in quās impius
terrās recēdēs? ortum an occāsum petēs?1330
ubīque nōtus perdidī exiliō locum.
mē refūgit orbis, astra trānsversōs agunt
oblīqua cursūs, ipse Tītān Cerberum
meliōre vultū vīdit. ō fīdum caput,
Thēseu, latebram quaere longinquam, abditam;1335
quoniamque semper sceleris aliēnī arbiter
amās nocentēs, grātiam meritīs refer
vicemque nostrīs: redde mē īnfernīs, precor,
umbrīs reductum, mēque subiectum tuīs
restitue vinclīs; ille mē abscondet locus —1340
sed et ille nōvit.
THE. Nostra tē tellūs manet.
illīc solūtam caede Grādīvus manum
restituit armīs; illa tē, Alcīdē, vocat,
facere innocentēs terra quae superōs solet.
Hercules considers where to exile himself, but realizes that he will be recognized wherever on earth he goes. He begs Theseus to find him a hiding place and asks to don Theseus’ former chains in the Underworld. Theseus instead offers him refuge in Athens, where even Mars (Ares) was purified of blood guilt.
Mars had been acquitted for the murder of Halirrhothius. The god killed Halirrhothius in vengeance for the rape of his daughter Alcippe (Apollodorus, Library 3.14). Theseus mentions this example because Mars is a god, and Hercules should be all the more willing to follow the example for that reason. Athens had also provided refuge to mortals polluted by murder, such as Oedipus and Orestes.
1329–30 recēdēs … petēs: Hercules addresses himself. ortum an occāsum: east or west, the places where the sun rises and sets.
1331 exiliō: dative of purpose (AG 382).
1332–34 The natural world will not look at Hercules, finding him more horrifying than even the sight of Cerberus was.
1332–33 astra … cursūs: “the stars turn aside and run their courses askew” (Fitch).
1333 meliōre vultū: “with a kinder face,” ablative of manner (AG 412).
1334 caput: referring to Theseus. The metonymy “head” = “person” is common in Latin (LS caput II); here, it imitates a similar metonymy of κάρα (“head”) in Greek tragedy.
1336 sceleris aliēnī: objective genitive depending on arbiter (AG 347).
1337–38 meritīs … nostrīs: dative, “for my services.”
1338–39 redde mē ... reductum: literally, “give me back having been returned”; more idiomatically, “return and restore me.” infernīs … umbrīs: dative indirect object. reductum, subiectum: perfect passive participles agreeing with the direct object mē (AG 494).
1341 nostra … tellus: Athens.
1343 armīs: dative, “to his weapons,” i.e. “to warfare.”
1343–44 Prose order: illa terra tē, Alcīdē, vocat, quae superōs facere innocentēs solet.
impius –a –um: disloyal, wicked
ortus ortūs m.: rising, beginning; sunrise, the East
occāsus –ūs m.: a setting; sunset, the West; destruction, ruin
refugiō –fugere –fūgī: to flee back, run away
transverto, transverti, transvertum: to turn or direct across
oblīquus –a –um: slanting, indirect, covert
Tītān –ānis m.: a Titan
Cerberus –ī m.: Cerberus, three-headed dog of Pluto
fīdus –a –um: faithful, trustworthy
Thēseus –ī m.: Theseus
latebra –ae f.: hiding place
longinquus –a –um: remote (in time or space)
abditus –a –um: removed, hidden
arbiter –trī m.: witness; judge; ruler
meritum –ī: something deserved, reward, recompense; merit, service, kindness, benefit
vicis vicis f.: change, alternation; turn
īnfernus –a –um: of that which is below, infernal
redūcō redūcere redūxī reductus: to bring back; to restore
subiciō subicere subiēcī subiectus: to throw under
restituō restituere restituī restitūtus: to restore
abscondō abscondere abscondī and abscondidī absconditus: to put out of sight, hide
Grādīvus –ī m.: Gradivus (Mars)
Alcīdēs –ae m.: a descendant of Alceus; Hercules
innocēns: innocent, harmless