Virgil, Aeneid
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4. Commentary

Avant Propos: The Set Text and the Aeneid

For the most part, Aeneid 1–4, a third part of the epic overall, is set in Carthage. In the larger scheme of things, this detour via Africa appears to be an accident. After the extended proem (1.1–33), Virgil begins his narrative proper medias in res with Aeneas and his crew on their way from Sicily to the Italian mainland. Yet the sight of the Trojan refugees about to reach their final destination stirs the hero’s divine arch-enemy Juno, who already figured prominently in the extended proem, into action. The violent storm she unleashes with the help of the wind-god Aeolus does not end in the desired outcome (wrecking of the ships and mass drowning). But the Trojan fleet is blown well off course. When Neptune finally calms the cosmic commotion at 1.142, Aeneas and his men find themselves not in Italy, but near the recently founded city of Carthage in Northern Africa, ruled by Queen Dido, herself a recent exile from her native Tyre in Phoenicia. (In terms of geopolitics, the drift in the Aeneid tends to be from East to West.) There is irony to savour in the fact that Juno, who, in the proem, is presented as deeply worried about the future of her city Carthage (destined to be destroyed by Aeneas’ people, the Romans), sets up the enmity between the two cities by causing Aeneas’ tragic sojourn in Africa: thus are the inscrutable twists and turns of fate!20

The tragedy of Dido unfolds over the course of the rest of Book 1 as well as Book 4. In between, Aeneas takes on the role of ‘internal narrator’ at the welcome banquet laid on by Dido. He recounts the fall of Troy and his flight from the burning city (Aeneid 2) and tells of his subsequent travels and travails until his arrival at Carthage (Aeneid 3).21 One of the interpretative challenges involved in reading an excerpt from Aeneid 4 is to see it in the context of what came before, especially in Book 1, and what follows after, especially in the remainder of Book 4. But you may also wish to ponder what the flashback in Aeneid 2 and 3, as well as explicit and implicit resonances of the Dido-episode in subsequent books of the epic, may have to contribute to our understanding of the set portion of text. For instance, Aeneas, in his account of the fall of Troy in Aeneid 2, makes much of the figure of Sinon, a treacherous Greek who persuades the gullible Trojans to breach their city walls to pull in the Wooden Horse; and in a sense, unbeknownst to him, Aeneas does something very similar in Carthage, employing his persuasive skills to gain entry into the heart of his hostess.22 The outcome is in each case the same: Troy and Carthage end up in flames, and Aeneas leaves a conflagration behind him at the end of both Aeneid 2 and Aeneid 4. Is he another Trojan horse?

Likewise, the ghost of Dido and her tragic suicide haunt subsequent books. A particular poignant instance is the meeting of Dido and Aeneas in the Underworld at Aeneid 6.440–76. Just as the shadow of Ajax at Odyssey 11.541–67, who sulks speechless when his mortal enemy, still alive, appears in the world of the dead and tries to engage him in conversation, Dido refuses to respond to our hero and moves away in fraught and dignified silence, joining the shade of her former husband Sychaeus. Another moment of similar emotive power comes in Aeneid 11, when Aeneas covers the dead body of Pallas, the only son of his guest friend Euander, who got killed by Turnus, with magnificent pieces of garment made by Dido (11.72–5)—not unlike the one, perhaps even the same, he is wearing at Aeneid 4.262–64 (which is part of the set passage and discussed in detail below). The death of Pallas is by far the worst catastrophe that Aeneas suffers in the course of the poem. It turns him into a beast of sorts, leads to his performance of human sacrifice during the funeral of his fallen charge, and motivates the final scene of the epic: Aeneas kills Turnus in a fit of rage upon seeing Pallas’ sword-belt on his prostrate enemy, which instantly wipes away any thought of mercy. By evoking Dido as Aeneas bends over the dead body of Pallas, Virgil, among other things, subtly reminds us that the curse with which Dido sends Aeneas on his way at 4.590–629 is hitting home.23

But the most crucial part of the poem for appreciating the set text is of course Book 1. It sets the stage. To recapitulate briefly what happened after Aeneas’ unplanned arrival in Africa, in the understanding that the following is no substitute for giving Aeneid 1 a quick (re-)read: Aeneas’ divine mother Venus, none too pleased at seeing her son tossed all over the Mediterranean by a vindictive Juno, seeks out Jupiter to protest. The father of the gods reassures his daughter and unrolls a bit of the scrolls of destiny for her benefit, revealing the impressive future that lies in store for her city of Rome. He also sends down Mercury to ensure that the Trojans will receive a friendly welcome (a passage discussed in more detail below: also our set text features a Mercurial descent from Mt. Olympus at the bidding of Jupiter, at 4.238–78). But Venus, whether still worried or, on the contrary, reassured and hence keen on some vindictive mischief, also decides to meddle. She devises a scheme to have Dido fall madly in love with Aeneas, which involves her son Cupid (Aeneas’ divine half-brother) impersonate Aeneas’ son (and Cupid’s nephew) Ascanius and, thus disguised, poison the queen during her welcoming cuddle with passionate desire for the Trojan hero. At the end of the Book, Carthaginians and Trojans settle down to a magnificent banquet, during which Aeneas tells the spellbound audience of their labours so far—an account Virgil reproduces in Books 2 and 3, where the narrative focus is thus inevitably squarely on Aeneas. But with the opening line of Book 4, the attention of the author switches decisively to Dido. Aeneid 4 is her book. And she owns her book like no other ‘secondary’ character. Even Turnus, the other principal adversary of Aeneas, does not dominate the narrative stretch granted to him in quite the same way. Dido truly is Aeneas’ most significant other—a subversive figure with the potential to derail his destiny, the foundation of Rome, and the history of the world. As Alessandro Schiesaro puts it:

Dido’s challenge to the ostensible ideology of the Aeneid is more radical than the specific alternative she posits to Aeneas’ itinerary: she stands in Virgil’s poem as the most powerful incarnation of a radically alternative world-view. Thrown on the shores of a potentially hostile land, welcomed (not without divine intervention) by a generous and attractive queen whose fate is in many respects parallel to his own, Aeneas is faced—for the first time—with a real alternative to his life’s business, the search of a new homeland for his displaced people. The false foundations which dotted his earlier wanderings, even the emotional encounter with Andromache’s pathetic (and pathological) solution to a similar problem—how can the defeated Trojans construct a new Troy?—, were temporary, limited, and patently unviable detours. Carthage is different. There he can become the co-regent, effectively the king, of a prosperous new land; his people can merge with the locals; royal succession would be guaranteed by Ascanius, or, down the line, by the child he will eventually conceive with Dido, the queen he has fallen in love with: we can glimpse, tantalizingly, a totally different world-history. The text is ready to acknowledge how much Aeneas is tempted by this unexpected scenario: coming to Carthage on Jupiter’s orders, Mercury finds him fundantem arces ac tecta novantem (260), forgetful (oblitus) of his reign and his mission (267).24

The overall structure of Aeneid 4 is tripartite. Virgil marks the beginning of each section with the quasi-formulaic phrase at regina, which draws programmatic attention to the protagonist of the book (Dido, queen of Carthage) and the adversative (cf. at) role she plays in the narrative:

1 (At regina graui iamdudum saucia cura/ uulnus alit uenis…) –295.

296 (At regina dolos (quis fallere possit amantem?)/ praesensit…) –503.

504 (At regina, pyra penetrali in sede sub auras/ erecta ingenti taedis atque ilice secta/ intenditque locum sertis et fronde coronat/ funerea… (‘But the queen, when in the deepest recess of her home the pyre had been built skywards, enormous in size with pine logs and cut oak, hangs the place with garlands and crowns it with funeral boughs…’)–705.

As Quinn notes: ‘The book is the shortest of the twelve and the most dramatic in form. A tripartite structure is more clearly discernible than in the other books: lines 1–295 recount the beginning of the affair; lines 296–503, the alienation; lines 504–705, the end of the affair—Aeneas’ departure and Dido’s suicide.’25 He also notes that for each section the word following the phrase at regina (i.e. graui, dolos, pyra) ‘strikes the keynote of the ensuing action.’

Lines 1–8: Sleepless in Carthage

1–2: At regina graui iamdudum saucia cura/ uulnus alit uenis et caeco carpitur igni: the ‘at’ at the beginning startles. Rather than announcing a fresh start, the adversative force of the particle sets up a contrast to what immediately came before.26 To appreciate its full force, it is therefore necessary to recall how Book 3 ended (3.716–18):

Sic pater Aeneas intentis omnibus unus
fata renarrabat diuum cursusque docebat.
conticuit tandem factoque hic fine quieuit.

[Thus father Aeneas, with everyone listening eagerly, was alone recounting the destinies ordained by the gods and was teaching of his travels. At last he fell silent and, having come to a stop here, rested.]

This marks the end of Aeneas’ narrative of the fall of Troy and his subsequent odyssey, which covered two full books (Aeneid 2 and 3). There can be few more apposite uses of tandem (‘finally’, ‘at last’). Virgil gives the finish triple emphasis: conticuit, facto hic fine, quieuit.27 The silence that settles in has a funerary finality: the last event Aeneas has recounted before ceasing to speak is the death of his beloved father Anchises (3.708–11):

         hic pelagi tot tempestatibus actus
heu! genitorem, omnis curae casusque leuamen,
amitto Anchisen; hic me, pater optime, fessum
deseris, heu! tantis nequiquam erepte periclis!

[Here I, who have been driven by so many storms of the ocean, lose, alas! my father Anchises, solace of every care and contingency; here, best of fathers, you desert me in my weariness, snatched, alas! from such great dangers all in vain.]

The pathos is palpable—and chimes well with Dido’s own sense of abandonment and grief at the murder of her husband Sychaeus, which she voices at 4.15–29. Both characters are coping with traumatic bereavement when they meet, yet are forced to move on, driven by divine forces. Aeneas continues on his way to Italy; and Dido is compelled to re-experience erotic desire. At the end of Book 1, she had requested of her host a comprehensive account of his labours (1.753: a prima dic, hospes, origine nobis…; ‘Tell us, guest, from the first beginning….’), forcing Aeneas to relive his grief (2.3: ‘infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem…; ‘Unspeakable is the grief you bid me renew, o queen…’). He does so for two full books. But now, at the beginning of Book 4, it is Dido who is suffering from something that she cannot well put into speech, something infandum (see explicitly 4.85:… infandum si fallere possit amorem, with note below). And thus the ‘at’, a pointed antithetical gesture across book boundaries, fittingly cancels any premature sense of closure. Whereas Aeneas has finally come to a momentary rest, the opposite is true of Dido: we encounter her in a permanent state of restlessness. Contrast, especially, 3.718:… quieuit and 4.5: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem. The ‘at’ thus underscores the sense that Aeneas and Dido constitute a complementary couple. As Austin notes, ‘the strongly contrasting particle at not only shows that the story now turns from Aeneas and the Trojans to Dido, but also points the antithesis between Aeneas’ sufferings that are now past, a mere tale that is told (conticuit tandem, iii. 718), and Dido’s sufferings that are already beginning, between his composed silence and her agitation’28—though one may debate in what sense the trials and tribulations of Aeneas ‘are now past.’ A more ambivalent reading of at, which takes into account that the moment of closure Aeneas experiences at this stage is ephemeral, could start by considering to what extent Dido’s mental unrest highlights Aeneas’ failure to understand and communicate with the Carthaginian queen. Presumably, the last thing he wished to do is to mentally unsettle his gracious hostess.

[Extra information: especially for the history buffs among you, the end of Aeneid 3 is worth a closer look. In his account of how they sailed along the shore of Sicily, Aeneas mentions as the final two spots Lilybaeum (706) and Drepanum (707). They are situated on the western-most point of Sicily—virtually midway between Carthage and Rome. Intriguingly, Lilybaeum was founded by Phoenician settlers in the 8th century (under the name Motya); and, even more intriguingly, Lilybaeum and Drepanum were both sites of major military actions in the First Punic War (when this part of Sicily was a stronghold of the Carthaginians). In 250 BC a Roman Consular army led by Gaius Atilius Regulus Serranus and Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus put Lilybaeum under siege, which was, however, lifted after the battle of Drepanum, in which the Romans suffered their one major naval defeat in the First Punic War (249 BC). Once Lilybaeum had fallen under Roman domination, it served Scipio Africanus Maior as boot camp and launching pad for the invasion of Africa towards the end of the Second Punic War (from 205 BC onwards). Add to this the etymological affinity of Lilybaeum and Libya (where Aeneas has now ended up on his Juno-triggered detour: cf. 3.715: hinc me digressum uestris deus appulit oris; ‘departing from there a god drove me to your shores’), the end of Book 3 obliquely prepares not just for the African setting of Book 4 but also prefigures the historical consequences of Aeneas’ legendary stay with Dido: the lethal enmity between Rome and Carthage and the series of Punic Wars.]29

1: regina: After referring to the anonymous, ‘eager crowd’ that listened to Aeneas’ account at the end of Book 3 (cf. 716: intentis omnibus), Virgil, in the first line of Book 4, singles out the queen for exclusive attention. This is Dido’s book and with At regina Virgil uses an appropriate keynote. Significantly, he chooses to return our attention to Dido not by mentioning her name but her social role: she is a queen. The noun regina recalls Dido’s royal entry into the epic at 1.496–97: regina ad templum, forma pulcherrima Dido,/ incessit (‘the queen Dido, of surpassing beauty, approached the temple’). But the contrast between her first appearance and the state she is in when Book 4 opens is pointed and poignant: whereas she is ‘surrounded by a large throng of followers’ in Book 1 (1.497: magna iuuenum stipante caterua), at the beginning of Book 4 we encounter Dido all alone. And whereas Virgil invited us to observe Dido discharging her civic responsibilities when we first set eyes on the queen, we now see a helpless victim of uncontrollable desire, tossing about sleeplessly: the focus has shifted from her impressive public persona to her tormented inner self. Yet Virgil’s programmatic use of ‘regina’ at a moment when she is, above all, a woman madly in love serves as encouragement to appraise her not just as a desiring individual, but as a queen, that is, as someone who has a key social role to perform and may do so well or badly. The question of what makes a good king (or, more generally, leader) was a topic of hot debate in antiquity (it still is now), to which literary genres made important contributions. Reflections on excellence or shortcomings in leadership constitute an important facet of the political discourse of epic poetry in particular, from Homer onwards.30 Virgil’s handling of the topic is characteristically complex, insofar as he invites his readers to assess his royal personnel against various and often conflicting benchmarks of excellence, deriving from literary predecessors (both Greek and Roman), philosophical discourse (in particular Stoicism), and lived experience, both republican and imperial. In the case of Dido, it is worth paying particular attention to her gender (and the difficulties this causes not least for male observers such as king Iarbas: see 4.206–18, discussed in detail below) and the potential conflict between her feelings for Aeneas and the role-expectations that come with being the royal leader of a young city and civic community in a hostile environment.31

1: regina graui iamdudum saucia cura: regina (a1) agrees with saucia (a2), graui (b1) with cura (b2). We thus have the following pattern: noun (a1) – adjective (b1) – adverb: iamdudum (c) – adjective (a2) – noun (b2). The arrangement artfully combines a parallel patterning in the way the two phrases regina saucia and graui cura interweave (a1 b1 c a2 b2) with a chiastic design in terms of grammatical categories (noun, adjective; adjective, noun). The set-up helps to foreground the adverbial modification of time at its centre (iamdudum), which reminds the reader of what happened before Aeneas started speaking: Dido has been burning with love ever since Cupid’s stealth attack on the unsuspecting queen in the guise of Aeneas’ son Ascanius in Book 1. See esp. 1.719–22: at memor ille [sc. Cupido]/ matris Acidaliae paulatim abolere Sychaeum/ incipit et uiuo temptat praeuertere amore/ iam pridem resides animos desuetaque corda (‘But he [sc. Cupid], mindful of his Acidalian mother [sc. Venus], little by little begins to efface Sychaeus [i.e. Dido’s deceased former husband], and attempts to incite with live passion her long-inactive soul and her heart that had unlearned to love’). The adverb, which means ‘some while ago now’, thus serves as bridge between Books 1 and 4 and, like tandem at the end of Book 3, mischievously underscores the length of Aeneas’ narration.

1: cura: the meaning of cura ranges from ‘anxiety’ to a (public) ‘task’ or ‘responsibility’, to be carried out with diligence and care. Here the former sense is of course paramount, but in signifying love pangs the term also evokes negatively its public-political meaning: Dido’s real cura ought to be the prudent governance of her city’s affairs. Some interesting passages to consider for the semantics of cura in the Aeneid include 1.227 (the first occurrence of the word in the epic, referring to the cosmic administrative responsibilities of Jupiter), 1.562 (Dido replying to Aeneas’ impassioned plea for support:… secludite curas (‘set aside your cares’), which resonates ironically in the light of our passage), 1.662 (Venus imagining Juno preoccupied by anxiety, a passage cited and discussed below), 1.678 (Venus referring to Ascanius as mea maxima cura), and the trail of further instances of the word in Book 4 at lines 5, 59, 332, 341, 379, 394, 448 (magno persentit pectore curas, of Aeneas), 488, 521, 531, 551, and 608.

2: uulnus alit uenis et caeco carpitur igni: uulnus alit uenis and caeco carpitur igni are two carefully balanced clauses of three words each. Both feature the verb in the middle (alit, carpitur: Dido is the subject of both) and involve alliteration (uulnus uenis; caeco carpitur). But Virgil alternates the construction. The first clause consists of an active verb, a direct object (uulnus) and an ablative of either place or instrument (uenis: ‘in or with her bloodstreams’), the second of a passive verb and an ablative of agency (caeco igni, as often in poetry without the preposition a/ab). Caecus has both an active (blind, i.e. unable to see) and a passive (hidden, i.e. invisible) sense. Here it is clearly the latter: the consuming fire of Dido’s passion does its damage out of sight, more specifically in or through her bloodstreams. There is, then, a thematic link between the last word of the first clause (uenis) and the first word of the second clause (caeco). Virgil may be alluding to Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1120: usque adeo incerti tabescunt uolnere caeco (‘in such uncertain state they waste away with a wound invisible’). Appropriately, the line is part of his diatribe against love (‘a romantic delusion’) as opposed to sex (‘a biological necessity’). And he certainly has in mind book 3 of Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, which features Medea burning in secret love for Jason after being hit by one of Eros’ arrows.32

The metaphorical wound of Dido here corresponds to the literal wound she inflicts upon herself at the end of the book. 4.689: infixum stridit sub pectore uulnus recalls both 4.2: uulnus alit uenis and 4.4: haerent infixi pectore, the latter also via the deer simile at 4.70–3. (See further below on 4: haerent infixi.) Likewise, the metaphorical caecus ignis here has a real counterpart at the end of the book: the flames of Dido’s funeral pyre. At 5.4–5 Aeneas gazes back from his departing ship to a Carthage aglow in flames: quae tantum accenderit ignem/ causa latet (‘Which cause set ablaze so great a fire remains hidden’). In the case of the fire-imagery there is an intermediate stage: the literal fire of the funeral pyre not only harks back to the fiery passion from which Dido suffers at the beginning but also picks up the transformation of the fires of love into the fires of wrath midway through the book: see the ‘black fires’, the atri ignes, that animate her curse at 4.384, which will pursue Aeneas and his descendants.33 The gradual transformation of metaphors of love into realities of death is one of the most haunting (and poetically brilliant) aspects of Aeneid 4. As Oliver Lyne puts it: ‘These sequences of fire and wound images are fine examples of “linked imagery”… They introduce among other things a sense of tragic inevitability. Dido’s love wound is converted remorselessly and seemingly inevitably in the maintained imagery into the wound of her suicide; and the fire of her love is converted with similar but less sympathetic inevitability into the fires of her curse.’

[Extra information: in the lines that follow upon Dido stabbing herself, Virgil uses a simile to connect her suicide to the historical fate of her city (4.667–71):

lamentis gemituque et femineo ululatu
tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether,
non aliter quam si immissis ruat hostibus omnis
Karthago aut antiqua Tyros, flammaeque furentes
culmina perque hominum uoluantur perque deorum.

The palace rings with laments, sobbing, and women’s shrieks, heaven echoes with load wails—as if all of Carthage or ancient Tyre were collapsing under the onslaught of enemies and raging flames were rolling over the roofs of men and over the roofs of the gods.

As already Macrobius observed (Saturnalia 4.6), Virgil adapts the scene of lament and the illustrative simile from Iliad 22.408–11, where we have a similar intertwining of individual and city in the context of lament: Priam and the Trojan women mourn for Hector slain, in anticipation of the fall of their city:

ᾤμωξεν δ’ ἐλεεινὰ πατὴρ φίλος, ἀμφὶ δὲ λαοὶ
κωκυτῷ τ’ εἴχοντο καὶ οἰμωγῇ κατὰ ἄστυ.

τῷ δὲ μάλιστ’ ἄρ’ ἔην ἐναλίγκιον ὡς εἰ ἅπασα
Ἴλιος ὀφρυόεσσα πυρὶ σμύχοιτο κατ’ ἄκρης.

His father groaned piteously, and all around the people were given over to wailing and groaning throughout the city. To this it was most alike, as if all of proud Troy were smouldering with fire from top to bottom.

And, in the teeth of Jupiter’s promise in Aeneid 1 that the Romans would come to enjoy an imperium sine fine (1.279: ‘an empire without end’), Greek sources report that Scipio Africanus Minor was stirred into a moment of tragic reflexivity after his sack of Carthage in 146 BC, reciting two verses from the Iliad, in which Hector recognizes the inevitability of the fall of Troy (6.448–49):34

ἔσσεται ἦμαρ ὅτ’ ἄν ποτ’ ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ
καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς ἐϋμμελίω Πριάμοιο.

The day shall come when sacred Ilios will perish and Priam and the people of Priam with goodly spear of ash.

This is a particular striking instance of the way in which Virgil in the Aeneid intertwines Roman history and the literary tradition by means of an oblique allusion—behind the scenes as it were of the tragic plot that is centred in the gruesome transformation of erotic passion into bloody suicide and lethal hatred: in this epic, the personal is always already also political. Or, as Otis puts it: ‘The wound and the flames that mark Dido’s end, and proleptically Carthage’s end as well (flammae furentes, 670), are thus the visible signs of an inner tragedy: the course of the book has developed Dido’s private wound and private conflagration into a public catastrophe, foreshadowing a greater one to come.’35]

3–4: multa uiri uirtus animo multusque recursat/ gentis honos: there is a switch in subject from Dido to the contents of her thought. Two assets of Aeneas are foremost in her mind. Virgil captures them in the pair of grammatically identical phrases multa uiri uirtus and multus gentis honos, i.e. the excellence of the man (uiri uirtus) and the distinction of his lineage (gentis honos). (The -que after multus links uirtus and honos.) The polyptotic adjectives multa and multus that modify uirtus and honos stand in place of adverbs and combine with the frequentative verb recursat to highlight the obsessive nature of Dido’s mental activity: Aeneas’ manly qualities and family prestige render any peace of mind impossible.

[Extra information: the repetition of multa/ multus recalls both the beginning and the end of Book 1. See 1.3–5: multum ille et terris iactatus et alto/ ui superum… multa quoque et bello passus (‘much thrown around on sea and land by violence of the gods… and also much enduring in war’) and 1.749–50: longumque bibebat amorem,/ multa super Priamo rogitans super Hectore multa (‘she drank deeply of love, asking much of Priam, much of Hector’). Likewise, recursat harks back to 1.662: urit atrox Iuno, et sub noctem cura recursat, a parallel discussed in further detail below.]

3: uiri uirtus: an alliterative figura etymologica: uirtus is what distinguishes the uir.36 Originally, uirtus seems to have indicated martial prowess above all. But in the course of the Roman assimilation of Greek philosophical thought, the semantics of the term expanded considerably, as uirtus became the preferred Latin term to render the Greek arete.37 In this process it also became a generic designation for good qualities more generally. The English ‘virtue’, while deriving from Latin uirtus, inevitably carries moral connotations and hence does not capture the full semantic range of the Latin term very well. ‘Excellence’ (uirtus) or ‘excellences’ (uirtutes) is therefore frequently the better option in translating. (Not all excellences need have a moral dimension.)

4: gentis honos: in enjambment. The phrase yields a metrical pattern (– u u –) called the choriamb, which enhances its unity and impact. Both gens and honos are key components of the political culture of the Roman republic. Latin authors tend to contrast the populus Romanus with foreign people (gentes), but with reference to Rome itself the term gens invariably designates one of the noble families (gentes) that formed the traditional polycentric core of Rome’s senatorial ruling elite:38 Hence we have (say) the gens Claudia (giving us the Claudii), the gens Cornelia (to which the Cornelii belonged) or the gens Fabia (the kin-group of the Fabii). Julius Caesar and hence also his adopted son Caesar Octavianus (later to be known under the honorific name Augustus) were part of the gens Iulia, which famously derived its name from Aeneas’ son Ascanius, also named Ilus, from Ilion, the Greek name of Troy (hence Iliad) and renamed Iulus after the fall of Troy.39 During the years of the republic (and also, under slightly altered circumstances, imperial times), members of the various gentes vied with each other for public offices (honos/ honores; the phrase gentis honos hints anachronistically at this key feature of Roman republican politics). In so doing, they could draw on the prestige of their gens in making themselves attractive to voters.40

[Extra information: Against this republican background of a plurality of gentes, Virgil throughout the Aeneid promotes a semantic reorientation of the term: from the proem onwards, he integrates the multiple gentes into a single overarching gens, the gens Romana. See his announcement at the end of his extended proem at 1.33: tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem! (‘So vast was the effort to found the Roman race!’). This shift from many aristocratic gentes to one Roman gens is programmatic: at various places in his epic, Virgil uses the language of blood-descent to intimate an overlap approximating identity between the family of Anchises and Aeneas (later called the gens Iulia) and the entire Roman people (conceived not as the populus Romanus but the gens Romana). This is spin, very much aligned to the ideological preoccupations of the Augustan principate, which it is important to bear in mind whenever Virgil uses gens.41]

Dido here repays Aeneas the compliment Aeneas had paid her in Book 1.609–10: semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt,/ quae me cumque uocant terrae (‘forever shall your honour, your name, and your praises abide, whatever lands summon me’), especially if one considers that nomen is a virtual synonym of gens (via the phrase nomen gentile: see e.g. 6.756-59).42 She knows of his partly divine lineage: at 1.615–18 she addresses Aeneas as soon as she realizes who has just walked into her city as nate dea (‘goddess-born’) before displaying an impressively detailed knowledge of his parentage and the circumstances of his birth: tune ille Aeneas, quem Dardanio Anchisae/ alma Venus Phrygii genuit Simoentis ad undam? (‘Are you that Aeneas, whom nurturing Venus bore to Dardanian Anchises by the wave of Phrygian Simois?’).

