Dido, a tragic figure, talks to Americans the most because she embodies individuality and individual decision, but at the cost of country. Her affair with Aeneas upsets countries around her, whose kings or leaders have been suitors for her hand, and have been denied due to her allegiance to Carthage. While in love with Aeneas, her affair threatens her city. We may look at her suicide two-fold:
a) She killed herself due to love and Aeneas’ abandoning her
b) She killed herself to protect Carthage
Or both. The question remains whether she would have acted on her love for Aeneas if Venus had not interfered? If yes, and there is proof in the text, she is indeed a great tragic hero; if no than she is another tragic pawn of the gods.
Dido, a dramatic foil for Aeneas, is a key to understanding how Virgil felt about Aeneid. Did he really believe in it? Aeneas places duty to nation above all morals. The Aeneid is a political book and Virgil questioned the message. On a side note, Americans have witnessed two World Wars when nations have asked individuals to forget their individuality and place nation above self. Roman was conflicted with duty and Aeneas is conflicted with duty. Aeneas suffers just as anyone who gives up their individuality. Virgil’s placement of Dido in the underworld and how she is described- a misty figure, a new moon through banks of clouds; and when she leaves Aeneas she goes back to the endless woods where her husband meets her love with love- confirms his loyalty towards her. Dido is left happy. Aeneas, even when the book ends, is not. Duty and sacrifice towards one’s nation? Did Virgil believe in these things? How could he have possibly asked for the book to be burned?
Christopher Marlowe's DIDO
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