for the horns are called cerata. Stags are the enemies of snakes. When they feel overcome by weakness, they extract snakes from their holes with the breath of their noses, and overcome the poison of their venom, and are then restored by eating them. They have revealed the value of the herb dittany, for they feed on it to cast out arrows lodged in them. Moreover, they marvel at the whistling of pipes; they hear acutely with their ears upright, but nothing when lowered.

Stags also have this nature: they change their pastures for another land to sustain their herd and their offspring. When they cross rivers or sea water, they place their head upon the hind of another and thus advance in turns and never feel the burden of their labor. And when they find a place to cross, they do so swiftly, lest they be cut down in the current. Another nature they have is after eating a snake they run to a spring, and by drinking from it they cast off their old age. These natures are seen in agreement with the members of the Holy Church, because while they change their homeland, that is, the world around them, for the love of the heavenly homeland, they lift each other up, meaning the more perfect sustain and help through example the less perfect through their good works. And if they find a place of sin they immediately leap over it, and after the incarnation of the Devil, meaning after a sin has been committed, they rush to Christ, who is the true fountain, in confession, and restore themselves by drinking in his teachings and thus remove sin. At the rut, the male incites a raging lust and is mad with desire. Does do not give birth until the coming of the star Arcturus, although they may be bred earlier.

They do not rear their offspring just anywhere, but hide their eager young, and even conceal them within grasses and bushes at first, and the adults, by beating their hooves, reprimand the young into hiding. When the offspring's strength has matured by practicing fleeing, they teach it to trot, and are accustomed to leap indiscriminately. Hearing the barking of the dogs upon a favorable wind they direct themselves so that their odor recedes with them. They are easily stupefied by all, and therefore expose themselves to be shot at with arrows.

A healing treatment is made from their horns, for which the right side is better. If you are eager to scare off the serpent, you may wish to burn either. Few or no teeth will reveal they are old. In order to show how long-lived they are, Alexander the Great fastened with collars many deer that had been caught. After a hundred years they showed no signs of old age. The children of deer are called hinnuli [fawns], from “innuere”, to nod, because at the mother's nod…[they hide. The rennet of a slain fawn]...slain in its mother’s womb…[is wonderful against poisons][17]. It is known that they never become feverish. For this reason, ointments from their marrow lower sick men’s temperature. We read that men who were accustomed to regularly eating a small amount of stag meat since their early days went without sickness and lived long, but it ultimately failed as a remedy if they were given a single wound.

Goat: [6v, 7r]

There is an animal, caper in Latin, called the goat, because it chooses to live in rugged places; some call it Capra from crepita [a rustling noise]. These are the goats which the Greeks called dorcas, or the gazelle, because they have very sharp eyes. They live in tall mountains and can tell if men approaching from a long way off might be hunters or travelers. In the same manner, Jesus Christ loves tall mountains, that is, the prophets and Apostles, as it says in the Song of Songs: “Behold, my lover gallops over the mountains, leaping over hills, and, like a roe deer, feeds in the valleys” [Song of Solomon 2:8]. And just as a goat grazes in the valleys, our Lord pastures on the Church; the good deeds of Christian people are the food of him who said: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me nourishment” [Matthew 25:35]. The churches are understood to be spread through the valleys of the mountains and through different regions, as it says in the Song of Songs: “Behold, my love is like a roe deer, or a fawn of a stag” [Song of Solomon 2:9]. The fact that the goat has very sharp eyesight, sees everything, and recognizes things from a long way off, signifies our Lord, who is the lord of omniscience and is God. And elsewhere it is written: “For the Lord is exalted and looks on the people with humbleness, and he recognizes those from afar” [Psalm 138:6]. He created and established all things, and rules and judges and sees; before anything enters our hearts he foresees it and understands it. Lastly, just as the goat sees hunters approaching from a distance, Christ knew in advance the plot of his betrayer, saying: “Behold, he who betrays me approaches” [Matthew 26:46].

Caprea [She-Goat]: [7r]

The She-goat has these natures: when grazing it strives to go from high to higher ground, chooses the good herbs from the harmful ones by the sharpness of its eyes, chews the cud of the grass, and if injured will gallop to touch dittany which heals. Thus good preachers grazing in the Law of the Lord and delighting in the works as if in pasture, rise from virtue into virtue. They choose the good preachings from the bad; they choose with the eyes of the heart and mull over the chosen, and carefully investigate and commit to memory the good preachings. Wounded by sin they return confessing to Christ and are quickly healed. And so, Christ is well called the dittany. Namely, just as the dittany dislodges iron from a wound and thus heals it, so too does Christ cast out the Devil and pardon sin through confession.

Monoceros: [7r] [18]

The Monoceros is a monster with a horrible bellow, the body of a horse, the feet of an elephant, and a tail very similar to the stag. The splendid and magnificent horn extends from the middle of its head four feet long. It is so sharp that anything that its stab easily perforates anything it attacks. Not one has come living into the power of humans, and indeed it can be killed, but not captured [19].

