Saturday, October 30, 2010

Post coitum omne animal triste est sive gallus et mulier

Anyone who has lived in a Catholic monastery (as I did at one time) knows that saying. It's used as a justification and rationalization for celibacy.

Usually the only part that is translated is "post coitum omne animal triste est" which means "after sex all animals are sad." Usually ignored is the second part: "sive gallus et mulier" which means "except for the cock and the woman."

(And I use the word "cock" correctly. It means a male chicken. A hen is a female chicken. Both male and female chickens roost; therefore they are both roosters. The word "rooster" was a first used as a euphemistic substitution for "cock" in the 19th century when the word "cock," which was commonly used by the "lower classes" to mean penis, was discovered by the "middle classes." When the "petit bourgeoisie" realized that "cock" was also the slang word for penis they switched to a less troublesome word, rooster, for the male chicken.)

I was taught in the monastery that the saying came from Aristotle (or maybe Spinoza) but the contributors to Language Hat disagree.

According to Wikipedia:
Sexual intercourse can sometimes lead to a feeling of melancholy called PCT, or post-coital tristesse (from Latin post-coital, and French tristesse, literally — “sadness”). This is more common in men than in women. Many PCT sufferers may also exhibit strong feelings of anxiety, anywhere from five minutes, to two hours after coitus.

The phenomenon is referred to by the philosopher Baruch Spinoza in his Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione when he said "For as far as sensual pleasure is concerned, the mind is so caught up in it, as if at peace in a [true] good, that it is quite prevented from thinking of anything else. But after the enjoyment of sensual pleasure is past, the greatest sadness follows. If this does not completely engross, still it thoroughly confuses and dulls the mind."
Anyone who has had sex with women or observed chickens (as I have) knows that both cocks and women do not feel any lassitude after sexual intercourse probably because they do not expend as much energy as males. Ejaculating semen is draining for all males except cocks and probably the other lower orders of the animal kingdom.