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Encyclopedia > Bern Physiologus

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Epiphanius Physiologus: Physiologus (618 words)
The Physiologus is not "natural history" in the same way that, for example, Pliny the Elder's first century work Natural History or Aristotle's De animalium is. The intent of those authors was to describe what was known about "nature" at the time; to disseminate objective knowledge.
The author of the Physiologus used some of the descriptions of animals found in the earlier works, but his intent was different: the stories were there to illustrate the deeper meaning, the explicitly Christian religious, dogmatic, allegorical meaning, that was thought to be imbedded in nature.
The Latin "Bern Physiologus" (Burgerbibliothek Bern, Codex Bongarsianus 318) of the ninth century is one of the earliest extant illustrated Physiologus manuscripts (the illustration at right is of the fourth property of the serpent from folio 12v).
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