4–5: haerent infixi pectore uultus/ uerbaque: Virgil here systematically inverts standard word order: the main verb (haerent) precedes the subjects (the alliterative uultus uerbaque) and the participle infixi precedes its adverbial qualification (pectore). Vultus (which, as infixi makes clear, is in the ‘poetic plural’) refers to Aeneas’ appearance, uerba to his speech: he is a handsome hero and a spell-binding speaker. Together, these two qualities affect Dido profoundly and stay fixed deep within her heart. uerbaque is another instance of enjambment. Yet unlike in lines 3–4, where the enjambment of gentis honos was set up by multus—which was left ‘dangling’ without referent in the previous line—uerbaque comes as a surprise. It is tagged on, without advanced warning, either as an afterthought or for special emphasis. The design could suggest that it does not really matter what, precisely, Aeneas is saying since Dido is anyway completely beholden, stunned by his striking good looks; or it could mean that the verbal stimuli outweigh the visual ones in importance. Virgil underlines the contrast between the stable presence of Aeneas’ appearance and the mellifluous nature of his discourse metrically: apart from pectore, the phrase haerent infixi pectore uultus is spondaic, whereas uerbaque, for a moment, picks up dactylic speed, which comes to a somewhat abrupt stop at the diaeresis after the first foot. Virgil’s lexical choices here recall 1.717-19, where Dido cuddles Cupid disguised as Ascanius: haec oculis, haec pectore toto/ haeret et interdum gremio fouet, inscia Dido,/ insidat quantus miserae deus (‘with her eyes, with all her heart Dido hangs on him and from time to time fondles him in her lap, unknowing how great a divinity sits there to her sorrow’). As planned by Venus, the physical affection Dido displays for Aeneas’ insidious ‘son’ has evolved into a mental obsession with the father.

Vultus and uerba is the third pair of words linked by u-alliteration in the opening lines, after uulnusuenis and uiriuirtus. Virgil seems to be hinting at a thematic link between the uulnus of Dido and the uirtus, uultus, and uerba of the uir Aeneas—a nexus reinforced if we take into consideration the erotic uenenum (poison) that Venus ordered her son Cupid to assault Dido with fire and poison (cf. 1.688: occultum inspires ignem fallasque ueneno; the poison metaphor continues at 1.749: longumque bibebat amorem).43

4: haerent infixi: Virgil reuses infixus with reference to Dido’s suicidal wound at 4.689: infixum stridit sub pectore uulnus. The lexical parallel thus constitutes another literalization of a metaphorical image as love turns into death. Both verbs also recur in the stricken-deer simile at 4.70–3: quam [sc. ceruam]… fixit/ pastor agens telis;… haeret lateri letalis harundo (again inverting subject and verb). The simile marks a midway stage in the gradual transformation of the metaphorical imagery at the opening of the book into deadly reality at its end: it is a narrative comparison, designed to illustrate Dido’s pathological condition (and as such is a figurative use of language), but involves the actual wounding and killing of an animal.

5: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem: the subject (cura) recalls the cura of line 1, but the switch from ablative to nominative suggests a subtle increase in Dido’s anxiety. The phrase membris dat cura separates the adjective placidam from the noun it modifies (quietem), generating a hyberbaton that is thematically appropriate: the unsettled word order enacts Dido’s inability to achieve a restful state of mind. The opening five lines contain a veritable anatomy of Dido: after hailing her wholesale as queen (regina, 1), Virgil focuses in turn on her veins (uenis, 2), her mind (animo, 3), her heart or breast (pectore, 4), and the rest of her limbs (membris, 5).

[Extra information: Before moving on, it is instructive to set the opening five lines of Aeneid 4 against a passage from Book 1—a backward glance designed to illustrate how Virgil generates intratextual coherence and suggestive complexity by means of the strategic repetition of key words and phrases (1.657–63):

at Cytherea nouas artes, noua pectore versat


consilia, ut faciem mutatus et ora Cupido


pro dulci Ascanio ueniat, donisque furentem


incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem;


quippe domum timet ambiguam Tyriosque bilinguis;


urit atrox Iuno, et sub noctem cura recursat.


ergo his aligerum dictis adfatur Amorem:


But Venus revolves new designs, new schemes in her breast, how Cupid transformed in face and form may come instead of sweet Ascanius and by means of his gifts inflame the raging queen and embed the fire in her bones. In fact, she fears the uncertain house and the double-tongued Tyrians; black- biled Juno burns and at nightfall her anxiety rushes back. Therefore she addressed winged Amor with the following words…

Parallels to note include:


At Cytherea (1.657) correlates with At regina (4.1).


pectore uersat (1.657) points to animo… recursat (4.3) and infixi pectore (4.4)


the sentence incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem (1.660) anticipates reginauulnus alit uenis [~ ossibus] et caeco carpitur igni (1–2) in the sense of ‘mission accomplished.’


sub noctem cura recursat (1.662) prefigures the opening of Aeneid 4 more generally, with a specific lexical parallel in animo… recursat (4.3): in both passages, it is night; cura (worry on behalf of Aeneas on the part of Venus, love of Aeneas in the case of Dido) causes emotional upheaval; and emotive thoughts assault the peace of mind of the character in question.

At the same time a displacement has occurred: because of the cura that Venus felt in Book 1, Dido feels cura in Book 4. The lexical reminiscences thus serve as a reminder that Dido’s pathological condition owes itself at least in part to a divine intervention and therefore encourage theological reflection about the interface between the divine and the human realm (as well as the ethics thereof).]

6–7: postera Phoebea lustrabat lampade terras/ umentemque Aurora polo dimouerat umbram: Virgil here offers an elaborate description of dawn (or Dawn, the goddess Aurora, who is the subject of both lustrabat and dimouerat). Myth has it that Aurora fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal, son of the Trojan king Laomedon. She prevailed upon Jupiter to grant her beloved immortality but forgot to request eternal youth as well.44 The lines feature two striking hyperbata: postera… Aurora (‘the following dawn’) and umentemque… umbram, the last linked by the um-alliteration and containing a touch of paronomasia that suggests a thematic affinity between umens and umbra. The symmetry of line 7 is striking: umentem and umbram frame the subject (Aurora) and the verb (dimouerat), with polo, in the ablative of separation, dead centre. Aurora and dimouerat thus function as buffers that keep the dewy (umentem) darkness (umbram) away from the sky (polo): in other words, Virgil reproduces on the level of verbal architecture the result of the action described in the line.

6: Phoebea lustrabat lampade: the phrase acquires formal coherence through alliteration (lu-, la-) and assonance (-bea, -ba-, -pade). Phoebeus means ‘of or associated with Phoebus Apollo; of Phoebus, belonging or sacred to him.’ It is formed as a calque on Greek Φοίβειος, which explains why the -be- is scanned as a long syllable: it represents a long syllable (the diphthong -ει-) in Greek. lampas, in the poetic sense that Virgil uses it here means ‘the light of the sun’; but its primary meaning is ‘torch’ or ‘fire-brand.’ As such the term could be taken to foreshadow the tragic turn of events, more specifically Dido’s funeral pyre. The last image that Aeneas catches of Carthage are the city walls aglow with the funeral flames of Dido at 5.3–4: moenia respiciens, quae iam infelicis Elissae/ conlucent flammis (‘looking back on the city walls, which now gleam with the funeral flames of unlucky Dido’). The primary meanings of lustrare are ‘to purify ceremonially with rituals usually involving a procession’ and hence ‘to walk around, to circle.’ Here it means ‘to spread light over or around, to irradiate’ (OLD s.v. 4), though Maclennan believes that the primary meaning also registers ‘because Dido feels in some way polluted by her feelings for Aeneas.’45 This is an interesting suggestion, but the rising of the sun does not alter the religious quality or implications of Dido’s feelings, and the key thematic contrast here seems rather between night/ darkness/ secrecy/ solitude and day/ light/ confession/ company.46

8: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem: The so-called cum- inversum—inverted because the background action (here: sunrise) comes in the main clause, whereas the main action (here: Dido approaching her sister to share confidences) is put in the subordinate cum-clause—is a favourite device of Virgil to enhance a dramatic scene.47

[Extra Information: two correlated instances of the cum-inversum occur at the beginning of the poem. See Aeneid 1.34–7: uix e conspectu Siculae telluris in altum/ uela dabant laeti, et spumas salis aere ruebant,/ cum Iuno, aeternum seruans sub pectore uulnus, haec secum [sc. dixit]… (‘Hardly out of sight of Sicilian land, they were spreading their sails onto the high sea and were gladly ploughing the foaming sea with brazen prow, when Juno, nursing an immortal wound in her breast, spoke thus to herself…’). The narrative stretch thus introduced, i.e. Juno’s outraged soliloquy, her subsequent visit to the wind-god Aeolus, and the unleashing of the storm that will blow Aeneas’ fleet off-course to Carthage, finds its conclusion at 1.223–26, with another cum-inversum: Et iam finis erat, cum Iuppiter aethere summo/ despiciens mare ueliuolum terrasque iacentis/ litoraque et latos populos, sic uertice caeli/ constitit… The syntactic device thus frames the initial stretch of action, being first associated with Juno, the goddess of beginning, interference and obstruction, whose intervention verges on generating chaos but also provides dramatic energy, and then with Jupiter, the god of ending (cf. finis), entropy, settlement, ordaining, and order.]

8: unanimam… sororem: Dido’s sister (Anna, who is not named until the following line) appears out of nowhere, but Virgil obliquely stresses the strong attachment that unites the siblings by means of two formal instances of bonding: the adjective unanimus enacts its meaning by merging the two words unus and animus into one; and the elision of unanimam adloquitur practices bonding at the level of metre. The notion of two individuals being of one mind ultimately goes back to the Homeric ideal of ‘likemindedness’ (ὁμοφροσύνη) that forms the basis of Odysseus’ and Penelope’s perfect marriage. After Dido has mortally wounded herself on her funeral pyre, Virgil stages a last encounter between her and her sister Anna, using language that refers the reader back to the beginning of Book 4. Anna bedding her dying sister in her lap (686): semianimemque… germanam amplexa (‘embracing her dying sister’) constitutes a tragic gloss on 8: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem. Since Dido and Anna are each a unanima soror to the other, the phrase semianimis germana not only captures Dido’s limbo state between life and death, but also the fact that Anna and Dido, who were unanimous, are split in half: half of Anna dies with Dido.48

8: male sana: a periphrastic, colloquial way of saying insana, though male seems more than a mere synonym for non: combined with sana, it is not simply a negation but produces a contradictio in adiecto or even an oxymoron. The phrase stands in predicative position to the subject of the cum-clause, i.e. Dido: ‘she addressed her sister, in a state of ill-health/ mentally disturbed.’

The reference to Dido’s psycho-pathological condition concludes the multi-faceted metaphorics of love that Virgil has splashed across these opening lines. It will be useful to take stock of the images he uses here and elsewhere in Aeneid 1 and 4 to capture Dido’s amorous feelings for Aeneas:

(a) Wounds: 4.1: saucia, 4.2: uulnus, 4.69–73: the simile of the deer killed by an arrow. Note, though, that, in contrast to his counterpart Eros in Apollonius’ Argonautica 3, Virgil’s Cupid does not use arrows in inflicting a wound on Dido; bow and arrow imagery are displaced upon Aeneas: ‘Vergil’s Cupid is emphatically not an archer. That role is reserved for his half-brother: for Aeneas, here in 4.69ff.’49

(b) Fire: 1.660: incendat [sc. Amor] reginam atque ossibus implicet ignem (1.660), 1.688 (Venus to Amor): occultum inspires ignem, 4.2: igni, 4.68: uritur infelix Dido. At the end of the book, the hidden fire inside Dido will turn into the conflagration that engulfs her corpse on the funeral pyre.

(c) Poison: 1.688 (Venus to Amor): fallasque ueneno, 1.750: bibat amorem, 4.2: uenis (hints at uenenum), 4.73: Cretans in stories hunt with poisoned arrows.

(d) Pathologies of the body, i.e. infection and disease: 1.712: pesti deuota futurae, 4.8: male sana, 4.90: tali persensit peste teneri, 4.389: aegra.

(e) Pathologies of the mind, i.e. madness: 1.659: furentem, 4.8: male sana, 4.69: furens, 4.78: demens, 4.301: bacchatur, 4.642: effera.

The metaphors point to different stages and aspects of erotic experience: the metaphorics of wounding construe being in love as the outcome of an assault by Eros, Amor, or Cupid, the god of love, armed as he is with bows and arrows, though he also uses more insidious means to press his attack. Fire imagery, too, has associations with Cupid, the fire-brand or marriage torch, but the notion of a conflagration also refers to physiological symptoms of love (going hot and cold at the sight of the beloved, for instance). The idea of poisoning points to Cupid as an infiltrator who secretly enters the bloodstream—as do notions of ill-health (whether physical or mental).

Lines 9–30: Sister Act I: Dido’s Address to Anna

Not having slept during the night, Dido seeks out her sister Anna the following morning and tries to articulate her thoughts and feelings. Despite her emotional turmoil, her speech is well structured, in two different ways:

(a) It comprises 21 lines in all, which fall into two halves of near-equal length (11/10), marked by two direct addresses to the internal audience, her sister Anna: Anna soror (9) and Anna (20). Those who count along and expect the second half to be precisely equal in length to the first half will thus be disappointed. In line 30, which could have been the 11th line of the second half, Dido has finished speaking and bursts into tears. But this slight imbalance and seemingly premature end to her speech may be an artistic effect designed to convey Dido’s emotionally unbalanced condition.

(b) In thematic terms, the structure is tripartite, again in a symmetrical design (6/9/6):

1: 9–14: Dido’s attempt to articulate in words her thoughts and feelings about Aeneas
2: 15–23: Exploration of a ‘what-if’
3: 24–29: Rejection of the ‘what-if’

9–14: ‘Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!/ quis nouus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes,/ quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!/ credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum./ degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!

The opening segment of the speech comprises an attempt by Dido to articulate in words the impression Aeneas has made on her. In doing so, she repeats from a personal, subjective perspective what Virgil has just described from the external, objective perspective of the narrator. She is so overpowered by feelings and emotions (ranging from deep reverence to strong erotic attraction and incipient sexual desire) that she appears to be ‘gushing’, and her Latin is accordingly palpably out of control. Noteworthy features that underscore that Dido is here venting strong feelings include the sequence of exclamations introduced by quae (9), quis (10), quem (11), quam (11), quibus (13), quae (14); the overemphatic string quis nouus hic (10); and the contorted expression quem sese ore ferens (11). Dido reaches the height of her pathos-dripping outburst with the exclamation heu (13), a profound expression of empathy for the trials and tribulations her hero has suffered, but also indicative of the profound yearning and passion-driven anxiety that she is experiencing herself this very moment, before she sobers down to a more measured mode of discourse from line 15 onwards.

9: quae… insomnia terrent: paradoxically, insomnium, usually in the plural, can mean both ‘sleeplessness’ (OLD s.v. 1) and ‘an apparition seen in a trance or dream’ (OLD s.v. 2). Virgil may here play with both possibilities to convey a sense of Dido’s ‘altered’ state of mind: she cannot sleep and partly as a result begins to hallucinate as if dreaming. She hovers between wakefulness and sleep, a condition liable to blur any clear-cut boundary between what is based on ‘real’ sense perceptions and what are figments of the imagination. terrent raises similar issues of interpretation. It is a highly emotive verb and rather unexpected: why should Dido feel fear? She has fallen in love. But the notion that she experiences ‘erotic nightmares’ is in dramatic terms highly appropriate and psychologically insightful: it introduces at the outset a sinister note, as Dido confesses that her obsessive passion for Aeneas conjures up ghosts of terror, however erotically thrilling the experience may be. (Goold’s ‘what dreams thrill me with fears?’ captures the paradox nicely.) Specifically, Dido may here betray awareness of the impact these insomnia have on her resolve to remain faithful to her dead husband Sychaeus, and she fears the consequences. In other words, Dido is afraid of herself, afraid of what she will do: the verb thus carries a strong sense of foreboding of what will happen later in the book.50

[Extra information: One of Virgil’s models here is Apollonius, Argonautica 3. At 3.616–18 he describes Medea asleep, but worried for Jason: ‘As for the girl, deep sleep was furnishing relief from her troubles as she lay in bed. But soon deceptive, baleful dreams began to disturb her, as they do when a girl is in distress.’51 And when she wakes up, Medea soliloquizes as follows (3.636–44):

‘δειλὴ ἐγών, οἷόν με βαρεῖς ἐφόβησαν ὄνειροι.


δείδια, μὴ μέγα δή τι φέρῃ κακὸν ἥδε κέλευθος


ἡρώων· περί μοι ξείνῳ φρένες ἠερέθονται.


μνάσθω ἑὸν κατὰ δῆμον Ἀχαιίδα τηλόθι κούρην,


ἄμμι δὲ παρθενίη τε μέλοι καὶ δῶμα τοκήων.


ἔμπα γε μὴν, θεμένη κύνεον κέαρ, οὐκέτ’ ἄνευθεν


αὐτοκασιγνήτης πειρήσομαι εἴ κέ μ’ ἀέθλῳ


χραισμεῖν ἀντιάσῃσιν, ἐπὶ σφετέροις ἀχέουσα


παισί· τό κέν μοι λυγρὸν ἐνὶ κραδίῃ σβέσει ἄλγος.’


‘Poor me! How these dire dreams have frightened me! I fear that this expedition of heroes will indeed bring some great harm—my mind is all aflutter about the stranger. Let him woo an Achaean girl far away among his own people, and let my care be for virginity and the home of my parents. Yet nevertheless, I will make my heart shameless and, no longer remaining aloof, will test my sister, to see if she will entreat me to aid in the contest because she is distressed for her sons—that would quench the terrible pain in my heart.’

There are, then, clear parallels in plot (a heroine in erotic distress, deciding to seek out her sister after a night of frightful visions), and Virgil’s Latin obliquely recalls Apollonius’ Greek also on the level of metre and diction. Compare the opening line of Medea’s self-address with the opening line of Dido’s speech to Anna:

δειλὴ ἐγών, οἷόν με βαρεῖς ἐφόβησαν ὄνειροι.
Poor me! How these dire dreams have frightened me!

Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!
Anna, my sister, what dreams frighten me with fears?

- δειλὴ ἐγών [poor me] ~ Anna soror: Medea’s address to herself, i.e. δειλὴ ἐγών [poor me], has been replaced by Dido’s address to her sister Anna (Anna soror) in the same metrical pattern.

- οἷόν [how] ~ quae: Instead of an adverb, Virgil uses an an interrogative adjective (quae modifies insomnia: ‘what dreams…’). Apollonius’ Medea stresses the degree of her fear (how!); Virgil’s Dido enquires into the nature of her frightening dreams.

- με [me] ~ me: in both Apollonius and Virgil, the direct object of the verb is the first person personal pronoun.

- βαρεῖς [dire] ~ suspensam: Apollonius here uses an adjective to modify the dreams; Virgil instead chooses to elaborate on Dido: suspensam, which means something akin to ‘on tenterhooks’ (see next note) modifies me.

- ἐφόβησαν [have frightened] ~ terrent: both authors use a verb with the basic meaning ‘to frighten.’ But Virgil shifts the tense from the past (ἐφόβησαν is a so-called aorist) to the present. Whereas Medea reflects on the nightmares from which she has just woken up, Dido (who has never fallen asleep) confesses to her sister that she is being plagued by ‘nightmarish visions’ at this very moment. Virgil thereby achieves a heightened sense of urgency and immediacy.

- ὄνειροι [dreams] ~ insomnia: in line with the present tense, Virgil uses a term that can refer to visions in dreams or hallucinations while awake.]

9: suspensam: in predicative relation to me, meaning ‘in a state of anxious uncertainty or suspense, on tenterhooks’ (OLD s.v.).

10: quis nouus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes: The design is symmetrical: quis nouus hic agrees with hospes and nostris with sedibus, leaving the verb (successit) at the centre. (The position of successit between nostris and sedibus enacts its meaning, i.e. ‘has entered into.’) The use of quis as an exclamation together with the demonstrative pronoun hic makes a literal translation difficult: ‘What an unforeseen guest, this, who has entered our house!’52 As Conington points out, Dido here quotes herself. See 1.627 (Dido speaking to Aeneas and his men): quare agite, o tectis, iuuenes, succedite nostris (‘Come therefore, young men, enter our halls’).

[Extra information: Virgil repeats the phrasing of 1.627 and 4.10 with minor variation at 8.123: nostris succede penatibus hospes. The speaker is Pallas, the son of Euander, addressing Aeneas—the same Pallas, in other words, who will go to war with the Trojan leader only to have his life cut short by Turnus. The correspondence in diction draws attention to parallels in plot, which are further underscored by the remarkable fact that the last time we hear of Dido is when Aeneas covers the corpse of Pallas with the cloak of gold and purple Dido had made him (11.72-5; for the cloak see below 4.262–64). Is Virgil hinting at the fact that playing host to Aeneas leads to tragedy and death? Or is the point of these parallels that Aeneas, just like Dido, is a tragic figure who deserves our respect and sympathy?]

11: quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!: syntactically, the line continues in apposition to hospes, giving two further specifications in different constructions: a present participle (ferens), followed by ablatives of quality (forti pectore et armis). The phrase ore ferre means ‘to exhibit or display in one’s features or expression’ (OLD s.v. ferre 9c). A painfully literal translation of quem sese ore ferens would go something like: ‘as whom (quem) displaying (ferens) himself (sese) in his mien (ore)!’ It may be significant that Virgil already used the expression se ferre during Dido’s entrance into the narrative, more specifically the Diana-simile at 1.503–04: talem se laeta ferebat/ per medios. And it is certainly significant that a similar formulation recurs later on in the book when Dido wishes that Aeneas had made her pregnant before setting sail (4.327–30):

saltem si qua mihi de te suscepta fuisset
ante fugam suboles, si quis mihi paruulus aula
luderet Aeneas, qui te tamen ore referret,
non equidem omnino capta ac deserta uiderer.

[If at least before your flight an offspring of yours had been conceived by me, if in my hall a little Aeneas were playing, who would bring you back in his mien, I would not seem entirely conquered and deserted.]

From a modern perspective, getting Dido pregnant before abandoning her would seem to heighten the sense of betrayal. But Dido is so obsessed with the Trojan hero that she would prefer a living reminder of their time together to being left all alone. The wish, of course, is perverse since it hints at incest, and Virgil continues the Homeric paradigm of ‘sterile sex’ for his protagonist during his travels.53 But Dido cannot/ does not want to ever take her eyes off the Trojan hero.

[Extra information: Gutting points out a powerful Catullan intertext in 4.327–30: ‘The phrase parvulus Aeneas is striking because it is a rare use of a diminutive adjective in Vergil’s epic. The diminutive recalls the parvulus Torquatus of Catullus 61. There, the parvulus Torquatus exemplifies perfectly the use of children as tokens of the conjugal bond. Catullus explains that the child should be a replica of his father in order to serve as a sign to all of his mother’s pudicitia (61.209–18). But in Dido’s case, the typically conjugal desire for a child who looks like his father has become a facet of erotic desire.’54 And yet: if we take the genre Catullus is writing in seriously, then Dido is thinking of a wedding first of all, a proper and joyful union blessed with offspring—the problem is that she infects this Roman model of wedlock and procreation with the warped and disturbing desire worthy of a Cleopatra, who did indeed give birth to such a child, Caesar’s ill-fated son Caesarion. Roman readers who pursued the implications of this intertext, then, would have ended up in uncomfortable territory.]55

11: quam forti pectore et armis!: literally, this part of the sentence means ‘with how brave a chest and arms/ shoulders!’ pectore recalls 4.4: haerent infixi pectore uultus, but whereas in the earlier passage pectus means Dido’s heart, here pectus seems to be referring above all to Aeneas’ musculature, specifically his pects. armis could come either from armus (‘shoulder’) or, more likely, from arma (‘arms’). While armus is a possibility (Dido appreciating the buff chest and broad shoulders of her hero), arma yields a better meaning. Dido’s diction here (and elsewhere: see above all below on heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!) recalls the language of the proem: if armis comes from arma, forti pectore et armis chiastically paraphrase Virgil’s keynote, which introduces his plot and his protagonist, i.e. arma uirumque cano (1.1), with forte pectus as a metonym, or pars pro toto, for uir. Dido’s appraisal of Aeneas is thus grounded in the poet’s reality, however much her overall picture may be distorted by the influence of Cupid.

12: credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum: credo introduces the indirect statement genus esse deorum, with nec uana fides [sc. est] inserted as a parenthetical exclamation. Dido’s assertion that she believes in Aeneas’ divine ancestry is strategically placed between her appreciation of his appearance (11) and a sympathetic recapitulation of and reaction to his tale of adventures (13–14): both his looks and his account of his deeds confirm his supernatural lineage, which she already took for granted at 1.615–18. The use of fides also subtly hints at the desirability of a third quality, in addition to appearance and bravery, namely trustworthiness and reliability in social relations—which Aeneas, from Dido’s point of view, ultimately reveals himself as conspicuously lacking. Her vote of confidence here functions as ironic foil for the aspersion she casts on Aeneas after she has heard the news of his imminent departure (4.365–67):

nec tibi diua parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
perfide, sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus, Hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tigres.

