horrent opācā fronde nigrantēs comae,

taxum imminentem quā tenet sēgnis Sopor690

Famēsque maesta tābidō rictū iacet

Pudorque sērus cōnsciōs vultūs tegit.

Metus Pavorque, Fūnus et frendēns Dolor

āterque Lūctus sequitur et Morbus tremēns

et cīncta ferrō Bella; in extrēmō abdita695

iners Senectūs adiuvat baculō gradum.

Theseus proceeds to catalog the personifications of suffering who live in the Underworld, including Hunger, War, Old Age and others.

The passage adapts the list of personifications that Virgil’s Aeneas sees in the Underworld (Aeneid 6.273–84). 

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Seneca establishes this connection by repeating seven personifications from Virgil (Sopor, Famēs, Metus, Lūctus, Morbus, Bella, Senectūs). But he also varies his model in several ways. For instance, Virgil describes Somnia (“Dreams”) hanging from an elm tree at the end of his list of personifications. Seneca adapts this as Sopor (“Sleep”) hanging from a yew tree at the start of his list. Letus (“Death”) in Virgil becomes the stronger Funus (“Violent Death”) in Seneca. And the combination Metus Pavorque recalls a similar combination, Pavor et Terror, in a short list of Underworld personifications in Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.484–85).

689–90 “Black leaves bristle on dark branches, where sluggish Sleep occupies a looming yew tree.” opācā fronde: a metrically convenient equivalent to opācīs frondibus. comae: “hair” is a common metaphor for leaves in Latin poetry (LS coma II). tenet: “occupies” (LS teneo I.A.2.b).

691 tābidō rictū: ablative of quality (AG 415). The open mouth (rictus) of Fames is tābidus because hunger has caused it to waste away.

692 Pudorque sērus: the personification acts according to its nature: “shame” is ashamed because it has come too late to prevent bad behavior. cōnsciōs: “guilty” (LS conscius II.B).

693 After three lines with one personification per line (690–92), Seneca varies the pace of his description with four personifications in this single line. He then presents one personification per half line in 694–95 before ending with the longest description of a personification (1.5 lines for Senectus).

694 sequitur: “follow (behind the other personifications).” The subjects of this verb are all the personifications from Metus to Bella.

695 cīncta ferrō Bella: “Wars armed with a sword” (LS cingo I.B.1). in extrēmō abdita: “hidden at the back.”

696 baculō: ablative of means (AG 408).

horreō horrēre horruī: to shake, dread

opācus –a –um: shady, dark

frōns frondis f.: leaf, foliage

nigrō nigrāre nigrāvī nigrātus: to be or make black

taxus –ī f.: a yew-tree

immineō imminēre: to threaten; overhang

sēgnis sēgne: slow, sluggish, lazy

sopor –ōris m.: deep sleep

tābidus –a –um: melting away, wasting, languishing

rictus –ūs m.: an open mouth, gaping jaws

sērus –a –um: late, too late

cōnscius –a –um: knowing, self-knowing

pavor pavōris m.: fear, trembling

frendō frendere — frēsum: to gnash; crush, grind

āter atra atrum: black

lūctus lūctūs m.: mourning, grief

tremō tremere tremuī: to shake, quiver

abditus –a –um: removed, hidden

iners: unskilled; idle; sluggish

senectūs senectūtis f.: old age

adiuvō adiuvāre adiūvī adiūvatus: to help, assist, support

baculum –ī n.: staff, walking stick

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