The Aeneid written by Virgil, narrates the adventure of the hero Aeneas as he looks for a new land for the Trojan after the collapse of Troy. As a result, he becomes a hero and an ancestor of the Roman after a big fight between the Trojan and the Italian. Before coming to Italy, there was an incident that leads to the conflict between Dido and Aeneas, and it caused to the death of Queen Dido.
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In this essay, I will explain how Virgil constructs Dido as a tragic figure, and I will also compare the Aeneid to Euripides’ Medea, Apollonius’ Argonautica, and Catullus to understand where Virgil gets the idea for Aeneid from.Throughout the book 1 to book 4, the books explain to us the story of Aeneas and how he met Queen Dido. In the beginning, Virgil let us know why goddess Juno hate Aeneas because he is a Trojan. Then it leads to the conflict between goddess Juno and goddess Venus because Aeneas is the son of goddess Venus.
When Aeneas comes to Carthage, he meets Queen Dido and makes an agreement that the Trojans need time to fix their broken ships, and Dido also wants to have allies to help her to defend against the other countries in return. We all know that she did not love Aeneas at all. Queen Dido already had a husband, and she swore that she will never love anyone else. To calm goddess Juno down, goddess Venus and Juno decide that Aeneas will marry Dido, so it will benefit both sides. Juno will not have to worry about the collapse of Carthage in the future, and she will not curse Aeneas. Goddess Juno made a plan that leads to Aeneas and Dido having a night inside a cave to cover away from the rain. Queen Dido assumes that means they are married to each other, and in fact, the goddess Venus already asked the god Amor (Cupid) to infect Dido to make her love Aeneas. Just like the Argonautica, there is an intervention from the Gods to decide the fate of mortals.
When the news reached Jupiter, he sent god Mercury down to remind Aeneas about his fate to find a new land in Italy. After that moment, Aeneas changed his mind and told his fleet to get ready to move on. Aeneas cannot do anything against his fate. Jupiter is the creator of goddesses and gods, so nobody can do anything against from his order, so Aeneas had no choice. Dido was shocked when she heard the news that Aeneas is leaving, and it leads to her suicide. Her suicide cannot be avoidable.Just like Medea from Argonautica, Queen Dido is another tragic character in the Aeneid. Her fate is decided by Juno, Venus, and even Jupiter. In book 4, when she talked with her sister about she has some love for Aeneas, but she already swore that she will never love anyone. At the beginning of book 4, it stated “If my heart had not been fixed, dead set against embracing another man in the bonds of marriage ever since my first love deceived me” and “I confess it, Anna, yes. Ever since my Sychaeus, my poor husband met his fate, and my own brother shed his blood and stained our household gods, this is the only man who’s roused me deeply, swayed my wavering heart” We can see that she has to make her decision while she is infected by spell of the Cupid. In book 4 of Aeneid, it stated “at a hunt Juno sends down a storm that drives the pairs to take refuge in a cave, where their love is consummated. Dido regard this as amarriage, and Aeneas seems to agree.” Aeneas might have some love for Dido; if Jupiter did not send Mercury down, Aeneas might stay with Dido, and everything will be fine.
It is obvious that Dido is very mad when she assumes that they are married and suddenly Aeneas has to leave immediately. To stop suffering from thinking of Aeneas, Dido decides to kill herself. There can be a better solution if Cupid can undo his spell infected on Dido, then everything will be resolved. Aeneas can continue his mission, and Dido will forget about him. Even Juno cannot do anything for Dido because Jupiter is all the way above her, so she cannot do anything with his decision.Virgil has some inspiration from the Apollonius’ Argonautica to create the Queen Dido character. In book 3 of Argonautica, Goddess Athena and Hera plan to make Medea fall in love with Jason by asking the Cupid to infect the arrow of love to Medea. In Book 3 of Argonautica, it stated “Let us go to find Kypris! Let us confront her and urge her to speak to her son, in the hope that he can be persuaded to fire his arrows at the daughter of Aietes, the mistress of drugs, and so bewitch her with love for Jason” Same thing happens for Queen Dido, Goddess Juno and Venus also plan to make Dido fall in love with Aeneas by asking the god Amor to infect Dido. In book 4 of Aeneid, Virgil writes “I’ ll shatter the vaulting sky with claps of thunder. The huntsmen will scatter, swallowed up in the dark, and Dido and Troy’s commander will make their way to the same cave for shelter.
And I’ll be there, if I can count on your own good will in this – I’ll bind them in lasting marriage, make them one. Their wedding it will be!”. By making Dido and Medea love Aeneas and Jason, I see that also benefit to our hero on their adventure. Throughout book 3 of Argonautica, Medea helped Jason to complete his 3 tasks from her father to achieve the Golden Fleece, and she also helped Jason to kill her brother as well. Without her, Jason would not achieve his goal and return home. In Aeneas’ case, Dido is like a shield for Aeneas to calm down the anger of Goddess Juno, and Aeneas’s fleets can have more time to fix their ship to continue their quest to Italy. If Dido did not let them stay on Carthage for a rest, the thing might be harder for Aeneas, but Aeneas will make it to Italy anyway.In Euripides’ Medea, the author shows us how painful it is for Medea when Jason is going to remarry with the other woman, and Jason totally forgets everything that she did for him.In line 25-30 of Euripides’ Medea, it stated “She never looks up or raises her face from the ground. She is like a rock or wave of the sea when those who love her try to give advice; except that sometimes she lifts up her pallid face  and mourns for her dear father, her country, and the home she betrayed to come here with this man who now holds her in contempt.”It makes Medea very angry, so it leads to the massacre caused by her. In Dido case, it is little different, Dido is also mad and hopeless because she cannot forget about Aeneas. Virgil also demonstrates how disappoint she was. It states at the end of book 4 of Aeneid “she once sought as a gift, but not for such an end.
