HER. Iam parce, genitor, parce, iam revocā manum.
succumbe, virtūs, perfer imperium patris.1315
eat ad labōrēs hic quoque Herculeōs labor:
vīvāmus. artūs allevā afflīctōs solō,
Thēseu, parentis. dextra contāctūs piōs
AM. Hanc manum amplector libēns,
hāc nīsus ībō, pectorī hanc aegrō admovēns1320
HER. Quem locum profugus petam?
ubi mē recondam, quāve tellūre obruar?
quis Tanais aut quis Nīlus aut quis Persicā
violentus undā Tigris aut Rhēnus ferōx
Tagusve Hibērā turbidus gāzā fluēns1325
abluere dextram poterit? Arctōum licet
Maeōtis in mē gelida trānsfundat mare
et tōta Tēthys per meās currat manūs,
haerēbit altum facinus.
The sight of Amphitryon with his sword to his own breast finally persuades Hercules. He begs his father to stop. Hercules recognizes he has a new Labor: staying alive despite his guilt. He then wonders where he can go into exile. He lists four of the great rivers at the edges of the Roman empire: the Tanais (Don) in the northeast, the Nile in the south, the Tigris in the east, the Rhenus (Rhine) in the north, and the Tagus in the west. Yet none of these great bodies of water can cleanse the blood from his hands.
Seneca’s aristocratic audience would have recognized some of these rivers not as mere mythological names but as central features of their world. The Nile was an important source of the grain that fed the Roman empire. The Tigris was ruled by the Parthian empire (Persicā 1323). Nero would enter diplomatic communication with these perennial enemies of Rome. The Rhine was a heavily militarized border between the Roman empire and the German tribes. The Tagus was a site where Romans mined gold and other precious metals (gāzā 1325).
1317 solō: “from the ground.”
1318–19 dextra … scelerata: Hercules is still unwilling to touch his father with his bloodstained hand.
1319–20 Hanc manum ... hāc ... hanc: referring to the hand that Theseus has offered to Amphitryon.
1320 hāc: supply manū, ablative after nīsus, “resting on” (LS nītor nītī nīsus sum I.α).
1320–21 Prose word order: admovēns hanc [manum] aegrō pectorī, dolōrēs pellam.
1321 profugus: “as an exile.”
1322 quāve tellūre: ablative of means (AG 409).
1323–25 Persicā … undā, Hiberā … gazā: ablatives depending on the adjectives violentus and turbidus respectively.
1325 turbidus ... fluēns: “flowing turbid.”
1326–28 licet … transfundat … currat: licet (“even if”) introduces a concessive clause (AG 527), looking forward to haerēbit.
1327 Maeotis: the marshes on the River Don and the Sea of Azov. in mē ... transfundat mare: “pour its sea over me.”
1328 Tethys: a poetic synonym for the Ocean that the Greeks and Romans believed surrounded the world.
1329 altum: a predicative adjective: “deep inside [me].”
genitor genitōris m.: father
succumbō –ere –cubuī –cubitus: to fall down; succumb
perferō perferre pertulī perlātus: to endure
Herculeus –a –um: of Hercules; Herculean
artus artūs m.: joint; limb
allevo –levāre: to raise up
afflīgō affligere afflīxī afflīctus: to beat, strike
sōlum –ī n.: ground, land, region
Thēseus –ī m.: Theseus
contāctus –ūs m.: touching together or upon; touch
scelerō scelerāre scelerāvī scelerātus: to pollute, defile
refugiō –fugere –fūgī: to flee back, run away
amplector amplectī amplexus sum: to embrace
libēns –entis: willing
nītor nītī nīsus sum: to press/lean upon
admoveō admovēre admōvī admōtus: to move to, bring to
profugus –a –um: fugitive, exiled
recondō recondere recondidī reconditus: to put back; hide
obruō obruere obruī obrutum: to overwhelm; bury, cover
Tanais –is m.: Tanais
Nīlus –ī m.: Nilus
Persicus –a –um: Persian
violentus –a –um: violent, fierce
Tigris –is or –idis m.: Tigris, a river in Mesopotamia
Rhēnus –ī m.: Rhine
ferōx ferōcis: bold; wild
Tagus –ī m.: Tagus
Hibērus –a –um : Spanish
turbidus –a –um: confused, fouled, turbid
gāza –ae f.: treasure, riches
abluō –luere –luī –lūtus: to wash away
Arctōus –a –um: arctic, northern
gelidus –a –um: cold, icy
transfundō transfundere transfūdī transfūsus: to transfer by pouring, pour over
Tēthys Tēthyos f.: Tethys (sea-goddess); the ocean
haereō haerēre haesī haesūrus: to stick to, hang on to, cleave