Bestiary

Entertainment / Literature / Bestiary: A medieval treatise listing, naming, and describing various animals and their attributes, often using an elaborate allegory to explain the spiritual significance in terms of Christian doctrine. The bestiaries are examples of didactic literature, in that each animal's behavior ultimately points to a moral. The oldest bestiaries adapt material from Pliny and classical sources, though by the early 1200s, French bestiaries had doubled or tripled the entries found in Pliny by adding new materials. Later, thirteenth-century additions were made to Latin versions, usually derived from the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville (570-636 CE).The oldest surviving reference to this sort of bestiary that uses Christian doctrine is a marginal notation in a copy of Genesis dating from the early fifth-century, which refers the reader to the Physiologus for details about the animals in Genesis. The Physiologus (literally, 'the Natural Philosopher' or 'the Biologist') was particularly widespread, appearing in Greek, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, French, and Italian texts, its name comes from the opening lines in Latin, 'Physiologus ait . . .' ['The biologist says . . .']. Corresponding to bestiaries, lapidaries were treatises on the magical and spiritual properties of stones and gems, and herbaries or botanies discussed the magical and herbal properties of plants and trees. Often these materials would be packaged in single manuscripts, such as De Animalibus et Aliis Rebus (Concerning Animals and Other Things). See didactic literature. For an external link, see http://www.camrax.com/symbol/Bestiaryintro.php4.

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