Beast

Ostrich


Latin name: Assida
Other names: Asida, Aspida, Assidam, Chamoi, Ostrice, Ostrisobe, Ostruche, Strucione, Struthiocamelon, Struthione, Strutio

A bird that can digest anything, even iron, but is careless of its eggs

General Attributes

The ostrich is a bird that has wings but cannot fly. It has feet like a camel's, or perhaps cloven hooves like a cow. It can digest anything, even iron. It lays its eggs when it sees the star Virgilia (the Pleiades) rising. It is careless of its eggs; it lays them on the ground and covers them with sand, then leaves them to hatch on their own, warmed by the summer sun.

Allegory/Moral

Just as the ostrich forgets its eggs, so should man forget the world, and as the ostrich looks to the star, so should man concentrate on heaven.

The Aberdeen Bestiary uses the chapter on the ostrich to launch into a seven page (f. 41r to f. 44r) sermon on hypocrisy.

Reality

Ostriches were and are not found only in Australia. "The North African ostrich was the most widespread subspecies of ostrich. It formerly had an extensive range but is now thought to live in fragmented pockets in Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic and Senegal, whilst extinct in most of its range in northern Africa. Reintroduction projects for the ostriches have begun, especially in northern Sahara, where North African ostriches had been extinct for 50 years." - Wikipedia