BESTIAIRES (Fr.). the name given to a class of written books of great popularity in the middle ages, describing all the animals of creation, real or fabled, and generally illustrated by drawings. They were most in fashion during the 11th. 12th, and 13th cen turies. They served as encyclopedias of the zoologyof those ages, hu; they had also an other use. The symbolism which was then so much in vogue fastened spiritual meanings upon the several animals, until every quality of good or evil in the soul of man had its type in the brute world. It is in this way to the B. that we must look for explanation of the strange, grotesque creatures wide') are found sculptured on the churches and other buildings of the middle ages. There were B. both in prose and in verse, in Latin and in the vernacular. A few sentences from Le Beetiaire Dirin cle Guillaume, Clare ds ..Vormandie, Trourere du XIII• Saele (Caen, 1852), may help to give sonic notion of the class of works of which it is a fair example. "The unicorn," he writes, " has but one
horn in the middle of its forehead. It is the only animal that ventures to attack the elephant; and so sharp is the nail of its foot, that with one blow it rips up the belly of that most terrible of all beasts. The hunters can catch the unicorn only by placing a young virgin in the forest which it haunts. No sooner does this marvelous animal descry the damsel, than it runs towards her, lies down at her feet, and so suffers itself to be taken by the hunters. The unicorn represents our Lord Jesus Christ. who, taking our humanity upon him in the virgin's womb, was betrayed by the wicked Jews, and delivered into the bands of Pilate. Its one horn signifies the gospel truth, that Christ is one with the Father," etc.