Seneca's "Hercules Furens"

Seneca's "Hercules Furens": A Critical Text with Introduction and Commentary

John G. Fitch
Volume: 45
Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 490
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  • Book Info
    Seneca's "Hercules Furens"
    Book Description:

    John G. Fitch's new Latin text of Seneca's play, Hercules Furens, is based on a collation of the chief manuscripts, including the Paris manuscript T. In his introduction, Fitch traces the conflicting classical portrayals of Hercules-a figure embodying altruism and aggrandizement, restraint and wildness-and argues that in the play, the untamed side of his nature ultimately turns against him and destroys him.

    In introductory notes to individual acts and choral odes, Fitch addresses the play's thematic development and discusses probably influences, including the Greek tragedies of the fifth century B.C., the tragedies of the Hellenistic and Roman Republican periods, and the writings of the Augustan poets, particularly Ovid. His line-by-line commentary focuses on such stylistic matters as wordplay, soundplay, meter, diction, and rhetoric, and he also looks closely at line divisions and at characteristic metrical patterns and anapestic odes. Fitch's assessment of the figure of Hercules in ancient literature, popular religion, and literary/moral tradition will be of compelling interest to classicists and students of later periods.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6685-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
    (pp. 9-10)
    John G. Fitch
    (pp. 11-12)
    (pp. 13-62)

    Hercules has appeared in many guises over the centuries, from aggressive bully to exemplar of virtue. This section of the Introduction will do no more than touch upon certain aspects of the Hercules tradition up to Seneca’s time. It will not attempt to catalogue all authors who wrote about Hercules—which would in itself be a Herculean labor—nor to chronicle all the vicissitudes of his reputation.¹ Its purpose is simply to outline those earlier views and treatments of the hero which seem to me to have an important bearing on Seneca’s play.

    From the earliest times Hercules’ heroism is...

  6. SIGLA
    (pp. 63-64)
    (pp. 65-112)

    Soror Tonantis — hoc enim solum mihi

    nomen relictum est — semper alienum lovem

    ac templa summi vidua deserui aetheris,

    locumque caelo pulsa paelicibus dedi.

    tellus colenda est; paelices caelum tenent.

    hinc Arctos alta parte glacialis poli

    sublime classes sidus Argolicas agit;

    hinc, qua recenti vere laxatur dies,

    Tyriae per undas vector Europae nitet;

    illinc timendum ratibus ac ponto gregem

    passim vagantes exserunt Atlantides.

    ferro minax hinc terret Orion deos

    suasque Perseus aureus Stellas habet;

    hinc clara gemini signa Tyndaridae micant

    quibusque natis mobilis tellus stetit.

    nee ipse tantum Bacchus aut Bacchi parens

    adiere superos: ne qua pars probro vacet,

    mundus puellae...

    (pp. 115-462)

    As in three other plays of Seneca (Tro., Med., Ag.) the prologue consists of a monologue; in keeping with general Senecan practice it is preliminary in character, and somewhat separate from the main action of the plot. In both respects Seneca’s usage shows Euripidean influence, whether direct or indirect.¹

    There are important differences from Euripidean technique, however, which may be summarized by describing Juno’s speech as a true soliloquy rather than a monologue addressed to the audience. In place of a formal self-introduction, for example, Juno’s identity is revealed ‘accidentally’ in her opening complaints about her status. Background information emerges...

  9. APPENDIX 1. Further Details of T (Par. Lat. 8031)
    (pp. 463-464)
  10. APPENDIX 2. Addenda and Corrigenda to Giardina’s Apparatus Criticus
    (pp. 465-466)
  11. APPENDIX 3. The Colometry of the Anapestic Odes
    (pp. 467-468)
  12. APPENDIX 4. Compound Adjectives and Adjectives in -x
    (pp. 469-470)
    (pp. 471-478)
    (pp. 479-480)
    (pp. 481-489)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 490-492)