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With more than six hundred reproductions of illuminated manuscripts from the 4th to 16th centuries, this book provides an extensive look at the presence and significance of animals in medieval thought and art. The Medieval Bestiaryexplores the space between reality and myth; religious symbolism and political allegory; and man's combined fear of and admiration for animals both common and exotic. Many of the illuminated manuscripts shown in this book are barely known outside an intimate circle of medieval specialists, finally brought to light for a wider audience to appreciate and enjoy. In addition to its commentary on the visual depiction of beasts in medieval manuscripts, The Medieval Bestiaryexplores the literary context wherein the language of animal symbolism is explained, and where the categories of representation were first determined. Animals had different meanings in religious and popular texts, for example, and this book aims to underline the differences. Moreover, The Medieval Bestiarydiscusses how the establishment of animal symbolism in the Middle Ages spurred the growth and development of fable-writing, which made the animal world a veritable mirror of human society. The Medieval Bestiaryprovides a complete encyclopedic treatment of animals both real and imaginary, arranged alphabetically by each creature's name in Latin.