And next, catching sight of the Trojan’s clothes and the bed they knew by heart, delaying a moment for tears, for memory’s sake, the queen lay down and spoke her final words: “Oh, dear relics, dear as long as Fate and the gods allowed, receive my spirit and set me free of pain.”” Unlike Medea, Dido chooses to kill herself to end everything instead of getting revenge on Aeneas. There is one more fact that both Medea and Dido is similar is both of them leave their hometown, their father, and they also kill their related. Medea killed her brother for Jason, and Dido killed her brother to revenge for her husband. In my opinion, Virgil’s inspiration of Dido is mostly from the book of Argonautica.Virgil’ Aeneid is also related to Catullus 64, but not as much as to the Argonautica. In the Catullus 64, the character Theseus is abandoning Ariadne on the Dia island. On line 53 to 59, it stated “Theseus, aboard his ship, vanishing swiftly, watched by Ariadne, ungovernable passion in her heart, not yet believing that she sees what she does see, still only just awoken from deceptive sleep,finding herself abandoned wretchedly to empty sands. But uncaring the hero fleeing strikes the deep with his oars, casting his vain promises to the stormy winds.” Ariadne watched him sail away, and she is very mad about it. It is similar to the scene of Queen Dido is watching Aeneas getting sail off. It stated in book 4 of Aeneid “at last she assails Aeneas, before he’s said a word: “So, you traitor, you really believed you’d keep this a secret, this great outrage? Steal away in silence from my shores? can nothing hold you back? Not our love? Not the pledge once sealed with our right hands?” In Dido case, because Aeneas hide the fact that he is leaving away from Dido, so when she found out his secret, she obviously feels that he betrays her trust. In the middle of the poem, it tells us that she leaves her family to follow her lover, Theseus.
Theseus also promise that he will marry her, but he leaves her alone at the end. This scene reminds me more of Argonautica rather than Aeneid. Ariadne sacrifices herself by leaving everything around her to follow her lover, but she gets rejected like Medea at the end.After reading the Virgil Aeneid, I think we can say that Aeneas can be considered as a hero and the ancestor of the Romans. We cannot avoid the fact that his fate is already set by the creator of the god (Jupiter). It might not be his will to get to Italy to find a new reign for his son because of the incident in Carthage with Queen Dido. If Jupiter won’t send Mercury down to remind him about his mission, he would stay and end up with Dido in Carthage. To become the hero and the ancestor of Romanians, it is already set by Jupiter, and Aeneas cannot go again the will of Gods. It is not an easy way to get to Italy because he is cursed by goddess Juno, and he had to fight a big war with Turnus. In book 12 of Aeneid, it stated “I shall not command Italians to bow to Trojans, nor do I seek the scepter for myself. May both nations, undefeated, under equal laws, march together toward an eternal pact of peace. I shall bestow the gods and their sacred rites.” Aeneas does not want to conquer the Rutulians; he wanted both Trojan and Rutulian merge into a 1 nation together, and everybody will treat the same. Aeneas deserved what he got because he fought hard for the Trojan, and he defeated Turnus at the end. It leads to the opening of the future of his son, Ascanius. Without Aeneas, there will be no opening for the reign of Roma in the future.
Heroides of Ovid has deep roots in the earlier works, but there are still some differences that make his poem unique. I would say Ovid just use the original source from Iliad to Aeneid to create a new point of view for the previous stories to make his own works. Ovid called back about the relationship between Dido and Aeneas from the Aeneid in the poem VII. In the Aeneid, Dido obviously hates Aeneas a lot because he was hiding about his leaving and reject her love because of his mission. In the Heroides, Ovid shows us a totally different point of view of Dido toward Aeneas. In Ovid poem Dido to Aeneas, it stated ” It’s true that he’s ungrateful, and silent about my gifts, and if I weren’t a fool, I’d wish to be free. yet I don’t hate Aeneas, though he might think badly of me, though I complain of his treachery, still I love him more.” and “Live, I beg you! Thus I’d curse you more harshly than if you died, you’d be more widely known as the cause of my death.” We can see that in the Heroides, Dido did not think that is Aeneas’ fault. She even had some sympathy for him, and she still loves him more. At the ending of the poem, Dido killed herself just like the original works of Virgil.
However, Ovid created a different point of view of Dido, so it made his works become interesting and unique.Virgil obviously gets his aspirations from the previous works like Euripides’ Medea, Book 3 of Argonautica, and Catullus 64 to constructing his story. Queen Dido is almost exactly the same as Medea because her fate was determined by the Goddess Venus, Juno, and Jupiter. She also infected by the Cupid (Amor) to love the hero Aeneas, and she got rejected at the end. She also abandoned her country, her father, and she also killed her related to revenge for the death of her husband. It also similar to Medea for killing her brother, leaving her father and leaving her kingdom, and Ariadne for leaving her related to go with her lover, Theseus. Even though Aeneas’s fate is to become the hero and ancestor of Roman already decide by Jupiter, but Aeneas still deserve that title because he fought really hard in the war with Turnus. There were so many sacrifices in the Trojan war with Rutulian, and Aeneas cannot keep his promise with King Evander to protected Pallas; Aeneas was really disappointed about it. Will of the Gods is only part of his successful, and he proved that he deserves it. Finally, Ovid gets inspiration from the original works from the previous Greek Hero works. He just re-used it and make it more interesting by adding a different point of view of the characters in his poem, so it makes his works become unique instead of copying everything from the old works.
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