The queen of Carthage and her trojan lover: a comparative study of the relationship between Dido and Aeneas from antiquity to modernity
Rojo Castro, Tamara
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The relevance of Virgil´s The Aeined has prevailed over time and specifically Dido´s story has awaken the interest of several authors that have rewritten their version in different periods. From Virgil´s passive characterization of the Carthaginian queen in The Aeneid to Joly´s dominant interpretation in The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Cartage by using a combination of Marlowe´s Dido, Queen of Carthage and Purcell´s Dido and Aeneas works. This study will compare Dido´s behaviour in the original work with its most modern adaptation. The focus of this comparative analysis will be on the similarities and differences in the meeting scene, Cupid scene - which is how I have decided to name it and consists on the moment that Cupid takes the form of Ascanius to sit on Dido´s lap - and in Aeneas´s departure and consequences, respectively. In the meeting scene the evolution of Dido´s attitude is evidenced when passing from a passive behaviour in Virgil’s version to an active one described by Joly where the individuality of the queen is observed. Furthermore, the tragic ending of both versions is a direct result of how women cannot be protagonists as they do not belong to the classical structure of epic. The Cupid scene does not present evident differences between antiquity and modernity due to Venus needing to maintain the safety of Aeneas, Virgil´s real protagonist, while he remains in Dido´s kingdom. Virgil uses Ascanius and Aeneas to tempt Dido with maternity and marriage that are the qualities that she is lacking to be a proper woman according to Roman standards. The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Cartage presents considerable dissimilarities with Virgil´s classical work because at the time of the Trojan's hero departure the queen's behaviour fluctuates from begging for non-abandonment to a modern approach in which Dido is ready to share her kingdom with the Trojan hero. In The Aeneid, the African queen is punished with suicide for being an adulteress while in the modern point of view Dido´s suicide could become a mechanism to disclose about the situation Aeneas has created and take the guilt away from Dido. The modern interpretation of this story seems to remark society´s change of ideology, questioning if only women should be the ones enduring the fault of male and female´s actions.