[‘You do not have a divine mother nor is Dardanus the founder of your lineage, treacherous one, but rugged Caucasus on his hard rocks begot you, and Hyrcanian tigresses suckled you…’]

In the light of this radical change of heart, the parenthesis nec uana fides acquires a touch of tragic irony. Even if Aeneas remains of divine descent, the fides (‘trust’) that Dido invests in Aeneas more generally (and not just his DNA) turns out to be uana (‘misplaced’): he is not fidus (‘trustworthy, loyal’) but perfidus (‘treacherous’).

13: degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille: a ‘breathless’, dactylic line. The gnomic formulation degeneres animos timor arguit is a curiously abstract and negative way of making the positive point that Aeneas has shown no fear and hence is not a ‘degenerate.’ (A degener is a person who has fallen short of the standards of excellence shown by his ancestors, indicating a worsening of the blood-line: put differently, Dido assesses Aeneas as living up to his illustrious ancestry.) This negative proof—arguere, in its basic sense, means ‘to show, demonstrate’, then also, in law court settings, ‘to convict, prove guilty’—reinforces Dido’s and Virgil’s obsession with lineage: the theme of noble descent and ignoble disposition recalls gentis honos at 4.4 (though the causal link Dido asserts between a show of fear and degeneracy also comes as a bit of a surprise given that a few lines earlier she had confessed to be suffering from a significant amount of fear: insomnia me… terrent). Still, by way of etymology, degeneres continues the thought that concluded the previous line, i.e. genus esse deorum, in a kind of chiastic paronomasia: the prefix de- playfully alludes to deorum (though pointing downwards, rather than upwards), whereas -generes picks up genus.56 As Henderson suggests (per litteras), it is almost as if Dido tries her best to think of ways to put Aeneas down, to diagnose some holes in his impeccable armour and appearance, but without apparent success. From her point of view, Aeneas will indeed come to oscillate sharply between someone of quasi-divine status and being a lowly brute (see the rhetorical bestialization she performs on her former lover at 4.365–67, cited in the previous note): the decisive criterion is the key Roman value of fides (‘trustworthiness’), which he fails to live up to.

13–14: heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat! Dido continues to speak of Aeneas in an ‘authorial’ idiom and additionally assimilates Aeneas to the narrator. Her own assessment in quibus ille iactatus fatis matches that of Virgil (see fato profugus and multum ille et terris iactatus et alto at Aen. 1.2 and 1.3, respectively), and her quae bella exhausta, while referring to Aeneas’ account of the sack of Troy, harks back to Aen. 1.1: arma [= bella] and 1.5: multa quoque et bello passus and anticipates Aen. 7.41 (Virgil addressing the Muse Erato): tu uatem, tu, diua, mone. dicam horrida bella). By referring to Aeneas’ dinner performance with the verb canebat, Dido correlates his narrative with Virgil’s own narration of the Aeneid: arma uirumque cano (Aen. 1.1). How does Dido know that Aeneas is tossed about by fate, given that she thinks of her own biography as shaped by fortune? She may have picked up a hint from Aeneas’ discourse in Books 2 and 3, where fata figures prominently as a divine force shaping affairs in the human realm. Yet Dido, while adopting the idiom of historical necessity, remains unwilling to draw the necessary consequences.

14: fatis: fatum (or, as here, in the plural fata) is a key concept in Virgil’s theology, which he introduces right at the beginning of his epic (1.2: fato profugus). Scholarship has been much preoccupied with sorting out how it works in the Aeneid, not least in relation to Jupiter. What has been somewhat overlooked in all this is that the notion of historical necessity implied by fatum was at variance with the conception of history that prevailed in republican times, i.e. an annalistic sequence of years, marked by the entry into office by publicly elected consuls (who gave their names to the year), with an open future. Rome’s civic religion, tailored to maintaining the so-called pax deorum, i.e. ‘peace with the gods’, tried to ensure that this contingent future brought success and prosperity rather than defeat or disaster—but it was a continual process of negotiation with the supernatural sphere with an uncertain outcome. Those who invoked the concept of fate as supporting their own ambitions during the republic tended to be revolutionaries (followers of Catiline, for instance, who argued that Rome was heading towards an apocalyptic and preordained moment of crisis), warlords and potentates (such as Caesar or Octavian who liked to represent their rise to power as the fulfilment of destiny), or individuals with a passionate belief in their historical importance (notably Cicero, who, towards the end of his career, started to see a coincidence between his fatum and the fatum of the res publica, though he remained strictly opposed to any notion of historical necessity). Virgil’s theology is therefore indebted not primarily to the civic religion of the Roman republic but to this revolutionary, autocratic rhetoric.57

14: quae bella exhausta canebat!: Dido has a point: Aeneas’ narration must have lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Still, the attribute exhausta, which here has the sense of ‘down to the bitter end’, is highly ironic if one ponders the fact that horrida bella (Aen. 7.41) lie in store for Aeneas upon his arrival in Italy and Dido herself will curse the future city of Rome with the prospect of prolonged warfare against her avenger Hannibal (4.621–29).

15–19: si mihi non sederet… si non pertaesum… fuisset,… potui succumbere…: Lines 15–19 contain one long conditional sequence. The protasis consists of two asyndetic si-clauses (15: si… sederet; 18: si… pertaesum fuisset). The first is in the imperfect subjunctive (a present contrary-to-fact), the second is in the pluperfect subjunctive (a past contrary-to-fact). They share the apodosis, i.e. potui, which is in the perfect indicative (rather than the subjunctive) since it is one of those verbs that ‘contain within themselves a subjunctive type of meaning (e.g. “could”, “should”).’58 Scholars are divided on the meaning of the change in tense from imperfect to pluperfect subjunctive. Here is Gutting: ‘Dido’s first protasis is a statement that precludes infidelity to Sychaeus at the present time, but the second protasis only precludes infidelity in past time. The possibility of present infidelity is left open. Thus the change in tense reflects the incremental paulatim abolere Sychaeum begun by Cupid at 1.720. The apodosis, huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpae, leaves no doubt of the cracks in Dido’s fidelity.’59 Contrast Maclennan, who offers a more innocent reading: ‘The strength of feeling in this sentence is worth setting out. Dido could say in routine language, using the imperf. subj., si non me taederet succumbere possem—“If I were not weary, I could yield”. Virgil gives her the intensive prefix per-; he suggests that the matter is over once and for all by using the pluperf. subj., intensifying that idea by pertaesum fuisset rather than esset.’60 Who is right?

15–16: si mihi non animo fixum immotumque sederet/ ne cui me uinclo uellem sociare iugali: mihi: a so-called ‘ethic dative’.61 The ne-clause, which is the subject of the first si-clause with fixum immotumque as a predicative complement (‘if it were not planted in my mind as fixed and immovable that…’), specifies what Dido thinks she will remain unconditionally committed to. (ali)cui (ali- dropping out after si, nisi, ne and num) is the dative object, me the accusative object of sociare, which is a complementary infinitive with uellem. The generic reference to a comprehensive aliquis (‘anyone’) already prepares for the exception. In fact, nomen est omen: if one derives Dido from a Phoenician root, it means ‘Wanderer’—suitably enough for someone forced into exile, but the exact opposite of anything fixum immotumque that remains settled and in place (sederet).62

17: postquam primus amor deceptam morte fefellit: primus amor refers to Dido’s feelings for her first husband Sychaeus or Sychaeus himself (‘my first love’). Virgil elides the direct object of fefellit, i.e. the personal pronoun me, on which deceptam depends. morte goes with both deceptam and fefellit, and there is a striking alliterative patterning that gives stylistic coherence to the entire formulation: p-, p-; am-, mo-; fe-fe-. Note also the paronomastic relation amor ~ morte. The intervening deceptam almost makes the two words merge into one another: amor-de [cept] am-morte. The phrasing is iconic, suggesting the tragic identity of love and death. In the figure of ‘Dido deceived’ the two coincide twice: her first husband is the victim of brutal murder; and her would-be husband causes her suicide. Lyne offers a nuanced interpretation of Virgil’s syntax and Dido’s psychology. He first notes that the idiom derives from funerary inscriptions where it takes two forms: ‘the bereaved are said to be cheated by the death of a loved one, and the dead persons themselves are said to have been cheated by death’ (31).63 Then he points out that Virgil tweaks the commonplace in an interesting way: here it is the deceased (Sychaeus) who is thought to have deceived and cheated his surviving spouse by dying: ‘“deceptam” may legitimately be seen as reinforcing the action in “fefellit”: “deceptam fefellit” = “decepit atque fefellit”’ (31). He concludes: ‘By his death Sychaeus has cheated her as surely as, much more surely than he would have by leaving her for another woman. Such unfair (and perhaps largely unconscious) resentment in the face of bereavement is something that I think we can all understand. Certainly Dido feels it, and Vergil’s language extorts it for her’ (32). There is yet another unconscious plot embedded in Dido’s choice of idiom, to do with her description of her love and marriage to Sychaeus as primus amor. Tragically, the ‘second love of her life’, her secundus amor, will also deceive her and result in death, this time her own. Dido, of course, is unaware that her phrasing is both retrospective and proleptic: a case of tragic irony, here reinforced by the fact that she falls prey to the (subliminal) trickery of her own idiom, which too deceives her (cf. fefellit).

18: si non pertaesum thalami taedaeque fuisset: the verb of this second si-clause is the impersonal pertaesum fuisset, the pluperfect subjunctive of pertaedet, ‘to fill with exceeding weariness or disgust.’ The intensifying per-, which picks up postquam and primus from the previous line, and the etymological play in per-taesum ~ taedae are meant to emphasize Dido’s tedium. But the intensification is arguably a feeble, rhetorical gesture, especially in the light of her subsequent confession that there is one (cf. huic uni, solus hic), who could rekindle positive associations of the wedding torch. Impersonal verbs of feeling have the person who feels in the accusative (remember the jingle me piget, pudet, paenitet, me taedet et me miseret; in our verse, a me has to be supplied mentally) and the object that causes the feeling in the genitive (here it is thalami taedaeque, i.e. sex and marriage). The three times in Aeneid 4 that Virgil uses the term taeda, the wedding torch, mark three important stages in the plot. See Hersch: ‘In Book Four of Virgil’s Aeneid, taeda surfaces three times; the first two taedae are unequivocally nuptial. At the beginning of the book, Dido tells her sister Anna that she is thoroughly tired of the “torch and the bridal chamber”.’64 Later, Aeneas quite specifically denies that any wedding occurred when he says, “I never held out the torches of a spouse, or entered into a pact!” [4.337–39] The third time Virgil uses taeda in Book Four, he does so in what appears to be a simultaneous wedding, suicide, and funeral: at the end of the book, Dido commits suicide surrounded by the trappings of an elaborate anti- wedding. Dido decorates the space with foliage and makes her pyre “huge with torches (perhaps pine-torches are meant here) and cut oak” [4.504–08].’

19: huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpae: up to succumbere, it appears as if huic uni (words that are unspecific in terms of gender) refer to Aeneas, as the one exception to Dido’s earlier, comprehensive dimissal of ‘anyone’ (cui)—an impression perhaps reinforced by her use of the demonstrative pronoun in line 10 (quis nouus hic… hospes). Hence culpae at the end of the line—the noun that huic and uni modify—comes as a surprise. Virgil’s temporarily ambiguous syntax arguably reflects the movement of Dido’s thought. She starts singling out Aeneas as the one man to whom she might yield before calling herself to order and recognizing that such a move would amount to an instance of wrongdoing (culpa). Support for this reading comes from line 22, where solus hic, which is all but synonymous with huic uni, indeed refers to Aeneas. forsan introduces a hedge: Dido confesses to her sister that if matters had turned out otherwise in her past and she had not committed herself to a life of chastity, then, perhaps (forsan), she might have given herself up to this one (huic)—but this one only (uni)—transgression (culpae). This, of course, is precisely what will happen: ironically, Dido’s seemingly counterfactual musings prefigure the plot. It is noteworthy that she here acknowledges to Anna, and to herself, that the pull of desire she feels is a guilty pleasure and giving in to temptation an act of transgression or wrongdoing (culpa)—in contrast to her behaviour at 4.172, after the fateful encounter in the cave, where she re-evaluates her position: coniugium uocat [sc. Dido], hoc praetexit nomine culpam (see note ad loc.).

20–22: Anna (fatebor enim) miseri post fata Sychaei/ coniugis et sparsos fraterna caede penatis/ solus hic inflexit sensus animumque labantem/ impulit: the two names (Anna; Sychaei) are placed at the beginning and end of line 20—in antithetical correlation (Anna will pull Dido one way; Sychaeus another). Dido has reached the midway point of her speech, which she marks by a renewed address to her sister (Anna). We learn of Dido’s past in Book 1.343–59, where Venus recounts her story to Aeneas: Dido’s brother Pygmalion (hence fraterna caede) killed her husband Sychaeus out of greed, forcing her into exile from her home in Tyre. Dido’s account of the murder is considerably more bloody, dramatic, and detailed than the one Venus gives to Aeneas at 1.348–50: ille Sychaeum/ impius ante aras atque auri caecus amore/ clam ferro incautum superat (‘he [sc. Pygmalion], impious before the altars and blinded by lust for gold, stealthily overcomes unsuspecting Sychaeus with a sword’). Indeed, there are some incongruous touches: according to Venus, Pygmalion managed to hide the deed for long (1.351: factum diu celauit), which is difficult to reconcile with the notion that the images of the household gods (penates) were splattered in blood as Dido would have it. One wonders whether her specific reference to the penates owes anything to the fact that her new object of adoration, Aeneas, is world- famous for carrying the penates of Troy out of the burning city—together with his father and his son. Arguably, his powerful versus spondiacus and its monosyllabic ending from the beginning of Book 3 (11–12: feror exsul in altum/ cum sociis natoque, Penatibus et magnis dis; ‘As exile, I am carried upon the high seas, with my comrades and son, my household gods and the great deities’) still resonates with the queen, as she empathizes away for love. If so, Dido’s foregrounding of her own desecrated household gods subtly hints at her exile from home and underscores the striking parallels in the biographies of herself and Aeneas.

20: fatebor… fata: a figura etymologica.

20–21: miseri post fata Sychaei/ coniugis: another effective enjambment that may convey a hint of reluctance on Dido’s part to acknowledge her status as widow sworn to chastity: ‘after the death of wretched Sychaeus—my husband.’ Alternatively, we can read the enjambment as underscoring her persistent loyalty to her dead husband: ‘by placing Sychaei coniugis in enjambment Virgil makes Dido stress the idea of “husband”, and thus continue the process of attempting to persuade herself not to think of Aeneas so.’65 Which reading do you prefer?

22: post fata… et sparsos fraterna caede penatis: the et links fata and penatis (accusative plural = penates); the second clause ‘particularizes the meaning of fata Sychaei (et is often so used by Virgil in appending an explanation or an enlargement of a theme).’66 Note the mimetic word order: the murderous actions of her brother have torn Dido’s household apart, and the notion of shattering something to pieces is hinted at by the hyperbaton: the phrase fraterna caede, an instrumental ablative going with sparsos, separates the participle (sparsos) from the noun it modifies (penatis).

22: solus hic: this picks up chiastically the huic uni of line 19, and obliquely hints at the fact that Dido had other options before Aeneas’ arrival, notably the local king Iarbas; but she rejected all suitors, making a lot of enemies in the process—as Anna points out at 36-8 (despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii…). Her spotless record of having rejected all comers until Aeneas heightens her tragedy: so far Dido has been true to her word and proud of it!

22–23: inflexit sensus animumque labantem/ impulit: the design is chiastic: verb (inflexit)—accusative object (sensus): accusative object (animum labantem)—verb (impulit). Overall, the phrase works up to a climax in three stages: (a) inflecto in its primary sense signifies ‘to bend, curve’; here it means ‘to cause to turn from one’s purpose, principles, or mode of life’ (OLD s.v. 3); (b) this sense of turning from what is right is picked up and reinforced by the attributive participle labantem (labo: to be unsteady, waver, falter); (c) then comes the finale (impulit): Aeneas has indeed overthrown the mind that was already faltering: ‘The run-on to impulit, followed by a strong pause, is characteristic of Virgil (cf. 72, 83, 261, 624 etc.) and very effective…; Dido draws a deep breath before her explicit admission that she is in love.’67 Note the perfect tense of inflexit and impulit: Dido, who previously talked about yielding to her passion in a present and past counterfactual condition, now owns up (cf. fatebor enim) to her altered mental disposition. She has become a person torn in two, being pulled this way by former loyalties and that way by overpowering attraction to Aeneas.

23: ueteris uestigia flammae: the phrase looks backward to the internal conflagration of Dido that opens Book 4 and forward to the conflagration of her corpse that opens Book 5 (3–4: moenia…, quae iam infelicis Elissae/ conlucent flammis).

24-27: sed mihi uel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat/ uel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,/ pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam,/ ante, pudor, quam te uiolo aut tua iura resoluo. With sed Dido calls herself to order: yes, passions are stirring; but, so she reminds herself, she is under religious obligation not to break her vow of loyal chastity to her dead husband. The syntax of the period is as follows: the potential subjunctive optem (24) introduces a wish-clause that specifies two things that should happen (uel dehiscat; uel adigat) before she breaks her vow: the prius in line 24 is picked up by ante… quam (note the tmesis, effected by the direct address to Pudor) in line 27. It is a very elaborate way of saying ‘I’d rather die than fail to respect my sense of shame by being disloyal to my murdered husband.’ This passage is picked up in 457–65, i.e. shortly before her suicide, when Dido visits the marble chapel she had constructed in honour of Sychaeus and where she now hears his voice calling at night (460–61: hinc exaudiri uoces et uerba uocantis/ uisa uiri, nox cum terras obscura teneret; ‘thence she heard, it seemed, sounds and speeches of her husband calling, whenever dark night held the earth’): ‘As Sychaeus calls from the grave, he unexpectedly realizes the adynata which Dido relied upon in her initial oath (4.24-29).’68

24: mihi: a dative of disadvantage.

24: tellus… dehiscat: the notion of the earth gaping open recurs in a simile in the Hercules and Cacus episode, where terra dehiscens (8.243) reveals the Underworld below.

25: pater omnipotens: Jupiter. omnipotens (‘all-powerful’) is the standard epithet of the supreme Olympian divinity in the Aeneid.

26: pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam: the entire line stands in apposition to ad umbras (25): it specifies more precisely what kind of shades she means: those in the Underworld. Erebus is a Greek loanword in Latin, and several passages in Homer and Hesiod in particular come to mind. At Iliad 9.571–72, we learn that the Erinys, the Avenging Fury, the divinity, in other words, who sees to it that violations of oaths or self-imprecations like the one Dido is here uttering do not go unpunished, dwells in Erebos. At Odyssey 11.563–64, Ajax, after being addressed by Odysseus, silently wanders off ‘into Erebus’ in a scene that Virgil rewrites in Book 6, with Dido taking the role of Ajax and Aeneas that of Odysseus. And Erebus is also the place where Father Sky kept his defiant sons Obriareus, Cottus, and Gyges in bondage, until Zeus released them so that they could aid the Olympians in their battle with the Titans (Hesiod, Theogony 616–86, esp. 669). In Greek, erebos, apart from specifying a location within the Underworld, means ‘shadowy darkness’, and the placement of umbras next to Erebo thus provides a neat Latin gloss on what Erebus signifies in Greek. Otherwise, the design of the verse is perfectly symmetrical, with a chiasmus of attribute (pallentis)—noun (umbras): noun (noctem)—attribute (profundam) framing the decisive cosmographic specification, Erebo (an ablative of place: in Erebus, i.e. the Underworld) further stressed by the caesura (hepthemimeres). A further stylistic touch is the alliteration of the two attributes pallentisprofundam placed at the beginning and the end of the line. Dido does not fool around: she calls herself to order, to re-bind herself to her vow of chastity, by the strongest possible means. (As Henderson puts it, per litteras, ‘putting the fear of Hesiodic Zeus up herself SHOULD work!’) But of course it doesn’t—and the consequences are indeed as dire as the self-imprecation designed to prevent them.

27: pudor: the basic meaning of pudor, which is here personified and addressed directly in an apostrophe, is a gender-neutral ‘sense of shame.’ It is clearly one of the key themes of the Dido episode: see also 4.55, and 4.322. The following considerations may serve as stimuli for further discussion of a complex term:

(a) Pudor Personified: The personification of pudor is a development of the Augustan period. Bendlin, in his Brill’s New Pauly entry on ‘Pudor’, points out that, unlike other personifications (such as Pudicitia, the personification of female chastity), pudor as a personification of human social behaviour never received a public cult, though Augustan poets often seem oblivious to this distinction.69

(b) The Literary Background: Virgil has crafted his text with the αἰδώς (the Greek equivalent of pudor, also meaning ‘sense of shame’) of Apollonius’ Medea in mind, and it is instructive to consider the relation between the maiden and the emotion in his Greek model, both for similarities and differences. After waking up from nightmares about Jason and what she might be doing on his behalf, Medea decides to consult her sister, but is checked by her sense of shame (Argonautica 3.646–55): ‘And she truly desired to visit her sister and crossed the threshold to the courtyard, but for a long time she remained there in the vestibule of her room, held back by shame (αἰδώς). She turned around and went back again, but once more came forth from within, and again shrank back inside. Her feet carried her back and forth in vein: whenever she started forth, shame (αἰδώς) held her back inside, but while restrained by shame (αἰδώς), bold desire kept urging her on. Three times she tried, three times she halted. The fourth time she whirled back around and fell face down on her bed.’ Alerted to Medea’s crying, Chalciope then seeks out her sister, whereupon Medea experiences another struggle between shame (αἰδώς) and desire (3.681–87): ‘The girl’s cheeks blushed, and for a long time her virgin shame (αἰδώς) restrained her, although she longed to reply. At one moment her words rose up to the tip of her tongue, but at another fluttered deep down in her breast. Often they rushed up to her lovely lips for utterance, but went no further to become speech. At last she spoke these words deceitfully, for the bold Loves were urging her on.’ And finally, once back on her own, she decides to help Jason and sends shame packing, in a direct address (3.785–86): ἐρρέτω αἰδώς,/ ἐρρέτω ἀγλαΐη; ‘Away with Shame, away with glory!’. Despite the Apollonian model, it is important to note that αἰδώς and pudor are not entirely identical in meaning. As Collard puts it: ‘Pudor is a concept of moral restraint of far greater meaning than Greek αἰδώς. Its power within Dido increases her stature as a symbolic adversary to Aeneas. She is here invested with a peculiarly Roman quality: her humanity and sympathy for Aeneas are overlaid with a dignity of personal conduct appropriate to a Roman lady.’70 This leads to the next aspect:

(c) The Social and Cultural Logic: Pudor is an emotion that ensures that our actions conform to what is acceptable behaviour, either by our own standards or those of others: ‘People feel pudor not only because they are seen, or fear being seen, by someone else, but also because they see themselves and know that their present behavior falls short of their past or ideal selves.’71 Its remit of reference is broader than pudicitia, which, while deriving from pudor, has the more specific sense of ‘female virtue in sexual matters.’ But, as Kaster notes, in the case of women, pudor ‘was largely limited to a single frame of reference, the sexual: the pudor of women is, in effect, congruent with their pudicitia, or sexual respectability.’72

(d) Dido as uniuira?: Some scholars have tried to explain Dido’s feeling of pudor with the Roman ideal of a woman who only ever had one husband. But as O’Hara points out, such a contextual solution is far from straightforward: ‘Dido’s feelings also involve the Roman concept of univiratus, or a woman’s having only one husband for life, which in Vergil’s time was partly revered, partly ignored as old-fashioned. Only univirae could sacrifice to the goddess Pudicitia, but around the time of the posthumous publication of the Aeneid widows were strongly encouraged to remarry by the Augustan marriage laws of 18 BCE.’73 It is thus not entirely clear what aspect of yielding to her feelings for Aeneas provokes pudor and what, precisely, the laws (iura) of pudor are that Dido feels she would break. Her sister Anna, for instance, will argue shortly that giving in to her feelings should be no cause for pudor whatsoever. The different attitude of the two sisters suggests that Dido’s pudor is to some extent self-made or perhaps even excessive—or is Anna simply shameless?

(e) Rewriting History: Personally, I believe the discussion could benefit from a shift in emphasis away from sexual ethics to what one might call the problem of ‘literary slander.’ I suspect that the complicated prominence of pudor in Virgil’s text has a lot to do with the fact that this concept focalizes his outrageous rewriting of Dido’s story: before Virgil—and for many authors after Virgil, who refused to give any credence to the Virgilian version—Dido was an exemplar of chastity, who preferred to commit suicide rather than remarry: in our historiographical sources, her own people tried to force her into an arranged marriage with Iarbas and she escaped from the imposition by taking her own life. Inverting this tradition, Virgil eroticizes the historical Dido in making her fall in love with Aeneas, which drives a wedge between the queen and her pudor, hitherto her hallmark quality: if in the historiographical tradition Dido kills herself to preserve her sense of shame, in Virgil she kills herself because she has lost her sense of shame and tries to regain at least some of it in a cataclysmic act of suicidal wrath.74

28–29: ille meos, primus qui me sibi iunxit, amores/ abstulit: Dido’s way of saying ‘he was the first—and is going to be the last.’ She returns to themes first broached in 16–17: vinclo… sociare iugali is picked up by me sibi iunxit, and primus amor by meos… amores and primus. Commentators note the ‘convoluted word order’ (such as the hyperbaton of meos… amores or the placement of primus outside the relative clause into which it belongs), which ‘reflects Dido’s confusion and agitation’,75 and the alliteration and enjambment in amores/ abstulit: as Maclennan notes, perceptively, ‘Dido half wishes this were true.’76 But Virgil, through verbal architecture, has already made clear that Dido is lying or, rather, deceiving herself—even before she bursts out in tears in the subsequent line. For in terms of verse design, lines 28–29 mirror lines 22–23 (animumque labantem/ impulit), an effect enhanced by the fact that no other line in the vicinity features a diaeresis after the first foot. This is hardly coincidental: the words in enjambment, i.e. impulit (subject: Aeneas) and abstulit (subject: Sychaeus), stand in antithetical relation to one another and the construction of the metre, as well as the homoioteleuton -pulit/ -tulit, subtly intimate that her assertion here is belied by her earlier confession that she has fallen for Aeneas.

29: ille habeat secum seruetque sepulcro: the accusative object of habeat has to be supplied from the previous sentence: meos amores; sepulcro is an ablative of place, set up by the alliterative sequence secum seruetque sepulcro. The anaphora of ille in lines 28 and 29 contrasts with Dido’s use of the demonstrative pronoun hic to refer to Aeneas in lines 10 and 22 (and with ille in line 14), suggesting that Aeneas has already acquired a more urgent and immediate presence in Dido’s heart than her dead husband. It is poignant that Dido’s first speech in the Book ends with a reference to a tomb (sepulcro). In fact, whereas Dido tends to be deluded in matters of love, she sees remarkably clear in matters of death. Sychaeus has indeed preserved his affection for her, as Aeneid 6.473–74 illustrates: after her encounter with Aeneas in the Underworld, Dido recedes to a shady grove, coniunx ubi pristinus illi/ respondet curis aequatque Sychaeus amorem (‘where Sychaeus, her former husband, devotes himself to her sorrows and gives her love for love’).

30: sic effata sinum lacrimis impleuit obortis: Pease notes with reference to lacrimis… obortis that ‘the verb seems to imply that the tears came spontaneously, in spite of her intention, as opposed to the lacrimis… coactis of Sinon (2, 196).’77 He cites the ancient commentator Donatus for possible reasons: Dido may have been overwhelmed by the affectionate memory of her dead, yet faithful husband; or the tears could be interpreted as an index of the profound misery her determination to remain loyal to Sychaeus is causing her. The two reasons are not mutually exclusive and there may be others as well: the tears could perhaps also be taken as an indication of her dawning realization that she will soon abandon her resolve?

31–53: Sister Act II: Anna’s Reply

Dido has put her sister in an impossible situation. It does not require much intuition on Anna’s part to divine that what Dido really yearns for is to yield to her fatal attraction to the Trojan hero. At the same time, Dido has done her very best to close down this option. Her self-imprecation linked to an apostrophe of Pudor preemptively deprives Anna of much leeway in giving advice. In fact, at the end of her speech, Dido sidelined her partner and confidante, invoking Pudor personified and entering into an ‘unbreakable vow’, in a desperate attempt to prevent herself from succumbing to her irresistible passion: if she honours Pudor and remains loyal to Sychaeus, she lives; if she violates the terms of her vow, she dies. Anna, however, disregards both Dido’s personal scruples and the metaphysical obligations her sister has imposed on herself. She gives absolute priority to what she knows Dido longs for deep in her heart. Her reply, which is just slightly longer than Dido’s speech, falls into four parts of gradually diminishing length (8/6/5/4):

1: 31–38: Consideration of Dido’s (non-existent) love life, which falls into two halves of four lines each:

1.1: 31–34: Dido, Anna urges, deserves to experience love again and to have children and should quit wasting pieties on the ashes of her former husband.
1.2: 35–38: A quick, contrastive retrospective: Dido, while in mourning (aegra) understandably rejected her host of local suitors; but why fight genuine love?

2: 39–44: Strategic advantages of giving in to her feelings for Aeneas: he will protect Carthage from the many enemies that are threatening the city.
3: 45–49: Suggestion that the arrival of Aeneas at Carthage is part of a divine plan to ensure a glorious future for the city.
4: 50–53: Practical proposals of what to do to ensure divine support and get Aeneas to stay.

In formal terms, Anna’s basic strategy in the first two parts of her speech is the use of the rhetorical question. 1.1 comprises two rhetorical questions; 1.2 begins by stating facts, which yield a further rhetorical question (38: placitone etiam pugnabis amori?); and 2 inverts this pattern by beginning with a rhetorical question (39: nec uenit in mentem quorum consederis aruis?) before stating the answer and concluding with another rhetorical question cast as praeteritio (43–44: quid bella Tyro surgentia dicam/ germanique minas?). Throughout this section of the speech, then, Anna does not so much dispense advice as ask ‘how could you not act on your passion’? She then changes tack (3). After assuring Dido that there is no reason why she ought not to give in, but countless reasons why she should, Anna embeds Dido’s love within larger frames of reference: divine will and the prospect of a glorious future for Dido’s city Carthage owing to a marriage-alliance with Aeneas. Civic considerations already dominated in part 2, but are here turned from something negative (threats) to something positive (a vision of future greatness). As if Dido’s decision is by now a foregone conclusion, Anna ends her speech with practical advice on how to ensure the continuing goodwill of the gods and the continuing presence of Aeneas. Overall, then, she counters Dido’s commitment to the dead (and Death!), with an affirmation of Life, in all its facets, personal and political: fulfilling sex, a happy marriage, the joys of children, the prospect of being the reigning monarch of a powerful and prosperous city, future fame, and the blessing of the gods. She thus counters Dido’s final endorsement of social norms, backed by a religious resolution, with her own, countervailing invocation of a patriotic vision and a concluding appeal to the gods.78

In tragedy, confidants hardly ever give sound advice, however well- intentioned they may be. A good example of this dynamic is the speech of the nurse in Euripides’ Hippolytus, who also counsels Phaedra to act on her feelings and reveal her illicit desires to her stepson Hippolytus to disastrous results. What can be said for Anna is that she argues not in favour of a love affair, but a marriage alliance (grounded in love, to be sure).

31–33: Anna refert: ‘o luce magis dilecta sorori: dilecta (‘beloved’, sc. Dido) is in the vocative; luce is ablative of comparison after magis (‘more beloved than light’); sorori (= mihi), a dative of agency, is Anna herself. Anna’s keynote luce, which stands in stark antithesis to the last words of Dido’s speech, i.e. sepulcro, is programmatic. As John Henderson puts it (per litteras): ‘He’s dead; you’re not is the obvious way to knock closure with sepulcro | on the head.’

32: solane: the particle -ne introduces a question. By singling out Dido with sola, Anna arguably picks up Dido’s reference to Aeneas with solus hic in line 22, suggesting, however subliminally, that the two are made for each other.

32: perpetua… iuuenta: an ablative of time: ‘during your entire [for this sense of perpetuus, see OLD s.v. 1d: Dido is not eternally youthful] period of youth.’ maerens carpere: -pe- scans long: carpere is second person singular future passive indicative of carpo (an alternative form to carperis); it has the intransitive sense ‘to waste away’ (OLD s.v. 7c), thus here: ‘are you going to waste away?’ Ironically, Virgil used the same verb in a similar sense at 4.2: the fact is that Dido is wasting away, though not ‘in mourning’ (maerens is a circumstantial participle).

33: nec dulcis natos Veneris nec praemia noris?: noris is the syncopated form of noueris, i.e. the second person singular future perfect active of nosco. dulcis (accusative plural; = dulces), which grammatically goes with natos, is most likely meant to modify praemia as well—just as Veneris could also be construed with both dulcis natos (see below) and praemia. The goddess of love clearly takes centre-stage in this verse, presiding over studiously ambiguous syntax and semantics. One way to construe the two accusative objects dulcis natos and praemia (with the genitive attribute Veneris) is as ‘theme and variation’, i.e. sweet sons are the rewards (praemia) of engaging in sexual intercourse (Veneris). On this reading, Anna would slyly cover up Dido’s overwhelming erotic desire by downplaying the act, and emphasizing the socially desirable outcome, of sex, i.e. offspring. But one could read her rhetoric against the grain and see dulcis natos and praemia Veneris as two diverse notions, detailing two distinct functions of sex, i.e. reproduction and pleasure, in what would amount to a coy husteron proteron, in which she first refers to procreation and then hints at sexual gratification. After all, the phrase praemia Veneris leaves quite a bit to the (erotic) imagination: what exactly are ‘the rewards of love/ Venus’?

There are further details to savour: while the genitive Veneris depends on praemia (‘the rewards of love’) the postponed nec (standard word order would be: nec Veneris praemia) does more than to provide ‘metrical flexibility’.79 For a fleeting moment, Virgil’s design creates the impression that Veneris modifies dulcis natos, with Anna asking her sister whether she will never have come to know ‘the sweet sons of Venus.’ Unbeknowst to either her or Dido, Dido of course has come to know both sons of Venus, i.e. Aeneas and Cupid (whom she fondled on her lap in the guise of Ascanius), rather well by now. (For the brother-act, see 1.664–69, where Venus addresses her son with nate, meae uires, mea magna potentia, solus,/ nate… before enlisting him to help his brother: frater… Aeneas… tuus.) Virgil thus also plays with the double sense of Venus, which may either refer to the anthropomorphic goddess of love or signify, metonymically, the emotion/ experience of ‘love’ (just like Ceres = ‘grain’ etc.). Anna most likely has the latter sense in mind, but we, the readers, are surely encouraged to activate the former sense as well. After all, Venus is a powerful presence in Virgil’s divine machinery and has already arranged for Dido to receive presents from Love. See 1.695–96 (Iamque ibat dicto parens et dona Cupido/ regia portabat Tyriis…: ‘And now, obeying her word, Cupid went forth and carried the royal gifts for the Tyrians…’). In short, the phrase praemia Veneris is replete with dramatic (and tragic) irony.

34: id cinerem aut manis credis curare sepultos?: cinerem and manis (= manes) sepultos are the subject accusatives of the indirect statement introduced by credis. The pronoun id, which sums up the previous rhetorical question (is Dido to waste away her youth in mourning for her murdered husband?), is the accusative object of curare (here: ‘to pay heed to’). manes, manium (m. pl.) are primarily ‘the spirits of the dead’ or ‘the shade of a particular person’ (OLD s.v. 1b and c), but, as sepultos makes clear, Anna uses the word in the sense of ‘mortal remains’ (OLD s.v. 2), i.e. almost synonymously with cinis. This line is Anna’s answer to Dido’s closing sentence ille habeat secum seruetque sepulcro, which grants Sychaeus continuing existence in the hereafter. Picking up sepulcro with sepultos, Anna argues that Sychaeus is dead and buried and hence unable to concern himself with what Dido feels or does, either in terms of grieving for him or opting to enter into a new relationship. This position has affinities with Epicurean philosophy: Epicurus too maintained that our soul does not survive our body, consisting as it does of an agglomeration of atoms that simply disperse in death. But it turns out to be disastrously misguided in Virgil’s world.

35–38: esto: aegram nulli quondam flexere mariti,/ non Libyae, non ante Tyro; despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii, quos Africa terra triumphis/ diues alit: placitone etiam pugnabis amori?: esto (a third person singular future imperative) has a concessive sense: ‘so be it!’ (OLD s.v. sum 8b). Anna uses the exclamation as proleptic point of departure for rehearsing Dido’s past opportunities to remarry, recalling the sequence of suitors she rejected, both in her native Tyre and then in Libya. Intriguingly, she thereby reaffirms the image of Dido perpetuated within the historiographical tradition, in which the queen features as a model of chastity. But Anna then goes on to clamour for fully embracing the Virgilian departure from the orthodox account, in which Dido and Aeneas never met: ‘Fair enough’, she says, ‘you didn’t love those others—but why deny yourself the second love of your life?’ Her chosen idiom subtly aligns itself to Dido’s: nulli… flexere mariti picks up 22: solus hic inflexit sensus

35: aegram: the predicative adjective refers to Dido: ‘you [a te is implied], in your sorrow, no wooer has been able to move.’ O’Hara asks: ‘in what way does Anna think Dido is “sick” (cf. male sana in 8)? With sorrow for Sychaeus? With disgust at her suitors…?’80 But Maclennan, taking aegram closely with quondam, ingeniously suggests that Anna does not think of Dido as sick at all, but rather as cured by her new-found love for Aeneas: ‘formerly [quondam], when you were sick with grief (for Sychaeus)…’81 The adjective may also recall 1.351–52 (from the account of Dido’s biography that Venus gives to Aeneas):… factumque diu celauit [sc. Pygmalion] et aegram/ multa malus simulans uana spe lusit amantem (‘and for long he [sc. Pygmalion] covered up the deed [sc. of murdering Sychaeus] and by many a pretence cunningly cheated her, sick with love as she was, with empty hope’).

35: mariti: usually a maritus is a husband, but here the sense clearly is something akin to ‘wooer’ or ‘prospective husband.’ Anna continues to plant the idea of marriage in the mind of her sister by using a term that suggests a fait accompli.

36: Libyae… Tyro: we may be dealing with a grammatical enallage: in form, Libyae is locative, though in terms of sense it is perhaps best understood as an ablative of place or origin (Libya), whereas Tyro is in form an ablative of place, though in sense a locative (Tyri). Tyre is Dido’s hometown in Phoenicia, which she fled after the murder of Sychaeus. The reference here is curious since, at least according to Venus, there was no time for entering into a new relationship there anyway: initially, Pygmalion covered up the crime, so Dido did not know that her husband was dead, and as soon as she found out through an apparition she fled the city (1.345–64). Anna must have known this (indeed, one could argue that the grammatical enallage surreptitiously highlights her ‘spinning’ of the facts), but her hyperbolic tweaking of the truth has a clear rhetorical purpose: it emphasizes the length of Dido’s refusal to get on with life and love, which has led to the indiscriminate rejection of both countrymen and foreign suitors. The implication is ‘enough is enough.’

36: despectus Iarbas: Virgil elides est—the form is the third person singular perfect indicative passive of despicio. Iarbas, a son of Jupiter, is the African king in control of the land on which Dido is building her city, and, as it turns out, none too pleased that she rejected him as a suitor. When he hears of her affair with Aeneas (which is adding insult to injury), he kicks up a royal fuss with his dad: see below 196–221.

37–38: ductoresque alii [sc. despecti sunt], quos Africa terra triumphis/ diues alit: note the enjambment (triumphis/ diues—‘rich in triumphs’) and the alliterative patterning that links the opening of the two verses (ductores ~ diues; alii ~ alit). The choriambic opening (diues alit), with its strong caesura in the second foot, brings to a close the thought that Anna introduced with esto in line 35 and which serves as negative foil for the rhetorical question that takes up the rest of the verse.

37: triumphis: The triumph is the quintessentially Roman victory ritual, involving the procession of the conquering general from the Campus Martius to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus (or Mars Ultor, in imperial times).82 Even though the term can also denote ‘military victory’ more generally, its use here by Anna is curious and potentially contains another (historical) irony by evoking the Roman conquest of Africa and the many triumphal parades that ensued: Africa, on this reading, is rich in triumphs for the Romans. This at least is what Juno fears: see 1.21–2: hinc populum late regem belloque superbum/ uenturum excidio Libyae… (‘from there a people, kings far and wide and proud in war, should come forth for the downfall of Libya’). Arguably, we are dealing with another instance in which Virgil reveals Anna as a person with limited insight by giving her constructions and phrases that resonate with meanings she herself cannot possibly be aware of. Thematically, though, the reference to triumphs as a metonymy of military might is entirely appropriate: it anticipates Anna’s next argumentative turn. She submits that giving in to her love for Aeneas is also a good move on Dido’s part for strictly strategic reasons: the union would fortify the precarious position of Carthage in a supremely hostile environment.

38: placitone etiam pugnabis amori?: -ne introduces a question. placitus is the perfect passive participle (though in sense active) of placeo: ‘a love that is pleasing.’ The combination of placito amori and pugnabis (linked by alliteration) generates a paradox that Dido is asked to resolve by discontinuing her fight against love and marks a subtle change in Anna’s argument: after expressing sympathy for Dido’s rejection of suitors while she was still aegra with grief for Sychaeus (even though, as she implies, there were good strategic reasons for accepting one of her African suitors), Anna now switches into exhortative mode. The strategic rationale for a powerful alliance still applies, while one of the reasons for not entering into one (the lack of a suitor for whom Dido harbours amorous feelings) has disappeared. In her argument Anna silently passes over two rather salient points: (a) in line with her own belief that the dead ought to have no bearing on the living (see line 34), she refuses to reckon with Dido’s lingering feelings of loyalty to Sychaeus, making out as if her sister’s renewed ability to love would enable her to enter into another marriage freely and happily; (b) Anna takes Aeneas’ consent simply for granted, even though Aeneas has not presented himself as a suitor; this is a nice touch in terms of boosting the morale of her sister, but proves the fatal flaw in her approach to the problem. Indeed, in both respects, Anna profoundly (and deliberately?) misunderstands, or begs to differ from, her sister, for whom Sychaeus remains a powerful point of reference throughout and who intuitively knows very well that Aeneas will not, cannot stay for good: even while their affair is in full swing (to the point of Aeneas helping with the construction of Carthage), Dido remains ill at ease (see below on 4.298: omnia tuta timens).

39: uenit: another instance where metre helps to clarify a point of grammar: uenit (with short e, as here) is the third person singular present indicative active; uênit (with long e), is the third person singular perfect indicative active.

39: quorum consederis aruis?: ‘in whose lands you have settled.’ Consederis, the verb of the indirect question, is second person singular perfect active subjunctive of consido, here: ‘to settle as a colonist, to make one’s home’ (OLD s.v. 4). Note the second person singular: Anna’s focus remains exclusively on Dido, as she continues to marginalize both herself and the other Tyrian refugees. This stands in implicit contrast to the historiographical tradition against which Virgil is writing, where her fellow-travellers try to force Dido into a marriage alliance with a local ruler in the interest of communal safety.

40–44: hinc Gaetulae urbes, genus insuperabile bello,/ et Numidae infreni cingunt et inhospita Syrtis;/ hinc deserta siti regio lateque furentes/ Barcaei: situated on a map, the geographical references in this sentence look as follows:


Anna elaborates on the theme of disadvantageous location—wherever one looks, there are either enemies or wastelands around (hinc, hinc), and that is not even considering foes threatening from afar, i.e. Dido’s hometown Tyre, to which Anna alludes in the following sentence. As the map illustrates (if we want to presuppose that Anna operated with precise geographical awareness), she begins in the south with the Gaetulian cities, then moves clockwise to the southwest (the Numidians), the east (the Syrtis), and the southeast (the desert and the Barcaeans). At the same time, this circular motion (cf. cingunt; the verb lacks an accusative object, which one could supply mentally (te or nos), though the absolute use perhaps enhances the ominous sense of being ringed in on all sides by hostile people and inhospitable landscape) is belied by her use of hinchinc as a structuring device. It suggests a bipartite division: the Gaetulian cities, the Numidians, and the Syrtis on one side, the desert and the Barcaeans on the other. As the map shows, this does not quite work since the Numidians and the Syrtis are located on opposite sides of Carthage. What are we to make of this geographical imprecision? Are we dealing with another subtle hint that Anna’s point of view is not to be trusted in all details?

Another point of interest is the implied antithesis Anna creates between the isolated city of Carthage, governed by a lonely queen in the thralls of love, and the hostile and warlike people that threaten to overpower her on all sides. The rhetorical agenda behind this construct is obvious: the more feeble and vulnerable Dido considers herself to be, the greater the appeal of a powerful union with the Trojan hero. But it is, at least to some extent, a construct: in earlier portions of the epic, Virgil has dropped unmistakable hints that the Phoenician settlers fit right into their new environment. Already in the proem, Carthage is characterized as diues opum studiisque asperrima belli (14) and in the narrative proper it requires a divine intervention for the Carthaginians to put aside their ferocious hearts and for Dido to adopt a benevolent disposition towards the shipwrecked Trojans (1.302–04: ponuntque ferocia Poeni/ corda uolente deo; in primis regina quietum/ accipit in Teucros animum mentemque benignam; ‘with the god willing it, the Punic people lay aside their savage hearts; above all the queen receives a gentle soul and friendly mind towards the Teucrians’). From the start of the Aeneid, the world-historical showdown between Rome and Carthage in the Punic Wars of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC forms a wider historical horizon against which the epic action unfolds, and Virgil drops consistent reminders that he is here providing the aetiology for the most lethal military conflict Rome experienced in its rise to empire.

40: Gaetulae urbes, genus insuperabile bello: the adjective Gaetulus (‘of the Gaetulians, Gaetulian’) refers to the people that lived in the interior of North West Africa; there is a slippage from the topographical (urbes) to the ethnic (genus), with genus insuperabile bello standing in apposition to the notional urbes Gaetulorum. (The reference to actual cities may surprise in this context, though see 1.578 where Dido mentions the woods and cities of Libya where Aeneas may have got lost.) Anna’s idiom recalls many other passages in the Aeneid in which Virgil engages in ethnographic commentary. As here, this often involves reference to a city or a people/ ethnic community (genus) and an attribute in predicative position, rendered more precise by an ablative of respect, frequently indicating martial qualities. There are two instances of this in the extended proem, i.e. Karthago… studiis… asperrima belli (1. 13–14: ‘Carthage, extremely stern in the pursuits of war’) and populum… bello… superbum (1. 21: ‘a people… proud in war’, i.e. the Romans). Another parallel passage that resonates strongly here is 1.339, where Venus (disguised as a Carthaginian maid) describes the inhabitants of Libya as a genus intractabile bello. (Virgil in general has a fondness for adjectives ending in -bilis/-bile; see below 4.53: tractabile and, perhaps most famously, 8.625: clipei non enarrabile textum (to convey the impossibility of putting into words the texture of images engraved on Aeneas’ shield).

41: Numidae infreni: Numida, -ae m., is a native of Numidia; Virgil calls them ‘unbridled’ (infreni) because of the way they ride their horses, their ethnic character, and their way of life (true to their name, they lead a ‘nomadic’ existence).

41: inhospita Syrtis: the reference to the Syrtis recalls the sea-storm in Aeneid 1 that wrecked Aeneas’ fleet. Three of the ships were forced by eastern winds from the deep into shallows and sandbanks (ab alto/ in breuia et syrtis) where they remained stuck (1.110-12) until Neptun removed the accumulated sand (1.146: et uastas aperit syrtis). Here, the singular Syrtis may refer either to the two areas of sandy flats between Carthage and Cyrene to the East or ‘the whole desert region adjoining the coast’ (so the OLD s.v. c). Ancient etymologists connected the name with the Greek verb suro, ‘to drag off by force’, an aspect well brought out by the attribute inhospita.

42–43: hinc deserta siti regio lateque furentes/ Barcaei: the information given under the second hinc forms a thematic chiasmus with the information given under the first hinc: after people (Gaetulians, Numidians) and place (Syrtis), we now get place (the desert region) and people (the Barcaeans). Barca is the Punic word for ‘lightning’, which comes out in their habit ‘to rage and range far and wide.’ siti is ablative (of cause) of sitis, sitis, f. Its primary meaning is ‘thirst’ but here it has the transferred sense ‘arid weather, drought.’ The Barcaei are the people of Barce, a city located in the Cyrenaica, close to present-day Tripoli. Virgil may have chosen this particular city since it calls up associations with the Carthaginian Barca family to which Hannibal belonged. late furentes (‘raging far and wide’) would certainly nicely describe Hannibal’s actions in Italy during the Second Punic War.

43–44: quid bella Tyro surgentia dicam/ germanique minas?: Dido left Tyre with the state-treasure, much to the dislike of her brother. This is one of the reasons Aeneas and his men initially receive such a frosty welcome: the Carthaginians are expecting an attack from the sea, and would not at first allow Aeneas’ men to land (see 1.540: hospitio prohibemur harenae). Tyro is ablative of origin (‘arising from Tyre’). germanus: Pygmalion, brother to both Dido and Anna.

44: germanique minas?: one of the notorious half-lines in the Aeneid, evidence of the incomplete state the poem was in when Virgil died. Here a trailing-off halfway through the line would even be thematically appropriate: Anna, after all, is using the rhetorical device of praeteritio, where you mention something without elaborating on it since it would be unnecessary or inappropriate to do so.

45–46: dis equidem auspicibus reor et Iunone secunda/ hunc cursum Iliacas uento tenuisse carinas: apart from the main verb reor and the qualifier equidem that goes with it, the two verses consist of an indirect statement: Iliacas carinas is the subject accusative, tenuisse the verb, and hunc cursum its accusative object. The most striking features are the two ablative absolutes dis auspicibus and Iunone secunda that belong in the indirect statement but are pulled up front for emphasis. auspex, auspicis denotes a religious functionary who gets information about the will of the gods from the behaviour of birds (flight or feeding patterns, cries), but can also have the more general sense of (divine) patron or supporter (OLD s.v. 3). The lines drip with unintended irony and are arguably the most blatant illustration that Anna hasn’t a clue what she is talking about: Juno had no intention whatsoever of blasting Aeneas to Africa; she set out to sink his fleet. The arrival of Aeneas at Carthage is thus a complete accident, and not at all the result of purposeful divine planning: Juno (etymologized as ‘helper’) is here the exact opposite of auspex or secunda, and the wind that blew Aeneas Dido’s way not a favourable (in Latin: secundus, implied by Juno’s attribute) breeze, but a destructive storm. This is already the second instance in which Anna makes a judgement upon a matter involving the sphere of the divine that turns out to be seriously mistaken, at least within the literary world of Virgil’s epic. (The first came in line 34 where she dismisses the notion of a conscious afterlife.) By now her ignorance and naiveté are glaringly obvious: the advice she gives Dido is bound to be deeply flawed, or at least out of touch with the realities that apply in the Aeneid. But this is in keeping with her dramatic role: ‘Anna’s job is to voice seductive thoughts “for” Dido, to feed them to her: the altera ego says what’s forbidden to the self’ (Henderson, per litteras).

47–49: quam tu urbem, soror, hanc cernes, quae surgere regna/ coniugio tali! Teucrum comitantibus armis/ Punica se quantis attollet gloria rebus!: Anna concludes her exhortation with three exclamatory sentences (quam… urbem,… quae… regna! – quantis… rebus!) designed to entice Dido to yield to her passion by invoking grand prospects of the city and the fame that is bound to ensue for her from the liaison. Overall, the design is chiastic: Anna begins with Dido and Carthage (urbem, regna) before adding a reference to Aeneas (coniugio tali); she then proceeds with another reference to Aeneas (Teucrum [= Teucrorum] comitantibus armis) before concluding with Carthage (Punica… gloria). The chiasmus ensures that Aeneas ends up at the centre of Carthage and its imperial future. In the third colon, there is also a shift in perspective: in the first two cola Anna imagines what Dido will see (cernes); in the third, she states an objective prospect (attollet gloria).

