Blackbird
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Source: Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts Copyright 2002 Koninklijke Bibliotheek / Used by permission Manuscript description Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 95r


 

Blackbird

Latin name: Merula

Other names: Merle

An agreeable bird that sings in April and May

 

 
General Attributes

Blackbirds are all black, except those from Achaia or Arcadia. In April and May it sings marvelously high, but in the winter its song is unpleasant. Its voice is so sweet that it moves the mind to a feeling of delight. For this reason people keep blackbirds in cages.


Allegory/Moral

The blackbird represents those who are tempted by carnal pleasures. The blackbird in flight represents the temptation to desire. To reject the desire symbolised by the blackbird, you must discipline yourself and thus rid yourself of pleasures of the mind by inflicting pain on your flesh. A white blackbird represents purity of will.


Sources (chronological order)

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 7:69): The blackbird (merula) was called medula in ancient times, because it dances. Some say it is named because it flies alone (mera). All are black, except in Achaea where they are white.


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