Bear: [7v] [20]

The bear is said to get its name because the female molds her newborn cub with her mouth [ore], giving it its beginning [orsus]. It is said that they produce a shapeless fetus and that only a piece of flesh is born. The mother then forms the parts of the body by licking it. But this is the result of its premature birth. It is born only thirty days after conception, and as a result of this rapid fertility, it is born unformed. Bears have weak heads, so their greatest strength is in their forepaws and loins, from which they sometimes stand upright. They also do not overlook the duty of healing themselves. They thus know how to heal themselves when stricken by grave wounds or serious gashes. They heal their wounds with an herb which is called by the Greeks flomus [mullein]. To care for their wounds, they expose and touch them to stalks of the herb. The bear is said to consume ants. The Numidian bears excel the others only through profound vigor. They will give birth wherever there might be a place to give birth. For they have intercourse in the same manner as quadrupeds, but they pursue a mutual embrace just as humans conjugate with one another. Winter arouses the desire to engage in sluggish intercourse. Separately it is honorable for the males to respect the pregnant females by leaving them alone; although they may share the same cave at the time of birth, they lie separated by a trench. Among these bears, the time of gestation is accelerated. Indeed, on the thirtieth day, the cub is set free from the womb. As a result of this rapid fertility, the cubs are created without form. The females produce small pieces of flesh, white in color, with no eyes. They shape these gradually, meanwhile holding them to their breasts so that the cubs are warmed by the motherly embrace which may draw out the cub’s breath. During this time: the bears eat no food in the first fortnight; the males fall so deeply asleep that they cannot be aroused even if they are wounded; and the females, after they have given birth, hide for three months. Soon after, when they emerge into the open, they are so unaccustomed to the light that you would think they had been blinded. They attack beehives and try their best to get honeycombs. They seize nothing more eagerly than honey. If they eat the fruit of the mandrake, they die. But they prevent misfortune from turning into a disaster when they devour ants to regain their health. If they ever attack bulls, they know the parts to threaten the most, and will therefore go for the horns or nose. They attack the horns since they may lose them on account of their weight, and the noses since the pain is piercing in the more tender place.

Leucrota: [7v, 8r] [21]

In India a beast named the leucrota[22] is born. It surpasses all of the wild animals in speed. He is as big as the ass, has the hindquarters of the stag, the breast and legs of the lion, the head of the horse, is fork-hooved, and his mouth gapes open all the way to his ears, and inside a continuous jawbone filled with teeth. These things are typical of its kind. It [also] imitates the sound of [human] speech with its voice.

Crocodile: [8r] [23]

The crocodile [cocodrillus] gets its name from its golden color [croceo]. It comes from the Nile River, is a four-legged creature, fares well on land and in water, is sometimes twenty cubits in length, and is armed with monstrous teeth and claws. Its skin is so hard that even if you were to strike its back with blows from heavy stones it would not be harmed. It rests by night in the water, by day in the ground. It hatches its eggs in the ground, with males and females taking turns to guard the clutch. Certain fish with serrated crests kill it by cutting open the tender portion of its stomach. It alone, however, moves the top of its jaw before it moves the bottom. Its dung is used as an ointment with which an old and wrinkled prostitute may anoint themself and become beautiful until flowing sweat washes it away. They [crocodiles] are the figure of hypocrite or the luxuriant, or the greedy, who, although filled with the viscous, fluidic, slime of arrogance, appear like very holy men, showing off among men as they move in accordance with the Law. They rest underwater at night and in the ground during the day, since although they are hypocrites and live in luxury, they delight in being said to live in sacredness. They have a guilty conscience and their hearts lament, and their way of life always disparages, even in practice, that which they have achieved. The upper jaw moves, because they show to others the examples and richness of the words of the Holy Fathers, while they reveal in themselves too little of what they say. An ointment is made from their dung, because many wicked people are praised by the ignorant for their evil deeds, and are raised up by the applause of this world, just as by the ointment. But when the Judge [God], having drawn out their wickedness, stirs his anger to fight, then the beauty of all their praise vanishes like smoke.

Manticore: [8r] [24]

In India a beast called the manticore is born. It has three rows of alternating teeth that, turning, fit together. It has the face of a human with blueish-gray eyes, a blood-stained colored body of a lion, a tail like a scorpion’s stinger, with a stinging, hissing voice, as if imitating the little measures of a shepherd’s pipe.

Parandrus: [8v] Ethiopia produces a beast called the Parandrus. It is the size of a bull with the tracks of an ibis, the horns of a ram, the head of a stag, the color of a bear and equally covered in hair; here they assert the Parandrus has the habit of imitating its surroundings when afraid, whether it be a white stone, a green thicket of shrubs, or anything else it prefers.

Fox: [8v]

It is called the fox [vulpis], from sensual [volupis]. The fox has quick feet and never takes a straight path, and he twists and bends when he runs. He is a tricky and clever animal. When he is hungry and cannot find what to eat, he rolls in red earth so that he appears as though he is spattered with blood, then he throws himself down in the dirt, breathes in, and holds his breath. When birds see that he does not breathe, how blood-spattered he is, and his tongue hangs out, they think he is dead and they come down to sit above him. Then, however, he grabs and devours them. The Devil may be similar in this way. For to all those living in the flesh he presents himself as dead, up until when he may punish and hold them in his gullet. But to spiritual men, living truly in faith on earth, he is truly dead and is reduced to nothing. Those who, however, wish to work for the Devil will perish, as the apostle says, “For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live” [Romans 8:13]. And David says, “They will go down into the depths of the Earth, they shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes” [Psalm 63:9-10].

Yale: [8v, 9r] [25]

There is a beast which is called the Yale. It is as large as a horse with the tail of the elephant, black in color, with the jaw of a wild boar. He carries his long horns before himself, and their movement is adjustable for whatever needs he might want. In fact, they are not stiff, but are moved for the use of fighting. If it must do battle, one of the horns extends when it fights, and the other turns back. In this way if one point is blunted by some blow, the sharpness of the other horn may take the first one’s place.

