Spider
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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 130r


 

Spider

Latin name: Aranea

Other names: Araingne, Aringne

The spider is an aerial worm that takes its nourishment from the air

 

 
General Attributes

The spider is industrious, never ceasing to build its net from a long thread drawn from its body. It is an aerial worm that takes its nourishment from the air. Its web is fragile. It is said that if a spider (or a snake) tastes the saliva of a fasting man, it dies.


Sources (chronological order)

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 11, 28-29): Spiders are skilled at weaving; their webs are made from thread produced in their wombs. The web is very strong and is not broken by wind. Forecasts are made by observing spiders: when spiders weave many webs it is a sign of rain, and when rivers are going to rise spiders raise their webs higher. It is said that the female weaves and the male hunts, thus fairly dividing their labor.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 5:2): Spiders are worms of the air and get their food from the air. From their body they produce a long thread and they never stop working, but are always kept hanging by their art.


Illustration

The spider is not often illustrated in manuscripts. In Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16 (f. 130r) a six-legged spider spins a web; the spider has a rather human face on one end of its body. A spider spinning a web is also found in Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, fr. 3516 (f. 204v).


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