Classical Quarterly 49 (02):634- (1999)

At the peak of this heated confrontation between Nero and Seneca, in which the latter exhorts the emperor to seek the people's love and trust rather than their hatred, Nero retorts that it is meet for the people to fear their prince . This is unsurprising and represents Nero as merely the latest in a long line of tragic tyrants . In the exchange that follows, however, is the slightly puzzling : ‘metuant necesse est’:: ‘quicquid exprimitur graue est’. It is not only that Nero simply reiterates a concept already asserted in the line before which had prompted Seneca's ‘at plus diligi’. More than that, Seneca's exprimitur is a non sequitur after ‘metuant necesse est’. exprimere is to ‘squeeze out’, ‘to extort’, ‘to elicit’, but in Latin metus is hardly ever ‘extorted’, exprimere, on the other hand, is commonly said of sincere or pretended assent, applause, jubilation, or forced admission. The verb occurs again at 494 ‘humiles … uoces exprimit nostri metus’; 581 ‘exprimere ius est, ferre quod nequeunt preces?’; elsewhere in Sen. Oed. 529 ‘ulline poena uocis expressae fuit’; Clem. 1.1.7 ‘omnibus … nunc ciuibus tuis … haec confessio exprimitur esse felices’; Plin. Pan. 2.2 ‘uoces illas quas metus exprimebat’
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DOI 10.1093/cq/49.2.634
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