HER.      Miserēre, genitor, supplicēs tendō manūs.

quid hoc? Manūs refūgit — hīc errat scelus.

unde hic cruor? quid illa puerīlī madēns

harundo lētō? tīncta Lernaeā est nece.1195

iam tēla videō nostra. nōn quaerō manum.

quis potuit arcum flectere aut quae dextera

sinuāre nervum vix recēdentem mihi?

ad vōs revertor, genitor: hoc nostrum est scelus?

tacuēre — nostrum est.


AM.                                              Lūctus est istīc tuus,1200

crīmen novercae; cāsus hic culpā caret.


HER.      Nunc parte ab omnī, genitor, īrātus tonā;

oblīte nostrī, vindicā sērā manū

saltem nepōtēs. stelliger mundus sonet

flammāsque et hic et ille iaculētur polus.1205

rūpēs ligātum Caspiae corpus trahant

atque āles avida; cūr Promēthēī vacant

scopulī? vacat cūr vertice immēnsō ferās

volucrēsque pāscēns Caucasī abruptum latus

nūdumque silvīs? illa quae Pontum Scythēn1210

Symplēgas artat hinc et hinc vīnctās manūs

distendat altō, cumque revocātā vice

in sē coībunt saxaque in caelum expriment

āctīs utrimque rūpibus medium mare,

ego inquiēta montium iaceam mora.1215

quīn strūctum acervāns nemore congestō aggerem

cruōre corpus impiō sparsum cremō?

sīc, sīc agendum est; īnferīs reddam Herculem.

Hercules holds out his hands in supplication and realizes when Amphitryon pulls away that there is blood on them. He then recognizes his weapons and realizes that he murdered his family. Amphitryon absolves Hercules from blame, but Hercules ignores him and begs Jupiter either to strike him down by lightning (1202–5), to expose him to be eaten by birds like Prometheus (1205–9), or to crush him between the Symplegades (1210–15). He resolves instead to burn himself alive (1216–18).

Even in the depths of his guilt, he retains his sense of grandiosity: only an extraordinary disaster will be enough to destroy him. We may note that this is the moment of recognition (anagnorisis), a typical scene in many Greco-Roman tragedies.

1192 miserēre: imperative deponent > misereor (AG 190). supplicēs tendō manūs: recall that the last gestures of supplication in the play were by Hercules’ family as he killed them.

1193 errat: “is lurking,” or literally, “is wandering.” Hercules senses some kind of scelus but doesn’t exactly know where it is.

1194 unde hic cruor: supply a verb such as vēnitquid: “why?” Supply est.

1194–95 puerīlī … lētō: i.e., the blood from his son’s death (although one wonders how he recognizes it as specifically a boy’s blood).

1195 Lernaeā … nece: ablative depending on tincta. Hercules dipped his arrows in the Hydra of Lerna’s poisonous blood.

1196 manum: the hand that wielded the weapons.

1198 vix recedentem mihi: the bowstring “barely yielding (even) to me.”

1199 tacuēre: syncopated form = tacuērunt.

1200–1 tuus: predicate, “yours,” in antithesis to novercae, “your step-mother’s.” Note alliteration of “c.” Repetition of the hard consonant suggests Amphitryon’s grief.

1201 casus hic culpā caret: i.e., Hercules can’t be blamed for this disaster.

1202 parte: “direction.” genitor: Jupiter.

1203 nostrī: objective genitive after oblīte (AG 349), “forgetful of.” serā manū: ablative of means (AG 408); Jupiter is too late to save his grandsons, but can at least avenge them.

1204–6 sonet, iaculētur, trahant: hortatory subjunctives (AG 439). et hic et ille: “this [pole] and that.” Hercules wants lightning to come from every part of the sky.

1206 rūpēs … Caspiae: Hercules wants to suffer the same fate as Prometheus, chained to a cliff in the Caucasus near the Caspian Sea, his liver forever eaten by an eagle.

1208 vacat cūr: “why is it empty?” The subject is abruptum latus (1209), the “sheer cliff-face” of the Caucasus mountains. vertice immēnsō: locative ablative.

