1314-1329

HER.      Iam parce, genitor, parce, iam revocā manum.

succumbe, virtūs, perfer imperium patris.1315

eat ad labōrēs hic quoque Herculeōs labor:

vīvāmus. artūs allevā afflīctōs solō,

Thēseu, parentis. dextra contāctūs piōs

scelerāta refugit.

 

AM.                                   Hanc manum amplector libēns,

hāc nīsus ībō, pectorī hanc aegrō admovēns1320

pellam dolōrēs.

 

HER.                                Quem locum profugus petam?

ubi mē recondam, quāve tellūre obruar?

quis Tanais aut quis Nīlus aut quis Persicā

violentus undā Tigris aut Rhēnus ferōx

Tagusve Hibērā turbidus gāzā fluēns1325

abluere dextram poterit? Arctōum licet

Maeōtis in mē gelida trānsfundat mare

et tōta Tēthys per meās currat manūs,

haerēbit altum facinus.

The sight of Amphitryon with his sword to his own breast finally persuades Hercules. He begs his father to stop. Hercules recognizes he has a new Labor: staying alive despite his guilt. He then wonders where he can go into exile. He lists four of the great rivers at the edges of the Roman empire: the Tanais (Don) in the northeast, the Nile in the south, the Tigris in the east, the Rhenus (Rhine) in the north, and the Tagus in the west. Yet none of these great bodies of water can cleanse the blood from his hands.

Seneca’s aristocratic audience would have recognized some of these rivers not as mere mythological names but as central features of their world. The Nile was an important source of the grain that fed the Roman empire. The Tigris was ruled by the Parthian empire (Persica 1323). Nero would enter diplomatic communication with these perennial enemies of Rome. The Rhine was a heavily militarized border between the Roman empire and the German tribes. The Tagus was a site where Romans mined gold and other precious metals (gaza 1325).

1316–17 eat … vivāmus: hortatory subjunctives (AG 439). eat ad: “must be added to” (= accēdat ad) the subject is hic labor. See LS ad I.A.2.a.α and accedo II.B.2.

1317 solō: “from the ground”

1318–19 dextra … scelerata: Hercules is still unwilling to touch his father with his bloodstained hand.

1320 hāc: supply manū, ablative after nīsus, “resting on” (LS nītor nītī nīsus sum I.α)

1320–21 Prose word order: admovens hanc [manum] aegro pectori, dolores pellam.

1322 quāve tellūre: ablative of means (AG 409)

1323–25  Persicā … undā, Hiberā … gazā: ablatives of specification (AG 418), depending on the adjectives violentus and fluens respectively.

1326–28 licet … transfundat … currat: licet (“even if”) introduces a double concessive clause (AG 527), looking forward to haerēbit.

1327 Maeotis: the marshes on the River Don and the Sea of Azov

1328 Tethys: a poetic synonym for the Ocean that the Greeks and Romans believed surrounded the world.

genitor genitōris m.: father

succumbō –ere –cubuī –cubitus: to fall down; succumb

perferō perferre pertulī perlātus: to endure

Herculeus –a –um: of Hercules; Herculean

artus artūs m.: joint; limb

ad–lēvo –lēvāre: to raise up

afflīgō affligere afflīxī afflīctus: to beat, strike

sōlum –ī n.: ground, land, region

Thēseus –ī m.: Theseus

contāctus –ūs m.: touching together or upon; touch

scelerō scelerāre scelerāvī scelerātus: to commit a crime

refugiō –ere –fugere –fūgī: to flee back, run away

amplector amplectī amplexus sum: to embrace

libēns –entis: willing

nītor nītī nīxus sum: to press/lean upon

admoveō admovēre admōvī admōtus: to move to, bring to

profugus –a –um: fugitive, exiled

recondō recondere recondidī reconditus: to put back

obruō obruere obruī obrutum: to overwhelm; bury, cover

Tanais –is m.: Tanais 

Nīlus –ī m.: Nilus

Persicus –a –um: Persian

violentus –a –um: violent, savage

Tigris –is or –idis m.: Tigris, a river in Mesopotamia

Rhēnus –ī m.: 0

ferōx ferōcis: bold; wild

Tagus –ī m.: 0

hiberus -a -um : Spanish

turbidus –a –um: confused, fould

gāza –ae f.: treasure, riches

abluō –ere –luī –lūtus: to wash away

arctōus –a –um: arctic, northern

Maeōtius –a –um: pertaining to the Maetoae

gelidus –a –um: cold, icy

transfundō transfundere transfūdī transfūsus: to transfer by pouring

Tēthys Tēthyos f.: Tethys (sea-goddess)

haereō haerēre haesī haesūrus: to stick to, hang on to, cleave

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