Burgerbibliothek Bern, Cod. 318
(Physiologus Bernensis)


Produced: Reims, ca. 830
Current Location: Burgerbibliothek Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Manuscript Type: Miscellany
Physiologus Version: C
Language: Latin
Folios: 131
Illustrated: Yes
Scribe: Haecpertus
Binding: Vellum
Media: Parchment
Script: Carolingian minuscule
Dimensions: Height: 25.5 cm Width: 18 cm
Sample page - Burgerbibliothek Bern Cod. 318
Folio 8r


The C version of the Physiologus is on folio 7r-22v. It is fully illustrated in color with 35 images. The images are mostly damaged with paint/ink cracked and flaking off.

[From Woodruff, 1930]

... it was written by the same hand through folio 130 recto, where the signature of Haecpertus appears. ... We may conclude, then, that the manuscript was produced by the diligence of the orant Haecpertus, who, though he signs himself scriptor, implies that he also executed the miniatures in his statement me fecit, a phrase more common in connection with painting, carving, and the like, than with writing. ... The remainder of the illuminations is confined to the Physiologus. The text, which is illustrated, is divided into short chapters, each containing a description of the nature of an animal, often amounting to a fable, sometimes a Biblical reference, and always an allegory or parallel story from the Bible to show the religious significance of the animal... The illustrations, however, are limited to a delineation of the characteristics of the animals, and to the illustration of the fables, with the exception of the first, which illustrates the Biblical reference. ... The miniatures are painted in somewhat heavy opaque colors, which in many places have peeled off showing the underdrawing below. ... Many of the figures are well modeled, particularly about the face and hands; others have the features sketchily indicated. The animals show no hesitation in drawing, and were evidently based on clearly defined models. Particularly, it should be noticed that the figures and animals dominate the landscape and are actually too large in scale to give the impression of existence within real space. ... The Bern Physiologus has preserved for us a few traces of the illusionism of early Alexandrian painting--enough to determine the ultimate source from which the ninth century artist derived his style, and it has preserved, at least approximately, the original compositions.

Additional Descriptions

Additional description 1
Additional description 2

Editions and Facsimiles

Printed facsimiles

Steiger & Homburger,1964

Digital facsimiles

Burgerbibliothek Bern