1246-1272

AM.        Per sāncta generis sacra, per iūs nōminis

utrumque nostrī, sīve mē altōrem vocās

seu tū parentem, perque venerandōs piīs

cānōs, senectae parce dēsertae, precor,

annīsque fessīs; ūnicum lāpsae domūs1250

firmāmen, ūnum lūmen afflīctō malīs

tēmet reservā. nūllus ex tē contigit

frūctus labōrum; semper aut dubium mare

aut mōnstra timuī; quisquis in tōtō furit

rēx saevus orbe, manibus aut ārīs nocēns,1255

ā mē timētur; semper absentis pater

frūctum tuī tāctumque et aspectum petō.

 

HER.     Cūr animam in istā lūce dētineam amplius

mōrerque nihil est; cūncta iam āmīsī bona,

mentem arma fāmam coniugem nātōs manūs,1260

etiam furōrem. nēmō pollūtō queat

animō medērī; morte sānandum est scelus.

 

AM.       Perimēs parentem.

 

HER.                                      Facere nē possim, occidam.

 

AM.       Genitōre cōram?

 

HER.                                    Cernere hunc docuī nefās.

 

AM.       Memoranda potius omnibus facta intuēns1265

ūnīus ā tē crīminis veniam pete.

 

HER.     Veniam dabit sibi ipse, quī nūllī dedit?

laudanda fēcī iussus; hoc ūnum meum est.

succurre, genitor, sīve tē pietās movet

seu trīste fātum sīve violātum decus1270

virtūtis. effer arma; vincātur meā

Fortūna dextrā.

Amphitryon pleads for Hercules to remain alive to protect and console him. Hercules insists that he has no reason to live. Amphitryon objects that he will die if Hercules does.

1246 sancta generis sacra: neuter substantive, literally “a family’s blessed holy things.” Fitch (1987) aptly translates “bonds.”

1246–47 ius nominis / utrumque nostrī: “either right attaching to our name,” i.e., your obligation to me either as birth parent or foster parent. Utrumque is transferred from nominis to ius by hypallage.

1248 venerandōs piīs: gerundive with dative of agent (AG 405)

1249–50 senectae … / annīsque: dative objects of parce

1251–52 Prose order: reservā tēmet, ūnum lūmen (mihi) afflīctō malīs. afflictō malīs: “to [me, a man] afflicted (dative) by evils (ablative).”

1252 contigit: perfect > contingo -ere; supply mihi, “has come to me” (LS contingo II.B.3.b). The subject is fructus, “benefit” (1253).

1254 quisquis: modifying saevus rex.

1255 manibus … arīs: ablative of means with nocens: Amphitryon is perhaps thinking of Busiris, who sacrificed guests at the altar.

1256–57 absentis … tui: “of you when you were away.” Prose order: pater semper petō

frūctum tuī absentis tāctumque et aspectum. As suggested by the perfect tense of timuī (1254), the present tense verbs timetur and peto are used vividly to describe past events: “I was afraid … I was always seeking.”

1258-59: Prose word order for this indirect question (AG 574) would be nihil est cur detineam… morerque.

1260-61: these lines specify the bona that Hercules has lost.

1261 queat: potential subjunctive (AG 445)

1261–62 pollūtō … animō: dative depending on mederi (AG 367).

1262 sanandum est: passive periphrastic (AG 500.2)

1263 nē possim: negative purpose clause (AG 563)

1265 omnibus: dative depending memoranda, “so impressive to all” (Fitch 2018)

1266: Prose order: pete ā tē veniam ūnīus crīminis. Seneca’s order foregrounds the emphatic word unius, “(just) one.”

1267 Hercules speaks about himself in the third person, probably not as a sign of pomposity (although Hercules is always quite aware of his own greatness). Rather, he is looking at his personal history from the outside: can a person who has never spared anyone spare himself?

1268 iussus: “because I was commanded,” i.e., not of my own free will. See 596 n. There is a bitter contrast between iussus and meum: all of Hercules’ great Labors were done at the command of another, and the only deed that he can claim as truly his own is the murder of his family.

1271 vincātur: hortatory subjunctive (AG 439)

1271–72 meā … / dextrā: ablative of means (AG 408)

sacrum sacrī n.: a holy thing; sacrifice; a sacred thing, temple

altor altōris m.: nourisher

veneror venerārī venerātus sum: to venerate

cānus –a –um: white

senecta –ae f.: old age

dēsertus –a –um: desolate; abandoned

ūnicus –a –um: unique

lāpsus –ūs m.: slipping; gliding

fermamen, -inis n.: a prop; a support

adflīctus –a –um: dejected

reservō reservāre reservāvī reservātus: to reserve

mōnstrum mōnstrī n.: monster; omen

furō furere: to rage, be mad

tāctus –ūs m.: touching; touch

aspectus aspectūs m.: sight

dētineō –ēre –uī –tentus: to hold from or back; hold

coniūnx coniugis f.: spouse, wife

polluō –ere –uī –ūtus: to soil, defile

queō quīre quīvī/quiī quitus: to be able

medeor mederi: to heal

sānō sānāre sānāvī sānātus: to heal

perimō –ere –ēmī –ēmptus: to annihilate; prevent; kill

genitor genitōris m.: father

corām: personally; openly, publicly

memorandus –a –um: worthy of mention; famed

intueor intuērī intuitus sum: to look at

succurrō –currere –currī –cursūrum: to run under; come to mind; assist, be useful

genitor genitōris m.: father

trīste: sadly

violō violāre violāvī violātus: to violate

efferō efferre extulī ēlātus: to carry out

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