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 perindens tree (Aberdeen bestiary)

The Physiologus tradition also features some fantastic plants to go along with its fantastic animals. The mandrake root makes an appearance in the story of the elephants' sex life; in this chapter, the Physiologus describes a mysterious tree which is able to protect the gentle dove from the marauding, voracious dragon. The tree lives in "India," a place that serves as a kind of repository for the weird and fantastic in European culture.

Of the tree called perindens

The perindens is a tree in India. Its fruit is sweet throughout and exceedingly pleasant; doves delight in it and live in the tree, feeding on it. The dragon is the dove's enemy; it fears the tree and its shadow, in which the doves dwell; and it cannot approach either the tree or its shadow. If the shadow lies towards the west the dragon flees to the east, and if the shadow falls towards the east, the dragon flees to the west. If it should happen that a dove is caught out of the tree or its shadow, the dragon kills it. Take the tree as God, the shadow as his son; as Gabriel says to Mary: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee' (Luke, 1:35). Take the fruit to be the wisdom of God, that is, the Holy Spirit. Therefore see to it, O man,that, after you have received the Holy Spirit, that is the spiritual, apprehensible dove, descending and remaining upon you, you are not caught outside eternity, set apart from the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and that the dragon, that is, the Devil, does not kill you. For if you have the Holy Spirit, the dragon cannot cannot come near you. Take heed, therefore, O man, and stay within the catholic faith, live within it, remain steadfast within it, within the one catholic church. Be as careful as you can that you are not caught outside the doors of that house, that the dragon, the serpent of old, does not seize you and devour you, as Judas was at once devoured by the devil and perished, as soon as he had gone forth from the Lord and his brother apostles.




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