Wolf: [9r, 9v]

The wolf, in our language, is conveyed from a Greek derivation. For they call wolves Licos; indeed the licos is called so for their jaws, which, maddened by their bloodthirst, massacre whatever they find. Others say that wolves are called as leopos, since, just as lions, their strength might be in their paws, from which whatever they pounce on does not survive. The wolf is called such by its rapacity, from whence we call prostitutes she-wolves [lupae], since they destroy the lives of lovers. Moreover, these beasts are rapacious and desire bloodshed. In their chest or in their jaws they have strength, but less in their loins. The neck is never strong enough to turn backwards. At times they are said to live on prey, sometimes from the earth, and even sometimes from the wind. The she-wolf does not birth her cubs in any month except May, when it thunders. Her cleverness is so great that she [does not seize prey for her pups] from her own area, [but from a distance, if it will be a benefit,] then searches for prey in her vicinity at night,[26] and proceeds as tame as any dog to the sheep herd; and lest the dogs do not by chance smell her breath and wake the shepherds, she advances upwind. And if a branch or something else is touched beneath her feet, she cries out, and punishes her bare foot with a nip. Her eyes glow at night as if they are oil lamps; her nature is such that if she might have seen a man ahead, she steals his voice and looks down upon him as victor over the voiceless. If the same man senses her first, she lays down her ferocity, and is not able to run. Solinus, who says much on the nature of things, reports that a small tuft of the animal’s tail is used in love charms, which it tears out itself with its own teeth if it fears it to by chance be seized. The tuft does not have power unless it is removed while the wolf is alive. The Devil carries the form of the wolf, as he always envies the human race and continually encircles the sheepfold of the faithful church, to destroy and plunder their souls. Truly that which gives birth at the first thunder of the month of May, signifies the Devil who had fallen from Heaven in his first gesture of pride. Moreover, that which has strength in its foremost members and not in its posteriors signifies the same Devil was first an angel of light in Heaven, but has been cast down as an apostate below. Their eyes shine at night as if oil lamps, for some works of the Devil might appear as beautiful and beneficial to blind and foolish men. When she births cubs, she does not seize prey unless it is distant, since the Devil encourages with worldly goods those whom he is certain will suffer perpetual punishment with him in a hellish prison. Moreover, he pursues those who remove themselves from him by good deeds, as is read of the blessed Job, whose entire wealth, indeed his sons and daughters, the Devil took, so that Job’s heart might turn away from the Lord. Because the wolf is never strong enough to bend its neck backwards without turning its entire body, it signifies the Devil was never turned to the correction of penitence. But what must be done for the man whose ability to shout the wolf stole, who does not have the strength to speak? He loses the help of those far away. But what might be done? He should lay down his clothes and trample them beneath his feet, then taking up two stones into his hands he should beat one against the other. What happens then? The wolf, losing the boldness of its courage, will flee. Thus the prudent man will be free, as he was in the beginning. This must be understood spiritually, and should be declared towards a higher idea as an allegory. What can we show in the wolf if not the Devil, or through men if not sin, or through the stones if not the apostles or other saints, or our Lord. For they may be called by the prophet adamant stones [Ezekiel 3:9].. For he himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, is called in the Law “as tumbling stone and rock of offense [Romans 9:33], and as the prophet says of him “I saw the man stand above the adamant mountain.”[27] Before we might at last be redeemed, we were under the sway of our enemies, and had lost our proclaiming voices, which were driven from us by our sins; we were not heard by God, nor could we call any saint to come to our aid. But after the merciful Lord bestowed grace upon us through his son, like old clothes we gave up through baptism our deeds, then like putting on new clothes were created as a new person created in the image of the Lord. Then we took up the stones in our hands and beat them together, and thus brought by prayers the attention of the saints of the Lord that rules in heaven, beseeching them to gain the judge’s ear and grant pardon for our sins, lest Cerberus, whom we do not know, rejoices in our ruin and swallows us.

Wolves have sex no more than twelve days in the whole year. They can go hungry for a long time, then after a long fast consume too much. Ethiopia produces wolves with a crested mane and so many variations that they state no colors are missing from them. A characteristic of Ethiopian wolves is that in jumping they seem to have wings, so that they can go further [that way] than by running. Yet they never attack men. In winter they are long haired and in summer nude. Ethiopians call them Theae.

Dog: [9v, 10r]

Their Latin name seems to have a Greek origin. For in Greek one may call them cenos, yet some think it comes from the musical sound [canor] of its barking, because its bark sounds like singing [canere]. Moreover, nothing is more perceptive than dogs, for they have a sense for other animals; they alone recognize their own names, and have special regard for their masters. There are many kinds of dogs; some seek to seize wild beasts alive, others protect flocks from attacking wolves by remaining vigilant, lest the flock be dragged off at random in the night by robbers; some cast themselves to death for their masters; some run toward prey with their master and guard the dead body of their master, and do not forsake it. Their final nature is that they cannot exist without man.

Dogs & Masters: [10r, 10v][28]

We read that dogs have such great love for their masters that when King Garamantes was caught by his enemies and taken into captivity, two hundred dogs went in formation through enemy lines and led him back from exile, fighting off those who resisted them. When Jason was killed, his dog rejected food and died of starvation. The dog of King Lysimachus threw itself in the flames when its master's funeral pyre was lit, and was consumed by fire along with him. When Apius and Junius Pictinius were consuls, a dog, which could not be driven away from its master who had been condemned to prison, accompanied its master to prison and his execution howling. When the people of Rome, out of pity, gave it food, it carried the food to its dead master's mouth. Finally, when its master's corpse was thrown into the Tiber River, the dog swam to it and tried to stop it from sinking. When a dog picks up the track of a hare or a deer and comes to a place where the trail divides into several directions, it goes to the beginning of each path and silently reasons with itself, as if by the voice of syllogism, based on its keen sense of smell. "Either it went off in this direction," it says, “or that way,” or “it certainly took this bend." It neither sets off one way or another, but compares them all and finds that right path; and thus rejecting the wrong turn it finds the true path.

