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The Middle English 'Physiologus.'

The Middle English |Physiologus', ed. by Hanneke Wirtjes, Early English Text Society,

299 (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the EETS, 1991). xcv + 65 pp. ISBN

0-19-722301-x. 15.00 [pounds]. The Middle English Physiologus survives in a single

manuscript, London, British Library, MS Arundel 292, of c. 1300. Hanneke

Wirtjes's edition is designed to make the text more accessible than earlier versions,

and to this end she supplies not only a detailed introduction covering such matters

as the language of the work, its varied and complicated versification, the history of

natural history from Aristotle to Sir Thomas Browne, and the sources of the

Middle English text, but also extensive notes and a glossary. The thirteen animals

covered are the lion, which flicks dust over its footprints with its tail; the eagle,

which renews its youth as in Psalm cii; the serpent, which fasts for ten days and

|creped cripelande ford' before casting its skin; the |mazti' ant; the hart, with its

adder-swallowing habits; the fox, which carries off the goose' and gander |bi de

necke & bi de nos'; the spider, apparently drawn more from observation than

authority; the island-like whale; the merrily singing |mereman'; the elephant, a

long section to cover all the details required for its allegorization on the Fall and

Redemption; the turtle-dove, whose faithfulness to a single mate women are

urged to imitate; the panther with its sweet breath; and the dove, whose seven

|costes' that men would do well to imitate are summarized in fourteen short lines

of habit and moral. This is a capable and comprehensive edition of an attractive

COPYRIGHT 1992 Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature
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Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1992
Previous Article:Guide to British Poetry Explication, vol. 1, Old English-Medieval.
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