Book of Treasures

Book of Treasures f. 59r, The monkeys
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f. 59r, The monkeys

The monkeys are animals that like to imitate everything they see men doing. They feel happy when there is new moon, and with the full and waning moon, they get sad and filled with melancholy.You may know that the female always gives birth to two babies; she terribly loves one of them but hates the other. When there is a hunter in the jungle, she holds tight the one she loves the most against her chest, holding him with her arms, and she carries the one she abhors clinging in her back, as he holds her neck with his arms.

When she sees that the hunters are close and that she will not be able to escape, because of the fear of death, she drops the baby she loves the most, the one she was carrying in her arms. Meanwhile, the other baby holds on her neck as tight, that she cannot get rid of him, and whether she likes it or not she must carry him on her back. This is how the mother and the less cherished baby escape from the danger of hunters. The Ethiopian say that in their land there exist different varieties of monkeys, but the book will not say more than what it has already said.

Translation of the original text by Brunetto Lattini in the Bestiary of the Book of Treasures (ca.1230-1294)
Preserved in the National Library of Russia, Saint Petersburg
 

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