Dogs, Murder, and Vomit: [10v, 11r]

Often dogs have even brought forth clear evidence of the guilt of those accused, so that their mute testimony is believed. It is said that once in Antioch, in the remote parts of the city, a man was murdered at twilight and had a dog with him on a leash. A certain soldier had been put forth as the accomplice of the murder, with robbery as the motive. He covered himself in darkness until dawn and thus hid in other parts of the city. The corpse lay unburied; a crowd of people were watching, and the dog stood nearby weeping mournfully. By chance, the soldier who had caused the murder, acting confidently to convince the people of his innocence, approached the corpse through the circle of people, and feigned sorrow so he might trick the crowd to assume his innocence. Then, the dog briefly surrendered its lament, took up the weapons of revenge, and seized the man and held him; and, as if muttering a song from a tragedy’s epilogue, moved everyone to tears; and the dog held that man alone of the many there, and did not let him go, thereby carrying its faith in its case. At last, since the evidence of guilt was plain, the man could not clear himself by objecting that he was the victim of any person’s hatred, enmity, envy, nor spite; he could no more refute the crime. And what was more difficult [for him] was that he endured revenge, since he was thus unable to defend himself.

When the tongue of the dog licks its wound, it heals it. Its life is said to be exceedingly short. Even the tongue of the pup is accustomed to licking its wounds for its internal health. It is their nature to go back to their own vomit and eat it again. If it might swim across rivers while holding meat or some bone in its mouth and it might see its shadow, it opens its mouth; and while it hastens to seize the other meat, it loses the actual one it carries. They are like preachers in some ways, who always advise and enforce virtue; they drive away the Devil's treachery, lest the treasure of the Lord, that is the souls of Christians, be taken and destroyed. Just as the tongue of the dog licks the wound and heals it, the wounds of the sinner are laid bare in confession and cleaned by the correction of priests. And the dog’s tongue heals the internal wounds of men, because the heart’s secrets are often cured by the deeds and discourse of the Church’s teachers.

Dogs are said to be moderate in their ways; he who is set over others diligently studies wisdom and must avoid drunkenness and gluttony of all kinds, for Sodom perished in abundance of bread. There is no quicker way for the Devil, the enemy, to seize a man than through a ravenous appetite. Since the dog might return to its vomit, it signifies those who, after having finished with their cautious confession, continue to return to their crimes. Likewise the dog, having coveted its own meat in the river out of desire for its shadow, signifies foolish men, on account of their ambition for some unknown thing, who often forsake their own law. Whence it happens that while they are not strong enough to gain what they desire, they needlessly lose what they relinquish.

Some dogs are called licisci, since they were born of wolves and dogs when they by chance mate amongst themselves. And at night in the forest the females are accustomed to breed with wild tigers, who mount them, creating fierce dogs so strong that their grip can overthrow lions.

Dogs The Three Spiritual Uniters and the Righteous Man: [11r, 11v][29]

Whenever the sinner wishes to please his Maker, it is necessary and profitable for him to seek out the three spiritual guides, who will hire three spiritual deputies, with three spiritual gifts, to reconcile the man before the Maker. The guides and deputies with their spiritual gifts are thus placed in this order: the first deputy is bequeathed a weeping heart, the second a true confession, and the third genuine penance. Their guides are the love of god, good will, and righteous works. These are the spiritual gifts: cleanliness in body and mind, pure prayer, steadfast good works, which the deputies and their guides advance with the spiritual gifts before the Trinity. Before God, the Father, he will proceed with the love of God, having lamented, and carrying the pureness of the body and soul. In the presence of the Son, he conveys true confession and good will into clear prayer. In the presence of the Holy Spirit, he carries true penance with righteous works and persevering good deeds. Just as potions are necessary for a weak body to cure its infirmities, a potion of four ingredients is needed before the corruption of their spirit may be cured: a weeping heart, true confession, sincere penance, and righteous conduct. And this potion is a fitting remedy for healing those [spiritual] infirmities, because as they are anointed with it they are at once healed. But if the soul, once cured, might be left without its honest garments, how, in the court of heaven where it must appear, should it be presented in the presence of his Maker? It is therefore proper for the man to accept His rule and put it on, thus dressing honorably and becomingly, to show it in a praiseworthy way in the presence of the angels in heaven. The first garment which should clothe his soul is purity, for no one is presented in the court of heaven, either then or in the future, who is not pure. Other garments are piety, compassion, and other virtues which ought to be worn. Having been truly clothed in such excellent garments by the three guides, that is by purity of thought, moral speech, and perfect deeds, he can be honorably presented into the glory of heaven where he will be rewarded by that blessed state which the angels enjoy, for which the Lord created Man and granted him three guides: knowable spiritual understanding, the power to do good, and wisdom. If Man acquiesces the kingdom of heaven, he will not lose it, but since he did not acquiesce to those [guides], he lost his inheritance.

Adam Naming the Animals: [11v]

Adam was the first to give out words for what all of the animals are called, naming each one in accordance with its nature. The human families, however, gave names to each in their own languages. However, Adam did not name them in Latin or Greek, or in whatever languages of the barbaric races, but in the language that before the flood had been everywhere, which is called Hebrew. In Latin however they are called animalia or animantia for they are brought to life [animantur] and moved by the soul. Quadrupeds are called so because they walk on four feet, which while they are similar to cattle, quadrupeds such as deer, doe, and wild asses are not under the care of humans. But they are not wild beasts, like lions, nor beasts of burden, such as those that might be used by men. We call all the cattle such because they have neither the speech nor likeness of humans, but their own name pecorum [cattle] is usually for animals that suit being used for human food, which they are, like sheep and pigs, and those used for human convenience, like horses and oxen. However there is a difference between pecora and pecudes [sheep], for by ancient custom, all similar animals were called pecora, but pecudes is used for those animals which are eaten. Generally, however, all animals called pecus [flock] are called such because they graze. Iumenta [beasts of burden] are named such because they help us with labor or by carrying our burdens or by plowing. For the ox drags the carriage, and turns the plow through rough clods of earth; the horse and the oxen carry burdens and make the steps of labor mild for man. So they are called iumenta [beast of burden, lit. “helpers”] for they help [iument] humans; they are animals of great strength. Likewise also an armenta [herd] of cattle is called so because their weapons are adapted for war, or because we use them in fighting. Others know bulls to be armenta from arando [plow] and aramenta [till], or because their hooves are fortified. But there is a distinction between armenta and greges [flock], for armentas are of horses and oxen, where greges are of she-goats and sheep.

