The panther (pandher)

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 hereThe 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.

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Really the dragon shouldn’t be there since he is the panther’s foe. Miscellany. France, c. 1450. Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, fol. 3r. [bestiary.ca]

We have heard tell of the curious nature of a certain wild beast who rules a region well known to people in feorlondumfaraway lands, who enjoys a home amidst mountain caves. That animal is known by the name of pandherpanther, as the wise people, children of men, make known in writings about the anstapanlone wanderer.

His virtues are plentiful. He is a freondfriend to all save the dracanserpent alone – he is forever hostile towards him because of all the evils he can do.

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Ashmole Bestiary. England (Peterborough?), early 13th century. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ashmole MS. 1511, fol. 13r. [luna]

He is a curious deoranimal, shining wondrously in every colour. He is mildemild and modest, one of a kind. He is gentle, lufsumamiable and loving, and will do no harm to wihtanything aside from the serpent, that venomous killer, his old nemesis, of whom I spoke before.

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Bestiary. England, c. 1225-1250. Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley MS. 764, fol. 7v. [bestiary.ca]

He is always happy to have his fyllefill when he partakes of foddorfood. After a meal he seceðseeks ræsterest in a secret stoweplace within the mountain caves. There for þreonihtathree nights the mighty warrior is swept away by slumber, overcome by slæpesleep.

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Jacob van Maerlant’s Der Naturen Bloeme. Flanders, c. 1350. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, fol. 67r. [Bestiary.ca]

Then on the third dægday the brave one quickly rises from his sleep, endowed with might. A voice, the wynsumastloveliest of sounds, comes from the wild beast’s muðmouth. Following the voice, a stencfragrance comes from that place, a steamhot breath lovelier, sweeter and stronger than any scent, than the blostmumblossoms of plants and forest fruits, nobler than all of the earth’s treasures.

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Theological miscellany. England, c. 1255-1265. British Library, Harley MS. 3244, fol. 37r. [bl.uk]

Then from ceastrumcities, from cynestolumroyal thrones 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 stefnevoice, into that fragrance. þætThat isis a noble stencfragrance.

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Queen Mary Psalter. England, c. 1310-1320. British Library, Royal MS. 2 B. vii, fol. 108v. [bl.uk]

4 comments on “The panther (pandher)Add yours →

  1. I absolutely love this website and the thinking behind. What a beautiful and fun way to re-imagine Old English bestiaries!

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