Portrait of the Crow in a Roundel.

Portrait of the Crow in a Roundel.

Text Translation:

Of the crow The crow is a long-lived bird, called cornix in Latin and Greek. Soothsayers assert that the crow can represent by signs the concerns of men, show where an ambush is laid and foretell the future. It is a great crime to believe this – that God confides his intentions to crows. Among the many omens attributed to crows is that of presaging by their caws the coming of rain. Hence the line: ‘Then the crow loudly cries for rain’ (Virgil, Georgics, 1, 388).

Another strike against the christian god. What’s wrong with confiding in crows?

Let men learn from the crow’s example and its sense of duty, to love their children. Crows follow their young in flight, escorting them attentively; they feed them anxiously in case they weaken. A very long time passes before they give up their responsibility for feeding their offspring. In contrast, women of our human race wean their babies as soon as they can, even the ones they love. Rich women are altogether averse to breastfeeding. If the women are poor, they cast out their infants, expose them and, when the babies are found, deny all knowledge of them. The rich themselves also kill their children in the womb, to avoid dividing their estate among many heirs; and with murderous concoctions they destroy in the uterus the children of their own womb; they would rather take away life than transmit it. What creature but man has taken the view that children can be renounced? What creature but man has endowed parents with such barbarous rights? What creature but man, in the brotherhood created by nature, has made brothers unequal? Different fates befall the sons of a single rich man. One enjoys in abundance the rights and titles of his father’s entire heritage; the other complains bitterly at receiving an exhausted and impoverished share of his rich patrimony. Did nature distinguish between what each son should receive? Nature has shared things equally among everyone, giving them what they need to be born and survive. Let nature teach you to make no distinction, when dividing your patrimony, between those whom you have made equal by the title bestowed by brotherhood; for truly as you have bestowed on them the equal possession of the fact of their birth, so you should not grudge them the equal enjoyment of their status of brotherhood.

Folio 58r – the quail, continued. De cornice ; Of the crow.


Leave a Reply