The salmon is a fish that swims in rivers. The salmon is so named because it leaps out of the water and arcs through the air before plunging back into the depths. By this the salmon grows gossamer wings that enable it to climb waterfalls. In the spring, a mass of salmon all together swim upwards, reversing the flow of streams. Bears wait by the banks of the river, and the salmon jump into their mouths, so that the bears grow fat and lazy without lifting a finger. The bears represent the evils of gluttony, whereby one greedy lord profits from the struggles of the masses.

There is a story in Ireland of a massive salmon with shining silver scales and large eyes. This salmon contained all the world’s knowledge in its body. It is said that whosoever should eat of the salmon would instantly gain the knowledge of all humankind. This salmon represents King Solomon, whose wisdom surpassed that of any man before or after him, as described in the Holy Scriptures: “And God gave to Solomon wisdom, and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, as the sand that is on the sea shore. And the wisdom of Solomon surpassed the wisdom of all the Orientals, and of the Egyptians; And he was wiser than all men” (1 Kings 4:29-31).

And from the wisdom of Solomon this bestiary takes precedent, for “he treated about trees, from the cedar that is in Libanus, unto the hyssop that cometh out of the wall: and he discoursed of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes” (1 Kings 4:33).