The Physiologus says that land frogs can withstand the heat of summer, but die if exposed to rain. Water frogs, when overheated by the sun's rays, dip into a fountain to cool off. The interpretation is that the land frogs represent abstinent men who work patiently in adversity, but if exposed to worldly desires (rain), they die. The water frogs are those who cannot stand abstinence and give in to desire.

The Epiphanius version says that land frogs can withstand the heat of the sun, frost, wind, the winter season, and rain, but the water frog cannot bear any of these. In the winter the water frog drops down into deep water; when the sun gently warms the world the water frog comes out, but goes back into the water when the sun gets too hot. The land frog is said to represent the monks who wait patiently through hunger, thirst, nakedness, abstinence, and humble living; they fast willingly and bear all.

The van der Borcht copperplate engraving below shows frogs both on the land and in the water. The land frogs have the sun shining on them; the water frogs are in the rain. The picture does not really follow the text at all clearly; possibly van der Borcht just imitated the earlier woodcut.

  |   View in context

The woodcut below (from the Rome, 1577 edition) is similar to the engraving, though much more crudely drawn. It is not clear how this picture illustrates the text.


Properties of the Frog