Cūr meōs Thēseus fugit

paterque vultūs? ōra cūr condunt sua?

differte flētūs. quis meōs dederit necī1175

omnēs simul, profāre — quid, genitor, silēs?

at tū ēde, Thēseu — sed tuā, Thēseu, fide.

uterque tacitus ōra pudibunda obtegit

fūrtimque lacrimās fundit. in tantīs malīs

quid est pudendum? numquid Argīvae impotēns1180

dominātor urbis, numquīd īnfēstum Lycī

pereuntis agmen clāde nōs tantā obruit?

per tē meōrum facinorum laudem precor,

genitor, tuīque nōminis semper mihi

nūmen secundum, fāre: quis fūdit domum?1185

cui praeda iacuī?


AM.                                   Tacita sīc abeant mala.


HER.     Ut inultus ego sim?


AM.                                        Saepe vindicta obfuit.


HER.     Quisquamne sēgnis tanta tolerāvit mala?


AM.      Maiōra quisquis timuit.


HER.                                             Hīs etiam, pater,

quicquam timērī maius aut gravius potest?1190


AM.       Clādis tuae pars ista quam nōstī quota est!

Hercules wonders why Theseus and Amphitryon will neither look at him nor speak to him. He asks if Eurystheus or Lycus have attacked the city and caused the death of his family. Amphitryon tries unsuccessfully to get Hercules to avoid the question.

1173–74 meōs … vultūs: “my face.”

1175–76 quis … dederit: indirect question (AG 574) after profāre: “(tell me) who gave…” dederit necī: = necāverit. meōs … omnēs: “all my family,” as at 1049.

1177 “But you tell [me who killed my family], Theseus. No, Theseus, [tell me] with your [usual] faithfulness.” We must infer that Theseus remains silent after Hercules’ first request, and so Hercules asks again, this time appealing to Theseus’ faithfulness to him. sed: we have translated as “no,” but the logical connection is “you are refusing to answer, but I will now appeal to your faithfulness.” 

1178 uterque: Amphitryon and Theseus.

1180–81 quid est pudendum: passive periphrastic (AG 500.2), “what is there to be ashamed about?” numquid:introduces a question were a negative answer is anticipated: “Is it really possible that …?” “Surely …. not.” impotēns / dominator: Eurystheus, ruler of Argos. On impotēns, see 966n.

1181–82 infestum Lycī / pereuntis: “angry because of dying Lycus,” or in more natural English “angry that Lycus died.” clade … tantā: ablative of means (AG 404).

1183–85 Translation order: genitor, precor tē per laudem meōrum facinorum tuīque nōminis, semper nūmen secundum mihi. Seneca’s order is not unusual in Latin prayers: per followed by the person being prayed to () and then the object of per (laudem). E.g., Virgil, Aeneid 2.141–3 per tē ... superōs … ōrō = ōrō tē per superōs

1183 facinorum: Hercules uses the word in a positive sense, thanking of all his heroic “deeds,” but facinus much more often has a negative connotation of “crime”: Hercules has still not realized that his “deeds“ now include the murder of his family.

1184 genitor: Amphitryon. 

1185 secundum: i.e., second after Jupiter’s. Notice the word play of nōmen … nūmen.

1186 praeda: nominative in apposition (AG 282): “for whom do I lie defeated, as plunder?”

1186 Tacita: predicatve, “in silence.” abeant: hortatory subjunctive (AG 439).

1187 obfuit: “does harm” (> obsum), perfect expressing a general truth (AG 475).

1188 segnis: a common descriptor of someone unable or unwilling to perform “manly” deeds of war or heroism. 

1189 hīs: ablative of comparison, governed by maius aut gravius (AG 406).

1191 Prose order: quota pars tuae clādis est ista (pars) quam nōstī. quota: “how small.” nō(vi)stī syncopated perfect > noscō with present sense, as usual: “you know.”

Thēseus –ī m.: Theseus

flētus fletūs m.: weeping

nex necis f.: killing, murder

profor –fārī –fātus sum: to speak out; say; speak

genitor genitōris m.: father

sileō silēre siluī: to be silent

tacitus –a –um: silent

pudibundus –a –um: ashamed, covered with shame

obtegō –tegere –tēxī –tēctus: to cover up or over

furtim: stealthily

pudet pudēre puduit/puditum est: to makes ashamed

numquid: in a direct question, a strengthened num

Argīvus –a –um: belonging to Argos; Argive

impotens –entis: powerless; lacking control, violent

dominātor –ōris m.: ruler, lord

īnfēstus –a –um: hostile, aggressive

Lycus –ī m.: Lycus

clādēs clādis f.: disaster, destruction, defeat

obruō obruere obruī obrutum: to overwhelm; bury, cover

genitor genitōris m.: father

tacitus –a –um: silent

inultus –a –um: unavenged

vindicta –ae f.: vengeance, punishment

obsum obesse obfuī: to be in the way

sēgnis sēgne: slow, sluggish, lazy

tolerō tolerāre tolerāvī tolerātus: to endure; to bear

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