Tuesday, July 1, 2014

from 12th century The Book of the Beasts


Being a Translation from a Latin Bestiary of the Twelfth Century, Made and Edited by Mr. T.H. White


Assida, or ostrich





There is an animal called an ASSIDA (ostrich), which the Greeks call Struthiocamelus. Actually, the Latins call it Struthio too. This bird has really got wings, but it does not fly. Furthermore, it has feet like a camel.
Now when the time comes for it to lay some eggs, the ostrich raises its eyes to heaven and looks to see whether these stars which are called the Pleiades are visible. Nor will it lay until the Pleiades appear. When, however, it perceives that constellation, round about the month of June, it digs a hole in the earth, and there it deposits the eggs and covers them with sand. Then it gets up instantly forgets all about them, and never comes back any more.
A certain clemency and mildness of the atmosphere is noticeable in June, and so the sand, being warmed by the hot weather, incubates the eggs and hatches out the young.
Now if the ostrich knows its times and seasons, and, disregarding earthly things, cleaves to the heavenly ones---even unto the forgetting of its own offspring--how much the more should you, O Man, strive after the reward of the starry calling, on account of which God was made man that he might enlighten you from the powers of darkness and place you with the chiefs of his people in the glorious kingdom of the heavens.

Assida, or ostrich





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