Sheep: [12r]

The sheep is a soft animal, with substantial wool, gentle in nature, and is called so from oblatio [offer/offering], for ancient men offered sheep as a sacrifice instead of bulls. Certain ones are called bidentes [sheep for sacrifice, lit. “two-teeth”], as some have two more profound teeth among eight, which the pagans used most often in sacrifice. As winter approaches, the sheep has an insatiable desire for food, and ravenously snatches grass, for he senses the harshness coming, and that he should gorge himself on grass before then, for the coming frost will destroy such herbs.

Ram: [12r]

The ram [vervex] is called so on account of how vigorous he is, because his strength is greater than other sheep; or because they might have worms in their brains, which are the cause of itching, and in turn they strike themselves together and fight with great blows. It is also called a ram [aries], after the god of war, meaning Mars in Latin, and thus we call males in flocks mares. Or they are called such because the first peoples used the ram for sacrifice, so that they were put upon altars [aram]. From whence we get “the ram is sacrificed at the altar”[Exodus 29:18].

Lamb [12r]

The lamb is said to mean faithful in Latin. Moreover, they are believed to have this name since above other living things it recognizes and finds its mother even if she wanders in a large flock; and it would immediately recognize the voice of the parent bleating and hurries to the mother. It seeks the sources of the mother’s milk familiar to it. Among the many thousand little lambs the mother truly knows her only son. It is a great display of loyalty that the mother discerns her child from the others and recognizes the only son amongst the bleating of many of its kind.

He-Goat: [12r, 12v]

The he-goat, a playful and lascivious animal, always desires intercourse, and its libidinous eyes search from side to side - from which its name is derives. According to Seutonius, the hirci are the corners of the eyes. Its nature is so very hot that its blood is strong enough to melt a diamond stone which neither fire nor iron conquers. Kids [hedi] are so called because of their eating [edendum], for the young are fat and have a pleasant taste. From whence their name means "edible."

Boar: [12v]

The boar [aper]gets its name from a feritate [from wildness], with the letter “f” being replaced by a “p”. For this reason the Greeks call it suagros, meaning wild. For everything which is untamed and savage we call, loosely, agreste [wild].

Young Bull: [12v]

The iuvencus [young bull] is so called because it undertakes to help man in his work of tilling the ground, or because among pagans it was always a young bull that was sacrificed to Jove, and never an adult bull; for in selecting sacrificial victims, age was also a consideration. The word for bull, taurus, is Greek, as is the word for ox, bos. The bulls of India, who are yellow in color and travel with great speed, grow their hair against the surface of their coats, and their mouths open to the size of their head. They also move their horns in whatever direction they wish, and the toughness of their hides repels all weapons. So cruel and savage are they that they abandon their minds in a rage.

Ox/Bull: [12v, 13r]

The Greeks call the ox boen, Romans call them trion [plow-ox], like “earth-ox” [terrion], for it treads the land [terra]. Oxen have outstanding loyalty for companions, for when one has become accustomed to another when yoked to the plow, it seeks the other [its partner], and if by chance he falters shows his affection through repeated lowing. Oxen know to stay in their lodgings when rain is imminent. Similarly, through natural instinct they gather the changing of the skies, they look outside, and together extend their necks beyond the stable to show they want to come out. The Uri are wild oxen in Germany, and have horns in such great size that drinking cups are made from them for the tables of kings. In India there are also one-horned oxen, who are very fierce, with solid, uncleft hooves. Buffalo [bubali] derive their name from their similarity to oxen; they are so untamable that they do not accept the yoke on account of their ferocity. The cow [vacca] is called as if a she-ox [boacca], for that is the nature of movable names, just as lion [leo] to lioness [leena], dragon [draco] and dragoness [dracena]. The male and female calves [vitulus/vitula] are so called for their greenness [viriditate], meaning the age of youthfulness [viridi] and virginity. For we say a young heifer has not calved, and having calved, she is now a cow.

Camel [Arabian]: [13r]

Reason gives the name Camel, either because when they were burdened they lie down to become shorter and humbler, since in Greek cami means “short” and “lowly;” or since its back is arched, and the Greek word camur means “curved”. Although other regions produce them, Arabia produces the most. Bactria produces the strongest camels, although Arabia births greater numbers. Truly this differs, since the Arabian has two curves on its back, the Bactrian one [30]. They never wear down their feet, for their soles are fleshy, with a certain, backwards-facing tracks [31], and from which there is a contradiction when they walk: there is no supporting pressure when they stand. They are used for two purposes; some are fit to bring burdens, while others are more swift but will not undertake burdens beyond what is fair. However, the former do not want to go more than their customary distance. In the course of something they are restrained from lust to such a degree that they rage when they finally seek to mate. They hate the equine family. They also endure thirst for three days. But when the opportunity to drink is presented, they fill whatever amount might satiate their past desires and might be of use for a long time in the future. They desire muddy waters and flee the clean. Finally, unless dirtier liquid might exist, they stir up filth by constantly trampling it so may become muddier. They endure for a hundred years. If, by chance, they are taken into a foreign land, they get sick from the changed air. For war, females are trained, because it is found they have cursed their desire to mate. Indeed some think they become stronger if they are prevented from mating.

