image of vultures (Aberdeen Bestiary)

Week 8: Physiologus.

Background | Background Quiz | Starting Assumptions | Resources | Extras
Vocabulary | Etymology | Grammar | Perseus Dictionary | Perseus Tool

Reading Overview | Reading Quiz: English
| Reading Quiz: Latin
Discussion Questions | Latin Composition | Weekly Checklist

Aberdeen Bestiary

Dragon - Perindens - Ydrus - Phoenix - Vulture - Firestones - Partridge - Ibis - Hoopoe - Pelican

image of ibis (Aberdeen bestiary)

There was one particular variety of ibis which was sacred to the Egyptians; it was no doubt this special worship which earned this bird a place early on in the Physiologus repertoire. Yet for the Physiologus this bird is not an object of worship, but a figure of contempt...

Of the ibis

There is a bird called the ibis; it purges its stomach with its beak. It feeds on the eggs of snakes and on carrion, and from them carries back food to its young, which they eat with great pleasure. Yet it fears to go into water, because it does not know how to swim, but walks about near the shore day and night, looking for dead fish of a small size or corpses which have been washed up. The ibis signifies carnal men who feed, as it were, on deadly deeds, on which they nourish themselves to the condemnation of their wretched souls. But you, a Christian, reborn by water and the holy spirit, enter the spiritual waters of the mysteries of God and thereafter eat the purest of food of which the apostle spoke, saying: 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace longsuffering etc' (see Galatians, 5:22). If the sun and moon did not send forth their rays, they would give no light. If birds did not spread their wings, they could not fly. Thus, you, O man, if you do not protect yourself with the sign of the cross, and spread the wings of twofold love, you will not be able to pass through the tempests of this world to that most peaceful haven of the heavenly land. 'And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed' (Exodus, 17:11).


Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM