618-640

AM.        Utrumne vīsūs vōta dēcipiunt meōs,

an ille domitor orbis et Grāium decus

trīstī silentem nūbilō līquit domum?620

estne ille nātus? membra laetitiā stupent.

ō nāte, certa at sēra Thēbārum salūs,

teneōne in aurās ēditum an vānā fruor

dēceptus umbrā? tūne es? agnōscō torōs

umerōsque et altō nōbilem truncō manum.625

 

HER.      Unde iste, genitor, squālor et lūgubribus

amicta coniūnx? unde tam foedō obsitī

paedōre nātī? quae domum clādēs gravat?

 

AM.        Socer est perēmptus, rēgna possēdit Lycus,

nātōs parentem coniugem lētō petit.630

 

HER.      Ingrāta tellūs, nēmō ad Herculeae domūs

auxilia vēnit? vīdit hoc tantum nefās

dēfēnsus orbis? — cūr diem questū terō?

mactētur hostia, hanc ferat virtūs notam

fīatque summus hostis Alcīdae Lycus.635

ad hauriendum sanguinem inimīcum feror;

Thēseu, resiste, nē qua vīs subita ingruat.

mē bella poscunt; differ amplexūs, parēns,

coniūnxque differ. nūntiet Dītī Lycus

mē iam redīsse.

Amphitryon wonders if he is seeing his son or a ghost (618–25). Hercules wonders why his family is dressed in mourning, and Amphytrion tells him (626–30). Hercules condemns the inhabitants who did not defend their country and forgoes embracing his family in his eagerness to kill Lycus (631–40).

618 vīsūs: = oculōs (LS visus II.A)

619 ăn illĕ dŏmĭtŏr orbĭs: the rapid series of short syllables perhaps reflects Amphitryon’s excitement at Hercules’ return. ille: “the famous” (LS ille II.A). Grāium: genitive plural = Grāiōrum.

620 trīstī … nūbilō: ablative of cause (AG 404) with silentem (> sileō) “the halls hushed by cheerless gloom” (Fitch 2018).

621 laetitiā: ablative of cause (AG 404)

623 teneōne: teneō + -ne, introducting a double question (-nean, AG 335). in aurās: “into the fresh air” of the upper world. ēditum: “brought forth,” “risen” > ēdō –ere, modifying the implied object tē.

624 umbrā: ablative depending on deponent fruor (AG 410). torōs: “muscles”

%% One branch of the manuscript tradition has this question in a substantially different form: vērumne cernō corpus an fallor vidēns / dēceptus umbra (e.g., Par. Lat. 8260, left hand page, 10th line from the bottom). It could be that in the ancestor of this tradition the original words had been mangled so badly that they had to be reconstructed from a vague sense of what they should mean. Or it could be (as Fitch 1987 suggests) that an overly fussy scribe objected to Amphitryon’s suggestion that he could be embracing (teneōne) a vānā umbrā.

625 altō… truncō: “with its mighty club” (Fitch 2018).

626–30: Amphitryon summarizes the situation with brief and straightforward language; he lets the enormity of the disaster speak for itself. Mourning dress (lūgubribus sc. vestibus) and unkempt appearance (squālor, foedō ... paedōre) express Megara and her family’s grief in typical Roman fashion.

628 paedore: “with filth,” ablative depending on obsiti, “covered” > obserō.

630 nātōs parentem coniugem: asyndeton. lētō: dative of purpose (AG 382), the equivalent of ut eōs interficiat.

631–40: Hercules condemns the inhabitants who did not defend their country. Their indifference may be a judgment on the poor quality of his rule.

631–32 ad … auxilia vēnit: “has come to the aid (of).” vīdit: i.e., watched but did nothing to help. hoc tantum nefās: “a crime as great as this,” “such as great crime.”

633 dēfēnsus orbis: “the world protected (by me).” diem … terō: a common idiom to describe wasting time (LS tero II.A). questū: “in complaining” > questus -ūs m.

