May 3, 2012
Essay 2: The Aeneid One character that I will examine from this epic is Dido. Dido initially seems like this well put together queen who has been hurt by the sudden murder of her husband. For one thing, when we first meet Dido, she is already a widow. This distinguishes her by giving her a meaningful past that continues to influence her in the present. As a result of the murder of her husband Sychaeus, Dido has had to flee from Tyre, her home, to North Africa, where she now supervises the building of the new city Carthage. She was viewed as being the great leader of Carthage, a city which embodies law and order: "Laws were being enacted and a sacred senate chosen" to ensure that her citizens live in a just and lawful society. Dido shows reverence to the gods as well, erecting sacred temples in the city walls. Dido is tempted by many marriage offers and she turns them all down; because once again, she wants to remain loyal to her dead husband. However, Dido finds herself; “struck by a flame” Dido soon realizes that she has fallen in love with Aeneas.
Dido discusses this passion with her sister who tells her to initially follow her heart. This is where the complexity of Dido’s life comes into play. Does she follow her heart or does she stick with her oath and what she stands for. This decision turns out to be a tough one. In Book one the gods interfere and Amor the god of love has a plan to erase her memory of her dead husband and give her that lust for Aeneas. I think that, that’s the reason for that “fire or flames” she felt. The gods interfered with her heart and to her that was very confusing, because she didn’t know why she was having such strong feelings for Aeneas.
Dido soon finds herself in a compromising position and soon is in love with Aeneas. One day when Dido, is out with Aeneas the god Juno brings a storm down upon them to send them scrambling for shelter. The objective is to get Aeneas and Dido in a cave by themselves. During that time they make love in the cave. At this point emotions have really taken over and they are pretty open about their relationship. Dido has really abandoned her old thoughts of preserving her husband’s memory. Because Dido gave up herself she considered them to be married. She becomes interested in hearing his stories and hearing all that he has to say. At some point Dido has begun to neglect their responsibilities as ruler and fallen into a deep lust. It’s not until she learns that Aeneas is leaving, and it seems as if the earth is shattering, that memories of her old husband Sychaeus floods back into her mind and she begins filling shame. That psychological and emotional confusion send her into a downward spiral. Her position as the great ruler in control of her city is abandoned, as she now wanders without direction in her quest for love. Her duties are neglected due to this new preoccupation, and "towers, half-built, there are no roses; men no longer being trained for the army.
Her world literally gets turned upside down. All her past accomplishments are forgotten, and Dido is no longer the great and admirable queen of the past. Rumors begin to spread of her neglect of the city, "her reputation/standing no longer in the way of passion" When she realizes that Aeneas is really leaving she becomes depressed. She becomes angry and is not having any of this foolishness. She begs him to stay and he tells her, that it’s not is will to leave, but it’s the gods. Dido knows that she messed up; she knows that she was on top and all of sudden; because of lust and love she had fallen and couldn’t get up. It was at that moment that she had hit rock bottom and suicide was the only thing on her mind.
She then tells Ana her sister to make a fire and place weapons around it, her sister thought she was just letting off some steam and getting rid of Aeneas’ things; when really it wasn’t for that. Dido’s state of mind was shattered. The emotional