Dido bids farewell to Aeneas

(Virgil, Aeneid XX, xxx ff.)

Dido soon discovers that Aeneas plans on leaving her to embark on his voyage. She begs him to stay with her in Carthage, but he explains that his departure is the will of the gods. Dido is furious and feels she has been cheated and made a fool. Aeneas feels miserable and guilty – in his heart he knows she is right, but he cannot escape the task the gods have assigned him.

Dido weeps at this betrayal, while the ships get ready to sail in the background.

Realising she has lost Aeneas for good, she devises a shocking plan. She builds a pyre in her palace courtyard to burn all that reminded her of Aeneas, including the weapons and clothes he left behind. As Aeneas and his Trojans set sail under cover of night, the dark skies above Carthage suddenly light up with the flames that consume Dido. The wind carries her last words across the water: a curse on Aeneas and his people. Carthage and Rome are forever doomed to become each other’s mortal enemies.

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