47–48: quam tu urbem, soror, hanc cernes, quae surgere regna/ coniugio tali!: both cernes and surgere go with both exclamatory clauses: ‘what a city you will [note the future tense] see rise here, what a kingdom [sc. you will see] rise with such a husband.’ ‘Hanc is deictic, as Anna sweeps her hand towards the city.’83 Anna systematically interrelates Carthage and Dido: quam (Carthage) tu (Dido) urbem (Carthage) soror (Dido) hanc (Carthage) cernes (Dido), a pattern reinforced by the elision of tu and urbem, which merges Dido with her city. coniugium (from coniunx: husband) signifies ‘marriage’ but may also mean husband. Anna dramatically places the ablative of cause that will enable Carthage’s rise to imperial greatness in enjambment.

49: Punica se quantis attollet gloria rebus!: almost a golden line: (a) Punica (b) quantis (c) attollet (a) gloria (b) rebus.

50–51: tu modo posce deos ueniam, sacrisque litatis/ indulge hospitio causasque innecte morandi: Tu posce—indulge—innecte: Anna opts for a tricolon in these two verses, which details the three pieces of her advice: (1) get divine approval; (2) make Aeneas feel welcome; (3) entice him to stay. After line 47, this is the second time that Anna uses the (from a grammatical point of view unnecessary) second personal pronoun.

50: posce deos ueniam: posco, construed with a double accusative, means ‘to demand something (here: ueniam) of someone (here: deos)’, or, in another idiom, ‘to ask someone (here: deos) insistently or authoritatively for a thing (here: ueniam)’: see OLD s.v. 2a. uenia has a double meaning: ‘permission’ and ‘forgiveness.’ Arguably, both of these meanings are here in play. See O’Hara: ‘Anna’s phrase posce ueniam captures the ambiguity at the heart of this scene, for ueniam can mean “leave” or “permission” to do something, with no connotation of wrong, or it can mean “forgiveness” for a wrong done. Anna, who is arguing that there is nothing wrong with yielding to a new love, must be thought to mean, “ask for permission”. But the other connotation of uenia suggests a different perspective, that perhaps Dido needs forgiveness for even being attracted to Aeneas, or wishing to break faith with Sychaeus.’84 Indeed, just after Anna claimed that Aeneas has arrived as part of a larger divine plan, she has no reason to recommend to her sister to ask the gods for ‘forgiveness’; even ‘permission’ seems a bit too forceful given that, according to Anna, Dido would simply align herself with the will of the gods if she were to marry Aeneas. We have, then, yet another instance in which Anna’s discourse, upon inspection, yields a highly ironic layer of meaning of which the character herself is unaware.

50: sacrisque litatis: the -que links the two imperatives posce and indulge. lito is a technical term of Roman religion, with a variety of specific meanings to do with the communication between humans and gods. Here it means ‘to offer by way of propitiation or atonement to obtain divine favour.’ In a way, it refers to the cult action (the performance of a sacrifice) that corresponds to, and should accompany, the prayer (a speech act) Anna has just referred to in posce deos ueniam. Pease argues that ‘the ablative absolute here expresses a condition; if the sacrifices have turned out favorably Dido may assume that the gods favor her course of action.’85 This, however, is a very innocent reading of Anna’s rhetoric. It glosses over the grammatical ambiguity inherent in the ablative absolute construction, which Anna exploits to help her argument. In contrast, if one takes sacris litatis in a temporal sense (i.e. ‘after divine favour has been obtained through sacrifices’), there is a nice—if somewhat rash—sense of progression built into her syntax. On this reading, Anna gives the impression that divine approval for her recommended course of action will certainly be forthcoming and she uses this (as it turns out erroneous) assumption as the basis for her advice on how best to retain Aeneas in Carthage.

51: causasque innecte morandi: the -que links the imperatives indulge and innecte. The basic meaning of innecto is ‘to fasten, tie, bind.’ Here it has the sense ‘to weave plots or to devise reasons’ (OLD s.v. 4). Dido should try her best to tie together a series of arguments why Aeneas ought to stay.

52–53: dum pelago desaeuit hiems et aquosus Orion,/ quassataeque rates, dum non tractabile caelum: another tricolon, in which the first and the second colon share one dum. The -que links desaeuit and quassatae [sc. sunt]. desaeuio means ‘to work off rage’, pelago is an ablative of place; the verb in the last colon/ the second dum-clause (est) is again elided. At 4.309–11, Dido uses the fact that Aeneas plans to depart outside the sailing season as evidence for his savage diposition towards her: quin etiam hiberno moliri sidere classem/ et mediis properas Aquilonibus ire per altum,/ crudelis? (‘Even during winter do you actually hasten to labour at your fleet, and to travel across the sea in the midst of nothern winds, cruel one?’) And she returns to the theme at 4.430, when she breathes to Anna, with gusto, of how she might trick Aeneas into staying: exspectet facilemque fugam uentosque ferentis (‘let him wait for an easy flight and favourable winds!’). Anna alternates references to the stormy seas (pelago desaeuit hiems; quassatae rates) and the stormy skies (aquosus Orion; non tractabile caelum), thus conveying a good sense of the entire cosmos in turmoil.

52: aquosus Orion: ‘The setting of Orion in November marked the onset of stormy weather (hiems); such allusions are not simply learned ornament, but a natural idiom, the stock-in-trade of any farmer or sailor.’86 A reference to stormy Orion would no doubt resonate with Aeneas, given his recent experience at sea. See 1.535 where Ilioneus blames the trouble of the Trojans on nimbosus Orion in his address to Dido. The parallel suggests that Anna has been eavesdropping.

54–89: ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ (Queen)

This section can be divided into five parts of 2, 12, 6, 12, and 4 lines respectively:

(a) Introduction
54–55: Effect of Anna’s discourse on Dido

(b) Efforts to Ensure Divine Support
56–64: Dido and Anna endeavour to win the favour of the gods
65–67: Dismissal of ‘civic’ religion

(c) The Pathology of Love Illustrated
68–73: Wounded-hind simile

(d) Dido’s Effort to Win over her Beloved
74–79: Dido’s behaviour in the company of Aeneas
80–85: Dido’s behaviour when apart from Aeneas

(e) The Impact of Love on Leadership
86–89: Effect of Dido’s condition on the construction of Carthage

Virgil has designed a so-called ‘ring-composition’ both in terms of the length of the units and theme: (a) corresponds to (e) and (b) to (d). That places (c), which consists of the famous ‘wounded-hind’ simile at the centre of this segment. It is the first time Virgil uses this figure of speech in Book 4: the elaborated formal simile, the quintessential device of epic, could not deliver more impact.

54–55: His dictis impenso animum flammauit amore/ spemque dedit dubiae menti soluitque pudorem: line 54 contains textual issues. Manuscripts and commentators (from late antiquity to the present) disagree on whether Virgil wrote impenso or incensum and, with the latter, some read inflammauit instead of flammauit. Pease prints his dictis incensum animum flammauit amore, Austin follows the Oxford Classical Text (OCT) in printing his dictis impenso animum flammauit amore but actually prefers (with others) his dictis incensum animum inflammauit amore, Maclennan prints what Austin prefers, whereas O’Hara returns to the reading of the OCT. Austin justifies his preferences as follows: ‘The word impensus is not found elsewhere in Virgil, whereas incensum here would be very much in his manner (cf. 197); and although the fact Virgil does not elsewhere use flammare transitively except in the perfect participle need not exclude flammavit here, the intensive compound has more force.’87 Consider also the resulting pattern of alternating i- and a-alliteration incensum animum inflammauit amore as well as the iconic, metrically motivated ‘touching’ of animum on each side by the two fire-terms incensum and inflammauit. Moreover, as Austin points out, ‘with that text, the caesura in the third foot is blurred by the elision, and there is none in the fourth foot, an unusual and very striking rhythm, giving a metrical picture of the inexorable spread of the fire in Dido’s heart.’88 What can be said in favour of impenso? To begin with, Dido’s mind was already glowing with love even before Anna spoke; incensum hence seems somewhat tautological. In contrast, impenso would take the obvious for granted (that Dido was already on fire) and concentrate on the fact that Anna has managed to up the ante: the love that was already simmering in her veins is now kindled into a full-blown, excessive conflagration, a point stylistically reinforced by the hyperbaton impenso… amore. There is, moreover, a certain elegance to keeping animum unencumbered by any attribute—in line with the two accusative objects that follow, i.e. spem and pudorem.

Irrespective of the readings, Virgil uses a tricolon to describe the impact of Anna’s speech. In terms of wordage it is descending or anti-climactic: not counting his dictis, which goes with all three (unless it is monopolized by incensum), the first colon covers four and a half feet (impenso… amore), the second three and a half (spemque… menti), and the third two and a half (soluitque pudorem). But the gradual decrease helps to generate a growing sense of inevitability as the fateful conclusion comes into ever-sharper focus. The concluding ‘punch-phrase’ is slimmed down to essentials: soluitque pudorem. It harks back to the end of Dido’s speech where she addresses Pudor in declaring that she would sooner die than violate ‘Shame’ and its laws (…ante, Pudor, quam te uiolo aut tua iura resoluo, 27). Virgil enhances the effect by arranging the third colon in chiastic order to the first two, which ensures that the key concept of pudor occupies the emphatic final position: accusative object (animum)—verb (inflammauit), accusative object (spem)—verb (dedit), verb (soluit)—accusative object (pudorem). The opposed key words pudorem (55) and amore (54) rhyming at successive verse-endings further stress the instant U-turn effect. We have reached a watershed moment, a point of no return: Dido has dissolved her feeling of Pudor, she has become ‘shame-less.’

56–64: Once the dam has broken, the pace of the action picks up. These nine lines describe religious activities, first jointly undertaken by the two sisters (56–59), then by Dido alone (60–64). The switch is highly marked—see comments on 60—and coincides with a shift from entirely appropriate to somewhat inappropriate behaviour. The passage here has a correlate in 450–73.

56–59: principio delubra adeunt pacemque per aras/ exquirunt; mactant lectas de more bidentis/ legiferae Cereri Phoeboque patrique Lyaeo,/ Iunoni ante omnis, cui uincla iugalia curae: the tricolon delubra adeunt—pacem exquirunt—mactant bidentis, in which the last colon again stands in chiastic order to the first two: accusative object (delubra) + verb (adeunt)—accusative object (pacem) + verb (exquirunt)—verb (mactant) + accusative object (bidentis), specifies the different stages of how to enter into (efficacious) communication with the gods: approach to the temple; utterance of a request; sacrifical slaughter as initial human overture in the desired exchange of services. A sacrifice is part of an economy, whereby humans invest time and material resources (victims for sacrifical slaughter are expensive) to court the gods, in the hope of getting something in return.89 The syntax in these lines is straightforward, with Virgil privileging parataxis. We get three main clauses (the first and second linked by -que), the second and third juxtaposed asyndetically (exquirunt; mactant), an enumeration of four divinities, and a relative clause (cui… curae), the only element of hypotaxis. The lines contain no participles—in contrast to 60–64.

56: per aras: per conveys the sense that the sisters are making the rounds of the altars, leaving no stone unturned.

57: lectas de more bidentis: bidens, -ntis f. is an animal for sacrifice, esp. a sheep. The term refers to the presence of two (bi-) prominent teeth (dens) indicating age (one or two years old). bidentis is the alternative accusative plural ending (= bidentes).

58–59: legiferae Cereri Phoeboque patrique Lyaeo,/ Iunoni ante omnis, cui uincla iugalia curae: Anna and Dido appeal and make sacrificial offerings to Ceres, Apollo, Bacchus, and, above all, Juno, who receives syntactical elevation by means of the relative clause introduced by cui: the antecedent of cui is Iunoni, cui is dative of advantage, curae is a predicative dative with the verb ‘to be’; the verb (i.e. sunt) is elided. Apart from Juno—invoked as the goddess of marriage: cf. her instantiation as Iuno Iuga, hinted at in the relative clause—it is not entirely clear why Ceres, Apollo, and Bacchus are singled out, and commentators since antiquity have puzzled over this. While it is possible to find some source that connects each of the three to marriage individually (Pease offers a typically exhaustive survey of the evidence)90, often the connection does not compel. Moreover, this particular grouping is hard to parallel, not least because of a resounding silence: somehow Anna and Dido fail to sacrifice to Venus, a rather conspicuous oversight in this context, especially in the light of Anna’s earlier point that Dido deserves to enjoy the praemia Veneris (33).91 (Unless there was no altar to Venus in the city: but what would that tell us about Carthage?)92 Perhaps the late-antique commentator Donatus (cited by Pease)93 has a point in suggesting that Ceres stands for civic cohesion (grounded in law: see her epithet legifera, translated, arguably for the first time, from the Greek thesmophoros), Apollo for an auspicious future, and Bacchus for lasting joie de vivre. These aspects would of course also be very fitting in the context of a wedding, but they have a much broader remit; the choice of divinities thus arguably conveys a sense of Dido’s civic responsibilities, with the queen trying to ensure that the pursuit of her amorous passion will not only result in personal fulfillment but a prosperous and enjoyable future for all of Carthage. In fact, the lines here resemble line 45 from Anna’s speech: dis equidem auspicibus reor et Iunone secunda, where Juno too is singled out specially (as goddess of marriage and patron goddess of Carthage), and Anna goes on to stress that a marriage liaison with Aeneas is auspicious both for Dido and her city. From this point of view, lines 58–9 describe the ritual deeds to match the words.

But the most compelling take on these lines, I find, is Henderson’s (per litteras): ‘I’d say the spray of divinities amounts to a smokescreen, hiding from themselves and one and all what this is all about, as if going the extra mile will make it right (cf. per aras). No sex, then—and even marriage as if an obligatory (uincla…) afterthought, though that is what’s up-front. The slippage in the line from legiferae (from Greek thesmophoros) to “Lyaeo” (from Greek luo = soluo) amounts to further slippage from contract to release. Dido’s game is to transfer from one bond to the next instantly, cemented for good. Juno’s game is to we(l)d Aeneas to Carthage, with marriage as yoke (iugum) and—shackles. All above board? But cura is, plain to see, a see-through cover for desire; and ancient marriages were arranged between families, not love-matches.’

60–64: ipsa tenens dextra pateram pulcherrima Dido/ candentis uaccae media inter cornua fundit,/ aut ante ora deum pinguis spatiatur ad aras,/ instauratque diem donis, pecudumque reclusis/ pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta: Line 60 marks the moment when the focus switches from the ritual actions that the sisters perform together to those that Dido performs alone. The plurals of 56–7 (adeunt, exquirunt, mactant) become singulars here (ipsa… Dido – fundit – spatiatur – instaurat – consulit). On a superficial reading, one may get the impression that Virgil here simply fleshes out details of the general picture sketched in 56–9, with a specific focus on Dido. But that is not the case: the actions in 60–4 come after those in 56–9. Virgil hints at this with the adverb principio in line 56 (what we get in 60–4 is the ‘deinde’ as it were) but otherwise enters the new time-frame well-nigh imperceptibly: only with aut in line 62 does it become entirely obvious what is going on. This step forward in time and the attending switch from joint to individual action coincide with a shift from hopeful and orthodox supplication of the gods to the somewhat desperate performance of religious rites in the face of a distinct lack of divine enthusiasm.

60–61: ipsa tenens dextra pateram pulcherrima Dido/ candentis uaccae media inter cornua fundit: pateram is perhaps best taken apo koinou with the circumstantial participle tenens and the main verb fundit. Virgil already used the epithet pulcherrima when Dido first entered the narrative (1.496); he uses it later of Aeneas (4.141). Maclennan offers a nice appreciation of this ‘moment of solemn beauty: Dido… as queen and priestess (pouring the wine herself); the spotless white cattle, the understood temple- background.’94 At the same time, it is somewhat peculiar that right after the sisters had sacrificed together to a comprehensive range of divinities, Dido is already at it again, and on her own. (This notion of inappropriate repetition, only obliquely intimated here, will become explicit with instauratque diem donis in 63: see below.) And not only that: the economic investment has noticeably increased, from sheep (57: lectas de more bidentis) to a white heifer (61: candentis uaccae), hinting at the fact, again rendered explicit shortly thereafter, that the initial offerings did not yield the desired results. Indeed, the way Virgil has constructed his vignette—choosing a very early stage in the process leading up to the sacrifical killing—leaves the felicity of the sacrifice open. As Servius points out ad locum, the pouring of the wine does not in itself constitute a sacrifice, but served to ascertain, by observation of how the animal reacted, whether or not the victim was well chosen (non est sacrificium sed hostiae exploratio, utrum apta sit).95 Virgil does not specify whether this uacca actually proved apta, but the way in which he continues strongly suggests that Dido’s ritual probing again may not have produced the hoped-for outcome. As Henderson points out (per litteras), Virgil also sets up a striking affinity between Dido and the victim: ‘both are a stunning sight (pulcherrima—candentis), both are mature females (uacca not iuuenca), they are out on public display, centre-stage, parading with nothing to hide (mediaante ora), and Dido is by proxy ripping open her heart to show us, not to find out, what’s beating there.’ Indeed, as lines 66–7 make clear, Dido is the (sacrificial) victim: see commentary ad locum.

61: media inter cornua: both media (which is placed in the middle of the line) and inter, which is placed between media and cornua, enact their meaning at the level of verse design.

62: aut ante ora deum pinguis spatiatur ad aras: with the aut at the beginning of line 62, any sense of solemn and purposeful procedure starts to break down for good. This seemingly inconspicuous connective speaks volumes, by drawing attention to the increasingly random, indiscriminate, and desperate nature of Dido’s ritual efforts—if the queen, so Virgil thereby suggests, is not trying to identify victims fit for sacrifice, she does something, anything, else, in this case approaching (spatiatur) altars that are already laden with offerings (cf. pinguis, which refers to the fat and blood of slaughtered victims). Commentators tend to read spatiatur straight: ‘the verb signifies slow and dignified motion, that majestic gait (incessus) so dear to the Romans and proper for deities (1. 405) and monarchs’;96 ‘of walking where it is the walk itself which is important, especially of the solemn gait appropriate to the approach of a temple’.97 But I think the Scholia Danielis (cited by Pease ad locum) has a point when suggesting that Dido’s movements betray an impatience caused by love. It is, to say the least, suggestive that Virgil has inverted normal ritual sequence by moving from a libation at the altar to moving towards altars (ad aras; set up by ante ora deum), at which, by all accounts, she has already sacrificed previously. Taken as a whole, then, and in context, this line conveys a sense of unfocused drifting from altar to altar (however solemn in gait Dido may be moving about) that contrasts sharply with the deliberate and purposeful adeunt in line 56.

63: instauratque diem donis: this phrase renders apparent the true degree of Dido’s desperation. Literally, it means ‘she renews each day with gifts.’ But the verb instaurare is a technical term in Rome’s civic religion, signifying ‘to repeat a ritual or ceremony that was not correctly performed.’ In other words, it refers to the option of repeating a ritual act of communicating with the gods once it has become apparent that the initial performance was in some way, intentionally or unintentionally, flawed and hence not efficacious.98 Dido, however, clearly makes an extreme use of this option: for an unspecified period, she revisits the temples each and every day—not, presumably, because her previous sacrifices were marred by a procedural flaw, but because they did not produce the desired results. Repeated attempts to secure favourable omens formed part of the system of belief and practice that constituted Rome’s civic religion. A particularly striking instance (which ultimately failed) comes from Livy 41.14.7–15.1–4:

Cn. Cornelio et Q. Petilio consulibus, quo die magistratum inierunt, immolantibus Ioui singulis bubus, uti solet, in ea hostia, qua Q. Petilius sacrificauit, in iocinere caput non inuentum. id cum ad senatum rettulisset, boue perlitare iussus. […] consul curam adiecit, qui se, quod caput iocineri defuisset, tribus bubus perlitasse negauit. senatus maioribus hostiis usque ad litationem sacrificari iussit. ceteris diis perlitatum ferunt, Saluti Petilium perlitasse negant.

[In the consulship of Gnaeus Cornelius and Quintus Petilius, on the day they entered into office, they offered one bull each in sacrifice to Jupiter, as is customary. In the victim that Q. Petilius sacrificed, no lobe was found on the liver. When this was reported to the senate, they ordered him to keep sacrificing bulls until he obtained favourable omes. […] The consul [sc. Petilius] added to the anxiety; he reported that, as the lobe had been missing from the liver of his first victim, he had failed to obtain favourable omens from three further bulls. The senate ordered the sacrifices to continue with the larger victims until the obtainment of favourable omens. They say that in the sacrifices for the other divinities favourable omens were obtained, but that Petilius did not obtain favourable omens in those for Salus.]

Petilius died shortly thereafter. But his death does not expose the gods as unreliable or malicious—indeed, rather the opposite: they prove themselves reliable and honest partners in communication about the future, only in this case they were unwilling to alter Petilius’ unfavourable prospect. With Dido, we have a similar scenario: her repeated sacrifices (with subsequent inspection of the entrails), her decision to perform the entire ritual sequence herself (down to the menial pouring of the wine), her constant movements from one altar and statue to the next all combine to convey a sense of how desperate she is to receive a sign of divine reassurance—which is simply not forthcoming, despite her enormous investment.99

63–64: pecudumque reclusis/ pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta: the gap between reclusis and pectoribus (in the dative, to be construed with inhians, ‘gazing intently at’, ‘casting longing eyes on’) caused by the enjambment enacts the image of the breasts of the sacrifical victims split open for inspection. The hyperbaton in spirantia consulit exta produces a similar effect, articulating on the stylistic level the idea that Dido examines each bit of entrail separately. The scansion of pectoribus (the last syllable scanning long) and inhians (the first syllable scanning short) is unusual, but well explained and justified by Austin, who notes that the prosody ‘seems plainly intended to suggest metrically Dido’s lingering look at the exta.’100 In fact, ‘inhio clashes with consulo—improper desire defacing ritual due process’ (Henderson, per litteras).

Extispicy, the inspection of the still quivering (cf. spirantia) entrails (exta) of a recently slaughtered victim in order to find out the will of the gods, is a form of divination that the Romans adopted from the Etruscans, but which was practised in other areas of the ancient Mediterranean as well.101 O’Hara likes to stress that ‘we cannot see exactly what Dido sees’, which is true enough, but hardly surprising:102 the detailed description of (say) a liver still pulsating with blood (and perhaps missing a lobe) is not exactly an ecphrasis fit for inclusion in an epic. There are subtler ways to convey a sense of what the gods communicate to Dido. The overall thrust of the passage would seem to suggest that what Dido sees is not what she wants to see: hence the serial repetitions of the sacrificial offerings, as Dido again and again pours over the gory innards of victims in the search for a sign of divine approval—which is not forthcoming. Arguably, this is the essential point Virgil makes in this passage and he can make it without going into details about the innards that Dido looks at: all we really need to know about the fabric of the entrails she is inspecting is that she is searching in vain for supernatural support. With a view to the following verse and the mention of uates (‘seer-prophets’), it is important to note that the inspection of entrails at Rome was the domain of the so-called haruspices, which were interpreters of internal organs and prodigies, such as lightning or monstrous births. Together with the quindecemuiri sacris faciundis, who presided over the collection and the exegesis of Sibylline Oracles, and the augurs, who interpreted the behaviour of birds, the haruspices formed one of the three priestly colleges in charge of communication between the Roman res publica and the supernatural sphere. For an excellent survey and analysis of Rome’s priestly colleges see Beard (1990).

65–67: heu, uatum ignarae mentes! quid uota furentem,/ quid delubra iuuant? est mollis flamma medullas/ interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus: after the nine-line built-up of religious suspense, these three lines explode: ‘An exclamatory outburst from the narrator is a rare event in epic, reserved for high-octane moments of pressure on characters and readers alike to interpret key issues, including issues of interpretation (authority, character, theme…)’ (Henderson, per litteras). Virgil has again opted for a tripartite structure, with a gradual increase in length across the segments, consisting of an exclamation (heu… mentes!), a rhetorical question (quid…. iuuant?), and a concluding statement of fact (est… uulnus) that sees right through the vitals of sacrificial victims to the vitals of Dido.