Dromedary: [13r]

The Dromedary species is a descendant of the camels certainly in stature, but is quicker, from whence it has its name. For they are called dromos in Greek for their running and speed. For in one day it is natural [for them] to go more than one hundred miles. It is an animal, just as a sheep and an ox and a camel, which chews the cud. Moreover it is called rumination from ruma [the gullet], the part of the throat which projects and certain animals disgorge cud.

Donkey: [13v] [32]

The ass, or the donkey, is so called by its sitting [sedendo], as if seated [asedus], but this name is more appropriate to horses. Yet this animal uses it, for before men captured and used horses, they sat upon donkeys. To be sure, the animal is slow and immediately resistant to any plans which a man enacts. They are called donkeys [arcadicos] because they were first ridden from Arcadia; these are great and tall. Moreover the young donkey is far better than the wild ass, since it carries burdens, and handles neglect well.

Wild Ass: [13v]

The Onager is understood as the untamed ass; of course the Greeks call the ass on, the wild one, agriam. Africa has many of these fierce beasts wandering in the desert. A single ass rules a flock of females. The males are jealous of their children when they are born, and therefore bite off their testicles. Because the mothers are wary, they conceal the newborns in secret locations. Physiologus says this about the wild ass: because it bellows twelve times in the night and similarly in the day on the twenty-fifth day of the month of March, he can learn when the equinox is, and the number of hours in the day or night by the bellowings of the wild ass, and therefore becomes aware of the individual hours. The Devil has this form, who, since he will know the night and day are equal - meaning the same people that were walking in darkness might be turned toward God, and be made equal in the faith of righteousness - the Devil roars both each hour, night and day, searching for his food [meaning souls]. For the wild ass does not bellow unless wishing for its food, as is said by Job, "Surely the wild ass does not cry out unless longing for food”[Job 6:5]. Also whence the apostle, "Our adversary, the Devil, always prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devours" [1 Peter 5:8].

Horse: [13v, 14r [33], 14v, 15r]

Horses are so since when they were brought together to a chariot they were bound and made equal [aequebantur] to those similar in form and speed. Moreover, the horse [caballus] is named by its hollow [cavo] hooves, because when it walks its hooves cut a curve out of the ground, which no surviving animals make. Thus it is called horse [sonipes] on account of its noisy feet [pedibus sonat]. The liveliness of horses is great, for they exult in open fields, smell out war, are roused to battle by the noise of the trumpet, and are provoked to run at a soldier’s voice. They grieve if defeated and rejoice in triumph. Some know the enemy in battle, enough so to attack the opponents with a bite. Some also recognize their own masters, and may forget their gentleness under a new master. Others do not accept anyone on their back except their master. From this we give the following warning of Alexander the Great's horse called Bucephalus. It was named either by its wildness, or by its brand - that of a bull’s head on its shoulder - or since certain small horns grew from his forehead. Where once he was calmly sat upon by his handler, he never accepted anyone but his master after donning the royal saddle. Accounts of him in battle are numerous, from which he carried Alexander, unhurt, from the harshest battles. The horse of Gaius Caesar did not accept on his back any besides Caesar. When an enemy victor wanted to plunder the Scythian king, who was killed in single combat, he was mangled by the hooves and teeth of the king’s horse. When King Nicomedes was killed, his horse starved itself to death. When Antiochus conquered the Galatians in battle, he leapt onto the horse of a duke named Cintaretus, who had fallen in combat, and the horse scorned the jagged bit, and so, after falling headfirst on purpose, he threw himself and his rider down together in ruin. In this species of animal, the male’s lifetime is longer than the female’s. We read that a healthy horse has reached seventy years old. We also look towards a horse named Opuntis, which is even noted as studding for forty years. The libido of horses is extinguished when their manes have been shorn. When born, a love charm appears, displayed on the foal’s forehead in the form of a tawny color similar to reeds, named Hipponenses. If the foals are immediately dragged away, their mother will not offer their udders for suckling. When a horse has greater passion and desire, it plunges its nostrils deeper in water to drink. Horses shed tears for their killed or perished masters, for the horse alone is said to weep and grieve on account of men. From whence the natures of horses and men are mixed in centaurs. Men riding into battle are accustomed to determine the outcome from either the sadness or cheerfulness of horses.

It is a common belief that in the species of horses, as the ancients say, four things are looked for: form, beauty, merit, and color. For form: the body should be strong and firm; a height befitting strength; long and narrow flanks; huge and round haunches; a broad and open breast; all of the muscle of the body densely knotted; and dry hooves supported by a curved horn [the frog (v-shaped part) of the hoof]. For beauty: that its head be small and dry, with skin adhering closely to the bone; ears, short and shrewd ears; big eyes; gaping nostrils; upright neck; a dense mane and tail; and hooves round and solid. For merit; it should be called bold and fleet of foot with trembling limbs, which is an indication of courage; it should be easily stirred from the greatest calm, and once spurred to gallop it should not be difficult to handle. Moreover, the speed of the horse is judged in the ears, its strength in its trembling limbs.

