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Tuesday, 17 May 2011



Hercules, a Greek hero celebrated for his great strength, was pursued throughout his life by the hatred of Juno. While yet an infant, he strangled some serpents sent by the goddess to destroy him. During his boyhood and youth he performed various marvelous feats of strength, and on reaching manhood succeeded in delivering the Thebans from the oppression of the Minyae. In a fit of madness sent upon him by Juno, he slew his own children; and on consulting the Delphic oracle as to how he should cleanse himself from this crime, he was ordered to submit himself for twelve years to Eurystheus, king of Tiryns, and to perform whatever tasks were appointed him. Hercules obeyed the oracle, and during the twelve years of his servitude accomplished twelve extraordinary feats known as the Labours of Hercules. His death was caused unintentionally by his wife Dejanira. Hercules had shot with his poisoned arrows a centaur named Nessus, who had insulted Dejanira. Nessus, before he died, gave some of his blood to Dejanira, and told her it would act as a charm to secure her husband's love. Some time after, Dejanira wishing to try the charm soaked one of her husband's garments in the blood, not knowing that it was poisoned. Hercules put on the robe, and after suffering terrible torments died, or was carried off by his father Jupiter.

Herculés, Alcménae fílius, ólim in Graeciá habitábat. Híc omnium hominum validissimus fuisse dícitur. At Iúnó, régína deórum, Alcménam óderat et Herculem adhúc ínfantem necáre voluit. Mísit igitur duás serpentís saevissimás; hae mediá nocte in cubiculum Alcménae vénérunt, ubi Herculés cum frátre suó dormiébat. Nec tamen in cúnís, sed in scútó mágnó cubábant. Serpentés iam appropinquáverant et scútum movébant; itaque puerí é somnó excitátí sunt.

Below are some words which have been chosen for special consideration. For the many other words not included in this list pease refer to the WORDLIST in PAGES TOP RIGHT SIDE BAR.
Scuto - shield , in scuto means ‘in a shield’, scuto being the ablative of the second declension noun scutum as the ablative is required after the preposition in meaning inside, in = place where.
omnium hominum. - Genitive case plural; this means 'of all men' in the sense of 'of all mankind.'
oderat - This verb is pluperfect and just as odi is perfect in form but present in meaning; the pluperfect here has the force of the imperfect verb, ‘she was hating’, ‘she hated’. Remember that Latin uses imperfect when referring to feelings in the past as it is descriptive of a state rather than recounting an event or action.
media nocte - ablative case, used here to indicate time when, with the idea of 'in the middle of the night,' 'in the dead of night.'
Nec tamen - 'not ... however… but' Latin uses nec and neque to connect the clauses.
movebant - Contrast this tense with appropinquaverant and excitati sunt.

Note: This section is not translated into idiomatic English but is intended, together with the notes, to give you the gist of the meaning; you can then come up with your own improved translation.
Herculés, Alcménae fílius,
Hercules, son of Alcmena,
ólim in Graeciá habitábat.
once upon a time lived in Greece.
Híc omnium hominum
He of all men (mankind)
validissimus fuisse dícitur.
is said to have been the bravest.
At Iúnó, régína deórum,
But Juno, queen of the gods,
Alcménam óderat et
hated Alcmena and
Herculem adhúc ínfantem
Hercules from his infancy
necáre voluit.
she wanted to kill.
Mísit igitur duás serpentís saevissimás;
She sent therefore two most savage serpents;
hae mediá nocte
these, in the middle of the night,
in cubiculum Alcménae vénérunt,
came into the bedroom of Alcmena ,
ubi Herculés cum frátre suó dormiébat.
where Hercules with his brother was sleeping.
Nec tamen in cúnís,
However not in a cradle,
sed in scútó mágnó cubábant.
but in a large shield.they were lying.
Serpentés iam appropinquáverant
The serpents had just approached/come close
et scútum movébant;
and were moving the shield;
Itaque puerí é somnó excitátí sunt.
And so the boys were aroused from sleep.

d) The following section is for you to copy and compose your own translation.

Hercules, Alcmenae filius,
olim in Graecia habitabat.
Hic omnium hominum
validissimus fuisse dicitur.
At Iuno, regina deorum,
Alcmenam oderat
et Herculem adhuc infantem necare voluit.
Misit igitur duas serpentis saevissimas;
hae media nocte
in cubiculum Alcmenae venerunt,
ubi Hercules cum fratre suo dormiebat.
Nec tamen in cunis,
sed in scuto magno cubabant.
Serpentes iam appropinquaverant
et scutum movebant;
itaque pueri e somno excitati sunt.

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