The Bestiary A Book of Beasts Author:T. H. White Being a translation from a Latin bestiary of the Twelfth Century — A beastiary is a serious work of natural history, and is one of the bases upon which our own knowledge of biology is founded, however much we may have advanced since it was written. — There is no particular author of a bestiary. It is a compilation, a kind of naturalist's scrap... more »book, which has grown with the additions of several hands. Its sources go back to the distant past, to the Fathers of the Church, to Rome, to Greece, to Egypt, to mythology, ultimately to oral tradition which must have been contemporary with the caves of Cromagnon. Its influence has extended throughout literature and... country people are still repeating some of its saws.
So popular was the Bestiary that, like a stone thrown into a pool, it proceeded to spread itself over the surface of the literate world in a series of concentric rings, as it was copied and translated from one language into another, century by century. 'Perhaps no book,' says E. P. Evans, 'except the Bible, has ever been so widely diffused among so many people and for so many centuries as the Bestiary. it has been translated into Latin, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian, Syriac, Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, Spanish, Italian, Provencal, and all the principal dialects of the Germanic and Romanic languages.' The last hand-written manuscript known to the present translator, except his own, was copied in Iceland in 1724.-- T. H. White, Notes« less