The following colors are particularly common: bay [badius], gold [aureus], rosy [roseus], chestnut [mirteus], tawny [cervinus], pale-yellow [gilvus], bluish-gray [glaucus], dappled [scutulatus], gray [canus], dazzling-white [candidus], pure-white [albus], spotted [guttatus], and black [niger]. Then the variegated [varius] which come from mixes of black and brown follow, and the ashen-colored [cinereus] are determined as lowest. According to the ancients, the bay [badius] was powerful, since among some animals it walked boldly. The same horse is called spadix [chestnut] or fenicatus [fennel], from the color of the palm-tree, which the Syrians call spadix. The bluish-gray [glaucus] is like the color of eyes, painted and flooded with brightness. The pale-yellow [gilvus] would be better called whitish. The dappled [guttatus] is white with spots of black. The dazzling-white [candidus] and the white [albus] differ from each other for white has a certain pallor, but the dazzling-white is bright like snow, and imbued with pure light. The gray [canus] are so called because it results from both bright white and black. The dappled [scutulatus] are so called because of the bright circles of white mixed with purples. The variegated [varius] are called because they have stripes of differing colors. Those which have white feet are called “slender-foot” [petili], and those with white foreheads are called “hotheads” [callidi]. The tawny [cervinus] is called gaurans by the commoners. However it may also be called dosinus [relating to a beast of burden; or relating to a dowry] because it is the same color of an ass or the color of ash. Of those horses which are found in the countryside, we call wild-horses [equiferus], for they are not able to transition to the dignity of domestication. The Moorish horse [mauron] is black, for the Greek call the Moors black. The pony [mannus] is a shorter horse, which are commonly called a “brown” [brunius]. The ancients name the veredi [swift horses], since they drew carriages, that is, because they drew them along the roads or because they are accustomed to go on the same roads as carriages.There are three species of horse. One is noble, suitable for war and capable of carrying heavy burdens; the second is the common kind, and suitable for bearing loads but not for riding; the third comes from the mixing of types, is called a hybrid [bigener], since it was born from mixed stock, like the mule. The mule’s name comes from the Greeks, for they named it mulus because, when subjugated by the yoke of the farmer, it slowly grinds the millstone [molas] in a small circle to grind the corn. The Jews assert that Ana, the great-great grandson of Esau first had herds of mares in the desert mated with asses, so that, against nature, a new animal was born. In this way wild-asses were put to female asses, and from this joining a new kind of ass was discovered which were very fast. Indeed, human activity has gathered together diverse animals to mate, and from this adulterous crossbreeding it has discovered another species, just as Jacob procured animals of similar color, against nature. For his sheep conceived offspring of the same kind as the ram who mounted them, when they saw their reflection in the water. Finally it is said that the same happens to herds of stallions, that a noble man might cast them into view of a mare about to give birth, so that it might give birth to one of similar appearance. Indeed even those who love doves place images of the most beautiful doves in those places where they might flock so that, by catching the birds’ eyes, they might bear similar doves. It is for this reason that certain people order pregnant women to not stare at ugly animals, such as the cenofali or apes, lest they give birth to offspring that look like them. For this is the nature of the women, that whatever they might see, or imagine, while they are in the height of passionate desire, they beget as offspring; indeed animals, during sex, transmit from the outside in their appearance, and [the fetus], nourished by these images, takes their appearance for its own. Amongst the living hybrids are so called, and born, by their separate parentage, just as the mule [mulus] from the female horse and the ass, the hinny [burdo] from the male horse and the she-ass, the hybrid [ybride] from the wild boar and the sow, the tyrius [unknown animal] from the sheep and the he-goat [yrcho], the musinus [mouflon?] from the she-goat and the ram, which is, moreover, the leader of the flock.

Mouser [Cat]: [15r]

The mouser is called as such because they may be dangerous to mice. The common people call it the cat, from captura [to capture]. Others say capto, that is, it sees. For it distinguishes with such great acuity that by the brightness of their eyes they overcome the darkness of night. From which the Greek word cattus means clever.

Mouse: [15r]

The mouse is a small animal whose Latin name [mus] comes from the Greek. Others call them mice [mures], because they are born of the moisture of the Earth [ex humore terrae]. Take, for example, that during a full moon a mouse’s liver grows, just as the tides of the earth rise, which in turn fall when the moon wanes.

Weasel: [15r]

It is called the weasel [mustela] because it is a long mouse, for the Greek theon [telos] means long. It has a cunning nature. When it bears young in its nest, it moves them to and fro, placing them in different areas. It seeks snakes and rats. There are two kinds of weasels. The first of the two, stands apart by living in the great woods. These are called ictidas by the Greeks. The others wander in houses. Certain people say it is conceived from the ear and birthed from the mouth, and some say that they conceive in the mouth and birthed from the ear. It is said that they are skilled in the art of medicine, so if by chance their offspring are slain [and missing], and the parents might find them, they can revive them. Weasels signify the numbers who freely hear the seed of the divine word, but being held back by the love of earthly things, omit and ignore what they might have heard.

Mole: [15r]

The mole is called talpa [mole] because it is condemned to perpetual blindness. Indeed, it is without eyes, is always digging through the soil and ground, and eats the roots under crops which the Greeks call aphala [vetch].

Hedgehog: [15v]

The hedgehog is an animal covered in spikes, from which it gets its name, because it bristles its spine and closes itself off, and is thus protected on all sides against attacks. As soon as it senses something, it first stiffens itself then rolls into a ball, collecting itself in its armor. In a way, the hedgehog has a certain wisdom: as it tears off a grape from the vine, it turns itself over onto its back and delivers the grape to its children. It is thus also called echinus [sea urchin]. This same urchin, thinking ahead, protects itself with twin airways, so that it blocks the north wind when it is about to blow; and when it recognizes the southern wind reveals a mist, it diverts its breath to the north to deflect the hostile and harmful vapors blown from the opposite region.

15v - Ants

16r - Ants (cont.),

On the Nature of Birds

16v - Eagle

17r - Vultur, Crane

17v - Crane (cont.), Parrot, Caladrius

18r - Caladrius (cont.), Stork, Swan, Ibis

18v - Ibis (cont.), Ostrich, Coot/water-fowl

19r - Coot (cont.), Halcyon/Kingfisher, Arabian Phoenix, Phoenix pt. 2

19v - Phoenix (cont.), Cinnamon Bird

20r - Ercinee, Hoopoe (epopus), Pelican, Night Owl/Little Owl

20v - Night Owl (cont.), Siren, Partridge

21r - Partridge (cont.), Woodpecker, Hawk, Nightingale

21v - Nightingale (cont.), bat, crow

22r - Crow (cont.), pidgeon/dove, turtle-dove,

22v - Turtle-dove (cont.), swallow

23r - Swallow (cont.), quail, peacock, hoopoe (hupupa), rooster

23v - rooster (cont), duck, bee

24r - bee (cont.)

