Uploaded by crystalite on Oct 26, 2011
This paper examines the curse that Dido lays on Aeneas; as well as the intense sense of hatred and revenge found throughout the poem. (4+ pages; 1 source; MLA citation style)
Virgil’s Aeneid is usually “lumped” with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as one of the three major works of classical antiquity. Many of the same characters are found in all three poems, giving them a feeling of being a sort of set. Virgil’s work, however, differs from Homer’s in that it is less direct; things are not always what they seem. It is also, first, last and always, a work about hatred and a desire for revenge. It is possible to read the Odyssey as nothing more than a terrific adventure story, but the relentless anger that moves through the Aeneid delves deeply into human motivation. Dido’s curse, which she employs when she realizes Aeneas is leaving her, really rings true. But, like many such things, it has unexpected consequences.
In addition, there are many events that seem to refer back to themselves; it’s a multi-layered work.
II Dido’s Curse
Dido’s curse has echoes throughout the entire poem. Her hatred of Aeneas seems to mirror Juno’s hatred of him that begins the work. Both gods and men seem to hate with a vengeance.
Dido meets Aeneas when he is blown off course by a terrible storm. He’s a Trojan, on his way from the fall of Troy to Italy, where he is destined to found the city of Rome, and incidentally, the civilization that will surpass the Greeks. Thus, although Odysseus (I suppose I should call him Ulysses) and his men have defeated the Trojans and destroyed their city, they have merely delayed the inevitable.
Dido is Queen of Carthage, a city in Africa; Carthage is beloved of Juno, Queen of the Gods. Because she is an all-seeing goddess, Juno knows that Aeneas will be instrumental in founding Rome, and destroying her favorite city. It is her hatred that begins the work, as Virgil tells us that Aeneas was “buffeted cruelly on land as on the sea”, by “baleful Juno in her sleepless rage.” (P. 1). Set against her is Venus, Goddess of Love, who sends her son Amor (Cupid) to impersonate Ascanius, Aeneas’s son. In the disguise of the boy, the god is able to get close to...