Change of the Meaning of Virtus in Seneca's Hercules Furens

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  • セネカの悲劇『狂えるヘルクレース』におけるuirtusの変容
  • セネカ ノ ヒゲキ クルエル ヘルクレース ニ オケル uirtus ノ ヘン

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Seneca's Hercules Furens has almost the same plot as its model, Euripides' Herakles, but examining the two tragedies in detail we also find many differences between them. The word, uirtus, is frequently used in Hercules Furens and it is emphas ized that Hercules is a man of uirtus in the first half. After he returned from the lower world and killed Lycus, the glory of his uirtus seemed to be proven, but he was suddenly driven mad by Juno and killed his own wife and children. When he came to his senses and realized what he had done, he was shocked and tried to commit suicide. Besides his sadness and sense of guilt, the reason for trying to commit suicide was that he had thought the fame of his uirtus had been disgraced. He tried to commit suicide, so to speak, because of uirtus. Then he was persuaded to give up suicide by his father, Amphitryon, who appealed to Hercules' filial piety, pietas. In Euripides' Herakles, the fear of losing his reputation made the hero give up suicide and decide to live bearing his fate and hardships. It seems that Hercules, a man of uirtus, changed his mind because of pietas in the version by Seneca, but Herakles adhered to being a man of uirtus to the end in Euripides' version. This difference is very important. In the prologos of Hercules Furens, Juno said that Hercules was too proud of his uirtus and foretold that the uirtus of Hercules would be the cause of his harm. A negative view regarding exessive uirtus is stated in the first choral ode and the chorus seems to think Hercules' katabasis (going to the lower world)was a deed caused by his excessive uirtus. Lycus, who was not a man of pietas, also thought himself to be as much a man of uirtus as Hercules and many correspondences between Lycus and Hercules are seen in Hercules Furens. Lycus was killed and Hercules became unhappy by the harm caused by the caprice of Fortuna which was also the theme of the chorus, but Hercules had a chance to recover from his harm with the help of pietas, because, as I said, Hercules, a man of uirtus, changed his mind when his father appealed to his pietas, unlike Euripides' hero, and decided to live bearing hardships, as his model. The persuasion scene seems to show us the transformation of Hercules from a man of uirtus to a man of uirtus with pietas. On these grounds, I conclude that Seneca created a new type of Hercules as a hero bearing hardshps who had become unhappy despite his uirtus because of the harm caused by the caprice of Fortuna, but decided to continue living as a man of uirtus improved by pietas.


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