This article catalogues and interprets an underexplored body of Greek and Roman narratives of animals who fall in love with humans. These narratives, unlike myths and fables, purport to tell of events which occur in the real world of their day; they are stories of desire (eros), but not of copulation; and their configurations of desire are characteristically Greco-Roman (the desiring animal is almost always male, and the human object of his desire is a woman or a young man explicitly or implicitly described as beautiful). With their anthropocentric and hierarchically configured models of desire, and their emphasis on the impossibility of fulfillment, these narratives illustrate some lasting Western perspectives on the relationship between animals and humans and on desire itself. Some Native American narratives of animal-human love, emphasizing relationship and kinship, stand in suggestive contrast.
When A Dolphin Loves A Boy: Some Greco-Roman and Native American Love Stories
I gave a preliminary version of this paper at the University of Rostock, and wish to express my warm thanks to fellow participants in the Rostock conference as well as to audiences at Columbia University, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and to Mark Griffith and the anonymous readers for Classical Antiquity.
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Craig A. Williams; When A Dolphin Loves A Boy: Some Greco-Roman and Native American Love Stories. Classical Antiquity 1 April 2013; 32 (1): 200–242. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2013.32.1.200
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