Views of Dido (for discussion)
What evidence in the text or what arguments can be used to support the
following views of what's going on in Aeneid 4?
1) Dido is responsible for her own misfortune. She is too
emotional, and lacks self-control; her death, though regrettable,
is a warning against the dangers of excessive passion (cf. Vergil's Eclogues).
2) Dido is a helpless victim of divine interference, poisoned by Cupid,
conspired against by Juno and Venus, ignored by Jupiter.
3) Vergil's depiction of Aeneas' mission as incompatible with personal
happiness for him and personal happiness (and perhaps life) for Dido
implies criticism of the values of Augustan Rome.
4) The juxtaposition in Book 4 of Aeneas, destined to found the Roman
race, and Dido, who feels she has no future but death, is like the
depiction in Vergil's Eclogue
1 (short poem written twenty years earlier) of the winner and loser
Tityrus and Meliboeus.
5) Aeneas is a jerk. Book 4 is designed to decrease the reader's
sympathy for him.
6) Aeneas' actions in Book 4 are a model for men of his time to serve
the state (or the community) rather than personal goals. For
Aeneas to leave Dido is his greatest act of heroism, or pietas.
7) Vergil sees women as a threat to the male's proper devotion to the
political (cf. Carol Gilligan, In
a Different Voice).
8) Vergil sees women as victims and views them and other powerless or
defeated characters with a sympathy that outweighs his admiration for
the strong and powerful
9) Vergil does not depict the departure of Aeneas as a choice; rather
he depicts a world where misunderstanding, confusion, and betrayal are
10) Aeneas should have stayed.
11) We should not encourage young men to read Aeneid 4 because of its implication
that women are mainly an obstacle to men doing what they should.
12) Arguments about the ideas and value behind Book 4 miss the point:
it's basically a tragic love story that's exciting and pleasurable to