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CHAPTER II THE LATIN PHYSIOLOGUS AND THE BESTIARY It is not definitely known when the first Latin translations of the Greek Physiologus appeared, but since Ambrose apparently copied from the Physiologus some of the description of the Partridge in his Hexaemeron (vi.3.13), which was composed between 386 and 388, this would seem to be evidence of the existence of a Latin version at that early date.1 According to Lauchert the archetype of the earliest Latin translations of the Physiologus existed before 431. As evidence he cites an interpolated list of heretics in the chapter on the Ant where the name of Nestor, whose teachings were condemned at the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431, is lacking.2 However, it has been pointed out that such a conclusion cannot be drawn from this fact since the name of Nestor might have been unintentionally omitted in the original list or left out by a copyist.3 At present, the oldest extant Latin manuscripts belong to the eighth century. There are several versions of the Latin Physiologus. Most of them contain in general the same material, but there are also important differences which need to be clarified now and for the time when some scholar will attempt to classify all of the Latin manuscripts in existence.4 Anyone who delves even briefly into the subject of the Latin Physiologus realizes the necessity of establishing 1 See Chapter I, n. 24. 2 Lauchert, op. cit., p. 89. 3 PW, p. 1120. 4 Sbordone has made beginnings in this direction, but the results have not been as enlightening as one would hope. See Francesco Sbordone, "La Tradizione manoscritta del Physiologus Latino", Athenaeum, Nuova Serie XXVII (1949), 246-80. 22 MEDIAEVAL BESTIARIES some order out of the large number of manuscripts with variations small and great in both the order of content and in the details themselves. Families of manuscripts had to be founded and labeled. A little over a hundred years ago Charles Cahier started with three letters, A B and C, to designate the oldest manuscripts known at that time; the rest of his arrangement was rather erratic. Today we have gone through the whole alphabet with some letters carried to the sixth superscription (B6 in Carmody's Versio B was formerly Berlin, Hamilton 77 and is now New York, Morgan 81). To compound confusion, when Sbordone refers to manuscripts M N E, he is indicating the same manuscripts which Carmody letters Y Y2 Y5 . There is much to be said for the simplified Four Families of that admirable scholar Montague Rhodes James,5 although he was only classifying illustrated manuscripts found in England, and his principal divisions are those adopted here. In this study the emphasis —though not exclusively— will be upon major groups of manuscripts. Prominence too will be given to the manuscripts found in France and England and to those versions from which French bestiaries were derived. A final limitation which should be noted at this point is that the writer's main interest has been manuscripts with illustrations, and that the majority of the remarks and conclusions presented here are based on illustrated manuscripts, although they can be applied equally to those with no pictures. THE OLDEST LATIN VERSIONS. /. Y Version. The Latin Physiologus was translated more than once from varying Greek versions. The early manuscripts follow the Greek originals closely and betray their kinship by transcribing Greek words. This relationship is apparent in two of the oldest versions, Y and C. Y has been edited by Professor Carmody6 from three manuscripts: Y—Munich, Lat. 19417, IX cent.; Y2 —Munich, Lat. 5 Montague Rhodes James, The Bestiary (Edited for the Roxburghe Club. Oxford, 1928). 6 Francis J. Carmody (ed.), "Physiologus Latinus Versio Y", University of California Publications in Classical Philology, XII (1933-44), 95-134. THE LATIN "PHYSIOLOGUS" 23 14388, IX-X cent.; Y*—Bern, Lat. 611, VIIMX cent.7 Each of these attributes the work to a different author: Y to Chrysostomus, Y2 to St. John of Constantinople, Y3 to an orthodox bishop. The Y version consists of forty-nine chapters (forty-eight by Sbordone's count) closely related in order and content to the eleventh century Codex Mosquensis graecus 432 which Sbordone designates as IT.8 Among its unusual chapters are Psycomora (Amos and the Fig Tree), Mirmicoleon (Ant-Lion), Ichneumon (Pharoah's rat), and Rana (Frog). There are also many Biblical citations which render the Vetus Latina or the pre-Vulgate Bibles! Apart...


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