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

The legend of the bestiary "ydrus" (an otherwise unknown animal name!) is based on ancient Mediterranean legends about the behavior of the ichneumon, a weasel-like creature that was supposed to attack the crocodile by crawling down its throat and then chewing its way back out. Notice the extraordinarily deft allegory here: before crawling into the crocodile's mouth the little ydrus rolls itself in mud...

Of the ydrus

The idrus is a worthy enemy of the crocodile and has this characteristic and habit: when it sees a crocodile sleeping on the shore, it enters the crocodile through its open mouth, rolling itself in mud in order to slide more easily down its throat. The crocodile therefore, instantly swallows the idrus alive. But the idrus, tearing open the crocodile's intestines, comes out whole and unharned. For this reason death and hell are symbolised by the crocodile; their enemy is our Lord Jesus Christ. For taking human flesh, he descended into hell and, tearing open its inner parts, he led forth those who were unjustly held there. He destroyed death itself by rising from the dead, and through the prophet mocks death, saying:'O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction' (Hosea, 13:14).

image of ydrus (Aberdeen bestiary)




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