65: heu, uatum ignarae mentes!: Virgil concludes the description of religious activities on the part of the two sisters (and then Dido alone) with an exclamation in his own voice that includes an apostrophe of ‘minds’ (mentes). It is not immediately obvious whose minds are meant since uatum (the genitive plural of uates, i.e. ‘prophet-poet’) is syntactically ambiguous: it can depend either on mentes (a genitive of possession) or ignarae (an objective genitive). The former would mean ‘alas, the ignorant minds of the prophets!’, the latter ‘alas, minds [sc. those of Anna and Dido] ignorant of the prophets!’. Commentators and translators are divided, but there is a tendency to favour the former, as do Goold in the Loeb (‘Ah, the blind soul of seers’) and Maclennan (‘Virgil very suddenly turns to address the interpreters—or rather their minds’).103 O’Hara maintains that the syntax is deliberately ambiguous: ‘The reader’s difficulty in handling the syntax of the genitive vatum parallels the difficulty both Dido and the reader have in interpreting the entrails. Dido does not learn from the sacrifices that her love for Aeneas is going to lead to a bad end [but: doesn’t she?]; the reader does not learn exactly why this happens [but: don’t we?].’104 In part, the way we read the text depends on our assessment of how precise (or imprecise) Virgil is with narrative details and key religious terminology. For the reading of Goold, Maclennan and others presupposes (a) that Dido relied on haruspices other than herself in her inspection of the entrails; and (b) that these—hitherto unnamed, unmentioned—haruspices are identical to the uates of line 65 despite the fact that, technically speaking, haruspices and uates go about divination in a radically different way and had a radically different cultural standing in Rome’s civic religion. If we assume both (a) that Dido consulted experts in extispicy (in the teeth of what Virgil’s text says, namely that she consulted the entrails herself) and (b) that Virgil here blithely ignored a key terminological and cultural distinction, then the syntax becomes indeed ambiguous and the construal of uatum as a possessive genitive becomes a distinct possibility. We are then free to imagine all sorts of scenarios.105 Ambiguous syntax in itself of course is hardly surprising: Virgil has plenty of it. But here a bit more probing may resolve the ambiguity. From a thematic (rather than syntactic) point of view, the text raises two basic questions: (1) So far, Virgil has made no mention that Dido consulted with either haruspices or uates. So who are the uates mentioned here? (2) uates and haruspices were in the same business (figuring out—or, in the case of uates, having inspired knowledge of—what the gods have in mind for the future); but they used different channels of communication with the divine (uates relied on divine inspiration, haruspices interpreted empirical signs from the gods, such as those found in the entrails of sacrificial victims) and had a different place and standing in Roman culture. Dido acted like a haruspex. Why does Virgil describe the divinatory practice of one type of religious specialist and then allude to another? Now, the notion that Dido has a crowd of (ignorant) haruspices-uates at her service has no support whatsoever in the text. But uates-figures of course do feature in the Aeneid—seer-prophets who have access to fatum (especially in the genitive plural there is a specious etymological link: uatum ~ fatum) and are hence able to predict the future. Three come to mind specially: Apollo; the Sibyl; and the narrator, who outs himself as a uates at Aeneid 7.41. This is rather illustrious company, and one may wonder why Virgil would here be making a throw-away gesture to the ignorant minds of prophets despite the fact that the authorial persona he adopts in the Aeneid is precisely that of a uates.106 In the light of these considerations, it is arguably best to construe uatum as an objective genitive with ignarae. What Virgil seems to be saying is the following: (a) Anna and Dido wish to pursue a marriage alliance with Aeneas; (b) they approach the divinities to solicit their favour; (c) Dido on her own invests long and meticulous efforts to find some sign of divine approval by means of extispicy—apparently, without success; (d) Virgil steps back from this scene and comments with a tragic exclamation on the ignorant minds of the two sisters: they could only embark upon this course of action and they could only harbour the hope of receiving divine benediction because they are ignorant of fatum and the poet-prophets (uates) who pronounce it.107

Confirmation that this is the right interpretation comes from 8.626–28, where we meet a character (Vulcan) who is not ‘ignorant of the prophets’—and hence can prefigure the future: illic res Italas Romanorumque triumphos/ haud uatum ignarus uenturique inscius aeui/ fecerat ignipotens… (‘There the story of Italy and the triumphs of Rome had the Lord of Fire fashioned, not ignorant of the prophets or unknowing of the age to come…’). Here there can be no doubt that uatum is an objective genitive, and the anonymous uates here are presumably the same as the anonymous uates in Book 4 and form the human equivalent to the Parcae of the proem. Interestingly, 4.464–65 suggest that Dido has heard prophecies of uates and chose to ignore them. These predictions come back to haunt her: multaque praeterea uatum praedicta priorum/ terribili monitu horrificant (‘and in addition many a prediction of the prophets of old terrifies her with fearful boding’). On the divine level, of course, the rough and ready history of Carthage and Rome has always been known: it is one of the reasons why Juno is so upset. See 1.22: sic uoluere Parcas.

The pathos Virgil packs into the apostrophe is appropriate: in a universe in which the larger plot is already fixed, the ritual efforts of the sisters to enter into communication with the gods to receive support for a course of action that would go against fate is bound to be futile. This also makes sense in how the text continues: quid uota furentem, quid delubra iuuant? In the world of the Aeneid key religious practices and institutions that normally shape interaction between humans and gods and are designed to enable humans to have a say in how history unfolds by winning over divinities with gifts and sacrifices are rendered at least to some degree impotent: however many white heifers Dido may sacrifice and however many livers she peruses for divine approval, the gods, in Virgil’s literary cosmos, will not give their support to a course of action that would involve a departure from what is predetermined by fate. (Note, though, that Virgil never says that they send Dido signs that lie!) But to know about fatum, you had better get to know what the uates have to say—however imperfect and misleading some of their utterances may turn out to be.108

65–66: quid uota furentem,/ quid delubra iuuant?: uota and delubra are the subject of iuuant, furentem is the accusative object (‘one, who…’); quid is an accusative of respect (‘in what respect/ how…?’). The reference to uota and delubra sums up Dido’s religious efforts, which Virgil renders void with a pointed rhetorical question: someone out her mind (furens) will not be able to enter into meaningful communication with the gods or respond to the supernatural intelligence to be gathered from extispicy. (Divinely inspired madness for the purpose of divining the future—such as the one the Sibyl experiences when possessed by Apollo—is different.)

The verb furo (‘to be out of one’s mind’, ‘to rage’) and the noun furor are key terms in Virgil’s poetry; they designate excessive emotions (such as erotic passion or violent hatred) that render an agent incapable of rational thought and action and are associated with disorder and transgression. This is the first time in the book that Virgil diagnoses Dido as suffering from outright insanity (a diagnosis deftly prepared for by ignarae mentes: Dido’s mens is not just ignorant, but also addled, a-mens), but from now on these and related lexemes (such as furibunda or furiae) will accompany her till the bitter end: Virgil again calls her furens three lines later (68), and drops frequent reminders of Dido’s mental state throughout the rest of the book, at lines 91 (furor), 101 (furor), 283 (furens), 298 (furens), 376 (furiae), 433 (furor), 465 (furens), 501 (furores), 548 (furens), 646 (furibunda), and 697 (furor). Dido is by no means the only character to come under the sway of furor in the poem: other furibund figures include Juno, Turnus, as well as Aeneas. It is also a quality that occurs in vistas that look forward to historical Rome. Jupiter, for instance, when unscrolling the fates to Venus in Book 1, famously announces that under Caesar the temple of Janus will be closed, with a gruesomely personified Furor chained and locked up within—a (partisan) reference to the end of a century of civil bloodshed that associates the Augustan regime with overcoming the insane rage that had torn apart Rome’s civic community for over a century, in analogy to the control Jupiter exercises on the furor of Juno, who wreaks similar havoc in Virgil’s literary universe.109 One should beware, however, of drawing too facile and schematic an opposition between furor, violence, and disorder on the one hand and self-control, peace, and order on the other, not least in the light of how the poem ends: Aeneas kills Turnus furiis accensus et ira/ terribilis (12.946–47: ‘ablaze with fury and terrible in his wrath’).110 This raises the question to what extent Virgil conceives of civilization (or specifically Roman civilization, destined as it was to acquire imperial sway across the globe) as ultimately grounded in foundational acts of ‘furious’ violence.

Some further points: ‘madness’ has its generic home in tragedy, from which it entered the epic tradition in full force.111 It is also a quality aristocratic regimes tend to associate with ‘the rabble’ and its supposedly violent-revolutionary disposition (as does Virgil in the simile at 1.149–50: saeuitque animis ignobile uulgus,/ iamque faces et saxa uolant (furor arma ministrat) (‘the base rabble rage angrily, and now firebrands and stones fly: madness furnishes arms’). In late-republican Rome, charges of insanity were also the stock-in-trade of political invective, not least Cicero’s, who routinely accuses his adversaries (senatorial peers all) of being mentally deranged.112

66–67: est mollis flamma medullas/ interea et tacitum uiuit sub pectore uulnus: note that est is not a form of sum/ esse, but is the third person singular present indicative active of edo, esse, edi, esum: to eat (away), to devour. Scanning of the line reveals that mollis (with long -is) modifies medullas, which is reinforced by the elegant alliteration and the pleasing pattern of vowels: the phrase features all five exactly once. Alliteration (uiuit… uulnus) also underscores thematic coherence in the second clause. The phrasing here picks up the imagery of ‘internal emotional bleeding’ in lines 1–2: saucia, uulnus, alit (cf. uiuit), uenis (cf. medullas), caeco (cf. tacitum) igni. But there is also a shocking continuity in imagery from the sacrificial victims slaughtered on the altars to find out the will of the gods to Virgil’s depiction of Dido: mollis medullas recalls the spirantia exta that Dido is inspecting and the opened up chests of the sheep (63–63: pecudum reclusis pectoribus) are picked up by the reference to the chest of Dido (sub pectore). Put differently, Virgil continues to assimilate Dido to a sacrificial victim. Instead of inspecting the entrails of animals, she ought to inspect herself. He thereby also turns himself into a haruspex who performs extispicy on his character, inviting us to join him in his exercise of invasive ethopoeia: the same surgical operation that Dido performs on the innards of the uaccae she sacrifices to learn about her future, the narrator performs on the innards of Dido for his audience. What does he show and what do we learn, not least about us? Are we just as eager as Dido (cf. inhians) to find out what the future (of the narrative) holds? Or do we rather adopt the know-it-all posture of the omniscient uates for whom the future holds no secrets?113

68–69: uritur infelix Dido totaque uagatur/ urbe furens: the image is shocking—the queen is on the loose in the city, driven all but insane by her passion. uritur pulls out all the stops—the ignis caecus has burst forth, the queen is on fire. It is a major step forward from the metaphorical fire of love at the beginning of the book to the funeral pyre at the end. Other features to note include the alliteration and assonance in ur-i-tur ~ uaga-tur ~ ur-be ~ f-ur-ens; the sudden switch in epithet from pulcherrima (60) to infelix (or, to put this in generic terms, from love elegy to tragedy);114 the gradual increase in Dido’s drifting (from the purposeful adeunt to the more random spatiatur to the utterly aimless uagatur); and the circumstantial participle furens (‘in a state of madness’, ‘out of her mind’).

69–73: qualis coniecta cerua sagitta,/ quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit/ pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum/ nescius: illa fuga siluas saltusque peragrat/ Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo: from Homer onwards, similes likening figures and phenomena in the human sphere to aspects of the animal kingdom or the world of nature more generally are an established stylistic feature of epic.115 The basic point the simile is designed to illustrate is the way in which ‘wounded’ Dido moves about the city: uagatur (68) ~ peragrat (72). But the hermeneutic challenge (or opportunity) created by the simile does not stop here. There are many further points of contact or correspondence between the world of the narrative and the world briefly invoked in the simile that are worth identifying and discussing. In this case, the interface between narrative and simile is particularly complex. Victor Pöschl suggests the following multi- layered interpretation: ‘the deer simile has a threefold function: (1) It makes the queen’s roaming more explicit (this is the original function of a simile in Homer—clarification of an exterior event); (2) it reveals Dido’s state of mind (clarification of an inner event); (3) it foreshadows her tragic end (symbolic prediction) through content, key, and pathos of the movement.’116

This is a good starting point for untangling further correspondences between the world of the similar and the world of the surrounding narrative—an exercise, in which each word and phrasing deserves consideration. To begin with, incautam is a curious touch. Why does Virgil appear to apportion part of the blame for getting shot to death to the poor creature? And is there an equivalent to the unwary behaviour of the hind in how Dido has conducted herself? Is Virgil perhaps suggesting that Dido was too susceptible to the charms of Aeneas and should have been more on her guard? At the same time, procul and incautam stand in latent contradiction to one another: the hind, presumably, would have had to be super- cautious to elude a herdsman shooting (at her?) from afar. Furthermore, the portrayal of the pastor in the simile likens him to Aeneas. But what are the precise correspondences between the herdsman and Aeneas? The one who has so far been shooting at deer in the Aeneid is the Trojan hero, who killed seven of them right after being washed ashore in Libya, one for each of his ships: see 1.184–93, especially 1.189–91: ductoresque ipsos primum, capita alta ferentis/ cornibus arboreis, sternit, tum uulgus et omnem/ miscet agens telis nemora inter frondea turbam (‘first he brings to the ground the leaders themselves, carrying their heads high with branching antlers, then he routs the crowd and the entire herd, driving them with his arrows amid the leafy woods’). In hindsight, these lines acquire a proleptic force, though Aeneas focused on stags.

69: qualis coniecta cerua sagitta: qualis introduces the simile. cerua, which is in the nominative (with a short -a), is framed by the ablative absolute coniecta… sagitta (both with a long -a).

70–72: quam procul incautam nemora inter Cresia fixit/ pastor agens telis liquitque uolatile ferrum/ nescius: the antecedent of quam is cerua; incautam is an adjective in predicative position (‘which, unwary,…’). The design is intricate: the accusative objects and verbs form a chiasmus, with the subject at the centre: (a) quam incautam (b) fixit (c) pastor agens telis (b) liquit (a) uolatile ferrum. (The -que in liquitque links fixit and liquit.) Virgil also achieves an interlacing of words referring to the hind (quam, incautam) and the action of getting pierced with an arrow from afar (procul, fixit); and he uses two emphatic instances of enjambment to foreground the shepherd and his actions (71: pastor agens telis) as well as his state of mind (72: nescius). The position of the adverb procul enacts what the word means: it is placed at some distance from the verb it modifies (fixit)—as does the preposition inter, which stands between the two words it governs, i.e. nemora and Cresia. On Virgil’s choice of a shepherd as the shooter, see Anderson: ‘It might seem odd that Vergil used the word pastor here rather than a noun like venator, for the shepherd shooting arrows is an unexpected image. However, the word-choice, I believe, is deliberate, designed to recall the simile of the shepherd in 2.304ff. No longer the unwitting spectator and victim of fiery fury, Aeneas has now become the unwitting perpetrator of the same, the innocent agent of all that he abhors. Entirely against his will, half-ignorant to the very end, he destroys the woman he loves, leaving her to the agonies of the fury he has caused, ultimately to the suicide which is implied in this very simile. After he abandons Carthage and looks back from the sea at the flames that rise from the pyre, where she lies pierced by his own sword, he does not know the reason for the fire (causa latet 5.5), but he has heavy forebodings. How far he has moved into the bitter world of reality from that pastoral innocence! How little he understands the destructive consequences of his actions!’117

72: nescius: what is the shepherd nescius of? Here is Lyne, taking issue with Austin among others, who have the tendency to exculpate the shooter: ‘Our hunting shepherd is not, as is often implied, totally “ignorant”, “nescius”, of his actions (how could he be?). He has, Vergil tells us, been vigorously and purposefully hunting the hind: “quam… agens telis” [“which, hunting with darts”]. What he is ignorant of is that one of his shafts has struck: that he has hit the “cerua”, that the “cerua” in fact carries a lethal wound inflicted by him.’118 Is Virgil thereby suggesting that Aeneas has been preying on Dido, while at the same time failing to realize that he is affecting her profoundly? To what extent do the two verbs fixit (he pierced her) and liquit (and left her) mirror Aeneas’ arrival at and departure from Dido’s Carthage? (One important difference is that the shepherd does not pursue the hind because he does not realize that his arrow has hit the mark; Aeneas, of course, leaves Dido knowing full well the extent to which she has fallen in love with him. As 5.5–7 shows, he and his men had a good idea of how far she might go: duri magno sed amore dolores/ polluto notumque, furens quid femina possit,/ triste per augurium Teucrorum pectora ducunt; ‘but the harsh pains once great love has been profaned and knowledge of what a woman can do in frenzy, lead the hearts of the Trojans amid sad forebodings.’)

72–73: siluas saltusque peragrat/ Dictaeos: the assonance in the hendiadys siluas and saltus (s*l**s), the pattern of vowels (i, a; a, u), with the last syllable of siluas being picked up by first syllable of saltus, and the fact that both nouns are in the plural generates a plangent picture of tragic desperation as the wounded hind roams far and wide through the woods and groves on Mt. Dicte without being able to shake off the lethal arrow in her side. Cf. also the intensifying per- in peragrat. Dictaeus refers to Mt. Dicte on Crete; Virgil places the geographical specification, which is more precise than the earlier nemora inter Cresia, in enjambment. The continuing emphasis on the Cretan setting is remarkable and has long puzzled commentators. Austin suggests that ‘“Cretan” in itself has no special significance here, except that the Cretans were famous archers’,119 Horsfall thinks that Virgil has chosen Crete because the inhabitants of the island were notorious for using poisoned arrows,120 and Morgan argues that the Cretan setting reminds Virgil’s readers of animals who there find a herbal cure for poisoned arrows.121 The herb is called dictamnus, ‘dittany’ (and associated with Mt. Dictys), and thought to have ‘the power to draw poisoned and barbed arrows from a wound.’ As Morgan goes on to point out, ‘Vergil’s readers are going to be reminded of this potency when Venus herself culls the herb from Crete and gives it invisibly to Aeneas where he lies wounded. The arrow slips easily from his flesh, pain vanishes, and strength is restored. (12.423).’ In the context of Aeneid 4, of course, the invocation of a possible cure inevitably highlights the terminal nature of Dido’s condition.

Rebecca Armstrong, ingeniously, argues further that the Cretan setting reinforces a programmatic if oblique association between Dido and Cretan heroines that Virgil validates throughout the episode, in particular Ariadne but also, more surprisingly or, indeed, shockingly, Pasiphae, the notoriously adulterous wife of the Cretan king Minos who fancied intercourse with bulls. (See Virgil, Eclogue 6, for a take on this. At Eclogue 6.52, Pasiphae is in an almost identical condition as the Dido-hind: a, uirgo infelix, tu nunc in montibus erras.)122 Virgil may well have chosen this mountain for its mythological resonances: Mt. Dicte is, famously, the birthplace of Zeus/ Jupiter, the divinity in charge of the fata; and it is also associated with the goddess of hunting Artemis/ Diana, to whom Dido is compared when she first enters the epic (1.494–504), as well as one of her favourite nymphs, i.e. Britomartis or (renamed) Dictynna: see Callimachus, Hymn to Artemis 190–200.

73: Dictaeos; haeret lateri letalis harundo: the abrupt caesura in the third foot, reinforced by asyndeton, sets up the punchline in a highly effective way: despite all her efforts to rid herself of the fatal arrow, the hind fails and falters. There is a powerful and brutal finality to the measured phrase haeret lateri letalis harundo. Alliteration (ha-, ha-) and assonance (-re-, -run-) link the framing words haeret and harundo and alliteration and vowel-patterning (a, e, i; e, a, i) link the central lateri (scanning short, short, long) and letalis, whereas lateri stands as dative object to haeret and letalis modifies harundo: an intricate design that conveys a tragic sense of (non-)closure. The wound is fatal, but the process of dying will be prolonged, an ominous image that stands in poignant parallel to what will unfold with Dido in the rest of the book. After sagitta, tela, and ferrum, harundo is the fourth term Virgil uses to denote the fatal arrow.

74–79: nunc media Aenean secum per moenia ducit/ Sidoniasque ostentat opes urbemque paratam,/ incipit effari mediaque in uoce resistit;/ (77) nunc eadem labente die conuiuia quaerit,/ Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores/ exposcit pendetque iterum narrantis ab ore: this passage of six lines, divided into two blocks of three lines each marked by the anaphora of nunc at the beginning of lines 74 and 77 (italicized), details Dido’s conduct in the presence of Aeneas before we return to Dido on her own in lines 80–85. 74–76 cover the daytime activities, 77–79 describe the evening entertainment. Throughout, the syntax of the passage is predominantly paratactic (the main verbs are underlined), but Virgil has slightly altered the rhetorical design as he moves from daytime to evening. In 74–76 we get four main verbs (ducit—ostentat; incipit—resistit), of which the first two and the last two are linked by -que (Sidoniasque; mediaque), whereas incipit follows on ostentat asyndetically. In 77–79, we get a tricolon (quaerit—exposcit—pendet), with all verbs linked by -que (Iliacosque; pendetque).

The switch from simile back to narrative is abrupt, especially since the creature hunted in the simile (the hind/ Dido) has turned into a huntress of sorts: after performing the rites, seeking in vain to ascertain a promising future and wandering aimlessly through the city, Dido now pursues her object of love with great purpose—and does so rather successfully.

74: media Aenean secum per moenia: a mimetic design: Aeneas and Dido are placed in the middle of media… per moenia. The lexeme moenia almost invariably recalls the last line of the proem, the altae moenia Romae (1.7): the foundation of Rome (as it may be worth recalling) will not happen until several hundred years after Aeneas’ arrival at Latium according to Virgil’s chronology of Rome’s prehistory, but is the ultimate telos of his quest. Here it carries a latent accusatory charge: Aeneas ought not to be sightseeing among the walls of Carthage; he should see to his mission, which will eventually result in the walls of Rome. Given the close identification of Dido and Carthage, the vignette here also reinforces the notion that Dido/ her city is about to fall: Aeneas has infiltrated the protective walls, he is inside her defences, in her marrow (media/ medulla) and she is now trying to get inside his, making him part of her, turning his-story (Rome) into her-story (Carthage).

75: Sidoniasque ostentat opes urbemque paratam: the first -que links ducit (74) and ostentat, the second -que opes and urbem. Virgil has arranged attributes and nouns chiastically: (a) Sidonias (b) opes (b) urbem (a) paratam. The adjective Sidonias refers to Sidon, a city in Phoenicia; the phrase Sidonias… opes harks back to 1.363–64 (Venus recounting Dido’s flight): portantur auari/ Pygmalionis opes pelago; dux femina facti (‘the wealth of greedy Pygmalion is carried overseas, the leader of the deed a woman’). opes and urbs thus refer to Dido’s past and future, and, together, are meant to extend a welcoming and inviting hand to Aeneas in what amounts to a sales- pitch: wealthy Carthage, so Dido implies, is ready (paratam) for him. Dido retains the same spirit of remarkable generosity (though now reinforced by amorous passion) that animated her invitation to the shipwrecked Trojans to stay, before she had even set eyes on Aeneas (1.572–73: uultis et his mecum pariter considere regnis? urbem quam statuo uestra est…’ ‘Or do you wish to settle with me on even terms within these realms? The city I build is yours…’).

76: incipit effari mediaque in uoce resistit: the verse-design reflects and reinforces the meaning of individual words: we have incipit at the beginning; media in the middle; and resistit at the end—enactment at its finest. The asyndetic continuation of the main clauses with incipit conveys a sense of the mental effort Dido has to make to muster sufficient courage to address Aeneas, only to break off midway. Put differently, she acts like a tongue-tied teenager in love.

78–79: Iliacosque iterum demens audire labores/ exposcit: (a) Iliacos (b) iterum (c) demens (b) audire (a) labores—the symmetrical design and the vast hyperbaton Iliacos… labores, together with the enjambment of exposcit and the caesura after it, helps to highlight Dido’s insanity: out of her mind (de-mens, placed conspicuously at the very centre of the design), she asks for a repeat of Aeneid 2. (A reference to a re-run of Iliadic material also brings to mind the fact that Virgil, in the Aeneid, re-works Homer: ‘The Aeneid makes us listen to the Iliad on re-wind, too, through all 12 books of re-run; and everything in the poem renews and tells otherwise another re-reading of the Iliad.’)123 In the light of the impact her obsession has on her own city, it is ironic but fitting that Dido prefers a re-run of the fall of Troy to another account of Aeneas’ travels (the subject of Aeneid 3). As lines 86–89 make clear, the labores Carthaginienses have ceased, while she listens on an endless loop to repetitions of Aeneas’ Iliad. In the light of how Aeneas reacted to the first request to tell his tale (2.3: Infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem; ‘O queen, you bid me to renew grief that is unspeakable’) Dido is indeed demens to ask for a repeat if she wishes to endear herself to her host. Aeneas, however, seems to oblige willingly. (Here as elsewhere in the opening of Book 4, he leads a very shadowy existence in the narrative and hardly figures as an independent agent.)

78–79: iterum audire – pendetque iterum: the reiteration of iterum (in chiastic variation with the verbs it modifies) is another instance of enactment: Virgil twice uses the word that signifies ‘again’.

79: pendetque… narrantis ab ore: English uses the same idiom: ‘to hang on someone’s lips’; narrantis is present active participle, modifying an understood genitive Aeneae, which depends on ore. A striking and compelling parallel is Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 1.36–7: pascit amore auidos inhians in te, dea, uisus/ eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore (‘he [sc. Mars] pastures on love his greedy sight while gazing on you, goddess [sc. Venus], and the breath of him, as he is reclining, hangs from your lips’).

80–81: post ubi digressi, lumenque obscura uicissim/ luna premit suadentque cadentia sidera somnos: a long ‘atmospheric’ ubi-sentence sets the scene before the focus returns to Dido. It is designed as a tricolon, with the two -que (after lumen and suadent) linking the three verbs: digressi [sc. sunt], premit, suadent. obscura is the result of the action (lumen premere: to dim the light). Line 81 is entirely dactylic, rushing everybody off to sleep—somnos is the telos of both the verse and the action it describes and the sense of falling asleep (or coming to the end of the hexameter) is deftly enacted by the soothing coincidence of word accent and ictus in the final three words, linked by s-alliteration (suadentia, sidera, somnos) and the fact that the rhythm slows down: the two syllables of the last word and foot (somnos) are both long. In the speedy opening part, the vowel piano in cadentia sidera (a-e-i-a-e-a) reflects the quickly falling stars and acts as foil to the heavy ‘os’ in somnos.124 Virgil repeats suadentque cadentia sidera somnos verbatim from 2.9, perhaps a bit tongue-in-cheek: there the words are uttered by Aeneas in the attempt to dissuade Dido from insisting on hearing the bitter tale, if to no avail; here the phrase occurs quite properly after the narration has come to an end—though sleep is of course the last thing on Dido’s mind after another evening of ‘sexy epic recitation’ by her beloved Aeneas.

82–83: sola domo maeret uacua stratisque relictis/ incubat: the sola marks an emphatic return to Dido (‘she alone’); uacua modifies domo. Dido throws herself onto the couch that Aeneas has just left and broods there, an action reflected in the enjambment of incubat, which takes the dative (stratis relictis). For a moment stratis relictis may look like an ablative absolute (‘after the couches have been emptied’, i.e. after everyone else has departed) before the first word of the subsequent line clarifies the construction. Dido’s practice of lying down on the couch recently abandoned by her beloved Aeneas is a poignant articulation of her yearning for his presence and for intimate, physical contact.

