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Language of the Birds

part 2

baby birds

Greek mythology

According to Apollonius Rhodius, the figurehead of Jason"s ship, the Argo, was built of oak from the sacred grove at Dodona and could speak the language of birds. Tiresias was also said to have been given the ability to understand the language of the birds by Athena. The language of birds in Greek mythology may be attained by magical means. Democritus, Anaximander, Apollonius of Tyana, Melampus and Aesopus were all said to have understood the birds.


Afro-Asiatic mythologies

In Sufism, the language of birds is a mystical language of angels. The Conference of the Birds (mantiq at-tair) is a mystical poem of 4647 verses by the 12th century Persian poet Farid al-Din Attar[4]

In the Jerusalem Talmud (Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 1909), Solomon"s proverbial wisdom was due to his being granted understanding of the language of birds by God.

In Egyptian Arabic, hieroglyphic writing is called "the alphabet of the birds". In Ancient Egyptian itself, the hieroglyphic form of writing was given the name medu-netjer ("words of the gods" or "divine language").



The concept is also known from many folk tales (including Welsh, Russian, German, Estonian, Greek, Romany), where usually the protagonist is granted the gift of understanding the language of the birds either by some magical transformation, or as a boon by the king of birds. The birds then inform or warn the hero about some danger or hidden treasure.



In Kabbalah, Rennaissance magic, and alchemy, the language of the birds was considered a secret and perfect language and the key to perfect knowledge, sometimes also called the langue verte, or green language (Jean Julien Fulcanelli, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa de occulta philosophia).


Literature and culture

Compare also the rather comical and satirical Birds of Aristophanes and Parliament of Fowls by Chaucer.

In medieval France, the language of the birds (la langue des oiseaux) was a secret language of the Troubadours, connected with the Tarot, allegedly based on puns and symbolism drawn from homophony, e. g. an inn called au lion d"or "the Golden Lion" is allegedly "code" for au lit on dort "in the bed one sleeps"[5] (note that this particular pun cannot be medieval, since final t was pronounced until Middle French, c.f. e.g. the 14th century loanword "bonnet").

The artificial language zaum of Russian Futurism was described as "language of the birds" by Velimir Khlebnikov.

"The language of the birds" (Die Sprache der V?gel) is a 1991 German movie. Jean Sibelius composed a wedding march titled "The language of the birds" in 1911. The children"s book author Rafe Martin has written "The Language of Birds" as an adaptation of a Russian folk tale; it was made into a children"s opera by composer John Kennedy.

In her first book, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke, in her faux footnotes, refers to a book called, "The Language of the Birds." It is among other things a reference to the fictional Raven King.

A Bird in Your Ear is a one act opera by British/American composer David Bruce based on the Russian folk tale, The Language of the Birds, with a libretto by Alasdair Middleton. It was commissioned by Bard College, NY and first performed there in March 2008. Further extracts were performed by New York City Opera in 2009.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

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