The Aeneid Essay

This essay has a total of 1563 words and 7 pages.

The Aeneid



Dido and Aeneas
The Aeneid is considered as the single most important poem ever written and has
continuously guided and inspired billions of readers. Its popularity today remains the
same as it was back in the time when it was published. Virgil, a Latin poet, devoted the
final 11 years of his life to write this masterpiece book length poem. After completing
it, but before revising it, Virgil left Italy for a trip to Greece. There, he fell
mortally ill and returned to home to Italy. Unable to complete his work, Virgil commanded
his companions to burn the unedited Aeneid. Augustus, a close friend of Virgil, ordered
Virgil’s fellow poets not to burn the epic, but instead to edit and publish it. Upon its
publication, the poem was labeled as a masterpiece, becoming extremely popular, a
popularity the poem still has today.

Virgil’s masterpiece epic poem is divided into twelve books. The books follow the legend
of Aeneas from the last day at Troy, to Carthage to meet Dido, and to Aeneas' victory
resulting in the fusion of Trojans and Latin’s. The fourth book of The Aeneid, “The
Passion of the Queen,” begins immediately following the banquet after all the guests have
departed. Aeneas has just completed telling the story of his journey from Troy to
Carthage. Cupid has already put a spell on Dido, causing her to fall in love with Aeneas.

The queen for her part, all that evening ached
With longing that her hearts blood fed, a wound
Or inward fire eating her away.
The manhood of the man, his pride of birth,
Came home to her time and again; his looks,
His words remained with her to haunt her mind,
And desire for him gave her no rest. (IV 1-7)
She confides these feelings to her sister Anna, telling her that Aeneas is the only man
who has ever tempted her. While describing her feelings, Dido becomes confused. She
wishes to be loyal and faithful to the memory of her departed husband, yet she still has
immense feelings for Aeneas. Anna senses this confusion and tells her sister to follow
her feelings.

Sister,
What a great city you’ll see rising here,
And what a kingdom, from this royal match!” (IV 66-68)
By saying this, Anna reassures Dido that the match would be good for the city, as well as
for Dido. Dido decides to pursue her feelings, as the first 94 lines of book 4 come to an
end.

As the book four continues, Dido’s love deepens. She sees Aeneas frequently causing her
to fall more madly in love with him. She neglects the responsibilities of her city and
the work slows down. Instead of taking care of her city, she accompanies Aeneas
everywhere showing him the buildings and walls. Juno sees what is happening to her
favorite queen, so she conspires with Venus to join Dido and Aeneas in “eternal peace and
formal marriage” (IV 142). Venus suspects that Juno only wants to keep the Trojans from
reaching Italy, but still she agrees for it is written in Aeneas’ fate to reach Italy.
During a hunting expedition, Juno causes a violent thunderstorm and has both the queen and
Aeneas take shelter in the same cave. Here Virgil does not say exactly what happened.
Instead he has his character, Dido, think,

As to impressions given and set abroad;
She [Dido] thought no longer of a secret love
But called it marriage. Thus, under that name,
She [Dido] hid her fault. (IV 235-238)
After this joining in a “natural marriage,” rumors about what happened become rampant in
Carthage. As Dido spends all her time with Aeneas, she forgets about her duties as queen.
All the work in the city comes to halt. The rumors circulate in the city and eventually
reach the ears of Zeus. Zeus decides to send Mercury to Aeneas to tell him,

In your own fame and fortune count as nothing,
Think of Ascanius at lease, whose kingdom
In Italy, whose Roman land, are waiting. (IV 273-75)
Mercury relayed Zeus’s speech to Aeneas, telling him that is was time to leave Carthage
Continues for 4 more pages >>