807-829

Tum gravia mōnstrī colla permulcēns manū

adamante textō vincit. oblītus suī

cūstōs opācī pervigil rēgnī canis

compōnit aurēs timidus et patiēns trahī,810

erumque fassus, ōre summissō obsequēns,

utrumque caudā pulsat anguiferā latus.

postquam est ad ōrās Taenarī ventum, et nitor

percussit oculōs lūcis ignōtae novōs,

 

resūmit animōs vīctus et vastās furēns815

quassat catēnās; paene victōrem abstulit

prōnumque retrō vēxit et mōvit gradū.

tunc et meās respexit Alcīdēs manūs;

geminīs uterque vīribus tractum canem

īrā furentem et bella temptantem irrita820

intulimus orbī. vīdit ut clārum diem

et pūra nitidī spatia cōnspexit polī,

[oborta nox est, lūmina in terram dedit,]

compressit oculōs et diem invīsum expulit

aciemque retrō flexit atque omnī petīt825

cervīce terram; tum sub Herculeās caput

abscondit umbrās.

— Dēnsa sed laetō venit

clāmōre turba frontibus laurum gerēns,

magnīque meritās Herculis laudēs canit.

Theseus describes how Hercules led Cerberus up to the surface. He offers an amusing picture of Hercules as a dog walker who almost can’t keep hold of the leash. He also helps his rescuer get Cerberus under control.

807 manū: ablative of instrument (AG 409). Hercules pets the tamed dog.

808 textō: “fabric” (LS texo II.A.2), evidently the same leash as the catenae mentioned below (816); instrumental ablative (AG 409). oblītus suī: “forgetting himself,” i.e. forgetting his former fierceness, now that Hercules has tamed him.

810 patiēns: “allowing himself,” governs the infinitive trahī.

811 ōre: ablative of manner (AG 412)

813 est … ventum: “we came,” impersonal passive

814 lūcis ignōtae: take with 813 nitor. novōs: “unaccustomed” (LS novus I.B.2). Cerberus had never seen sunlight before.

817 mōvit gradū: “dislodged (him) from his position” (LS gradus II.A)

818 et:  = etiam, “also.” meās respexit … manūs: “looked to my hands,” i.e. required my help.

819 geminīs … viribus: ablative of instrument (AG 409); “with the strength of two people.”

820 irā: ablative of manner (AG 412)

821 orbī: dative indicating place to which (AG 428). ut: “as soon as,” with vīdit and conspexit. For temporal ut + perf. indic., see LS ut II.B.1.

823 This line does not make much sense: why would night suddenly arrive? Recent editors, including Fitch (1987), have accordingly deleted it. Either Seneca did not write it, or the manuscripts have seriously corrupted the text, and editors have not yet found a plausible solution.

825–26 omnī … cervice: ablative of instrument (AG 409). Cerberus seeks with all three necks to hide his face on the ground. petīt: = petīvit.

827–29 Theseus ends his account of the journey to the Underworld to welcome the Chorus on stage, who wear laurels “on their brows” (frontibus). laetō … clamōre: ablative of manner (AG 412).

mōnstrum mōnstrī n.: monster; omen

collum collī m.:  neck

permulceō –ēre –mulsī –mulsus or mulctus: to stroke; calm

adamās –antis m.: the hardest iron, adamant; steel

textum –ī n.: that which is woven or plaited; a texture

vinciō vincīre vīnxī vīnctum: to bind, tie up

oblīvīscor oblīvīscī oblītus sum: to forget

opācus –a –um: shady, dark

pervigil –ilis: ever watchful

timidus –a –um: fearful, afraid

erus –ī m.: an owner, master

submittō submittere submīsī submissum: to place under

obsequor obsequī obsecūtus sum: to obey

cauda –ae f.: the tail, coda

pulsō pulsāre pulsāvī pulsātus: to push, strike

anguifer -a -um:  serpent-bearing 

ōra –ae f.: shore, coast

Taenarus or Taenaros –ī m. or Taenarum –ī n.: Taenarus

nitor –ōris m.: brightness, lustre

percutiō percutere percussī percussum: to pierce, strike

īgnōtus –a –um: unknown

resūmō –sūmere –sūmpsī –sūmptum: to take up again, resume

vāstus –a –um: empty, desolate; vast

furō furere: to rage, be mad

quassō quassāre quassāvī quassātus: to shake violently

catēna –ae f.: chain, fetter

prōnus –a –um: sloping; prone to

retrō: backwards

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

geminus –a –um: twin

furō furere: to rage, be mad

tentō tentāre tentāvī tentātus: to try

irritus –a –um: invalid, void, vain

pūrus –a –um: clean, unsoiled, pure

nitidus –a –um: shining, bright

cōnspiciō cōnspicere cōnspexī cōnspectus: to catch sight of, behold

polus –ī m.: pole, heavens

oborior –orīrī –ortus sum: to arise, appear

comprimō comprimere compressī compressum: to compress

invīsus –a –um: hated

expellō expellere expulī expulsus: to drive out, propel, expel

retrō: backwards

flectō flectere flēxī flexus: to bend; turn, direct; persuade

cervīx cervīcis f.: neck

Herculeus –a –um: of Hercules; Herculean

abscondō abscondere abscondī and abscondidī absconditus: to put out of sight, hide

dēnsus –a –um: thick; close, compact

laurus –ī f.: laurel

meritus merita meritum: deserved, worthy 

Herculēs –is m.: Hercules

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