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Jules Berger de Xivrey

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Traditions tératologiquesEdit

French originalEdit

La propriete de la Licorne.

La licorne, seigneurs, est une beste tres cruelle qui ha le corps grant et gros, en fasson d'un cheval. Sa deffence est d'une corne grant et longue de demye toise, si pointue et si dure qu'il n'est riens qui par elle n'en soit perce, quant la licorne les ataint à-toute sa vertuz . Sa vertu est si grant qu'elle tue le elephant quant elle le rencontre de sa corne, laquelle elle luy boute ou ventre. Ceste beste est si forte qu'elle ne puist estre prinze par la vertu des veneurs, sinon par subtilite. Quant on la vieult prandre, on fait venir une pucelle au lieu où on scet que la beste repaist et fait son repaire. Si la licorne la veoyt, et soit pucelle, elle se va coucher en son giron sans aucun mal lui faire, et illec s'endort. Alors viennent les veneurs qui la tuent ou giron de la pucelle. Aussi si elle n'est pucelle, la licorne n'a garde d'y coucher, mais tue la fille corrompue et non pucelle.

Sainct Gregoire dit sur le livre de Job que la licorne est une beste si tres fiere que quant elle est prinze on ne la puist dampder[1], tenir, ne garder; mais se laisse morir de dueul.

Le docteur Plinius dit aussi en son VIII livre que quant elle se vieult combattre contre le elephant, lequel elle hayst mortellement, elle lyme et aguze sa corne contre les pierres, ainsi que feroit ung bouchier son cousteau pour occire quelque beste. Et en la bataille que les deux bestes ont l'une contre l'autre, la licorne lui fourre ou ventre, parce que c'est la plus molle partie de l'elephant.

La licorne est grant et grosse comme ung cheval, mais plus courtes jambes. Elle est de coufleur tanee. Il est troys manieres de ces bestes cy nommees licornes. Aucunes ont corps de cheval et teste cerf et queuhe de sanglier, et si ont cornes noires, plus brunes que les autres. Ceulx-ci ont la corne de deux couldees de long. Aucuns ne nomment pas ces licornes dont nous venons de parler licornes, mais monoteros ou monoceron. L'autre maniere de licornes est appellee eglisseron, qui est à dire chievre cornue. Ceste-cy est grant et haulte comme ung grant cheval, et semblable à ung chevreul, et ha sa grànt corne tres aguhe. L'autre maniere de licorne est semblable à un beuf et tachee de taches blanches. Ceste-cy a sa corne entre noire et brune comme la premiere maniere de licornes dont nous ayons parie. Ceste-cy est furieuze comme ung thoreau, quant elle veoit son ennemy.


  1. Dompter

English translation (Herr B. Eckl, 1871)Edit

The Unicorn, my lords, is a beast very cruel, who has a great and sturdy body like a horse. His defence is a great and long horn of half a fathom, so pointed and so hard that there is nothing it will not pierce when the unicorn thrusts with all his might. His virtue is so great that he kills the elephant when he meets her, with his horn, and thrusts it into her belly. This beast is so strong that he cannot be taken by huntsmen except by subtlety. When they want to get him, they procure a virgin and place her where the beast repairs and makes his place of rest. If the unicorn sees her, and she is a virgin, he goes and lies down in her lap without doing her an injury, and there he goes to sleep. Then come the hunters, and they kill him on the lap of the virgin. But if she is not a virgin, the unicorn will not rest there, but kills the corrupt and defiled young woman.

Saint Gregory says in his book on Job, that the unicorn is a very proud beast, and that when caught, he cannot be tamed or kept, but dies of grief. Doctor Pliny also says in his 8th book, that when he wants to fight the elephant, which he hates mortally, he sharpens and points his horn against stones, just as a butcher would sharpen his knife to kill a beast. And in the battle that takes place, the unicorn pierces the belly of the elephant, which is the weakest part of that animal.

The unicorn is great and stout as a horse, but has shorter legs. He is of a tan colour. There are three kinds of beasts called unicorns. Some the body of a horse, the head of a deer, and the tail of a boar, and these have black horns, browner than the others. These have the horn two ells long. Some do not call these unicorns but monoteros or monoceron. The other kind of unicorn is eglisseron, that is to say, the common goat. This is great and tall as a big horse, and is like a squirrel, and has a great very pointed horn. The third kind of unicorn is like an ox, and is spotted with white. This one has a horn between brown and black, like the first kind of which we have spoken. This one is furious, like a bull, when he sees his enemy.

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