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Porphirio domini si incaestet in aedibus uxor
Despondetque animum, praeque dolore perit.
Abdita in arcanis naturae est causa, sit index
Syncerae haec volucris certa pudicitiae.[1]

If the wife in its master’s house is unfaithful, the moorhen despairs and dies of grief. The reason lies hidden in the secrets of nature. This bird may serve as a sure sign of untarnished chastity.



So die Frauw im hau▀ ir Ehr bricht
Da▀ ir Mann nicht weist und nicht sicht
Der purpur Vogel also schnell
Vor leid er vergeth und stirbt grell
Die ursach aber ist allein
Verborgen in der Natur gheim
Dieser Vogel ein gewi▀ zeichen geit
Der rein unbefleckten keuschheit.


1. áFor this information about the porphyrio (purple gallinule, a kind of moorhen) see Aelian, De Natura animalium, 3.42; Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 9,388C: the purple gallinule ... when it is domesticated, ... keeps a sharp eye on married women and is so affected if the wife commits adultery, that it ends its life by strangling and so gives warning to its master.

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