Dido's Aeneid: An Analysis

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Beyond simply the end of her stint in Book 4, Dido’s tragic conclusion has repercussions that extend beyond the scope of the poem itself, as it forces the Romans of Virgil’s time to reconsider their heritage. Before succumbing to the fire, Dido prays to the gods that her vengeance on Aeneas should transcend their own lifetimes. “Tyrians, drive with relentless hate against his stock and every / Future brood, and dispatch them as ritual gifts to my ashes. / No love must ever exist between our two peoples, no treaties.” (4.622-624) Once again, in a good bit of contrast, Dido now wishes to forever reopen animosities between Tyrians and Trojans—and by extension Romans and Greeks—after previously seeking to put them aside. This is an interesting…show more content…
One last bit of tragedy is invoked as Dido, readying for the fire, calls out for someone to take up the torch in her stead. “Rise from my bones, my avenger—and there will be an avenger!— / So you can hound these Dardan settlers with hot fire and cold steel, / Now, or some day in the future, whenever that strength coalesces.” (4.625-627) While this “avenger” remains unnamed in the poem, it can be read to be Hannibal Barca, leading the charge against Rome during the Punic Wars. The tragedy comes from the fact that, while Hannibal was famed for his power, he was ultimately defeated and the Punic Wars were lost for the Carthaginians. In the end, therefore, it would seem that Dido’s legacy is doomed to fail, though there is some small consolation to be taken in the fact that when Aeneas later descends to the underworld and meets the shade of his lost love, even when she turns from him and finds solace in the arms of her erstwhile partner Sychaeus, he cannot help but feel a last bit of pity for Dido’s “unfair doom” (6.475) as she walks
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