Beast

Sawfish


Latin name: Serra
Other names: Flying fish, Sarce, Sarre, Seria, Scie, Serre

The sawfish has enormous wings and likes to race against ships

General Attributes

The sawfish is a sea monster with enormous wings. When it sees a ship, it raises its wings so it can race against the ship. The sawfish tires after thirty or forty stadia and dives back into the water to devour fish. When it raises its wings they hold back the wind from ships; sailors do not like the sawfish because it causes ships to sink. This beast is also said to have a serrated crest that it uses to cut into ships.

From British Library, Sloane MS 3544 (Druce translation): "There is a beast in the sea which is called a saw-fish, and has immense wings. When this beast has seen a ship making sail on the ocean, it raises its wings above the water and competes with the ship in sailing. (But when it has competed in sailing or racing against the ship) for 30 or 40 furlongs, being unable to sustain the exertion, it gives up, and lowering its wings draws them in. And the waves of the sea carry it back again, tired out, to its own place in the deep.

Allegory/Moral

The sawfish signifies those who start on a righteous path with good intentions, but soon tire and sink back into sin and are carried down to hell. The devil, who holds back holy inspiration from men, is like the sawfish that holds back wind from the ship's sail.

From British Library MS. Sloane 3544 (Druce translation): "This beast (usual reading: Now the sea) is a symbol of this world. The ship is a type of righteous persons, who without peril or shipwreck of their faith pass through the midst of the storms and tempests of this world (and overcome the deadly waves, that is, the adverse forces of this world). But the saw-fish, that is that beast which availed not to beat the ship in sailing, affords a symbol of those persons who at first eagerly engage in good works, but who afterwards do not persevere in them, and are led astray by faults of different kinds (that is, of greed, pride, drunkenness, and luxury), which toss them about as it were upon the waves of the sea and plunge them down to the depths of hell. For not to those who only make a beginning, but to those who persevere, is the reward promised."