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CHAPTER III TRADITIONAL FRENCH BESTIARIES In the one hundred years following the first quarter of the twelfth century the already ancient tradition of the Latin Physiologus entered the province of the French vernacular and thus found a far wider audience. During this period were translated the four major bestiaries with which we are concerned in this study: those of Philippe de Thaon, Gervaise, Guillaume le Clerc, and the two versions written in all probability by Pierre de Beauvais. The word "bestiary" is not precisely the correct one to apply to these compositions , since with one exception all were translated not from the large bestiarius with its extensive borrowings from Isidore, but rather from the older Physiologus of thirty-seven chapters with fixed Isidorean additions. However, the word bestiaire is the only term that has long been used to describe the French works. Philippe de Thaon in the oldest French translation writes thus: Philippes de Thaiin En franceise raisun At estrait Bestiaire Un livre de gramaire, (1-4) Apart from the relatively short work by Gervaise which is based on the version known as the Dicta Chrysostomi, the three longer bestiaries have as their immediate ancestor a Latin manuscript of the B-Is version. Their close relationship is everywere evident—in a translation which is at times almost literal and in the occasional use of the Latin rather than the French name for an animal or bird. Guillaume le Clerc more than once admits that the French equivalent of a certain animal's name is unknown to him, as in the example (1-4) 46MEDIAEVALBESTIARIES of the Ibis, which he wrongly calls Ibex as do many Latin manuscripts : Un oisel est, one ne fu tex, Qui en latin a non ybex; Son non en romanz ne sai mie, (1171-1173) The appearance of the French manuscripts is generally though not inevitably one of relative simplicity and even occasional carelessness in comparison with the majority of Latin manuscripts. The French versions were evidently made for a public less desirous or demanding in the matter of elegant manuscripts, and as a result the bestiary in translation was never a de luxe product like its Latin predecessors or contemporaries. Certain bestiaries composed in Mediaeval French or in the dialects of Mediaeval France have been excluded from this study for one main reason among many— their nature differed sufficiently either as a whole or in detail to divert these tributaries from the mainstream of the Physiologus tradition. It is felt, however, that brief mention should at least be made of them, for each contains something of interest to the student of the bestiary and individual passages in one often help to explain obscure points in another. Probably the most popular of all French bestiaries, to judge by the number and quality of extant manuscripts, was the Bestiaire d*Amour composed in the mid-thirteenth century by Richard de Fournival, who replaced the habitually ponderous Christian moralization by a light and clever lover's plea for his lady's attention.1 Numerous affinities with the long version of Pierre de Beauvais' bestiary indicate that this work was the principal but not the unique source of the secular composition, and the latter in turn served as the basis from which was drawn the bare Cambrai Bestiary, where religious didactic elements of any sort are almost entirely suppressed .2 Similar to the Cambrai Bestiary in content and in the 1 A complete critical edition of this work with full bibliographical details has recently appeared: Cesare Segre (ed.), Li Bestiaires d'Amours di Maistre Richart de Fornival e li Response du Bestiaire (Milan, 1957). All allusions in this present study to the Bestiaire d'Amour will be to this edition. Previously the only reliable source available for consultation was a noncritical edition by John Holmberg, Eine mittelniederfrdnkische Vbertragung des Bestiaire d'Amour sprachlich untersucht und mil altfranzosischem Paralleltext herausgegeben, Uppsala Universitets Arsskrift (Uppsala, 1925). 2 Edward B. Ham (ed.), "The Cambrai Bestiary", Modern Philology XXXVI (1939), 225-37. The manuscript is Cambrai 370, f. 176v.-178v. 46 MEDIAEVAL BESTIARIES TRADITIONAL FRENCH BESTIARIES 47 omission of allegorical interpretation is the Provencal version entitled Aiso son las naturas d'alcus auzels e d'alcunas bestias.3 Preserved in only one manuscript of the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century (B.N., fr. 1951) and in one sixteenth century book is an illustrated, rhymed Bestiaire d'Amour of 3718 lines.4 This anonymous poem, although it has some elements found in Pierre...


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