640-661

THE.                                Flēbilem ex oculīs fugā,640

rēgīna, vultum, tūque nātō sospite

lacrimās cadentēs reprime; sī nōvī Herculem,

Lycus Creontī dēbitās poenās dabit.

lentum est "dabit": dat. hoc quoque est lentum: dedit.

 

AM.        Vōtum secundet, quī potest, nostrum deus645

rēbusque lassīs adsit. — ō magnī comes

magnanime nātī, pande virtūtum ōrdinem,

quam longa maestōs dūcat ad manēs via,

ut vincla tulerit dūra Tartareus canis.

 

THE.      Memorāre cōgis acta sēcūrae quoque650

horrenda mentī. vix adhūc certa est fidēs

vītālis aurae; torpet aciēs lūminum,

hebetēsque vīsūs vix diem īnsuētum ferunt.

 

AM.        Pervince, Thēseu, quidquid altō in pectore

remanet pavōris, nēve tē frūctū optimō655

fraudā labōrum: quae fuit dūrum patī,

meminisse dulce est. fāre cāsūs horridōs.

 

THE.       Fās omne mundī tēque dominantem precor

rēgnō capācī tēque quam tōtā irrita

quaesīvit Aetnā māter, ut iūre abdita660

et operta terrīs liceat impūne ēloquī.

Hercules having left, Theseus reassures Megara that Hercules will take care of Lycus quickly. Amphitryon urges Theseus to tell the story of his journey to the Underworld. Theseus is at first reluctant, but Amphitryon urges him on. Theseus prays for permission to reveal the secrets of the Underworld.

640–41 flēbilem … vultum: “tearful expression.”

640 fugā: from fugo, fugāre (“put to flight, banish”), not fugiō, fugere.

641 rēgīna: “The use of the term is a polite assurance to Megara that she now has her rightful position” (Fitch 1987). tūque: Amphitryon.

642 nātō sospite: “since your son is safe,” ablative absolute without a participle (AG 419.a).

644 Hercules will kill Lycus so quickly that “it is too slow” to describe it in the future or even the present tense: Lycus is already dead.

645–46 secundet … adsit: hortatory subjunctives (AG 439).

645 quī potest … deus: the gods in general have the power to assist mortals. Amphitryon earlier started to pray to Jupiter (516–19). As at 385, he speaks more generally here, perhaps to create the subtle suggestion that Hercules himself will eventually become a god.

646 rēbusque lassīs: dative with the compound verb adsit. The phrase is common in poetry.

646–47 ō … nātī: “O great-souled companion of my great son”: a lofty address to Theseus, signaling the epic tone of the story he is about to tell. Magnanimus is a Latin equivalent of the Greek μεγάθυμος, used in Homeric poetry to describe various heroes.

647 pande virtūtum ōrdinem: “disclose the sequence of his heroic deeds” (Fitch 2018).

 647–49 pande… quam… dūcat … ut… tulerit: indirect questions (AG 573). For ut = “how” introducing indirect questions, see LS ut I.A.3.β. quam longa … dūcat … via: “how long a path leads…” Tartareus canis: Cerberus.

650–51 cōgis: supply as the object. sēcūrae quoque / horrenda mentī: “fearful to the mind, even when it is safe.” As Theseus goes on to say, he is not yet confident of his safe return from the Underworld. Seneca’s readers would have recalled Aeneas’s words before he began narrating the fall of Troy: īnfandum, rēgīna, iubēs renovāre dolōrem (“you bid me to renew unspeakable sorrow, queen,” Aeneid 2.3) and quamquam animus meminisse horret lūctūque refūgit (“my mind shudders to remember and flees from the grief,” Aeneid 2.12).

651–52 fidēs / vītālis aurae: “my trust in the life-giving air” of the upper world, objective genitive (AG 347–48)

652 torpet aciēs lūminum: “my eyesight (literally, ‘the gaze of my eyes’) is dull” (LS lūmen I.B.6).

