In the Aeneid, though magnificent and brilliant like a goddess, Dido was doomed to death, which became a cruel but essential part of Aenead’s dangerous long journey. Aenead played a role as the irresponsible husband who abandoned his beautiful lover(to Dido’s surprise, Aenead didn’t admit the marriage). We witness the strong woman’s fall from the high status and finally committed suicide in deapair. Was Aenead the real murderer of Dido? What about other elements?
For my part, it was the gods that controled human beings’s life. Dido died not at her fated span nor as she merited, but before her time, indicating that her life was totally changed into a miserable abyss. The storm brought on by Juno sent Aenead’s fleet to Carthage and Venus tempted Dido to fall in love with the Trojan prince, her beloved son. In the process of the love affair the goddess even managed to pomote their relationship by arranging a wedding. With different purpose, both of them worked together to accelerate Dido’s corruption. At last the almighty Jupiter ordered Aenead to continue his mission against Dido’s will, which was the shock that did for her. She couldn’t prevent herself from dying since the moment she met Aenead and were attracted by his look as well as honorable spirit. She had been trapped, tortured and killed in only one year, without gods’ mercy.
Aenead, the most blameful man in the tragedy, was the direct cause for her death, but on the other side he was kind of innocent in Dido’s passion. He couldn’t refuse her love and couldn’t explain to her so that remove her hatrad. Virgil didn’t tell us whether Aenead loved Dido or not, leaving us to think why he behave so heartless to his lover. The most obvious part was the fact that when Aenead got the oracle, what troubled him was how to leave and how to get rid of the impassioned woman instead of considering whether leave or not. In Virgil’s poetry, Aeneas was too reasonable to register his inner pain and sympathy towards Dido’s heartbreak. I’d rather believe that he devoted all his life to the career and relied upon the gods piously, with the result that he gave up all his personal emotions and demands. Justs like Dido’s words described:
“See the good faith and honor
Of one they say bears with him everywhere
The hearthgods of his country! One who bore
His father, spent with age, upon his shoulders! ”(line 829-line 832)
The author wanted Aeneas to be a determined and selfless person. He couldn’t live for his own happiness; he should think of his son Ascanius, the future of Roman empire. He was the only one who shouldn’t run away from the destiny because of “pietas”.
When escaped from the Troy, he grasped his father and son tightly, leaving his poor wife Creusa behind. Dido was not the fist woman who was left behind by Aeneas. Aeneas was forced to be separated with them, which pushed them to the underworld; He painfully went around only to find their ghosts. Caught by great agony, he wept and begged for forgivness. Aeneas went through the tremendous pain twice, and the second was far more bitter than the former one. Being cursed by the lover was not an easy thing. But Aeneas had no choice. Love was of no use to his country and people. Holding on to it meant the suffering for his nation; giving it up meant the suffering only for himself. Accordingly there was no need for him to weigh one thing against another. Like a Chinese saying goes, love the beauty and abandon the country. That’s sound nice, but the wise king would choose the contrary one—love the country and abandon the beauty. I cannot say the action is right or wrong by pitting Love against duty, romatic against reason. Aeneas may be a good leader, rather than a passionate husband.
Dido, the victim of the hopeless love, should also be responsible for her death. If a nation put all its hope on one person, the nation may be in danger; if a person is concerned about nothing except his love, he may be in danger. Dido made the same mistake. As an empress, she shouldn’t addict herself to a foreign refugee and ignore the threaten from other countries. Clever as she was, she knew that Aeneas would go sooner or later, but she tried to moved him by her love and valuable gifts. Perhaps a woman in love will become stupid. The queen got out of her mind after quarrelling with Aenead. She cursed him maliciously, diciding to revenge on him by killing herself in the black fire. A desperate person would hurt himself cruely to hurt other people deeply. Anna Karenina commited suicide by killing herself on the railway. Dido seemed to be the most cruel person in the “drama”. She ended her miserable life and abandoned the country, leaving Aeneas to be in great pain.
In a word, Dido was the sacrifice for Aeneas’ pietas. Her body was lying on the pyre, burning and smoking. Seeing the bright light upon the city far astern from the ship, Aeneas still went on carrying out his mission. Dido’s death killed Aeneas’ last hope for love or personal desire. No one was to blame for her death, for it was her fortune according to the fatalism.