A newer edition of this work is available: 2018

Seneca the Younger, Hercules

LCL 62: 96-97



tandem mortis ait “Vincimur” arbiter, “evade ad superos, lege tamen data: tu post terga tui perge viri comes, 585tu non ante tuam respice coniugem, quam cum clara deos obtulerit dies Spartanique aderit ianua Taenari.” odit verus amor nec patitur moras: munus dum properat cernere, perdidit. 590Quae vinci potuit regia carmine, haec vinci poterit regia viribus.


O lucis almae rector et caeli decus, qui alterna curru spatia flammifero ambiens illustre latis exeris terris caput, 595da, Phoebe, veniam, si quid illicitum tui videre vultus; iussus in lucem extuli arcana mundi. tuque, caelestum arbiter parensque, visus fulmine opposito tege; et tu, secundo maria qui sceptro regis, 600imas pete undas. quisquis ex alto aspicit terrena, facie pollui metuens nova, aciem reflectat oraque in caelum erigat portenta fugiens. hoc nefas cernant duo, qui advexit et quae iussit. In poenas meas 605atque in labores non satis terrae patent Iunonis odio. vidi inaccessa omnibus, ignota Phoebo quaeque deterior polus

  • 594latis E: laetis* A


At last death’s ruler said, “We submit. Go forth to the world, but with this proviso: you may escort your husband, but behind him; you may not look back on your wife until bright daylight discloses the heavens, and the door of Spartan Taenarus is near.” True love hates delays and cannot endure them: in hurrying to behold his prize, he lost her. The kingdom that could be conquered by song can and will be conquered by force.

Act 3

Lord of the life-giving light, glory of heaven, who circle through two expanses alternately 35 in your fiery chariot and reveal your glorious face to the broad lands: grant pardon, Phoebus, if your gaze has beheld what is forbidden. I brought earth’s hidden things into the light under orders. And you, ruler and father of the heavenly gods, hold out the thunderbolt to shield your vision; and you who rule the seas with the second-drawn sceptre, make for your deepest waters. All who look from on high on earthly things, at risk of defilement from this strange sight, should turn their gaze away and lift their eyes to heaven, shunning such a monstrosity. Only two should behold this enormity: he who fetched it, she who ordered it.

For Juno’s hatred the earth is not broad enough to afford me sufferings and toils. I have seen things inaccessible to all, unknown to Phoebus, those gloomy spaces which

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-hercules.2002