Notes to the Octavia of Pseudo-Seneca

tolero (1)
endure, bear; toleranda = future passive participle (neuter plural accusative) conveying the idea of necessity. Octavia speaks of her own sufferings and those of her loved ones.

quamvis conjunction
however much; although; followed by the subjunctive patiar in a concessive clause.

patior, pati, passa/us sum (deponent)
suffer, submit to, put up with.

haud adverb
not at all.

umquam adverb
ever, at any time.

queo, -ire, -ivi, quitum
be able, can. This is a potential subjunctive; the subject is nostra mala.

nisi conjunction
except, but; translate with morte.

mors, -tis  f.

tristis, -e
sad; gloomy.

finio, -ire, -ivi, -itum
limit; end, finish (used of dying).

malum, -i n.
evil, misfortune, harm.

genetrix, -tricis f.
(birth) mother.

caedo, -ere, cecidi, caesum
kill; cut to pieces. The ablative absolute (genetrice is the subject) explains the cause of Octavia's state of mind, the first of a series of participial constructions.

scelus, -eris n.
wickedness, crime, sin.

rapio, -ere, -ui, raptum
snatch, carry off; ablative absolute with patre.

orbo (1)
be bereaved (of); destitute (of); be orphaned; the first of a series of perfect passive participles follow, modifying the subject (Octavia). The participle is followed here by the ablative of separation (fratre).

miseria, -ae f.
distress, trouble, misery; note its placement in the center of the line.

luctus, -us m.
mourning, lamentation; supply et between miseriis and luctu, an example of asyndeton.

obruo, -ere, -i, -tum
overwhelm, overpower; bury.

maeror, -oris m.
sorrow, sadness, mourning.

premo, -ere, pressi, pressum
burden, overcome, press.

coniunx, -ugis m.f.
spouse; husband, wife.

invisus, -a, -um
hateful (to); detested (by); perfect passive participle invideo, followed by the dative.

subicio, -icere, -iēcī, -iectum
put under; subject (to), subordinate (to); a shocking statement for an empress to make!

famula, -ae f.
maid-servant. This is Acte, her former slave, whom Nero openly took as a mistress. Octavia refuses to name her, perhaps because her freed name would have been Octavia Acte. Some believe Octavia means Poppaea; unlikely, as she was an aristocrat.

lux, lucis f.
light; life.

gratus, -a, -um
grateful; welcome; modifies Octavia, but could equally apply to luce.

fruor, frui, fructa/us sum + ablative

trepido (1)
be agitated; hurry; be alarmed; the tense of the ablative absolute shifts, revealing new threats anticipated by Octavia.

cor, -dis n.
heart; soul; mind, judgment.

metus, -us m.
fear, alarm, anxiety.

scelus, -eris n.
wickedness, crime, sin; understand metu. Octavia fears the strategies Nero might employ to rid himself of her in his eagerness to marry Poppaea.

absum, -esse, āfuī
be away, absent, distant; be different, missing; a conditional sentence with si understood. The subject of the verb is crimen.

crimen, -inis n.
charge, accusation; guilt; crime.

fatum, -i n.
fate, destiny; divine will; misfortune, doom. Below, in line 112 it is used in the latter sense.

morior, mori, mortuus/a sum
die, to decay, fade.

iuvo (1)
help, be of use (to); please, delight.

poena, -ae f.
penalty, punishment. The succession of infinitives (videre, iungere, timere) emphasizes the evils Octavia endures.

nam conjunction
for, for example; now; postponed: translate before poena.

gravis, -e
painful, oppressive, severe; heavy; the comparative form of the adjective.

nex, necis f.
violent death; killing, murder; ablative of comparison.

tumidus, -a, -um
swollen; enraged; modifies vultus.

trux, trucis
savage, grim, wild.

vultus, -us m.
look, expression; face; appearance.

tyrannus, -i m.
despot, tyrant; she refers to but does not name Nero, her husband.

iungo, -ere, iunxi, iunctum
join, unite, bring together.

atque conjunction
and in fact; and moreover; postponed: translate before iungere.

hostis, -is m. f.

osculum, -i n.

nutus, -us m.
nod, will.

obsequium, -i n.
allegiance; compliance; obedience; the direct object of ferre. Octavia speaks of the virtue that a Roman matrona owed to her husband (cuius is an objective not a possessive genitive).

dolor, -oris m.
pain; sorrow; resentment; subject of posset, an imperfect potential subjunctive.

interimo, -ere, -emi, -emptum
destroy, kill; abolish; perfect passive participle agreeing with fratris, her brother Britannicus. Note the repetition of scelus throughout her speech.

imperium, -i n.
power, authority; command; this cuius refers to Britannicus, who was younger than Octavia and Nero.

sors, sortis f.
fate; lot; oracle; understand cuius.

gaudeo, -ere, gavisi, gavisus
delight (in), rejoice (at), be pleased (with); followed by the ablative (sorte).

auctor, -oris m.f.
originator; instigator; leader. The understood subject of both tenet and gaudet is Nero.

infandus, -a, -um
unspeakable, atrocious.


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