634–35 mactētur ... ferat ... fīat: hortatory subjunctives (AG 439). hanc ferat virtūs notam: “let my valor endure this blemish,” (LS nota II.B.2.b, “mark of ignominy or infamy”) i.e., the shame of killing an enemy as unworthy of Hercules as Lycus. hostia: “sacrificial victim, sacrifice,” i.e. Lycus. %% This is a correction, proposed by Friedrich Leo in the late 1800s, of the manuscript reading hostis (e.g., Par. Lat. 8260, right hand page, 2nd line from the top; note how 634–36 hanc ferat … feror has been erroneously assigned to Theseus). The corruption hostis resulted from anticipation of hostis in the next line; the repetition of hostis would be “insipid and pointless” (Fitch 1987). Other corrections besides hostia are possible: a very good suggestion is Fitch’s impār (mactētur impār = “though not my equal, he must be slaughtered”), which fits with the idea of Hercules condescending to kill Lycus in lines 634–35. summus hostis: “final foe” (LS superus III.B.2.a). Alcīdae: genitive of the masculine 1st declension Greek noun (AG 44).

636 ad hauriendum sanguinem: ad with gerundive expresses purpose (AG 503), a forceful metaphor for eagerly killing. feror: the passive has a reflexive middle sense, “I take myself, I rush” (LS fero I.B.1β).

637 Thēseu: a Greek vocative singular, declined like Orpheus (AG 82). nē … ingruat: negative purpose clause (AG 529). qua vīs: = aliqua vīs (fem. nom. sg.) (AG 310).

638 amplexūs: accusative plural noun

638–39 Lycus can go down to the Underworld (once Hercules kills him) to report to Dis that Hercules is back on Earth. This dark joke is a clever twist on a famous Virgilian passage, in which Achilles’ son Pyrrhus tells Priam to go down to the Underworld and complain about his behavior to Achilles in person (Aeneid 2.547–49).

638 nūntiet: hortatory subjunctive, introducing the indirect statement mē iam redīsse, 640.

vīsus vīsūs m.: sight

dēcipiō dēcipere dēcēpī dēceptus: to deceive, cheat

domitor –ōris m.: tamer, conquerer

Grāius –a –um: Greek, Grecian

silēns –entis: still; quiet, noiseless

nūbilum –ī n.: darkness, gloom; cloud

linquō linquere līquī: to leave, forsake

laetitia laetitiae f.: joy, happiness

stupeō –ēre –uī: to be stunned, amazed

ō: O

sērus –a –um: late, too late

Thēbae –ārum f.: Thebes

dēcipiō dēcipere dēcēpī dēceptus: to deceive, cheat

āgnōscō āgnōscere āgnōvī agnitus: to recognize, acknowledge

torum –ī n. (alsō torus –ī m.): bulge; muscle, knot, bank, cushion

umerus umerī m.: shoulder

truncus –ī m.: stem; trunk, body

genitor genitōris m.: father

squālor –ōris m.: roughness, foulness

lūgubris –e: of mourning

amiciō –īre –icuī or ixī –ictus: to throw around; veil

obserō –ere –sēvī –situs: to plant; cover, fill

paedor –ōris m.: nastiness, filth

clādēs clādis f.: disaster, destruction, defeat

gravō gravāre gravāvī gravātus: to burden, load

socer socerī m.: father–in–law

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

possideō –ēre –sēdī –sessus: to have, hold, own

Lycus –ī m.: Lycus

lētum letī n.: death

Herculeus –a –um: of Hercules; Herculean

questus –ūs m.: complaining; moaning; groans

terō terere trīvī trītum: to rub, wear; use up; tread often, visit

mactõ mactāre mactāvī mactātus: to sacrifice, offer; punish, reward

hostia –ae f.: a sacrificial animal; victim

nota notae f.: mark, note

summus –a –um: highest; top (of)

Alcīdēs –ae. m.: a descendant of Alceus; Hercules

Lycus –ī m.: Lycus

hauriō haurīre hausī hastus: to draw; drain, drink

Thēseus –ī m.: Theseus

resistō resistere restitī: to stand back, stop, remain

subitus –a –um: sudden, unexpected

ingruō –ere –uī: to rush into, attack

amplexus –ūs m.: an embrace

nūntiō nuntiāre nuntiāvī nuntiātus: to announce

Dīs –ītis m.: Dis; Pluto

Lycus –ī m.: Lycus

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