Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Virginal Bee of Hereford

Looking with a friend the other day at the Exsultet from the Hereford Missal (you know, the way you do), we discovered this rather wonderful extra bit:

…quas in substantiam pretiosæ hujus lampadis apis mater eduxit.
O vere et beata et mirabilis apis: cujus nec sexum masculi violant; fætus [?] non quassant, nec filii destruunt castitatem. Sicut sancta concepit virgo Maria, virgo peperit, et virgo permansit.
O beata nox, qua exspoliavit Ægyptios……


bedwere said...

I think it must be fetus or foetus

A fruitful Lent to you, Father. We remember you with fondness here in San Diego.

Pastor in Monte said...

Thanks, Bedwere: yes, that's what I guessed, too. But I didn't want to be assertive in case I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

The way one would if one could! Can it be viewed, online?

In the twelfth-century manuscript as translated by T.H. White as The Bestiary, I note, "Procreation and virginity are common to all, and so is birth, which is not shared among them with any sexual intercourse nor troubled with any unlawful desire, nor are they harrassed with the griefs of childbirth."

It is earlier related, "Many people have proved that these creatures are born from the corpses of cows. The flesh of dead calves is beaten in order to bring them forth, so that out of the rotting blood maggots may be created which finally turn into bees."

How the matter of each of the two passages relates to the other is unclear (to me, at least!).

If there was advance - or even alteration - of apiology between the twelfth-century Bestiary and the fifteenth-century Missal, is more than I know.

Anonymus Alter