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Medieval and Mythological Bestiary Studies (6 vols.)


Bestiaries were profoundly dynamic teaching tools in the Middle Ages. Compendiums of animals—both real and fantastic, wild and domestic—their purpose was to provide information about the natural world, to draw moral examples from animals’ behavior, and to reveal their mystical meaning. Each animal was viewed as having its own special significance—a reflection of how the Word of God was revealed in all creation. The animals present in medieval bestiaries were also placed in church architecture and iconography as visual representations of teachings. Each animal's multifaceted symbolism was a reminder of God’s presence, grace, and faithfulness.

This collection presents popular bestiary works in both their original languages and modern English translations. Companion volumes let you dive into the symbolism, tracing the history of bestiaries to their ancient origins, exploring the animals of mythology, and explicating the presence of animals in medieval architecture. Learning the rich vocabulary of animal symbolism provides insight into the cultural and spiritual traditions of the Middle Ages.

In the Logos editions, these volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Continue exploring the medieval world with the Bloomsbury Academic Medieval Studies Collection (4 vols.).

Key Features

  • Traces the origins of animal symbolism
  • Explores the use of animal symbolism in medieval architecture
  • Includes both original-language texts and translations

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Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture

  • Author: Edward Payson Evans
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
  • Publication Date: 1896
  • Pages: 375

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

This wide-ranging study explores the presence and purpose of decorative animals in church architecture. Edward Payson Evans traces the origins of animal symbolism, taking the reader on a journey through the symbolism and satire of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.


  • Introduction
  • Allegorical and Anagogical Interpretations of Nature
  • Origin and History of the ‘Physiologus’
  • The ‘Physiologus’ in Art and Literature
  • Whimseys of Ecclesiology and Symbology

Edward Payson Evans (1831–1917) was a professor at the University of Michigan and the University of Munich. He is also the author of The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals.

Birds and Beasts of the Greek Anthology

  • Author: Norman Douglas
  • Publisher: Privately Printed
  • Publication Date: 1927
  • Pages: 218

Author Norman Douglas dives into the Greek Anthology—a collection of lyrical poems, epigrams, oracles, epitaphs, and enigmas written by many Greek authors of Antiquity—identifying every mention of wild animals. Douglas not only catalogues each of the 153 animals mentioned, he investigates their symbolism, as well as how the poets of Antiquity employed them as metaphors and what this reveals about their worldview.


  • Introduction
  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Reptiles and Batrachians
  • Sea-beasts
  • Creeping things
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Norman Douglas (1868–1952) entered the British Foreign Office in 1893 and served as a diplomat in St. Petersburg. His other works include The Forestal Conditions of Capri, Siren Land, Fountains in the Sand, Old Calabria, London Street Games, and South Wind.

The Old English Physiologus

  • Translators: Albert Stanburrough Cook and James Hall Pitman
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication Date: 1821
  • Pages: 49

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

The Old English Physiologus originates from the tenth century. It includes three poems, describing the qualities of the panther, the whale, and the partridge. The poems are allegorical, each providing the reader with a moral lesson. This text not only includes the poems in their original Old English, but also offers modern English verse and prose translations.

Albert Stanburrough Cook was the single most powerful American Anglo-Saxonist of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries . . .

—Michael D.C. Drout, author, The Cynewulf of Albert S. Cook: Philology and English Studies in America

Albert Stanburrough Cook (1853–1927) was the chair of English language and literature at Yale University. He edited many works including Judith, The Christ of Cynewulf, Life of King Alfred, and The Dream of the Rood.

James Hall Pitman is also the translator of The Riddles of Aldhelm.

Popular Treatises on Science Written during the Middle Ages

  • Author: Philippe de Thaun
  • Editor: Thomas Wright
  • Publisher: The Historical Society of Science
  • Publication Date:  1841
  • Pages: 187

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

This unique work provides a window into the popular-level science of the Middle Ages. It brings together three scientific treatises written in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman, as well as an English fragment from an early metrical collection of lives of the saints—the earliest piece of its kind that has been found in the English language. In addition to providing the original-language texts, this volume includes modern English translations.


  • Preface
  • Anglo-Saxon Manual of Astronomy
  • Livre des Creatures
  • The Bestiary of Phillippe de Thaun
  • Fragment on Popular Science, from the Early English Metrical Lives of Saints
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Philippe de Thaun was a thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman poet.

Thomas Wright (1810–1877) was a nineteenth-century English antiquary. He was a member of The Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries of Copenhagen, an honorary member of The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and a correspondence member of The Historical Committees Appointed by the Government of France.

Symbolism of Animals and Birds Represented in English Church Architecture

  • Author: Arthur H. Collins
  • Publisher: McBride, Nast & Company
  • Publication Date: 1914
  • Pages: 257

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Why are animals and birds often featured in English church and monastery architecture? What do these sculptures mean? Where does their symbolism come from? Author Arthur Collins explores these questions and their answers with his in-depth analysis. He takes particular interest in carvings and sculptures from the Middle Ages, analyzing their symbolism, and enhancing his study with over 100 photographs of sculptural examples.

Arthur H. Collins was an English clergyman.

Zoological Mythology, or the Legends of Animals, vols. 1 and 2

  • Author: Angelo de Gubernatis
  • Publisher: Trübner & Co.
  • Publication Date: 1872
  • Pages: 937

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In this massive work, Angelo de Gubernatis, explores the animals present in the mythology of India, the Middle East, Greece, Rome, and Western Europe—all the way from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. An excellent, in-depth introduction, this work will engage both the scholar and enthusiast.

Angelo de Gubernatis (1840–1913) was professor of Sanskrit and comparative literature at the Instituto di Studi Superiori e di Perfezionamento in Florence and later served at the University of Rome La Sapienza. He was also the founder of the Italia Letteraria, Rivista Orientale, Civiltà Italiana, Rivista Europea, Bollettino Italiano Degli Studi Orientali, and Revue Internationale. His other works include the Piccola Enciclopedia Indiana and Fonti Vediche.