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APPENDIX NON-BESTIARY MATERIAL IN PIERRE DE BEAUVAIS The following twelve descriptions found in Pierre de Beauvais' long version of the Bestiaire have no close connection, apart from the possible exception of the Echeneis, with any accounts found in the traditional Physiologus or in the expanded form of the bestiary such as the manuscripts of the Second or Third Family. For the most part it has been impossible to find with any degree of certainty a definite source for the various items; all that is possible at present is to indicate surface similarities with contemporary Latin works, and occasionally even these have not been discovered. Whether Pierre de Beauvais drew his additions from one work which remains unknown or whether he dipped here and there for the miscellaneous topics, either action is feasible but neither is verifiable at this time. ALERION. alerion. Although this bird is known in heraldry as a kind of eagle,1 its story in PB (11,162) is unlike that associated with the eagle apart from its being credited with lordship over all other birds. In size it is somewhat larger than an eagle, the color of fire, and with wings sharp as a razor. Only one pair exists in the world. After sixty years two eggs are laid, which are then brooded for sixty days and nights. When the young are born, the parents, accompanied 1 See Godefroy 1,218. 198 MEDIAEVAL BESTIARIES by birds of the region, fly swiftly to the sea, plunge into the water, and drown. Returning to the young, the other birds guard and nourish them until they are strong and can fly. An account similar to this is found in the French prose version of the letter of Préster John on the marvels of the East,2 but its ultimate source has not been ascertained. In Arsenal 3516, f. 202 the illustration shows two birds diving toward the sea while a single bird feeds the two young left in the nest. ARGUS. Argus le vachier. Appearing only in PB (11,181) and some later French bestiaries is a picturesque account of the classical story of Argus. There was once a lady who had a cow very dear to her which she gave to a cowherd named Argus to guard. Of Argus' hundred eyes, two slept while the others watched. In spite of this vigilance the cow was lost because a man whom the cow had loved sent his son Mercurius to lull Argus to sleep with his pipe playing. Mercury then cut off the head of Argus and led the cow to his father. In Alexander Neckam's De naturis rerum (i.39) appears a description not unlike this one of Argus. Arsenal 3516, f. 203 portrays Mercury blowing on a horn while Argus, whose head is studded with eyes, listens. The miniature in Montpellier, H. 437, f. 214v. depicts Mercury leading off the cow after beheading Argus. BARNACLE GOOSE. bernekke, bernace\ "Parbre dont li oisel naisent fors et chient jus quant il sont meur", "des annes de la mer".3 Unique in French bestiaries is PB's account (11,216) of the Barnacle Goose, although it makes an unusual appearance in two 2 Préster John's letter says that the pair lives forty years before laying the eggs. See Oeuvres completes de Rutebeuf, ed. Achule Jubinal (Paris, 1839), II, 456. 3 The first title is from Arsenal 3516 and the second from Vatican, Reg. 1323. A P P E N D I X 199 Latin bestiaries.4 PB attributes to Phisiologes his information that a tree growing over water bears birds resembling geese, only smaller. While young the birds hang by their beaks, and when they mature, they fall like ripe pears. Those falling on the water float and are safe; those falling on land die. This description appears more closely related to the one found in Alexander Neckam's De naturis rerum (i.48), where the bernekke are said to be born from wood exposed to salt water or from trees planted on the edge of the shore, than to Giraldus Cambrensis' notice, which only mentions the birth of the birds from deal planks.5 The illustration in PB (PL II, Fig. 3) is similar to those existing in the two Latin manuscripts except that they do not contain the swimming birds. BASILISK. basilecoc, basilique. PB's tale of the Basilisk (11,213-214) is different from the descriptions of this serpent that are contained in...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469634883
Related ISBN
9780807890332
MARC Record
OCLC
1019664310
Pages
214
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-18
Language
English
Open Access
No
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