Manuscript: AM 673a 4║
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ArnamagnŠanske Institut, AM 673a 4║
(Icelandic Physiologus)

Produced: Iceland (Westfjord districts), c. 1200

Language: Old Icelandic


Media: Vellum

Folios: 9  Height:   cm   Width:   cm

Manuscript type: Bestiary

Location: ArnamagnŠanske Institut (University of Copenhagen), Copenhagen, Denmark

Family: n/a


Source: Halldˇr Hermannsson, 1938 (Icelandic Physiologus) | Copyright 1938 ArnamagnŠanske Institut | Folio 5v


"The two Icelandic fragments, which we will call A and B respectively, seem to be both of about 1200, B possibly somewhat later. ... They can both be traced to the Westfjord districts (the north-western peninsula) of Iceland, yet we possess no evidence that they originated there and it is not possible to localize them. They seem both to be copies, or perhaps abstracts of earlier versions of which, however, we have no information except that judging from the orthography of the fragments the originals seemingly dated from the twelfth century. ...these fragments represent the first illustrated books made in Iceland now extant... Most of the initials in Fragment B were red, only one green. Fragment A, ff. 1-2, is written on stiff poor vellum, not properly degreased, while Fragment B, ff. 3-9, is on soft vellum which crumbles easily, and has suffered in other ways also. The pictures of both fragments have been colored, but very little of that is now to be seen... In reading the two fragments it is evident that neither of the authors, or writers, had a real translation in mind. The author of Fragment A, so far as we can judge, probably dispensed entirely with any descriptions of the animals and their characteristics, and dwelt only upon the moral symbolism to be drawn from them. For description he apparently substituted pictures. ... Fragment B has similar characteristics to those of Fragment A. Various misunderstandings are to be found there in the descriptions of the animals... On the whole the writer stresses the religious symbolism." The Icelandic Physiologus (Ithaca, N.Y., 1938) Hermannsson, 1938 p. 8-10

The manuscript describes 23 beasts; all are illustrated except for the stag (folio 7r). The onocentaur appears in both A and B, but is illustrated only in B. Folios 8v and 9r have been partly erased and new text written in.

This manuscript was formerly in the University Library, Copenhagen, with the same shelfmark.

Editions and Facsimiles

Printed editions: The Icelandic Physiologus (Ithaca, N.Y., 1938) Hermannsson, 1938

Printed facsimiles: The Icelandic Physiologus (Ithaca, N.Y., 1938) Hermannsson, 1938; Il Physiologus in Islanda (Pisa, 1992) Del Zotto Tozzoli, 1992


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