24v - bee (cont.) Perindens Tree

25r - Perindens Tree (cont.),

On snakes, Dragon

25v - Dragon (cont.), Basilisk, Regulus (basilisk variant), Viper

26r - Viper (cont.), Asp

26v - Asp (cont.), Scitalis, Anphivena

27r - Anphivena (cont.), Idrus, Boa, Iaculus, Sirena, Seps,

27v - Seps (cont.), Lizard, Salamander, Saura, Stellio, Gecko

28r - Gecko (cont.), On the Nature of Snakes

28v - On the Nature of Snakes (cont.),

On worms

29r - On Worms (cont.),

On Fish,

Asp-turtle (Aspidochelone)

29v - Asp-turtle (cont.), Whale, Sawfish, Dolphin, Sea-pig, Crocodile

30r - Crocodile (cont.) Fish (misc.)

30v - Fish (cont.)

31r - Fish (cont.)

31v. - FIsh (cont.)

32r. - Fish (cont.),


32v. - Trees (cont.)

33r. - Trees (cont.), Ficus, Mulberry, Sycamore, Nuts,

33v. - Nuts (cont.), Oak, Beech, Pistachio, Spruce, Cedar, Cyprus, Juniper

34r. - Juniper (cont.), Plane, Oak, Ash, Elm, Willow, Osier (willow), Boxwood

On Man and his Parts (Nature of Man).

34v. - Nature of Man (cont.)

35r. - Nature of Man (cont.)

35v. - Nature of Man (cont.)

36r. - Nature of Man (cont.)

36v - Nature of Man (cont.)

37r. - Nature of Man (cont.)

37v. - Nature of Man (cont.)

38r. - Nature of Man (cont.)

38v. - Nature of Man (cont.), Lungs

38r. - Lungs (cont.)

39r. - Lungs (cont.)

39v. - Lungs (cont.),

Ages of Man

40r. - Ages of Man (cont.)

40v. - Ages of Man (cont.)

41r. - Ages of Man (cont.), Fire stones


[1] [Gaius Iulius] Solinus, Polyhistor, chapter 40, page 270.

[2] The wolf and those nasty bears are close to death (Ovid’s Tristia: book 3, line 35); It is enough for the great lion to take down his quarry (Ovid’s Tristia: book 3, line 30). Where now do you flee, hare, the jaws of the gentle lion? They did not learn to crush such small beasts. These claws are saved for larger necks, and do not take joy in such little blood. (Martial Epigram 23, Book 1. [Translator’s note: This is actually Epigram 22; this is either a mis-citation or evidence they had a different categorization for Martial’s epigrams.]

[3] Solinus, chapter 27, page 240

[4] Solinus, ibid, page 241

[5] Solinus, ibid

[6] Solinus, chapter 43, page 288

[7] Solinus, chapter 5, page 186

[8] Solinus, chapter 25, page 236

[9] Solinus, Polyhistor, chapter 38, page 26

[10] Maccabees, chapter 6, verse 34. The author in the book of Maccabees: “And to the end they might provoke the elephants to fight, they showed them the blood of grapes and mulberries.” The elephant has this nature in war. So that he might become crueler his leaders show the bloodstained garment before his eyes, and upon seeing them he may become more courageous. And so you too, Christian, drawn together in war with the Devil, may be raised up and become a more courageous worldly adversary: Behold the stained blood which flows from the side of the Crucified.

[11] Solinus, chapter 25, page 230

[12] Solinus, chapter 40, page 273

[13] Solinus, chapter 52, page 321

[14] Solinus, chapter 40, page 280

[15] Solinus, chapter 40, page 281 [Translator’s note: The passage begins with “There are those which they call satyrs…” and is ambiguous regarding what “those” Solinus is relating to when categorizing the satyrs. Since the word for animal is not omitted elsewhere, and given the previous section, it is likely that Solinus is categorizing satyrs under apes, so the introduction would more accurately read as, “There are those (types of apes) which they call satyrs…”.]

[16] Solinus, chapter 31, page 244

[17] …they hide. The rennet of a slain fawn is wonderful against poisons.

[18] Solinus, chapter 65, page 343

[19] Solinus, chapter 65, page 343

[20] Solinus, chapter 39, page 267

[21] Solinus, chapter 65, page 344

[22]...another name is lecrocuta.

[23] Solinus, chapter 45, page 297

[24] Solinus, chapter 65, page 344

[25] Solinus, chapter 65, page 344

[26] …does not seize prey for her pups (from her own area), but from a distance, if it will be a benefit…

[27] [Translator’s note: Unknown Pauline Epistle]

[28] Solinus, chapter 2, page 233

[29] lege perpend tene

[30] [Translator’s note: This is incorrect. Bactrian camels have two humps, while Arabian camels have one.]

[31] [Translator’s note: The description of the camel tracks here references how camel tracks point the “opposite” direction they should point, according to Solinus, compared to other hooved animals.

[32] Solinus, chapter 40, page 274

[33] Solinus, chapter 57, page 317. [Translator’s note: There are additional markings on the margins in another ink, but they are faded and difficult to read.]



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Clark, Willene B. A Medieval Book of Beasts: The Second-Family Bestiary: Commentary, Art, Text and Translation. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006.

Heath, Diane Elizabeth. “The Bestiary in Canterbury Monastic Culture 1093-1360, Volume 1: Text.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kent, 2015.

Kimble, G.H.T. Geography of the Middle Ages. London: Russell and Russell, 1968; pg. 5.

Stewart, Patricia. “The Medieval Bestiary and its Textual Tradition, vol. 2: Appendices,” Ph.D dissertation, University of St Andrews, 2012

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