Prayers to Hercules

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Anonymous Elegy to Maecenus 1.57-68

O Hercules, energetic Alcidean, unwearied after so many labors, so they recall, even so You laid aside Your cares and made delightful play with a tender girl, having forgotten the Nemean lion, and also the Erymanthian boar. What should come afterward? Twisting spindles with Your thumbs, biting smooth the rough threads in Your mouth. Lydian Omphale beat you for repeatedly knotting and breaking the thread with Your rough hands. Often she would lead You as one of her spinning maidens dressed in flowing robes. Your knotty club together with the lion's skin was thrown down to the ground, and Amor danced upon them with light feet. Who would have thought that would come about when as a babe You strangled monstrous serpents with hands that could barely grasp, or when You swiftly cut off the heads of the Hydra as each grew back again? or conquered the savage steeds of Diomede, or when alone You fought the three brothers who shared a common body and contended with six hands? After the Lord of Olympus routed the sons of Aloeus they say He rested on a bed until the bright of day, and then sent His eagle in search and bring back anyone worthy to lovingly serve Jove, until in an Idaean valley he found You, handsome priest, and gently carried You away in his talons.

L. Apuleius Madaurensis, Metamorphoses sive Asinus aureus 9.21

dignus hercules, dignus, qui et ista vincula conteras et insuper carceris etiam tenebras perferas.

Fittingly, by Hercules, fittingly, if you let the time pass in patience, your bonds, your imprisonment also you may endure.

Corpus Inscriptiones Latinae I 1290

Lucius Aufidius, son of Decius, deservedly devotes this gift to you, Hercules, to pay an annual tithe (for the upkeep of your shrine). At the same time he asks of You, You who are a holy God, to help him and give him Your peace.

Corpus Inscriptiones Latinae VI 312

Te precor Alcide sacris / Invicte peractis / rite tuis laetus dona / ferens meritis / haec tibi nostra potest / tenuis perferre camena / nam grates dignas tu / potes efficere / sume libens simulacra / tuis quae munera Cilo / aris urbanus dedicat / ipse sacris

Corpus Inscriptiones Latinae VI 319

Argive Hercules Victor, to you the urban praetor Veldumnianus Iunius offers a gift in this place.

P. Horatius Flaccus, Sermones 2.6

Oh that some accident would discover to me an urn [full] of money! as it did to him, who having found a treasure, bought that very ground he before tilled in the capacity of an hired servant, enriched by Hercules' being his friend. if what I have at present satisfies me grateful, I supplicate you with this prayer: make my cattle fat for the use of their master, and everything else, except my genius:3 and, as you are wont, be present as my chief guardian. Wherefore, when I have removed myself from the city to the mountains and my castle, (what can I polish, preferably to my satires and prosaic muse?) neither evil ambition destroys me, nor the heavy south wind, nor the sickly autumn, the gain of baleful Libitina.

P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses 15.39-40

O Hercules, to whom twelve labors was given, help me, I pray, since you are witness to the accusations made against me.

Aulus Persius Flaccus, Satura 2.10-15

'o si sub rastro crepet argenti mihi seria dextro Hercule! pupillumue utinam, quem proximus heres inpello, expungam; nam et est scabiosus et acri bile tumet. Nerio iam tertia conditur uxor.'

T. Maccius Plautus, Asinaria 467

By Hercules, may all the gods damn him.

T. Maccius Plautus, Curculio 358

Be silent a while. He threw a most losing cast. I took up the dice, and invoked Hercules as my genial patron; I threw a first-rate cast, and pledged him in a bumping cup; in return he drank it off, reclined his head, and fell fast asleep. I slyly took away from him the ring, and took my legs quietly from off the couch, so that the Captain mightn't perceive it. The servants enquired whither I was going; I said that I was going whither persons when full are wont to go. When I beheld the door, at once on the instant I took myself away from the place.

[Most losing cast: When playing with the "tali," or "knucklebone dice," with only four marked sides, they used sets of four. "Volturii quatuor" (literally, "the four vultures") was the most unlucky throw of all, and is supposed to have been four ones. The first-rate cast: The best throw with the "tali" was called "Venus" or "Venereus jactus," when the dice turned up 2, 3, 4, and 5. As it was by this throw that the Romans chose the King of the Feast, it received the name of "Basilicus," "the king's throw."]

T. Maccius Plautus, Bacchides 892

So may Jupiter, Juno, Ceres, Minerva, Spes, Latona, Ops, Virtus, Venus, Castor, Pollux, Mars, Mercury, Hercules, Summanus; the Sun, Saturn, and all the Deities, prosper me, he neither reclines with her, nor walks, nor kisses, nor does that which is wont to be reported.

Propertius Eligiae 4.9.71-4

Because Your hands have purified the Earth, the Sabines of Cures called You Sancus, The Holy One. Hail Father Sancus, whom austere Juno now favors. O Sancus, may You wish to be with me and Your spirit be in my books.

Silius Italicus Punica 1.505-7

Hercules, Founder of our city (Saguntum), you who are called Alcidus, in whose footsteps we now reside on this hallowed earth, avert the threatening storms from our land.

Statius Silvae 3.1.23-28

Come hither, Hercules, who, now free of your obligations, may choose whether to live in your native Argos and spurn death as Eurystheus buried in his tomb, or whether your virtue has won you a place among the stars beneath the throne of your father Jupiter, and Hebe, better than Phrygian Ganymede, with her robe girded, offers you a cup of blessed nectar to drink, come hither, and grace this newly dedicated temple with the presence of your genius.

Statius Silvae 3.1.154-58

Why not arouse yourself, Hercules, to come and to graciously honour these feats of the festival we hold in your name; whether to split the clouds with your discus, or send your javelin speeding more swiftly than Zephyrs, or whether it please you to lock arms in a Libyan wrestling competition, indulge our ceremonies with your divine presence.

Virgil Aeneid 8.301-2

Hail, Hercules, true son of Jove, an added Glory for the Gods are you. Come now, and dance at your holy rites with skillful feet.

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