LYC. Agedum efferātās, rabida, vōcēs āmovē,
et disce rēgum imperia ab Alcīdē patī.
ego rapta quamvīs scēptra victrīcī geram
dextrā, regamque cūncta sine lēgum metū,400
quās arma vincunt, pauca prō causā loquar
nostrā. cruentō cecidit in bellō pater?
cecidēre frātrēs? arma nōn servant modum;
nec temperārī facile nec reprimī potest
strictī ēnsis īra; bella dēlectat cruor.405
sed ille rēgnō prō suō, nōs improbā
cupīdine āctī? quaeritur bellī exitus,
nōn causa. sed nunc pereat omns memoria;
cum victor arma posuit, et victum decet
dēpōnere odia. nōn ut īnflexō genū410
rēgnantem adōrēs petimus; hoc ipsum placet,
animō ruīnās quod capis magnō tuās.
es rēge coniūnx digna; sociēmus torōs.
Lycus tells Megara to stop her protest, justifies his seizure of the throne, and again asks her to marry him. He attempts to strike a reasonable and magnanimous tone, but the realities of his tyranny repeatedly shine through.
397 Agedum: “come now.” The tone is conciliatory, but condescending. rabida: “impetuous one,” vocative. efferātās … vōcēs āmovē: “put away wild talk.” The phrase may sound like elevated language, but in fact in the colloquial style of Plautus and Terrence’s plays, characters often speak of “putting away” (i.e., stopping) various thing: suspiciō, metus, amor, etc. (LS āmoveo I, under “abstract ideas”).
398 imperia: “commands.” Lycus cruelly reminds Megara that Hercules is under the command of King Eurystheus.
399 quamvīs: governs a concessive clause (AG 527.a) with the subjunctives geram and 400 regamque.
399–400 victrīcī ... dextrā: ablative of means (AG 409). Lycus is boasting to hide his political vulnerability: earlier he admitted feeling anxiety (341–42 rapta … trepidā manū / scēptra obtinentur).
400–1 lēgum … quās arma vincunt, 403 arma nōn servant modum: similar sententiae about law’s fragility in the face of violence can be found in the epic Civil War by Lucan and in several of Cicero’s speeches (e.g., Pro Milone 4.11 silent enim lēgēs inter arma, which became a famous aphorism). See 253 iūs est in armīs.
401–2 pauca prō causā loquar / nostrā: supply tamen. Having just admitted that he has no need to justify himself, the perverse tyrant Lycus proceeds to speak “a few words” (pauca) of justification anyway. He uses a phrase that recalls Aeneas’ somewhat questionable justification of his actions to Dido: prō rē pauca loquar (Virgil, Aeneid 4.337). The undying hatred of Dido, which leads eventually to the Punic Wars, helps us to realize that Lycus is unlikely to placate Megara with his arguments.
403 cecidēre: syncopated perfect = cecidērunt > cado. The polyptoton with cecidit in the previous line allowed Seneca to explore the sound of the verb, whose repeated c’s perhaps suggest the violence of death in war (note also the c in cruentō).
403–5 War and anger violate the principles of Seneca’s Stoic philosophy because they do not respect proper limits (modum). But Lycus’s interests here are less philosophical and more pragmatic: he wishes to excuse himself of any wrongdoing. To this end, he employs personification to shift the blame away from himself and onto arma, the ensis, and bella.
404 facile: adverbial
405 strictī ēnsis īra: “the anger of a drawn sword,” the subject of potest in the previous line.
406-7 sed ille … nōs ... āctī: the thought is compressed. sed ille (āctus est [“was driven”] pugnāre) prō suō rēgnō, nōs cupīdine improbā āctī (sumus pugnāre). As is common in rhetorical arguments, Lycus anticipates an objection: that his motivation in seizing the throne was less noble than Megara’s father’s motivation in defending it. nōs: an individual speaker in poetry often refers to himself or herself as nōs without the implication of pomposity. improbā / cupīdine: ablative of means (AG 398)
407 quaeritur: impersonal passive, “people inquire,” i.e., “the question is,” “what matters is.”
408–10 Megara’s recent list of Thebes’ cursed history (386–394) shows that she is unlikely to forget the past, as Lycus asks.
408 pereat: hortatory subjunctive (AG 439). omnis memoria: the fifth foot of Senecan iambic trimeters is almost always a spondee or iamb. Here, it is a dactyl: -nis mĕmŏ-. This exception is very rare, and occurs only with the words memoria and facinorum, which Seneca evidently considered useful enough to justify an unusual metrical pattern.
409–10 posuit: = deposuit, “has put down”; see dēpōnere in the next line. %% This verb occupies the same metrical position as pereat in the previous line and has the same metrical shape (three short syllables) and the same first and last letters: the echo reinforces Lycus’s argument that he has put down his weapons so Megara should forget the past. et: = etiam. victum decet: attempting to strike a polite tone, Lycus says that “it is fitting for the beaten person” to lay aside hatred. But earlier, he was more honest in acknowledging his power over Megara: 368–69 pācem reducī velle victōrī expedit, / vīctō necesse est.
410–11 nōn ut … adōrēs petimus: nōn modifies petimus, which introduces a jussive noun clause / substantive clause of purpose (AG 563). rēgnantem: “the ruler,” i.e., Lycus.
411–12 hoc ipsum … quod: “the very fact that …” Admiration for enduring adverse circumstances animō … magnō (ablative of manner without cum, AG 412) is a basic principle of Stoicism, but coming from the villain Lycus, it has the unsettling feeling of a predator admiring his victim’s spirit. placet: supply mihi. capis: “suffer,” or perhaps more positively, “bear” (LS capio I.C.11, II.B.2.a).
413 digna: this adjective typically governs an ablative of specification (AG 418.b), here, rēge. sociēmus torōs: hortatory subjunctive (AG 439), recalling 370 sociēmur animīs. Since a spouse may be called a consors torī or socius/a torī, getting married may be described as sociare torōs.
effero āre, āvi, ātum: to make wild
rabidus –a –um: raving, savage, mad, raging
Alcīdēs –ae. m.: a descendant of Alceus; Hercules
raptō raptāre raptāvī raptātus: to seize violently; drag
scēptrum –ī n.: royal staff; scepter
victrīx –cis: victorious, triumphant
cruentus –a –um: bloody, blood–stained
temperō temperāre temperāvī temperātus: to divide or combine duly; temper, rule, control oneself
reprimō reprimere repressī repressus: to press back, restrain
stringō stringere strīnxī strictum: to draw tight, bind fast; draw (from a scabbard, etc.)
ēnsis ēnsis m.: sword
dēlectō dēlectāre dēlectāvī dēlectātus: to divert, attract, delight
cruor cruōris m.: blood, bloodshed
improbus –a –um: inferior; excessive; wicked, bad
exitus exitūs m.: departure; end, solution
dēpōnō dēpōnere dēposuī dēpositus: to put down, lay aside
īnflectō –ere –flexī –flexus: to bend
genū genūs n.: knee
rēgnō rēgnāre rēgnāvī rēgnātus: to rule
adōrō adōrāre adōrāvī adōrātus: to entreat, pray, worship
ruīna ruīnae f.: destruction, collapse
sociō sociāre sociāvī sociātus: to make one a socius; to share
torum –ī n. (alsō torus –ī m.): bulge; muscle, knot, bank, cushion