Vulture
Description Gallery Bibliography Manuscripts Jump to Home page Help Jump to Contents page Jump to Beast Index page Search Previous beast Next beast
 



Source: Consalus Ponce de Leon, 1588 (Sancti Patris nostri Epiphanii, episcopi Constantiae Cypri, Ad Physiologum. Eiusdem in die festo palmarum sermo. D. Consali Ponce de Leon Hispalensis, S.D.N. Sixti V. Cubicularij secreti, interpretis & scholiastae bimestre otium) Copyright 2003-2004 David Badke Click for bibliography reference Sancti Patris nostri Epiphanii, episcopi Constantiae Cypri, Ad Physiologum...., page 26


 

Vulture

Latin name: Vultur

Other names: Vautour, Voltoir, Voltour, Votoir

The vulture is a slow-flying bird that eats corpses

 

 
General Attributes

The vulture follows armies to feed on corpses; it can predict the number that will die in battle. It flies slowly but very high, and can sense corpses across the seas and in high mountains, and can smell carrion three days journey away. When a corpse is found, the vulture first eats the eyes, then pulls the brain out through the eye holes. The females conceive without mating with males. Vultures live one hundred years.


Allegory/Moral

Those who say that Christ's birth to a virgin is impossible are to look to the example of the vulture, which gives birth without mating.


Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 10, 7): The strongest kind of vulture is the black one. No one has ever seen a vulture's nest, leading some people to say that vultures nest on the far side of the world, but this is not true: vultures build their nests on very high crags. Three days before they lay their eggs they fly to a place where they will find corpses.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:12): The vulture (vultur) has its name from its slow flight (volutas), which is a result of its large body.The females do not engage in sex, but conceive without intercourse. Vultures live nearly a century. They sense corpses at great distances, even across the seas; by flying high they see corpses hidden in mountains.

Bartholomaeus Anglicus [13th century CE] (De proprietatibus rerum, book 12): In this bird the wit of smelling is best. And therefore by smelling he savoureth carrions that be far from him, that is beyond the sea, and ayenward. Therefore the vulture followeth the host that he may feed himself with carrions of men and of horses. And therefore (as a Diviner saith), when many vultures come and fly together, it tokeneth battle. And they know that such a battle shall be, by some privy wit of kind. He eateth raw flesh, and therefore he fighteth against other fowls because of meat, and he hunteth fro midday to night, and resteth still fro the sunrising to that time. And when he ageth, his over bill waxeth long and crooked over the nether, and [he] dieth at the last for hunger. And some men say, by error of old time, that the vulture was sometime a man, and was cruel to some pilgrims, and therefore he hath such pain of his bill, and dieth for hunger, but that is not lawful to believe. (Mediaeval Lore from Bartholomew Anglicus (London, 1893/1905) Steele edition of 1905)


Description Gallery Bibliography Manuscripts Jump to Home page Help Jump to Contents page Jump to Beast Index page Search Previous beast Next beast