Seal Sex: What Do They Want?

“Seals are rather eager in their erotic desire to set upon the beds of men. A seal is a sea animal most similar to (among land animals) a cow or a bear; but it enjoys the company of men. Seals are also quite useful for magic.”

-Scholion to Lycophron, Alexandra 85

αἱ φῶκαί τε αἱ θουρῶσαι καὶ ἐρωτικῶς ὁρμῶσαι ἐπὶ τὰ

λέκτρα τῶν ἀρρένων βροτῶν. ἡ φώκη θαλάσσιον κῆτός ἐστι χερσαίῳ βοὶ ἢ μᾶλ-

λον ἄρκτῳ παρόμοιον ἐρᾷ δὲ συνουσίας ἀνδρῶν. ἔστι δὲ καὶ πρὸς μαγείαν ἐπιτήδειον.

6 thoughts on “Seal Sex: What Do They Want?

  1. The explanation perhaps?

    If I were a female seal, as the scholiast says, I would prefer to mate with a man rather than a male seal if the following is to believed.

    This is from Oppian (with the Loeb translation. Halieutica, I 523) on the mating of turtles, dogs and seals.

    The Turtles greatly fear and hate their mating; for they have no delight or pleasure in union, as other creatures have, but they have far more pain. For the organ of the male is very hard, an unyielding bone, which is whetted in a joyless union. Therefore they fight and rend each other with their bent teeth, when they come together: the females seeking to avoid the rough mating, the males eager to mate, willing bridegrooms of unwilling brides; until the male by his strength prevails and makes her perforce his mate, like a captive bride, the prize of war. The mating of Dogs on land is similar to that of Turtles in the sea: similar also is that of Seals; for all of those remain a long time coupled rearwards, fast bound as by a chain.

    Αἱ δὲ μέγα τρομέουσι καὶ ἐχθαίρουσι χελῶναι
    ὃν γάμον· οὐ γὰρ τῇσιν ἐφίμερος οἷα καὶ ἄλλοις
    τερπωλὴ λεχέων, πολὺ δὲ πλέον ἄλγος ἔχουσι·
    525σκληρὸν γὰρ μάλα κέντρον ἐν ἄρσεσιν εἰς Ἀφροδίτην,
    ὀστέον οὐκ ἐπιεικτόν, ἀτερπέϊ θήγεται εὐνῇ.
    τοὔνεκα μάρνανταί τε παλιγνάμπτοισί τ᾿ ὀδοῦσιν
    ἀλλήλους δάπτουσιν, ὅτε σχεδὸν ἀντιάσωσιν,
    αἱ μὲν ἀλευόμεναι τρηχὺν γάμον, οἱ δ᾿ ἀεκουσῶν
    530εὐνῆς ἱμείροντες ἑκούσιοι, εἰσόκεν ἀλκῇ
    νικήσας ζεύξῃ μιν ἀναγκαίῃ φιλότητι,
    ἠΰτε ληϊδίην, πολέμου γέρας. εἴκελα δ᾿ εὐνῆς
    ἔργα κυσὶ χθονίοισι καὶ εἰναλίῃσι χελώναις·
    εἴκελα καὶ φώκῃσιν· ἐπεὶ μάλα δηρὸν ἕκαστοι
    535ἐξόπιθεν συνέχονται, ἀρηρότες ἠΰτε δεσμῷ.

    1. This is an amazing passage. I accept it as a solution. What a brilliant catch!

      And, yet, I wonder about the female seal’s awareness of human courtship. Perhaps the question is not which man learned of a seal’s sex life, but which seal became aware of man’s….

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