Nec satis terrae patent:
effrēgit ecce līmen īnfernī Iovis
et opīma vīctī rēgis ad superōs refert.48
vīdī ipsa, vīdī nocte discussā īnferūm50
et Dīte domitō spolia iactantem patrī
frāterna. cūr nōn vīnctum et oppressum trahit
ipsum catēnīs paria sortītum Iovī
Erebōque captō potitur et retegit Styga?
parum est revertī, foedus umbrārum perit:49
patefacta ab īmīs mānibus retrō via est55
et sacra dīrae mortis in apertō iacent.
at ille, ruptō carcere umbrārum ferōx,
dē mē triumphat et superbificā manū
ātrum per urbēs dūcit Argolicās canem.
vīsō labantem Cerberō vīdī diem60
pavidumque Sōlem; mē quoque invāsit tremor,
et terna mōnstrī colla dēvictī intuēns
Juno focuses on her most recent reason to hate and fear Hercules. Her enemy has just returned from the Underworld with Cerberus, the three-headed guard dog, and so demonstrated his contempt for death.
46 nec satis terrae patent: “even the earth is not room enough.”
47 īnfernī Iovis: “the Jupiter below,” a common poetic way of referring to Jupiter’s brother Dis, ruler of the Underworld.
48 opīma vīctī rēgis: a Roman commander could be awarded the spolia opīma, “the rich spoils,” by defeating an enemy commander in battle and taking his weapons and armor. Juno speaks as if Hercules has defeated Dis (vīctī rēgis) and taken spoils from him.
50 vīdī ipsa, vīdī: the repetition of vīdī with the intensifying pronoun emphasizes Juno’s strong emotion. Virgil’s Aeneas similarly repeats vīdī as he narrates the disasters that he observed during the sack of Troy (Aeneid 2.499–501). īnferūm: genitive, for inferōrum, “of the world below,” a neuter plural adjective used as a substantive (L-S inferus I.B)
50–51 nocte discussā … et Dīte domitō: ablative absolute (AG 419), describing the attendant circumstances of iactantem.
51 iactantem patrī: “(Hercules) showing off to his father (Jupiter).”
51-52 spolia … frāterna: “his (Jupiter’s) brother’s spoils”; Jupiter and Dis are brothers.
52–54 Juno exaggerates the consequences of Hercules’ removal of Cerberus. What if he decided to rule in the Underworld in place of Dis, the god whom he conquered?
53 ipsum: Dis. paria sortītum Iovī: “having drawn equal lots to Jupiter.” Sortītum refers to Dis, like the other accusative participles in the sentence. Dis drew lots with his brothers Jupiter and Neptune for control of the universe. Jupiter won and took heaven; Neptune came in second and took the sea; Dis lost and so has the undesirable Underworld. See Iliad 15.184ff.
54 Erebōque captō: ablative, governed by the deponent verb potitur (AG 410). Styga: a Greek accusative form of the third declension (AG 82).
49, 55-56 Juno voices a complaint that the god of the Underworld makes frequently in ancient poetry. During Homer’s battle of the gods, for example, Hades worries that Poseidon will split open the earth and allow people to see his kingdom (Homer Iliad 20.61–66).
49 Editors since F. Leo have moved this line here, as it makes better sense with the lines that follow. parum est revertī: “it is not enough to return.” foedus umbrārum: “the compact governing the shades,” i.e., an agreement between Pluto and Jupiter than Pluto’s kingdom is not to be violated. The genitive is normal after foedus, see L-S foedus -eris n. II. perīt: “has perished” = periit > pereō perfect active.
55 retrō via: “the road back.” Note that via est should be read viast through prodelision; see note 2. ab īmīs mānibus: “from the deepest underworld” > Mānēs, shades of the dead, by metonymy.
56 sacra: “holy things.” See note 30 on Latin neuter adjectives used as nouns.
57-63 Juno takes Hercules’ latest Labor personally, as if his choice to parade Cerberus in triumph was intended as an insult to her. She is also afraid of the monster that he has brought up from the Underworld.
58 superbificā: Seneca apparently coined this resonant compound adjective. Compound adjectives in –ficus are rare, but characteristic of Roman drama.
60 vīsō … Cerberō: ablative absolute (AG 419), describing the attendant circumstances. labantem … diem: “daylight faltering” (Fitch).
63 imperāsse: = imperāvisse, as if she herself, rather than Eurystheus, had ordered Hercules to bring back Cerberus.
effringō –fringere –frēgī –frāctus: to break out or open; crush
īnfernus –a –um: of that which is below, infernal
Iuppiter Iovis m.: Jupiter, Jove
opīmus –a –um: rich; fat, fertile
discutiō –cutere –cussī –cussus: to shake off
Dīs –ītis m.: Dis; Pluto
domō domāre domuī domitus: to tame, subdue
spolia –ōrum n.: plunder; hide (of an animal), arms
iactō iactāre iactāvī iactātus: to throw; throw around; boast
frāternus –a –um: of a brother, fraternal
vinciō vincīre vīnxī vīnctum: to bind, tie up
opprimō opprimere oppressī oppressus: to press on or down; overwhelm
catēna –ae f.: chain, fetter
Erebus –ī m.: Erebus
potior potīrī potītus sum: to obtain; to possess; to reign over
retegō retegere retēxī retēctus: to uncover, reveal
Stygius –a –um: Stygian; pertaining to Styx (river)
revertor revertī reversus sum: to turn back, return
foedus foederis n.: contract, treaty
patefaciō patefacere patefēcī patefactum: to reveal
īmus –a –um: deepest, last
mānēs –ium m. pl: souls or ghosts of the dead
sacrum sacrī n.: a holy thing; sacrifice; a sacred thing, temple
dīrus –a –um: ominous, fearful, horrible; dire
apertus –a –um: open
carcer carceris m.: prison, jail
ferōx ferōcis: bold; wild
triumphō triumphāre triumphāvī triumphātus: to triumph, have a triumph
superbificus superbifica, superbificum: proud-making
āter atra atrum: black
Argolicus –a –um: of Argolis; Argolic; Greek
labō labāre labāvī labātus: to give way
Cerberus –ī m.: Cerberus, three-headed dog of Pluto
pavidus –a –um: scared, frightened
invādō invādere invāsī invāsum: to go in, attack
tremor –ōris m.: trembling; a shudder, horror
ternī –ae –a: 3 each
mōnstrum mōnstrī n.: monster; omen
collum collī m.: neck
dēvincō –vincere –vīcī –victus: to conquer completely
intueor intuērī intuitus sum: to look at