653 vīsūs: “gaze,” accusative poetic plural. ferunt: “endure.”

652 pervince: as often, the per- prefix intensifies the verb, i.e. “conquer completely.”

654–55 quidquid … pavōris: “whatever fear,” partitive genitive (AG 346)

655 nēve: + -ve, used as the equivalent of nec in various negative clauses containing subjunctives or imperative (LS neve). frūctū optimō: ablative of separation after fraudā, “deprive” (AG 400).

656–57 quae: “the things which,” acc. object of patī and memenisse. fuit and est are impersonal. The traditional sentiment recalls Aeneas’ famous consolation to his shipwrecked men: Virgil Aeneid 1.203, forsan et haec ōlim meminisse iuvābit. fāre: deponent imperative (AG 190). cāsūs horridōs: recalls 650–51 acta … horrenda.

658–661: Theseus prays for permission to reveal the secrets of the Underworld. Virgil’s narrator makes a similar prayer at Aeneid 6.264–67.

658 fās omne mundī: Theseus begins by praying to “all the divine law of the universe,” as opposed to human law. tēque dominantem: i.e., Dis. precor: followed, as usual, by addressees in the accusative (fās … tēque … tēque), and a substantive clause of purpose (AG 563) describing the prayer itself (ut … liceat… ēloquī).

659 rēgnō capācī: ablative after dominantem (658). The Underworld accepts all the dead yet is never filled.

659–60 tēque … māter: a reference to the Rape of Proserpina, whom Dis abducted near Mount Aetna. He kidnapped her to the Underworld and made her his queen. Her mother Ceres looked all over the world for her daughter. Ovid tells the story at Metamorphoses 5.341–408  irrita / quaesīvit … mater: predicative adjective describing how Ceres sought her daughter “in vain.”

660–61 iūre abdita / et operta terrīs: “things rightly hidden and buried in the earth” (Fitch 2018).

661 liceat: supply mihi, “that I be allowed.”

flēbilis –e: worthy of tears, lamentable

rēgīna rēgīnae f.: queen

sōspes –itis: a saving; safe, happy

reprimō reprimere repressī repressus: to press back, restrain

Herculēs –is m.: Hercules

Lycus –ī m.: Lycus

Creōn –ontis or Creō –ōnis m.: Creon

lentus –a –um: flexible, sticky, slow

secundō secundāre secundāvī secundātus: to adapt, accommodate; favour

lassus –a –um: tired, weary

ō: O

magnanimus –a –um: noble–spirited, brave, bold

pandō pandere pandī passus: to spread out, extend; unfold

mānēs –ium m. pl: souls or ghosts of the dead 

Tartareus –a –um: of Tartarus; Tartarean

memorō memorāre memorāvī memorātus: to remember

horrendus –a –um: to be shuddered at; dreadful

vītālis –e: pertaining to life, life-giving; vital

torpeō torpēre: to be stiff, numb, lethargic

hebēs, hebētis: blunt; dull

vīsus vīsūs m.: sight

īnsuētus –a –um (trisyll.): unaccustomed

pervincō pervincere pervīcī pervictus: to conquer completely

Thēseus –ī m.: Theseus

remaneō remanēre remānsī remānsus: to stay behind; remain

pavor pavōris m.: fear, trembling

neu or neve: or not, and not; nor

optimus –a –um: best, excellent

fraudō fraudāre fraudāvī fraudātus: to cheat, beguile

horridus –a –um: rough, bristly; savage; rude 

fās n.: divine law, right (undeclinable)

dominor dominārī dominātus: to be lord or master, rule

capāx –ācis: spacious

irritus –a –um: invalid, void, vain

Aetna –ae f.: Aetna

abditus –a –um: removed, hidden

opertus –a –um: covered, hidden

impūnē: safely, with impunity

ēloquor ēloquī ēlocūtus sum: to speak out, express

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