A Medieval beetle in the Rare Books Collection
Christopher Harrington, a University of Melbourne PhD student in the School of Communication, recently came across a beetle in the Baillieu Library Rare Books Collection.
Fortunately a call to the pest exterminators was not required as this discovery was of a drawing of an eight-legged flying beetle with antlers in the book Hortus Sanitatis (1491), or Garden of Health. The beetle is categorised in the section Tractatus De Avibus (Treatise on Birds) and is displayed alongside other fantastic drawings such as that of a man lying naked in a field being attacked by hornets and that of a myrmecoleon or ant-lion. While much is known about the cultural depiction of beetles in the Classical period and during the Renaissance, much less is known about the cultural representation and meaning of beetles during the Middle Ages. Read more about Christopher's discovery via the Library Collections blog.
Image: Eight-legged flying beetle with antlers from Hortus Sanitatis, 1491. Baillieu Library Rare Books Collection