Bestiarum Monstrarum Feminarum
Bestiarum Monstrarum Feminarum was written in 1243 by Arminius Wilhelm Otto Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Maximilian Melchior Leopold Wilhelm von Ravensberg, known to history as Herman the German. A Generalprokurator of the Teutonic Knights, he wrote his magnum opus as a warning to the knights and missionaries in Prussia, many of whom fell prey to the temptations of monstrous and demonic women. Predictably, though, his text served as less of a warning than a guide, and many were the men who went in search of the women against whom Herman had so ardently warned them.
As Generalprokurator, Herman had the ear of the Pope himself, and the book soon spread to other religious orders through the Roman Catholic Church. From there, it rapidly spread to those who were not bound by oaths of celibacy, where it has stayed ever since. The book spread across Europe, and is estimated to be the most widely read book of the 1200s. Marco Polo took a copy with him on his trip to China, as a gift for the Great Khan, and his own marginalia indicate that he encountered some of the creatures described within, as well as others unknown to Herman. It was one of the first works printed by Gutenberg, who is rumored to have had an encounter with an incubus who has once known Faust, and who gave him the idea for his printing press. Later, Roger Williams brought his own copy on his voyage to the New World, so that he might be better prepared against the temptations that he thought he would encounter in the forests of New England. However, after learning the local languages and cultures, he soon realized that the monsters, far from being savage beasts, were intelligent beings with their own society, and he wrote the first English language account of the American monstrous species, A Key into the Monsters of America, a book which made his name in England and brought him much fame.
Over seventy manuscripts of the work are extant, most of which inexplicably have multiple pages stuck together as if by some sort of glue, possibly the result of over-eager censors. Nevertheless, enough exist that the entirety of the work can be reconstructed. In the Renaissance, it was a popular myth that the work was a lost fourth book of Ovid's own Ars Amatoria, but this is easily disproven, and the clichéd trick of attributing a new work to an ancient author is a pathetic way of trying to lend legitimacy to subpar writing. No, it is indeed obvious that this work was written by Herman the German and no one else.
As is to be expected of a work of such importance and widespread distribution, a number of commentaries and translations exist of it. The worst commentary is arguably Ernst August of Hanover's, who, like all other Ernst Augusts of Hanover, was a jerk, and whose commentary consists almost entirely of which insults are most offensive to the various women, and how best to hurt their feelings. The dullest translation and commentary is probably that of Lord Nigel Poppenroy, who wrote in 1857, and therefore had to excise all mentions of legs, breasts, pussies, sex per anum, orem, et more ferarum, dildos, bondage, fellatio, cunnilingus, irrumatio, sodomy, gomorrahmy, and snuggling afterwards. Even then, the publication provoked riots in the streets, as well as an immediate increase in trips to the continent.
The best commentary, however, is by and large agreed to be that of Signore Niccolò Melanzana, a minor Florentine aristocrat of the early 1500s, who, using the Bestiarum as his guide, traveled throughout Europe, meeting and romancing many of the women described within. His accounts admirably supplement Herman's writings, and the two authors unwittingly create a better work together than either of them did singly. For this reason, Melanzana's commentaries are presented along with the original text in asterisked italics. I have attempted to provide a modern, colloquial translation, devoid of mentions to godemichés and olisbos, while still preserving the flavor of Herman and Melanzana's original writings. Only the first volume of this work is presented here, but more are to follow soon.
Finally, I wish to thank the University of Verführungsberg for their generosity with their manuscript, as well as their extreme enthusiasm for this project. Indeed, innumerable undergraduates assisted me throughout this translation, and sometimes I even caught them translating pages late at night.
- Magnus Lotharius, Professor of Monstrous Studies at Cornell University
Bestiarum Monstrarum Feminarum
In these dark pagan lands, there are things far more dangerous than heathen Prussians of which our brave knights must be wary. Things that lurk in the darkness, waiting for innocent men so that they may entice them off the path of virtue into sin and vice. These primeval forests contain creatures long since banished from civilized Christendom, creatures long thought to be the products of the imagination of ancient authors, but as so many of us are now discovering, these creatures are real.
I speak, of course, about monster-women: those most dangerous of creatures, whose lascivious temptations have corrupted far too many once-upstanding young men. Remember that the word "monster" has two origins. There are some who say it comes from the Latin monstrare, which means "to point out." According to this etymology, monsters have been scattered through the world by God as an exhibition of his power, as a demonstration of what He can do. Nothing is impossible for Him, and the variety of his creations knows no bounds.
However, I side with the second faction, which believes the word comes from monere, which means "to warn." These monsters are warnings from God so that we might not stray from the One True Faith. Through them and their monstrous forms, He shows us how not to act, so that we can act properly. They are the counterparts of the heavenly saints, these monsters, and so despite their sins, they, too, have their own part to play in the world.
*They'd make better warnings if they weren't all more beautiful than Botticelli's best works. If God was going for "warning," he needs a better editor.
Fortunately, these monsters can be defeated, through faith and the proper preparations, young men can avoid these temptresses. Below, I have detailed the various monsters to be found not only in Prussia, but throughout Europe, and even farther afield, to Rus and Arabia, when I have found information regarding them. Heed my words, and you, too, can find safety, as I have.
*More profitable to do as I have, and heed his words to find temptation. Safety is boring.
In the darkest, deepest forests live these monstrous beasts. Their appearance is hideous: that of a slender woman's torso atop the abdomen of a giant spider. Her six legs are those of a spider, while her arms are human, although her fingernails are bestial, and as sharp as nails. Her skin is pallid and her hair pale and stringy. She has eight eyes on her face, which is otherwise human, except for a lack of teeth. Instead, her fangs are concealed within her mouth until she needs to feed, when she unsheathes them, injects her poison into whatever animal or man she has captured, and drinks his liquefied gore.
*Would this taste better or worse than Bianca's crostatas?
The arachnidae are driven entirely by instinct and have no abilities of reason, despite their mocking resemblance to humanity. They build their webs in forests and wait for some creature to stumble into it and become captured in the sticky silk of their webs. The silk is much stronger than any rope and cannot be broken by mortal strength. Struggling will only entangle the victim further. If, however, it has only caught your clothing, one can extricate oneself from the web. If flesh becomes stuck, though, amputation is the only hope of survival.
*The arachnidae themselves can deftly remove it without problem, however.
As for defending yourself against these monsters, there are several ways. They cannot penetrate metal, and chain mail provides some protection against their fangs and claws if one encounters one in a fight. Their natural armor is weak, and they are vulnerable to mundane weapons, if one can find or catch them. They prefer to hide in the tree tops, watching their webs for activity. Their eyesight is flawless, and they can spot a mouse crawling through the leaves from their perches at the tops of oak trees without difficulty, but it is also sensitive. They avoid the pure light of the sun, and can be briefly blinded by it if taken unawares.
Fortunately, their terrible appearance dissuades men from them, yet some fools still persist in attempting to reason with these hellish creatures. I must warn anyone against such suicidal madness, for to attempt it is surely to court death itself.
*Perhaps no other breed of monster is so misunderstood as the arachnidae. Fitting, considering their namesake. While the females are of a similar scale to human beings, the males are approximately a tenth of the size, with a corresponding decrease in intelligence. They are, essentially, studs, and their sole purpose in arachnidae society is to contribute sperm for the next generation. After they lose their fertility, they are abandoned or, if food is scarce, devoured.
This fact of nature produces in the arachnidae females a chronic loneliness. One half of their own race is essentially their pets, and their own appearance frightens off many of those who are of a comparable intelligence. It is a sad situation, one that I happily remedied.
.... There is more of this story ...