83: illum absens absentem auditque uidetque: the -que after uidet links audit and uidet; the -que after audit is technically speaking redundant.125 The pleonastic polyptoton absens absentem constitutes a powerful and poignant paradox, which exposes as hallucination Dido’s sense that Aeneas remains present. Both circumstantial participles have concessive force: ‘Dido, even though she is physically distant from him (absens), hears and sees him (illum), even though he is physically distant (absentem).’ The verbs audit and uidet are arranged climactically: one may conceivably hear someone who is not physically present; but one certainly cannot see such a person, at least by means of ordinary sight. With the concluding uidetque we have firmly entered Dido’s fevered imagination.

84–85: aut gremio Ascanium genitoris imagine capta/ detinet: the aut constitutes an abrupt temporal and chronological break, as the action described must refer to another (moment in the) day: it can certainly not refer to the evening in which she remains left behind alone. Most likely, the moment in the day when she cuddles with Ascanius is anyway not the evening: otherwise one would wonder about Aeneas’ lack of parental supervision. Still, the image unsettles: Dido, demens as she is, is increasingly getting out of control. In metrical position and effect (in enjambment, caesura after first foot) detinet (85) mirrors incubat (82), underscoring the switch in focus—from Dido sleeplessly brooding on her bed to fondling Ascanius in her lap. The passage belongs into a sequence that begins at 1.717–22 and ends at 4.327–30.

84: genitoris imagine capta: capta is in the nominative modifying the subject of the sentence, i.e. Dido. The sense of the participle is causal—Dido cuddles Ascanius because he resembles his father. Beyond its literal meaning, the phrase genitoris imago resonates powerfully within the memorial culture of republican and early imperial Rome. Imago, or, in the plural, imagines were the wax masks of deceased former magistrates that hung in the atria of noble houses and were donned by actors during the funeral processions of deceased members of the family who had held public office. This was one of the most remarkable rituals of the Roman republic, designed to celebrate family-achievement and lineage.126 Virgil may also obliquely hint at Lucretius’ ‘genetic’ explanation of family-resemblance across generations in his account of sexual procreation in De Rerum Natura 4.1209–1230.

85: infandum si fallere possit amorem: the formulation recalls the opening words of Aeneas’ narrative at 2.3–5: Infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem,/ Troianas ut opes et lamentabile regnum/ eruerint Danai… (‘Unspeakable grief, O queen, you order me renew, how the Greeks overthrew Troy’s wealth and pitiable kingdom…’). Both the attribute infandum and the phrase fallere amorem raise tricky problems of interpretation. infandum is a term of disapproval a bit stronger than a literal translation with ‘unmentionable’ (Maclennan) or ‘beyond all utterance’ (Goold) would seem to suggest: something infandum is ‘too horrible or shocking to speak of, unspeakable, monstrous, accursed’ (OLD s.v.), and one therefore wonders about focalization: is it Dido who conceives of her amor as infandus (and why? should she?) or is this a comment on the part of the narrator, who here clarifies to his readers that Dido’s inability to speak at line 76 (incipit effari, mediaque in voce resistit), which there refers simply to her nervosity in the presence of her beloved Aeneas, has a more troubling dimension: she is not just unable to speak, but unable to confess her love since (she knows/ wrongly feels that?) it is, literally, unspeakably monstrous. fallere amorem is Dido’s futile response to exercise control over an amor that is infandus. What does fallere refer to here? At least three possible interpretations come to mind, depending on what precisely fallere and amor are taken to mean. Maclennan argues that Dido here tries to delude herself: ‘… in fondling Ascanius she wants to persuade herself that she is merely expressing maternal affection for her friend’s child, which is something acceptable and mentionable.’127 This downplays amor as an independent force, which O’Hara maintains when suggesting that ‘Dido tries to cheat her love by displaying affection for his son Ascanius as a substitute for Aeneas.’128 But in what way does Dido think she can deceive her love by cuddling Ascanius in her lap, especially since she is attracted to the child in the first place because of his strong resemblance to his father? Both the ‘incubation’ of Aeneas’ couch and the cuddling of his son are, in the first instance, strategies of getting closer to the man himself. One could consider reading amorem with a capital A (Amorem), especially since the scene here strongly recalls 1.683–88 (part of Venus instructions to Cupid): tu faciem illius noctem non amplius unam/ falle dolo, et notos pueri puer indue uultus,/ ut, cum te gremio accipiet laetissima Dido/…/cum dabit amplexus atque oscula dulcia figet,/ occultum inspires ignem fallasque ueneno (‘For only a single night impersonate in deceit his form and, boy that you are, don the familiar face of the boy, so that when Dido, exceedingly happy, receives you in her lap, gives you hugs and imprints sweet kisses, you may breathe into her a hidden fire and beguile her with poison’). It is as if Dido is keen on another dose of Love. Conversely, one could argue that the scene in Book 4 is an attempt to invert the deception: whereas in Book 1 Cupid/ Amor impersonates Ascanius to push Dido towards Aeneas, in Book 4, Dido tries (of course unsuccessfully) to cheat Amor by channeling her affection away from Aeneas towards Ascanius. If that seems too contrived, one could understand fallere in the sense of ‘to conceal the nature of, to disguise’: rather than referring to Dido’s attempt to deceive herself or her love, the clause would then refer to her attempt to displace her (seemingly compulsive) ‘public display of affection’ onto the boy to keep her true passion a secret.129

86–89: non coeptae adsurgunt turres, non arma iuuentus/ exercet portusue aut propugnacula bello/ tuta parant: pendent opera interrupta minaeque/ murorum ingentes aequataque machina caelo: Virgil describes the disastrous effects of Dido in love on her city-building project, emphasized by the anaphora of non (italicized), in two tricola, one consisting of verbs, the other of nouns: (a) adsurgunt turresiuuentus exercetparant (note the switches in subject; the third is only implied, i.e. the anonymous collective – hence the switch to plural – of Carthage’s citizens); (b) operaminaemachina (all ‘hanging’ on pendent). non… adsurgunt in particular underscores the neglect, given that it harks back to 1.437 when Aeneas, upon seeing the building-site, exclaims: o fortunati, quorum iam moenia surgunt! (‘O the happy ones, whose walls are already rising!’) The iam makes it clear that Aeneas thinks comparatively—Carthage’s walls are already rising, the walls of his own city (cf. 1.7: altae moenia Romae) not yet. Especially with this line resonating here, the passage subtly intimates that two sets of walls have ceased to make progress: the future of both cities, Carthage and Rome, lies forgotten. With coeptae turres, portus aut propugnacula… tuta, opera interrupta, minae murorum ingentes, and aequata machina caelo Virgil uses grandiose images to convey both, the vast scale of the building project and a sense of its unfinished state. The emphasis is almost exclusively on the development of the cityscape (including the harbour and fortification) rather than the civic community, with the exception of non arma iuuentus/ exercet.130

87: portusue: the -ue links non… exercet and parant.

88: pendent opera interrupta: in ironic analogy to 79, where Dido hangs (pendet) on the lips of Aeneas narrating, the building works now ‘hang’—in the sense of: ‘are suspended’—as well.

88–89: minae murorum ingentes: a contorted way of saying ‘walls (muri) that are huge (ingentes) and menacing (minaces).’ Virgil has chosen to turn one of the attributes (minax) into a noun (minae), quaintly modified by the second attribute (ingens) that in sense goes with muri: ‘the huge threats of walls.’ Why? One possible answer could be that minae, inevitably, invokes the future (threats are inherently prospective) and hence draws attention to the incomplete state of the building works. The m-alliteration in minae murorum is continued by machina.

89: aequataque machina caelo: caelo serves as pointer to where the narrative will continue at 90.

90–128: Love and Marriage, or: A Match Made in Heaven

After a day-by-day, even hour-by-hour unfolding of events in Books 1–4.53, narrative time has started to drift a little after Anna’s speech. The conversation between the two sisters took place ‘the morning after’ Aeneas’ arrival and first narration of his adventures during the welcome festivities. But from then on, it is difficult to keep track of how many days have been passing by. Going by the (imprecise) temporal markers in 63 (instauratque diem donis) and 82–85, it is just about possible to cram the action of Aeneid 4.1–89 into three days:

Day 1: conversation between Anna and Dido; initial sacrifices

Day 2: renewal of sacrifices; raging through the city; sightseeing with Aeneas; second evening banquet; Dido being left behind alone

Day 3: cuddling time with Ascanius

But that does not account for the atmosphere of indefinite drift that Virgil has created. In particular, the comment on the abandoned building works in 86–89 that concludes this section, implies that more time has elapsed than a three-day period. Still, it is important to bear in mind that Aeneas both arrives and departs during the same non-sailing season. What has he been up to while we learn about Dido in love? We only get glimpses of him, in very passive roles: in 74, he is the accusative object (Aenean), whom Dido leads through the city; in 79 he is ‘he, who narrates’ at the behest of Dido; and in 83 he is ‘absent’ (illum… absentem). It is almost as if Virgil gives his protagonist a break, after three full books in the narrative limelight. (Homer, too, has long stretches in which Achilles and Odysseus all but disappear from view.) Still, developments have reached something of an impasse, and in such situations the epic poet has at his disposal a reliable source of new narrative stimuli: the gods. The action now shifts back to the divine plane, with Juno, the goddess of conjugal bonds, (who has faded from the narrative after derailing the fleet of Aeneas at the very beginning of the epic) accosting and confronting Venus, the goddess of erotic passion. The two scheming divinities, one more deceitful than the other, engage in a battle of wits. Each one walks away in the belief to have fooled the other. Only Venus, of course, is right: whereas Juno dominates the conversation (she gets two speeches), the goddess of love knows that she will emerge victoriously in the end. She has, after all, been briefed in the workings of destiny by none other than Jupiter (see Aeneid 1.223-96) and uses this privileged insight into the plot to play cat and mouse with Dido and her divine patron Juno. Here is the section in outline:

90–92: Juno seeks out Venus

93–104: Juno’s first speech

105–07a: Venus’ hidden thoughts (1)

107b–114a: Venus’ response

114b–127a: Juno’s second speech

127b–128: Venus hidden thoughts (2)

Hera/ Juno soliciting the help of Aphrodite/ Venus has an epic history, starting with Iliad 14, the famous ‘Deception of Zeus’, where Hera uses the girdle of Aphrodite to seduce her husband into some truly extraordinary sex, so as to use his post-coital slumber to meddle in the Trojan war against his will.

[Extra information: the most salient model for this encounter between Juno (the goddess of marriage) and Venus (the goddess of love and erotic desire) is Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.49–111, which features a conversation between Hera (the Greek equivalent of Juno), Athena, and Aphrodite (the Greek equivalent of Venus). The parallels, set out by Nelis and Hall, are as follows:131

1   The opening gambit includes a sarcastic comment: compare Aeneid 4.93–95 (Juno speaking) with Argonautica 3.51–54 (Aphrodite speaking, slyly hailing Hera and Athena as goddesses who ‘excel all others’—a malicious if veiled allusion to the judgement of Paris).

2   Juno/ Hera explains the situation: compare Aeneid 4.96–104 with Argonautica 3.57–75.

3   Venus/ Aphrodite yields to the higher authority of Juno/ Hera: compare Aeneid 4.107–14 with Argonautica 3.79–82.

4   Juno/ Hera suggests a plan to which Venus/ Aphrodite agrees: compare Aeneid 4.115–28 with Argonautica 3.84–110. Ironically, in Apollonius, this plan consists in Aphrodite calling upon Eros to enchant Medea with desire for Jason – exactly what Venus, in Virgil, then does also to Dido, much to the displeasure of Juno. Viewed intertextually, Venus clearly has learned a trick or two from past encounters with the queen of the gods.

The passage from Apollonius contains further material not included in Virgil’s rewrite (notably a complaint by Aphrodite that her son Eros is unruly). And, of course, in Virgil the power relation is inverted: in Apollonius, Hera and Athena are in charge and Aphrodite does their bidding (see esp. 3.100); in Virgil, Venus pulls the strings and is secretly in charge (see esp. 4.128). This manifests itself not least in a slippage in plot: in Apollonius, Hera first engineers Medea’s infatuation with Jason with the help of Aphrodite and Eros and then orchestrates a proper wedding when the need arises (in Argonautica 4, discussed below). But when Juno approaches Venus in Virgil, the erotic assault on the heroine is already a fait accompli: in the Aeneid, Venus is a step ahead in the divine power struggle. In intertextual terms, then, it is payback time: this is not the Argonautica, where Aphrodite stands for sex and little else; this is the Aeneid, where Venus, apart from sex and erotic attraction, also figures as the mother of the founding-hero of the Roman people, as the daughter of Jupiter, as mistress of fate.]

90–92: Quam simul ac tali persensit peste teneri/ cara Iouis coniunx nec famam obstare furori/ talibus adgreditur Venerem Saturnia dictis: a difficult set of verses, with untidy word-order, possibly reflecting Juno’s flustered state of mind:

(a) The basic structure is a subordinate clause introduced by simul ac (‘as soon as’) with cara Iovis coniunx (91) as subject and persensit (90) as verb, followed by the main clause in 92 (with Saturnia as subject and adgreditur as verb).

(b) Within the simul-ac-clause, persensit introduces an indirect statement that falls into two parts linked by nec. quam and famam are the subject accusatives, teneri and obstare the infinitives.

(c) Quam, the subject accusative of the first part of the indirect statement introduced by persensit, is a connecting relative pronoun (= eam): the referent is Dido.

90: tali persensit peste teneri: note the alliterative pattern ta-, pe-, pe-, te-. teneri, which shares its first syllable with the last syllable of the preceding word (peste) and rhymes with tali (taliteneri) thus relates on the sound level to the paraphrase of the force that is doing the holding. In the light of our discussion of time, the per- in persensit is important: it underscores that it dawns on Juno gradually what is going on and as soon as (simul ac) she has become fully conscious of the dirty trick Venus and her son have been playing on Dido, she takes action. pestis is a very strong term: it signifies a fatal disease of epidemic proportions, but can also refer by way of personification to a baneful individual (Cicero uses it of Catiline, for instance) or ruin and destruction more generally. Here it refers either to Dido’s love-sickness or Cupid (whom Juno calls magnum et memorabile numen a few lines later) or both. The wording recalls 1.712 where the phrase pesti deuota futurae (‘doomed to impending ruin’), in apposition to infelix no less, turns Dido metaphorically into a sacrificial victim about to be slaughtered—just before she unwittingly embraces Cupid disguised as Ascanius. Henderson, per litteras, proposes Catullus 76.20 as salient model: eripite hanc pestem perniciemque mihi! (‘Get me rid of this pernicious pest!’).

91: famam obstare furori: iconic word order in which fama (Dido’s sense of her reputation, or, indeed, the reputation she has hitherto enjoyed in the historiographical accounts) stands in the way of (obstare) furor (the insane passion that she suffers from in Virgil): the two nouns of the antithesis, kept apart from each other by obstare (which thereby enacts its meaning) are linked by alliteration.

91–92: cara Iouis coniunx… Saturnia: Juno has been absent from the narrative for a while, and upon her re-entry Virgil goes out of his way to stress her important position within the Olympic pantheon: she is the wife of Jupiter and the offspring of Saturn. Both her marriage to the ruler of gods and men and her ancient lineage mark her as Venus’ superior in the divine hierarchy, but Venus manages to counterbalance inferior power and prestige with superior knowledge and potential for mischief.

92: talibus adgreditur Venerem Saturnia dictis: another symmetrical line, with talibus modifying dictis, and the verb adgreditur correlating with the subject Saturnia. This places Venerem, the accusative object of adgreditur, smack in the middle, reproducing on the level of verse design the scenario of Venus being ‘cornered’ by Juno, but also emphasizing her central role in what is unfolding on the level of plot: despite the fact that she is in the ‘oblique’ accusative and Juno holds, from a grammatical point of view, the subject position, Venus is clearly pulling the strings here.

93–104: Juno’s first speech

Juno’s first speech falls into two halves of 6 lines each: 93–98 comprise a disapproving commentary on what Venus has been up to; 99–104 follow this up with a proposal of peace and alliance.

93–95: egregiam uero laudem et spolia ampla refertis/ tuque puerque tuus (magnum et memorabile numen),/ una dolo diuum si femina uicta duorum est: Juno chisels her opening, a conditional sequence, into the air with meticulous deliberation and emphasis, verse by self-standing verse: 93 contains the main clause (apodosis); 94 contains a magnificent elaboration of the subject implied in refertis; 95 contains the si-clause (protasis). Some editors, however, (including Conington and Pease) prefer to read nomen instead of numen and to punctuate differently:

egregiam uero laudem et spolia ampla refertis
tuque puerque tuus; magnum et memorabile nomen,
una dolo diuum si femina uicta duorum est.

We would then be dealing with two sentences roughly equal in length: the first, consisting of a main clause only, comes to an end after tuus; and magnum et memorabile nomen (with the verb erit understood) becomes the apodosis of the conditional sequence (‘it will be a great and memorable exercise of divine power, that…’). Which reading do you prefer and why?

93: egregiam uero laudem et spolia ampla refertis: refertis is the 2nd person plural present indicative active of refero. Its accusative object is presented chiastically: adjective (egregiam), noun (laudem), noun (spolia), adjective (ampla). The entire phrase, but in particular the attributes, are dripping with sarcasm, as Juno uses technical language to refer to the success of Venus’ limey plot: laus at Rome is primarily associated with excellence in the public sphere, spolia are ‘the spoils of (military) victory’, and referre is a standard verb used to describe the return of a triumphant general. This sarcastic praise for a conquest that could not have been easier to achieve may deliberately recall Iliad 5, where Aphrodite saves Aeneas from Diomedes, though not without being wounded in the process, leading to much lament. ‘Juno’s mocking description of Venus’ psychological conquest of Dido in martial terms thus not only insults Venus for directing her powers against an overmatched opponent but also reminds her of her earlier failure on the literal battlefield.’132 And, as John Henderson points out, per litteras, ‘it also reminds us that all this typologically prefigures the Roman obliteration of Carthaginian Carthage (before the Julian and Augustan re-foundation as Roman Carthage). This love tragedy soups and serves up superpower struggle on the world stage: but in Virgil’s hands, the rights and wrongs are inextricably tangled beyond chauvinist simplication from the start. Juno isn’t wrong, then—especially in claiming that this (first third of arma uirumque) is a sordid story out of keeping with epic decorum, a lapse into Hellenistic romance and the theatre of boudoir persecution of the femme fatale. What a mess the Aeneid is making of getting from Troy to Rome—wrong continent, wrong genre… correct: it’s an ordeal.’

94: tuque puerque tuus (magnum et memorabile numen): Juno does not give her rival a lot of verse-space; after the monosyllabic tu at the outset, she devotes the rest of the line to an appreciation of Cupid. He may be Venus’ boy, but proves to be a divinity of extraordinary and ‘numinous’ power (magnum numen). Numen stresses the efficaciousness of divine power; it can either denote a divinity in its own right (as here: in Juno’s phrasing, Cupid is a numen) or refer to the ability of gods to influence events or indeed govern the entire cosmos. Later on in our passage, Mercury will refer to Jupiter as deum… regnator, caelum et terras qui numine torquet (4.268–69). Numen is a key concept in the religious infrastructure of Virgil’s epic more generally, from the proem onwards. Indeed, Juno’s words here specifically recall Virgil’s famous address to, and questioning of, the Muse at 1.8–11: Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso/ quidue dolens regina deum tot uoluere casus/ insignem pietate uirum, tot adire labores/ impulerit (‘Tell me, o Muse, the reasons, wherein thwarted in will or why angered, did the queen of the gods drive a man outstanding in piety, to traverse so many perils, to undergo so many toils?’). Ironically, Juno, who was the object of theological commentary by Virgil in the proem, has now turned into the commentator: she grudgingly concedes that Cupid has usurped what ought to be her narrative. Whereas Virgil is asking the Muse to recount the memorable reasons for Juno’s hostility towards Aeneas (1.8: memora), Juno here recognizes that what Cupid did to Dido is at least as memorable (cf. memorabile). There is also the additional irony that the issue of theodicy, which Virgil raises in the proem (the implication of his question to the Muse is that Juno’s actions are not just, given Aeneas’ outstanding pietas), here recurs in a slightly different key, insofar as it registers negatively. Juno does not seem interested in justice at all. For her, this is a matter of power and the pursuit of selfish interests. She does not remonstrate with Venus that Dido suffers unfairly. Rather, she mocks her counterpart for a cheap victory. The difference between the human and the divine perspective is telling: mortals have much at stake in the justice of the gods; the gods themselves, however, arguably nothing.

95: una dolo diuum si femina uicta duorum est: The protasis of the explanatory si-clause here comes after the apodosis (refertis). Juno points out that Dido never had a chance, whether in terms of ontology and gender (a mortal femina vs. immortal diui) or number (two against one: Virgil stresses the contrast by placing una and duorum at either end of the verse). As Conington observes: ‘The words are chosen so as to be as sarcastic as possible; the triumph is of two over one, of gods over a mortal, and that not even a man but a woman.’133 Austin notes the intricate, antithetical design: ‘una contrasted with duorum, dolo paired with victa and completing its sense, divum contrasted with femina.’134 The phrase dolo diuum… duorum (an ablative of means) is nicely held together by alliteration and homoioteleuton of the genitive phrase (-um), though duorum elides with est.

96–97: nec me adeo fallit ueritam te moenia nostra/ suspectas habuisse domos Karthaginis altae: fallit (impersonal, to be construed with me: ‘It does not escape me…’) introduces an indirect statement, with te as subject accusative and habuisse as infinitive; domos (with suspectas in predicative position: ‘in suspicion’) is the accusative object of habuisse. ueritam is a circumstantial participle agreeing with te (you, in fear of…), taking moenia nostra as accusative object. With the phrasing moenia nostra… domos Karthaginis altae Juno co-opts for Carthage what Virgil, in the proem, marked out as the destiny of Rome: the telos of Aeneas’ efforts (even though he doesn’t build them himself) are the altae moenia Romae at 1.7 (‘the walls of high Rome’). In both passages, we are dealing with a so-called transferred epithet: the attribute altus would go more naturally with another noun (moenia or domos) than the one it modifies grammatically (Romae or Karthaginis), though the transference invites us to think of, literally, ‘high walls’ and of, figuratively, ‘exalted Rome or Carthage.’ It is a nice touch that in the formulation Juno here ‘pinches’ from Virgil, the transference does not work so well: ‘high’ is much better suited as an attribute of ‘walls’ than of ‘homes’. Juno’s Carthage thus emerges as an inferior alternative, a perverse rival to Rome also on the stylistic level. That Juno mentions moenia (modified by the proud-possessive-protective nostra) in the same breath arguably highlights her rhetorical gaffe. But we may pardon the goddess for not being in top form, given her state of emotional distress: after all, the fear of Carthage she here projects onto Venus (ueritam te…), she herself suffers from because of Rome (cf. 1.23: id metuens [sc. Iuno], with id refering to the future destruction of Carthage by the Romans).

98: sed quis erit modus, aut quo nunc certamine tanto?: Juno has reached the mid point of her speech; after her sarcastic opening and confrontational ‘the game’s up: I know what this is all about’, she changes tack. In a more conciliatory vein, she begins to question the point and purpose of the scheming, enquiring into the limit of what she considers an excessive use of divine force. She then poses, in a sentence that fittingly lacks a verb such as tendimus, the open-ended question what all that strife and meddling is supposed to achieve: ‘whither (quo) now [do we go from here] in this rivalry (certamine tanto)?’ These are good questions, as Juno here picks up on a potential flaw in Venus’ machinations: what precisely is Venus trying to achieve by driving Dido into erotic insanity? Yes, ensuring a friendly welcome for Aeneas was important; but one would have thought that Venus’ ultimate goal (getting Rome underway) would have been better served by a more reserved type of hospitality so that Aeneas and his men could be back on their way to Italy soon. As it turns out, the reduction of Dido to a state of hopeless passion is now derailing the founding of two great cities: Carthage and Rome. Juno, for her own selfish interests to be sure, tries to offer a way out of the deadlock. (More generally speaking, Venus has seemingly gained very little from unleashing the powers of her son to the fullest extent or even caused significant damage: not only has she further delayed Aeneas on his travels; the tragic break-up and ensuing hatred, resulting in a vicious curse further empowered by Dido’s suicide, cause much suffering for Aeneas and Rome in the future. She of course knows, after her consultation with Jupiter, that matters will turn out well in the end: imperium sine fine and all that. But in the form of Hannibal especially, Dido’s wrath will continue to haunt her Romans, almost bringing them to their knees.)

99–100: quin potius pacem aeternam pactosque hymenaeos/ exercemus?: Juno concludes the first half of her speech with an open-ended question, suggesting to Venus how immoderate and pointless her attack on Dido has been so far (see above on 98); and she opens up the second half of her speech with a concrete proposal, which she casts as a question—though note that quin (‘why don’t we…?’) introduces questions ‘equivalent to commands or exhortations’: OLD s.v. A1. Juno wraps her offer to Venus in impressive rhetoric: pacem aeternam pactosque hymenaeos is chiastic in terms of grammar (noun: adjective; adjective: noun). Further links between the two phrases include a figura etymologica reinforced by alliteration in pacem ~ pactos (which comes from paciscor, ‘to negotiate, agree on, settle’) and the assonance ae-, -nae- in aeternam and hymenaeos.

100–101: habes tota quod mente petisti:/ ardet amans Dido traxitque per ossa furorem: petisti = petiuisti. Juno pretends that Venus’ scheming does not extend beyond making Dido fall madly in love with Aeneas and that she therefore has achieved everything she ever desired. (Cf. tota… mente; the placement of tota outside the relative clause into which it belongs emphasizes the comprehensive wish-fulfillment that Juno, in an act of strategic incomprehension, projects onto Venus.) per ossa harks back to both uenis (4.2) and, especially, medullas (4.66). Note the husteron proteron in line 101: Juno first foregrounds that Dido is ‘on fire’ with love (cf. ardet in the exposed front position), before stating the cause: she has drawn in the insane passion through her bones.

