The cool cat who’s everyone’s friend (but one)
This description of a panther is made up of selected excerpts from the Old English poem The Panther (lines 8b-20a, 30b-54, 74b). You can access the full Old English text here. The Panther is another of the three poems in the tenth-century Exeter Book that are derived from the Physiologus, the first bestiary, which was originally composed in Greek and later translated into Latin. (The other two are the whale and the partridge.)
Translation and glossing by Hana Videen. Hover over words to see how they’re pronounced. More about this project here.
We have heard tell of the curious nature of a certain wild beast who rules a region well known to people in feorlondum, who enjoys a home amidst mountain caves. That animal is known by the name of pandher, as the wise people, children of men, make known in writings about the anstapan.
His virtues are plentiful. He is a freond to all save the dracan alone – he is forever hostile towards him because of all the evils he can do.
He is a curious deor, shining wondrously in every colour. He is milde and modest, one of a kind. He is gentle, lufsum and loving, and will do no harm to wiht aside from the serpent, that venomous killer, his old nemesis, of whom I spoke before.
He is always happy to have his fylle when he partakes of foddor. After a meal he seceð ræste in a secret stowe within the mountain caves. There for þreonihta the mighty warrior is swept away by slumber, overcome by slæpe.
Then on the third dæg the brave one quickly rises from his sleep, endowed with might. A voice, the wynsumast of sounds, comes from the wild beast’s muð. Following the voice, a stenc comes from that place, a steam lovelier, sweeter and stronger than any scent, than the blostmum of plants and forest fruits, nobler than all of the earth’s treasures.
Then from ceastrum, from cynestolum and castle halls, many bands of spear-wielding warriors travel the earth, with forces of people and troops, hurrying on with haste. Animals likewise travel towards that stefne, into that fragrance. þæt is a noble stenc.