THE ELEPHANT IN AN EARLY CHRISTIAN TEXT. SEMANTIC AND LINGUISTIC CHANGES
Etudes balkaniques (Sofia) 2022 N 1
Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski”, Bulgaria
Abstract: In the minds of the people of the East, the elephant has always embodied positive qualities – wisdom, longevity, memory and strength. But in other cultures, where the elephant was unknown, stories arise that present him as a strange creature with fictional properties. Thus, it is presented in The Physiologus (ὁ Φυσιολόγος), the early Christian book on animals. Along with the stories of other legendary and fabulous creatures, The Physiologus contains a short narrative about the elephant, which is also described as a beast with fantastic properties. Observations on the text and its language reveal that in the development of its written tradition, as well as in its translation into Latin, a number of semantic and linguistic changes took place, most often related to its adaptation for the needs of early Christian preaching.
Keywords: Physiologus, elephant, Greek, Latin, translation