1208–09 ferās / volucrēsque pāscēns: wild animals and birds of prey hunt on the mountain; the implication is that they would happily eat Hercules‘ flesh if he were chained up like Prometheus.

1210–11 illa … Symplēgas: “the famous Symplegades” (Symplēgas -idis f., singular for plural). These are the Clashing Rocks that supposedly stood at the entrance to the Pontus = the Black Sea (which is called here “Scythian”: Scythēn is the Greek accusative form of the adjective). Hercules wants their movement to crush him.

1212–13 distendat altō: “let them stretch (my hands) apart over the sea,” jussive subjunctive (AG 439). cumque: “and when” (AG 545), governing coibunt. revocātā vice: “on the recoil” (Fitch 2018), ablative absolute (AG 419). The rocks were supposed to smash together and destroy ships who tried to enter the Black Sea. This is one of the hazards encountered by Jason and the Argonauts.

1214 āctīs ... rūpibus: “with rocks being put in motion,” ablative absolute. medium mare: “the sea in between,” object of in caelum expriment.

1215 iaceam: optative subjunctive (AG 441). inquieta… mora: “as an unresting buffer” (Fitch 2018); nominative apposition (AG 282).

1216 quīn: “why don’t I….” looking forward to cremō (1217). Indicative is normal with this sense of quīn. nemore congestō: ablative absolute. Hercules thinks it will take a whole forest to make his funeral pyre.

1217 cruōre … impiō: abl. depending on sparsum. The blood is called impius because Hercules himself was impius when he killed his family.

1218 agendum est: passive periphrastic (AG 500), “(this) must be done.”

misereor–ērī –itus sum: to feel or show pity

genitor genitōris m.: father

supplex –icis: entreating, begging, suppliant

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

cruor cruōris m.: blood, bloodshed

puerīlis –e: boyish

madeō –ēre: to be wet, be damp

harundō –inis f.: reed; rod, crown, arrow

lētum letī n.: death

tingō tingere tinxī tinctus: to wet, moisten; dye, color

Lernaeus –a –um: of Lerna; Lernaean

nex necis f.: killing, murder

arcus arcūs m.: bow, arch

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

sinuō –āre –āvī –ātus: to make into a fold or folds; to coil

nervus –ī m.: muscle, tendon; cord, string

genitor genitōris m.: father

lūctus lūctūs m.: mourning, grief

istīc: there

noverca novercae f.: step-mother

tonat tonāre tonuit: to thunder

oblīvīscor oblīvīscī oblītus sum: to forget

vindicō –āre –āvī –ātus: to claim; to avenge

sērus –a –um: late, too late

saltem: at least

nepōs nepōtis m.: grandchild; descendant

stelliger –gera –gerum: star-bearing, starry

iaculor –ārī –ātus sum: to hurl (a javelin); to throw

polus –ī m.: pole, heavens

rūpēs –is f.: rock, cliff

ligō –āre –āvī –ātus: to tie, bind

Caspius –a –um: of the Caspian Sea; Caspian

avidus –a –um: eager; greedy; hungry

Promētheus –eī m.: the Titan , Prometheus

scopulus –ī m.: cliff, rock

vertex verticis m.: peak, summit; whirlpool

immēnsus –a –um: immeasurable, boundless, vast

fera ferae f.: wild animal

pāscō pāscere pāvī pāstum: to feed

Caucasus –ī m.: Caucasus (mountains)

abruptus –a um: steep, sheer

Symplēgades –um f.: Symplegades

vinciō vincīre vīnxī vīnctum: to bind, tie up

distendō –tendere –tendī –tēnsus –or tentus: to stretch apart or out

coeō coīre coīvī/coiī coitus: to come together

exprimō exprimere expressī expressum: to press, express

utrimque: on or from either side

rūpēs –is f.: rock, cliff

inquietus –a –um: restless

acervō –āre –āvī –ātus: to heap or pile up

congerō –gerere –gessī –gestum: to gather together, collect; pile up, build up

agger aggeris m.: mound, rampart

cruor cruōris m.: blood, bloodshed

impius –a –um: disloyal, wicked

cremō –āre –āvī –ātus: to burn

Herculēs –is m.: Hercules

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