Beast Detail Pages Jump to Home page Help Jump to Contents page Jump to Help Index Search Previous Next

There are four beast detail pages: Description, Gallery, Bibliography, and Manuscripts. You can switch between them by clicking their names in the bar at the top of the screen.

Description Page

The description page gives a general description of the beast, usually with a representative picture, and a list of its alternate names. There may be up to five sections in the descriptions for the beast, titled General Attributes, Allegory/Moral, Sources, Illustration, and Heraldry. The titles will only appear if there is information available for that section.

General Attributes
Gives a general description of the beast, usually derived from bestiary manuscripts. Note that this is in no way a modern, scientific, zoological description; it is a description of the beast as the medieval writers knew it.
Gives the meaning ascribed to the beast or its properties by medieval or earlier writers; this is normally based on the bestiaries or the Physiologus. Because the Middle Ages were a decidedly Christian era in Europe, the allegory is mostly based on Christian teachings, and often refers to the Christian Bible. Where non-Christian allegory or meaning is used, this will be noted in the text.
Gives descriptions used by primary source (writers of the Middle Ages or earlier). These are either direct quotes or paraphrases of the actual text. Each source is listed, in chronological order by approximate time of writing (the century of origin is shown next to the name), along with book titles or other identifying information. There will usually be some duplication here, since medieval writers frequently "borrowed" material from earlier writers. The text that is quoted or paraphrased here is taken for the most part from translations found in the following books:

Aesop's Fables:
     Aesop: The Complete Fables, Olivia & Robert Temple, trans.

Augustine of Hippo:
     Augustin's City of God and Christian Doctrine, Philip Schaff, trans.

Isidore of Seville:
    Robert Grant, Early Christians and Animals
    Ernest Brehaut, Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages

    Pharsalia (The Civil War), Edward Ridley, trans.

     The Metamorphoses, A. S. Kline, trans.
     The Ovid Collection, University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

Pliny the Elder:
     H. Rackham, Natural History (Loeb edition)
This section provides some general information on how the beast was usually illustrated, in manuscripts and with sculpture and carvings.
Some beasts were used in heraldry, with attributes often based on the bestiaries. Where such information is available, it is shown here.


Gallery Page

The gallery page shows images of the beast, taken from manuscripts, carvings and other sources. Some of the galleries have several pictures and may take a while to load. Thumbnail images are displayed along the left side of the page; click on any thumbnail to see a larger image with some descriptive text. Use the up and down arrows in the vertical bar to scroll through the available tumbnail images.

Note: The gallery pages may not display correctly with older versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (older than version 5). They will probably not display at all with the badly-flawed Internet Explorer for the Macintosh; other Macintosh browsers do work well.


Bibliography Page

The bibliography page displays a list of books, electronic texts, web sites and other material related to the beast. If the bibliography link symbols or appear, click it to see more detail about the item


Manuscript Page

The Manuscript page displays a list of medieval manuscripts that describe or have pictures of the beast. If the manuscript link symbol appears, click it to see more detail about the manuscript.


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