Book IV (Extended Scene)
Aeneas enters Carthage and begins to speak to Dido in her court.
“Whatever abode my fortune has assigned,
your image shall be present in my mind.
The fate that the omniscient gods have designed shall be wholly concluded as a consequence of your warm reception.
The wretched race known as the Trojans has plunged headlong onto the Libyan shores in hopes of both solace and prospective ambition.
Not without the knowledge of your grandeur the Trojans will construct a home that will attain greatness parallel to your own.
A will higher than that of mortals has decreed that you o queen, shall grant us sympathy and perhaps the final chapter of our suffering.
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Before the Trojans set their salty feet upon the Libyan earth, our feet were already designed to take sail again. I have but one duty and that is the duty to myself and to the forces higher than ours.
Dido screams, “This act of unfaithfulness has but one name and that is treachery! The walls of Carthage will know my anguish and every citizen will know your untrustworthiness!”
Aeneas is clearly disturbed as if deciding what to do but ultimately leaves and sails to Italy.
At the start of this dialogue I specifically introduce Aeneas entering the scene first in order to portray Dido has a hapless victim of her newfound love for him. As Aeneas begins to speak, he praises Dido for allowing both Aeneas and the Trojans to continue on their path towards their fated future. They are grateful for a place to recuperate after their time of turmoil. “As a consequence of your warm reception.” Aeneas then begins to speak about how because of this he will be allowed to “ construct a home that will attain greatness parallel to your own.” In other words Aeneas, who knows that his true destiny lies in Italy, will participate in establishing an empire equal to that of Carthage and unbeknownst to him, the greatest in ancient history.
In the following line, Aeneas dubs his nation “wretched” for a very specific reason. In ancient times, and even today, it is often believed that that your identity is derived from your home city or country. Due to the Trojans’ status as a refugee nation, I often interpreted their homelessness as a form of suffering in itself. The “prospective ambition” that Aeneas mentions is a hint that he already has an interest in Dido’s physical beauty. This is the first point in this scene where Aeneas’ public duty to hurry to Italy, and his private ambitions begin to intersect. In the next line Aeneas says that perhaps Carthage is going to be the last place that they will visit before establishing a permanent home in Italy. Also, in the same line Aeneas gives credit to the gods and the powerful force that is fate that saved them from the dangerous seas.
As Dido responds to Aeneas’ speech her private emotions are clearly at odds with her public duty to her infant city. While she clearly favors Aeneas, her emotions conflict with her rational thoughts of suspecting the motives of the warrior nation that lands on her shores. However, as “Amor” is introduced into Dido’s heart through Cupid’s tactics, she pushes aside all prior apprehensiveness and seeks to compromise her private interests with her public duty by melding the two together. She claims that it will actually serve her city to have a group of warriors on hand. Also her “Amor” for Aeneas begins to manifest itself as she admires his grace and “masculine arms.” It is also important to note that before the moment of Cupid’s intervention, that she is seemingly not...