102–103: communem hunc ergo populum paribusque regamus/ auspiciis: regamus is an exhortative subjunctive (‘let us rule’). the -que links communem (in the predicative position, modifying populum) and paribus auspiciis. The two phrases indicate how Juno intends to rule with Venus, namely ‘together and sharing power equally’, with communem identifying the basic principle (‘jointly’) and paribus auspiciis specifying the precise terms (‘equally’). What looks like a generous proposal is in fact both insidious (communem) and deeply problematic in terms of practical arrangement (paribus auspiciis). The Scholia Danielis (cited by Pease135) put the finger on the problem by asking whether communem means that Juno offers Venus joint rule of her city Carthage or that Tyrians and Trojans will have merged into one populus. The former of course all but implies the latter: a joint rule of the two goddesses will ultimately result in a joint people. Juno never spells this out (she only mentions marriage of their two princely and principal charges), but in effect she here suggests for Carthage what has been pre-scripted for Italy: the ethnic merging of the Trojan refugees with the indigenous population. In other words, she here again plots to derail fatum and the founding of Rome. paribus auspiciis too is far from unproblematic. Auspicium is, in the first instance, ‘the practice of augury from the behaviour of birds’ or ‘information about the future gleaned from the behaviour of birds’, but also refers more generally to the legitimate power invested in a Roman general: ‘the commander-in-chief alone had authority to take the auspicia, in virtue of his imperium, and so the auspicia could themselves be regarded as a symbol of imperium.’136 There is considerable humour in the fact that Juno, a goddess, uses a technical term of Rome’s civic religion that refers to a practice designed to figure out the will of the gods. Taken literally, with paribus auspiciis Juno proposes that each goddess has to consult the other on anything before taking any action and that the opinion of each has exactly equal weight. It is an interesting question of how they would have worked this in practice. Rome’s political culture was quite good at sharing power: for instance, when both consuls were together on campaign, the right to take auspices (and decide on a course of action) alternated between them on a daily basis. But this sort of collegial arrangement is fraught with problems and can break down easily (Eteocles and Polynices also initially agreed to rule in alternating years: we all know what happened at the moment the regime was supposed to change hands for the first time), and one wonders whether it would have been practicable here. In Augustan Rome, especially, after a century of civil bloodshed had proven the difficulty of sharing power, the mode of government that Juno evokes with communem and paribus auspiciis would probably have been deemed doomed to failure. ‘Yet this fake deal also test runs the solution for Rome—Italia in the Aeneid’s finale AND the way that models of mutual treaty and partial/ phased/ wholesale incorporation developed within Italy in history; in Virgil’s day, the challenge was how to project civil relations out to communities outside Italy (such as Roman Carthage). Juno wouldn’t be the only one fudging and manoeuvering over this politics, in Rome or in other centres. No doubt you have to get past hate to make any of it work; one way to do that is to agree to treat the past and its conflicts as tragedy, as miscommunication, as cock-up’ (Henderson, per litteras).

103–104: liceat Phrygio seruire marito/ dotalisque tuae Tyrios permittere dextrae: Dido, the subject of liceat (‘let her/ may she…’), is otherwise effaced; the -que links seruire and permittere; dotalis (in predicative position) continues the idea of marito and modifies Tyrios—‘to hand over the Tyrians to your right hand as dowry.’ Juno here introduces the human analogue to the divine power-sharing she proposed previously: the linking of Dido and Aeneas in wedlock. She seems here to assume that the purpose of Venus’ intervention was to have Dido fall in love with Aeneas to get them married and now playacts as if she is willing to go along with the plan—however bitter it may be. When she utters the phrase Phrygio seruire marito she is best imagined as spitting in disgust: her queen (regina) and leader (dux), and thus also herself, enslaved—and to an effeminate, ‘slavish’ Phrygian on top! (Given that ‘Phrygian’ is a stock Roman term for ‘slave’, Juno phrases her irritation by means of a striking paradox: I am willing, she says, to enslave my Dido to a slave.)137 But the show of contempt, apart from being presumably genuine, also has a rhetorical point: Juno hams it up to show how much she is (apparently) yielding.

105–114: Venus’ reply

105–107 contain some authorial comments on what Venus is thinking. Her speech falls into three parts:

107–109: a conciliatory opening which, however, already introduces a touch of reservation in the si-clause.

110–112: explicit articulation of doubts: Jupiter may not be willing to go along with Juno’s proposal.

113–114: exhortation to Juno that it is her responsibility to solve that problem; reiteration of her willingness to go along with Juno’s plan.

It is noteworthy that Venus here brings into play two categories that go right to the heart of Virgil’s theology of history and how his characters position themselves and their experiences within a wider, temporal horizon: fortuna (109) and fata (112). Dido conceives of herself as a figure under the sway of fickle fortune (see esp. 1.628–29, with its striking reminiscences of the proem: me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores/ iactatam hac demum uoluit consistere terra ‘Me, too, has a like fortune driven through many toils, and willed to find rest at last in this land’), whereas Aeneas is of course a figure of fate. As Quint has pointed out, the Aeneid tends to associate the losers of history with fortuna and the winners with fatum; but in aesthetic terms the tragic figures of fortune arguably prevail over the characters who carry destiny on their shoulders: ‘Fortune denotes short-term contingency as opposed to the historical long run that is Fate. History’s losers only have the short term and must make the most of it. Their fortunes become personalized, allowing for the assertion of selfhood and the willfulness that make Dido and Turnus the most vivid characters in the poem.’138

[Extra information: Some of the formulations in this passage recall the encounter between Hera and Aphrodite (the Greek counterparts of Juno and Venus) in Iliad 14, where Hera approaches Aphrodite to borrow her girdle of erotic desire so she can lull her husband into a post-coital slumber in order to abet the Greeks. (Since Aphrodite of course favours the Trojans, Hera tells her a cock-and-bull story about needing the girdle to reconcile the estranged couple of Oceanus and Tethys.) Venus’ references to factum, fortuna, and fata are similar to her musings on fate and wish- fulfilment at Iliad 14.194–96:

Ἥρη πρέσβα θεὰ θύγατερ μεγάλοιο Κρόνοιο
αὔδα ὅ τι φρονέεις· τελέσαι δέ με θυμὸς ἄνωγεν,
εἰ δύναμαι τελέσαι γε καὶ εἰ τετελεσμένον ἐστίν.

‘Hera, reverent goddess, daughter of great Cronos, speak what is on your mind; the heart bids me to fulfil it, if fulfil it I can, and if it is something that has fulfilment.’

telos, which means ‘end’, ‘purpose’, or ‘final cause’ (from which comes teleology), is a Greek equivalent to fatum. After Hera has taken up this invitation to speak and has voiced her request, Aphrodite replies in language that has affinities with Venus’ conciliatory opening gambit at Aeneid 4.107–09 as well as her subsequent point that Juno is Jupiter’s husband and ought to put the case to him. See Iliad 14.211–13:

Τὴν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπε φιλομειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη·
οὐκ ἔστ’ οὐδὲ ἔοικε τεὸν ἔπος ἀρνήσασθαι·
Ζηνὸς γὰρ τοῦ ἀρίστου ἐν ἀγκοίνῃσιν ἰαύεις.

Laughter-loving Aphrodite answered her: it is not to be nor is it seemly that I say no to your speech; for you sleep in the arms of Zeus the mightiest.

Bear in mind Aphrodite’s ornamental epithet ‘laughter-loving’ (φιλομειδὴς). She will do it justice in Virgil at 128 below; and unlike in Homer, she is not to be deceived.]

105–107: Olli (sensit enim simulata mente locutam,/ quo regnum Italiae Libycas auerteret oras)/ sic contra est ingressa Venus: olli is an archaic form of illi, which Virgil had already used of Venus addressed by Jupiter at 1.254 (olli subridens hominum sator atque deorum…): ‘We are reminded of that conversation about the Roman future, as Venus conceals from Juno the knowledge that she has learned from it’.139 Virgil may have opted for these archaizing touches to suggest divine gravity. sensit introduces an indirect statement; the subject accusative (eam, sc. Juno) is elided, just like the esse that completes locutam. quo introduces a purpose clause (‘in order to’). The subject of auerteret is Juno; in prose, the accusative of direction Libycas oras would normally have taken the preposition ad. The chiastic design of regnum Italiae Libycas oras stylistically underscores the intended redirection, with the two geographical markers juxtaposed in the centre and Italy yielding to Libya (note the homoioteleuton -cas, -ras).

107–109: ‘quis talia demens/ abnuat aut tecum malit contendere bello,/ si modo quod memoras factum fortuna sequatur?: talia refers to the terms that Juno is offering. abnuat and malit are present subjunctives. Since Iliad 1, nodding (ab-nuat) is a trademarked way of Olympian divinities to signal assent (or as here dissent) from above. See also 1.250 (Venus addressing Jupiter): nos, tua progenies, caeli quibus adnuis arcem… (‘but we, your offspring, to whom you grant the citadel of heaven…’). After Juno’s second speech, Venus indeed adnuit (128). When Venus asks quis… demens (‘who is so insane as to…’) a wry smile may well play around her lips given that Dido has just been diagnosed as demens (78). bello picks up Juno’s certamine tanto (98), but drops any hint of euphemism: Venus recognizes that she must choose between Juno’s proposal or outright warfare. The way she wriggles out of this dilemma is deft indeed: the rhetorical question introduced by quis implies the negative answer (‘no-one is so mad as to pick a fight with you, Juno’) that Juno wants to hear, but Venus instantly if surreptitiously qualifies her apparent consent by adding a si-clause (si modo = utinam: ‘if only’), in which she feigns concern that fortune, despite her hopes, may not favour the course of action (factum) that Juno has in mind (quod memoras). factum, the ‘antecedent’ of quod, is placed after the relative clause, generating an ironic juxtaposition, reinforced by alliteration, of factum and fortuna: by itself factum, the perfect participle of facere, signifies a deed or action that has already happened (‘a fact’), but together with the preceding relative clause it refers to a ‘planned action’, i.e. something in the future. And while in other contexts divinities operate on the principle of dictum factum (‘no sooner said than done’), here Venus reminds Juno that in principle the future is contingent insofar as it requires the smile of fickle fortuna to actually come about—’in principle’, since she by now knows full well that the future of Rome is no longer up for negotiation, but pre- scripted, and hence, in its essentials, removed from the realm of fortune. In other words, Venus knows very well that what Juno here plans will never become a factum. To some degree Virgil, the retrospective prophet, has eliminated contingency from his literary universe, tracing a story that is in outline historically predetermined—which in this case means that Juno will not be able to shape history the way she wants. With her maliciously double-layered and disingenuous gesture to fortuna, Venus reminds Juno that the successful execution of her scheme is not entirely up to them, but also secretly mocks her antagonist in the full knowledge that her scheming will be in vain.

110: sed fatis incerta feror si…: as Pease notes ‘the grammatical construction of fatis is hard to explain.’140 One possibility is to take fatis with feror (note the alliteration), i.e. ‘I am carried along by the fates’ (giving Juno the impression that she bows to the destiny her counterpart has determined), with incerta (perhaps to be understood in a concessive sense) setting up the si-clause, i.e. ‘(even though) uncertain, whether…’ One could, perhaps, also take fatis with incerta: ‘uncertain of the fates, I am carried along (by your proposal, not knowing) whether…’—although ‘we lack other cases of such an ablative dependent upon incertus, our nearest analogy perhaps being the ablative with callidus and peritus’.141 It is maybe best to take fatis with the entire phrase incerta feror, in the sense of ‘as someone ignorant of destiny I am carried along by it.’ The syntactical ambiguity involving fatis (which is in itself an irony to savour: grammatical indeterminancy around a concept that signifies predetermination) is thematically fitting: Venus is trying to be evasive, and well she might. That she is carried along by the fates is true enough (who isn’t), but that she is ignorant of either the fates or Jupiter’s will is a bald-faced lie: in Aeneid 1, she visited Jupiter who assured her that the fata would remained unmoved. See esp. 257–58 (Jupiter speaking): ‘parce metu, Cytherea: manent immota tuorum/ fata tibi…’ (‘Spare your fears, Lady of Cythera; the fates of your kin remain unmoved…’). What is more, he also revealed that even Juno would eventually come round to favouring her ‘race’ (gens): see 1.279–82. To be knowledgeable of the future sure is a nice position to be in: here, her superior insight into the fata enables Venus to be simultaneously smug and coy.

110–112: si Iuppiter unam/ esse uelit Tyriis urbem Troiaque profectis,/ misceriue probet populos aut foedera iungi: the -que after Troia links Tyriis and (Troia) profectis (‘those, who have departed from Troy’) the -ue after misceriue links uelit and probet, the aut coordinates misceri and iungi. The binary phrasing (Tyriis & Troia profectis; uelit & probet; misceri & iungi) and the different types of connectives (-que, -ue, aut) mirrors on the formal level both the theme of the si-clause (the potential merger of Tyrians and Trojans) and Venus’ simulated uncertainty about the precise terms of such a merger. Venus’ train of thought proceeds from the city (unam: ‘one only’, ‘a single one’), that is to be shared by Tyrians and Trojans (the datives Tyriis… Troiaque profectis refer to the respective origins of the ethnic communities of Dido, i.e. the people from Tyre in Phoenicia, and of Aeneas, i.e. those who departed from Troy), to an inevitable consequence of this sharing: some sort of merger or bond between the two peoples. Venus invokes two models: a ‘biological’ one (misceri), and a legal one (foedera iungi). She thereby signals awareness of two different ways of conceiving of a socio-political entity, nicely contrasted by means of the chiasmus (a) misceri (b) populos (b) foedera (a) iungi: as an ‘ethnic’ community, in which the members are thought to be linked by intermarriage and blood-descent, or as a ‘civic’ alliance, in which the members participate on the basis of some sort of legal- contractual arrangement (such as citizenship). The two are of course not mutually exclusive. Here the merger of two peoples is only mooted as a hypothetical possibility; but the theme dominates the second half of the Aeneid, which revolves around the merging of Trojans and Latins, again at the level of a royal couple (Aeneas and Lavinia) and two entire peoples. There, too, Virgil uses both ethnic and legal terminology to describe the union. (See e.g. 12.191: foedera). An idiosyncratic notion of Roman ethnicity also informs Virgil’s reconfiguration of the populus Romanus as gens Romana (uel Iulia): see note on 4: gentis honos.

113–114: tu coniunx [sc. Iouis es], tibi fas [sc. est] animum temptare precando./ perge, sequar: another guileful utterance: as Virgil’s readers know full well from Book 1, Venus has no scruples whatsoever to approach Jupiter and ask him for ressurance and support.142 Venus’ use of fas is another instance of a divinity bandying about Roman religious terminology: the term refers to divinely sanctioned law, and Venus hilariously implies that her accosting Jupiter would constitute an instance of nefas (something that is prohibited by religious law). She effectively shifts full responsibility for the success of the plan onto Juno (who has a notoriously stormy relationship with her husband), rhetorically underscoring her devious proposal with the solemn and emphatic polyptoton tu ~ tibi and the laconic exhortation and promise that concludes her speech (perge, sequar).

114: tum sic excepit regia Iuno: the phrasing recalls 107: sic contra est ingressa Venus; now Juno takes over (cf. excepit) again. The epithet regia underscores her superior position in the Olympic hierarchy anew and has proleptic force: the opening of her speech is marked by ‘royal’ pomposity and self-importance.

115–27: Juno’s second speech

After briefly dealing with Venus’ speech, Juno proceeds to outline her plan for getting Aeneas and Dido into wedlock. The speech is well-structured, but there is a slight shift from measured exposition, where sections come to a close at the end of a verse, to a more animated, enjambed mode of speech that matches Juno’s mounting excitement as she works up to the triumphant finale in line 127: hic hymenaeus erit:

115–116: Preamble, consisting of a reply to Venus’ concerns and an exhortation designed to ensure Venus’ full attention (2 lines).
117–119: Description of the context in which the goddesses should strike: Aeneas and Dido go hunting (3 lines).
120–122: Juno’s interference: she plans to conjure up a storm (3 lines).
123–125a: The consequences: everyone scatters, and Dido and Aeneas, all by themselves, seek shelter in a cave (2+ lines).
125b–127a: Bingo: Juno will see to sex and marriage (2+ lines).

115–116: ‘mecum erit iste labor. nunc qua ratione quod instat/ confieri possit, paucis (aduerte) docebo: Juno reacts to Venus’ feigned doubts and duplicitous humility with some reassuring verbal strutting: mecum erit iste labor means something akin to ‘Don’t you worry, I’ll take care of that!’ Her use of the future tense (erit) is telling. She has absolutely no intention to consult with Jupiter any time soon. Far from clearing her plan with her husband beforehand, she clearly intends to let him know only after the liasion between Dido and Aeneas is already a fait accompli (if at all: in the end he finds out about what is going on from his son Iarbas). The tone is both matey and dismissive, as Juno instantly moves on. With nunc her attitude changes as she sets out methodically (qua ratione) and briefly (paucis) what the two goddesses ought to do on their own and right away (quod instat, contrasting with iste labor). There might be a touch of the ‘schoolmistress’143 about the way she speaks, but I wonder whether the imperative aduerte is really ‘peremptory’ ‘as if Venus might not be paying attention’144: such an aggressive stance could backfire. Perhaps Juno is rather being chummy and conspiratorial?

117–119: uenatum Aeneas unaque miserrima Dido/ in nemus ire parant, ubi primos crastinus ortus/ extulerit Titan radiisque retexerit orbem: uenatum is the accusative of the supine, expressing purpose (‘in order to…’) with a verb of motion (ire). The -a of una scans long: it is an adverb meaning ‘together with’. Juno mentions Aeneas only by his bare name, without ornamental epithet, whereas Dido receives an attribute in the superlative (for a similar snide innuendo see line 124). But what is the force of miserrima, which recalls and stands in implicit contrast to the pulcherrima Virgil uses elsewhere)? Is it an expression of pity (‘my poor, love-sick Dido’)—or contempt (‘that Dido, love-sick to the hilt’)? Is it accusatory, directed against Venus (‘Dido, whom you have reduced to such a sorry state of wretchedness’)? Or is it proleptic, as the Scholia Danielis would have it: ‘Dido—most wretched in that she is about to lose her reputation for chaste loyalty to her dead husband and has to enter into wedlock with that Phrygian cast-away of yours’? The ubi-sentence is an elaborate and memorable way of saying ‘tomorrow at sunrise’: primos modifies ortus, and crastinus modifies Titan (= Sol), which produces an interlaced patterning of a1 (adjective: primos) a2 (adjective: crastinus) b1 (noun: ortus) c (verb, placed in enjambment) b2 (noun: Titan). extulerit Titan radiisque retexerit features alliteration (ra-, re-), assonance (ex-, -tex-; -tu-, Ti-, -ta-), and homoioteleuton (-erit, -erit). The -que links extulerit and retexerit. Usually it is the narrator who establishes the setting with evocative descriptions (cf. 4.6–7 above), so this underscores Juno’s powers: she is here taking control of Virgil’s narrative. What follows is her plot: here she outlines what she will then proceed to put into practice, in what amounts to giving Venus (and Virgil’s readers) an advanced ‘performance script’ that allows us to appraise later on how well she manages to execute her plan.

120–122: his ego nigrantem commixta grandine nimbum,/ dum trepidant alae saltusque indagine cingunt,/ desuper infundam et tonitru caelum omne ciebo: after a sneak-preview of the day’s divertissements, Juno moves on to an elaborate weather forecast. The hyperbaton of subject (120: ego) and accusative object (120: nigrantem… nimbum) and the corresponding verb (122: infundam) is as big as Juno’s ego. The word order of nigrantem commixta grandine nimbum is iconic: the hail is contained within the black cloud. In Book 1, Juno enlisted Aeolus to unleash a storm. In Book 7, she will enlist the Fury Allecto to unleash hell on earth. The thunderstorm here is her own creation, and while the imagery is impressive (both here and when Virgil describes the actual event), the spot of bad weather pales in comparison to the cosmic upheaval caused by the winds and the fury: despite her grandiose rhetoric, the passage also underscores the limits of Juno’s powers.

121: dum trepidant alae saltusque indagine cingunt: after Juno has spoken of gathering her black cloud, she effectively delays how she will unleash it with a retarding dum-clause. alae are the hunters on horseback who ‘bustle’ (trepidant) about to stir up the game and, in doing so, form a circle around the hunting grounds. indago, -inis, f. means ‘a ring of huntsmen or nets thrown round a wood, etc., to prevent the escape of game’: OLD s.v. 1a.

122: desuper infundam et tonitru caelum omne ciebo: after the delay, desuper marks a startling return to the weather. Juno plans to underscore her deluge with a suitable soundtrack that will rattle heaven. Note the two elisions infundam et and caelum omne, giving metrical support to the theme of pouring rain and resounding thunder.

[Extra information: what causes thunderstorms? They are frightening, and are often taken as a means of the gods to communicate with humans. To combat this notion, Lucretius, in the final book of his De Rerum Natura, an account of the world grounded in Epicurean physics (Epicurus was an atomist who dismissed divine interference in human affairs as noxious superstition), devotes a lengthy discussion of what natural phenomena might cause thunderstorms, trying to dispel any irrational fear of them. Some of the language is quite close: with Virgil’s phrase caelum ciere, cf. e.g. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 6.376:… tempestasque cietur turbida caelo.]

123: nocte tegentur opaca: again an iconic arrangement, in which the phrase nocte… opaca in framing/ embracing does to the verb what the verb means: ‘they will be covered by dark night.’

124–125: speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem/ deuenient: the hyberbaton of speluncam… eandem is a beautiful case of iconic word order: Dido and Aeneas will end up inside the same cave, just as the noun and the attribute ‘embrace’ the pair in the verse. The postponed et has a double effect: (a) it generates the momentary impression that Dido is the dux (an effect reinforced by alliteration); and (b) it separates the adjective that identifies Aeneas (Troianus) from the noun that indicates his leadership abilities (dux). Both the elevation of Dido and the slighting of Aeneas that the word order entails are of course fully in line with how the speaker (Juno) sees matters more generally. The postponed et thus underpins a beautifully subtle piece of ethopoiea. (The use of dux here also harks back to 1.364, where Venus, after recounting Dido’s departure from Tyre, notes: dux femina facti—a challenging formulation that gives Dido a masculine role.) deuenient, effectively placed in enjambment, is in the future indicative. On the diaeresis after deuenient see Austin: ‘the pause is effective; Juno waits a moment to let Venus appreciate her plot to the full.’145

125–127: adero et, tua si mihi certa uoluntas,/ conubio iungam stabili propriamque dicabo; hic hymenaeus erit: Juno captures her own involvement in a tricolon: aderoiungamdicabo; the verb of the si-clause (est) is elided. conubio iungam stabili is another instance of mimetic word- order and verse-design reinforcing meaning: iungam is placed between and hence ‘links’ conubio and stabili. Some have suspected line 126 here as a repetition of 1.73, where Juno promises one of her nymphs to Aeolus, in return for unleashing the sea-storm that was supposed to sink Aeneas’ fleet. But the re-use may also be part of Virgil’s characterization of Juno: to cause chaos and thwart fate she resorts to the resources that she has at her disposal as the goddess of marriage. At the same time, the comparison with 1.73 illustrates the irregular nature of Juno’s plan. In Book 1, Juno gives Aeolus the following promise (71–73):

Sunt mihi bis septem praestanti corpore nymphae,
quarum quae forma pulcherrima, Deiopea,
conubio iungam stabili propriamque dicabo.146

[I have fourteen nymphs of outstanding beauty, of whom I shall link who is most beautiful in appearance, Deiopea, [to you] in stable wedlock and will give her over [to you] as your own.]

Since Juno addresses Aeolus, tibi is easily understood with iungam and dicabo. In Book 4, however, matters are less clear. Juno obviously intends to link Dido and Aeneas in wedlock and will give over Dido to Aeneas as his own. But the person whom she addresses here, as the equivalent to Aeolus, is Venus. The awkward syntax thus continues her policy of marginalizing and eliding the Trojan hero, and it even generates an interesting ambiguity: is she giving over Dido to Aeneas or to his mother Venus (or both)?

The fuzziness of Juno’s discourse continues to the very end. What initially may look like a sharp and unambiguous punchline—hic hymenaeus erit—is anything but: does she mean ‘Hymenaeus [i.e. the god of wedding] will be here [hic = adverb]’? Or does she mean ‘This [hic = demonstrative pronoun] will be their marriage’? The former reading seems feeble; but if the meaning is supposed to be the latter, the use of the singular hymenaeus is unusual. (In the singular, hymenaeus tends to mean ‘wedding song’.) The lack of precision may be Virgil’s way of having Juno drawing unwittingly attention to the dodginess of her plan.

127–128: non aduersata petenti/ adnuit atque dolis risit Cytherea repertis: Cytherea is one of Venus’ cult titles, deriving from the worship she received on the Aegean island of Cythera. Venus, of course, is not fooled by the peace offer and sees through Juno’s guile. But she is quite happy to play along. Recent commentators (Pease, Austin, Maclennan, O’Hara) are unanimous in taking dolis… repertis to mean something akin to ‘after Juno’s guile had been discovered’ (ablative absolute) or ‘(she smiled) at Juno’s guile discovered’ (as ablative object with ridere). But this interpretation yields a feeble sense: already after Juno’s first speech, which ended with the proposal of marriage, Virgil tells us that Venus was not fooled for a second (105: sensit [sc. Venus] enim simulata mente locutam…), so why would he repeat this point here, as if Venus had not seen through Juno all along and only discovered her treacherous intentions now? True, Juno’s second speech lays out her precise strategy, but that in itself is a problem: what Venus has just learned is not so much that Juno is deceitful, but how she intends to put deceit into practice. And this is exactly what makes Venus smile: she laughs at the trickery that Juno has devised (for reperio in the sense of ‘to make up, devise, intent’, see OLD s.v. 6). Why should she? Well, the goddess of erotic desire can hardly keep a straight face when the goddess of lawful marriage engineers a romp in a cave that is to be dressed up as a legitimate wedding (though it will be anything but). Moreover, Venus knows full well that this sexual encounter may just prove disastrous for Dido (as it does)—and thus further Aeneas’ destiny, getting him back on the road to Rome. It is an insidious, even perverse sense of humour that Venus puts on display here—but perfectly in character.147