Seneca the Younger, Hercules

LCL 62: 16-17



adiere superos: ne qua pars probro vacet, mundus puellae serta Cnosiacae gerit. Sed sero querimur; una me dira ac fera 20Thebana tellus matribus sparsa impiis quotiens novercam fecit! escendat licet meumque victrix teneat Alcmene locum, pariterque natus astra promissa occupet, in cuius ortus mundus impendit diem 25tardusque Eoo Phoebus effulsit mari retinere mersum iussus Oceano iubar, non sic abibunt odia: vivaces aget violentus iras animus, et saevus dolor aeterna bella pace sublata geret. 30Quae bella? quidquid horridum tellus creat inimica, quidquid pontus aut aer tulit terribile dirum pestilens atrox ferum, fractum atque domitum est. superat et crescit malis iraque nostra fruitur; in laudes suas 35mea vertit odia; dum nimis saeva impero, patrem probavi, gloriae feci locum. qua Sol reducens quaque deponens diem binos propinqua tinguit Aethiopas face, indomita virtus colitur et toto deus 40narratur orbe. monstra iam desunt mihi, minorque labor est Herculi iussa exequi

  • 19EA have sed vetera sero querimur: Leo omits vetera
  • 20matribus Axelson: nuribus EA
  • 24impendit EA: impediit recc.


joined the gods above: so that no quarter should be free of scandal, the heavens wear the garland of the girl from Cnossus.4

But these are old grievances. How often has this one land, this wild and monstrous land of Thebes, with its crop of impious mothers,5 made me a stepmother! It may be that Alcmene will ascend to heaven and victoriously hold my place, and that her son likewise will gain the stars that were promised him—this son for whose begetting the whole world lost a day, when Phoebus, with orders to keep the sunlight immersed in Ocean, shone forth late from the Eastern seas. Even so, my hatred will not just evaporate. My mind will aggressively pursue undying anger, and my fierce resentment will abolish peace and wage eternal warfare.

What warfare? Any fearful thing the hostile earth produced, or sea or air brought forth, however frightening, monstrous, poisonous, dreadful, savage, has been broken and tamed. He prevails and grows greater through hardships, thrives on my anger, turns my hatred to his own glory. By imposing such cruel commands, I have proved his parentage and given scope to his reputation. Where the Sun restores the day and relinquishes it, blackening both Ethiop tribes with the closeness of its torch, his indomitable valor is revered, and throughout the whole world he is storied as a god. Now there are no monsters left me, and it is less of a labor for Hercules to fulfill my commands,

  • 4The mother is Semele; the girl is Ariadne, whose garland became the constellation Corona.
  • 5I.e., women made pregnant by Jupiter (Semele; Alcmene; Antiope, mother of Amphion and Zethus), called “impious” by Juno as representing an insult to her godhead.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-hercules.2018