AM. Per sāncta generis sacra, per iūs nōminis
utrumque nostrī, sīve mē altōrem vocās
seu tū parentem, perque venerandōs piīs
cānōs, senectae parce dēsertae, precor,
annīsque fessīs; ūnicum lāpsae domūs1250
firmāmen, ūnum lūmen afflīctō malīs
tēmet reservā. nūllus ex tē contigit
frūctus labōrum; semper aut dubium mare
aut mōnstra timuī; quisquis in tōtō furit
rēx saevus orbe, manibus aut ārīs nocēns,1255
ā mē timētur; semper absentis pater
frūctum tuī tāctumque et aspectum petō.
HER. Cūr animam in istā lūce dētineam amplius
mōrerque nihil est; cūncta iam āmīsī bona,
mentem arma fāmam coniugem nātōs manūs,1260
etiam furōrem. nēmō pollūtō queat
animō medērī; morte sānandum est scelus.
AM. Perimēs parentem.
HER. Facere nē possim, occidam.
AM. Genitōre cōram?
HER. Cernere hunc docuī nefās.
AM. Memoranda potius omnibus facta intuēns1265
ūnīus ā tē crīminis veniam pete.
HER. Veniam dabit sibi ipse, quī nūllī dedit?
laudanda fēcī iussus; hoc ūnum meum est.
succurre, genitor, sīve tē pietās movet
seu trīste fātum sīve violātum decus1270
virtūtis. effer arma; vincātur meā
Amphitryon pleads for Hercules to remain alive to protect and console him. Hercules insists that he has no reason to live. Amphitryon objects that he will die if Hercules does.
1246 sancta generis sacra: neuter substantive, literally “a family’s blessed holy things.” Fitch (1987) aptly translates “bonds.”
1246–47 iūs nōminis / utrumque nostrī: “either right attaching to our name,” i.e., your obligation to me either as birth parent or foster parent. Utrumque is transferred from nōminis to iūs by hypallage.
1248 venerandōs piīs: gerundive with dative of agent (AG 405).
1249 canōs: supply capillōs: the white hair of old age should be respected.
1249–50 senectae … / annīsque: dative objects of parce.
1250–52 Prose order: reservā tēmet, ūnicum firmāmen lāpsae domūs, ūnum lūmen (mihi) afflīctō malīs. afflictō malīs: “to [me, a man] afflicted (dative) by evils (ablative).”
1252 contigit: perfect > contingō -ere; supply mihi, “has come to me” (LS contingo II.B.3.b). The subject is fructus, “benefit” (1253).
1254 quisquis: modifying rēx saevus.
1255 manibus … arīs: ablative of means with nocēns: Amphitryon is perhaps thinking of Busiris, who sacrificed guests at the altar.
1256–57 As suggested by the perfect tense of timuī (1254), the present tense verbs timētur and petō are used vividly to describe past events: “I was afraid … I was always seeking.” absentis … tuī: “of you when you were away,” genitive with the three objects of petō.
1258-59: Prose word order for this indirect question (AG 574) would be nihil est cur detineam… mōrerque.
1260-61: these lines specify the bona that Hercules has lost.
1261 etiam furōrem: after Hercules killed his family, his madness became a benefit because it prevented him from realizing his crime. Now he has lost even that small comfort. queat: potential subjunctive (AG 445).
1261–62 pollūtō … animō: dative object of medēri (AG 367).
1262 sānandum est: passive periphrastic (AG 500.2).
1263 nē possim: negative purpose clause (AG 563). Hercules is worried that he if he remains alive, he would go mad and kill Amphitryon.
1265 omnibus: dative depending memoranda, “so impressive to all” (Fitch 2018).
1266: Prose order: pete ā tē veniam ūnīus crīminis. Seneca’s order foregrounds the emphatic word unius, “(just) one.”
1267 Hercules speaks about himself in the third person, probably not as a sign of pomposity (although Hercules is always quite aware of his own greatness). Rather, he is looking at his personal history from the outside: can a person who has never spared anyone spare himself?
1268 iussus: “because I was commanded,” i.e., not of my own free will. See 596n. There is a bitter contrast between iussus and meum: all of Hercules’ great Labors were done at the command of another, and the only deed that he can claim as truly his own is the murder of his family.
1271 vincātur: hortatory subjunctive (AG 439).
1271–72 vincātur ... dextrā: Stoic philosophers believed that suicide was a way to achieve ultimate victory over the fickle rule of Fortune in life (this romanticizing of suicide is one of many dangerously misguided “lessons” that the ancient world offers modern readers).
sacrum sacrī n.: a holy thing; sacrifice; a sacred thing, temple
altor altōris m.: nourisher, foster father
veneror venerārī venerātus sum: to venerate
cānus –a –um: white
senecta –ae f.: old age
dēsertus –a –um: desolate; abandoned
ūnicus –a –um: unique
firmāmen, -inis n.: a prop; a support
adflīctus –a –um: dejected, afflicted
reservō reservāre reservāvī reservātus: to reserve, preserve
mōnstrum mōnstrī n.: monster; omen
furō furere: to rage, be mad
tāctus –ūs m.: touching; touch
aspectus aspectūs m.: sight
dētineō –ēre –uī –tentus: to hold from or back; hold
coniūnx coniugis f.: spouse, wife
polluō –ere –uī –ūtus: to soil, defile
queō quīre quīvī/quiī quitus: to be able
medeor medērī: to heal (+ dat.)
sānō sānāre sānāvī sānātus: to heal
perimō –ere –ēmī –ēmptus: to annihilate; prevent; kill
genitor genitōris m.: father
corām: personally; openly, publicly; in front of (+ abl.)
memorandus –a –um: worthy of mention; famed
intueor intuērī intuitus sum: to look at
succurrō –currere –currī –cursūrum: to run under; come to mind; assist, be useful
genitor genitōris m.: father
violō violāre violāvī violātus: to violate
efferō efferre extulī ēlātus: to carry out, bring out