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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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(I. 437)

Dido is building a temple to Juno. (Remember that Carthage is Juno's favorite city.) Its walls are covered with paintings of the Trojan War. Aeneas is amazed and cries at the sight of all his old friends, but it also makes him feel at home. While he's studying each scene, Dido arrives, dressed in gold and followed by her servants. Right behind her, Aeneas sees the comrades he thought had drowned in the storm. Dido kindly assures the Trojans that they are welcome in her kingdom.

At this, Aeneas's cloud melts and he is revealed, looking godlike with the sun shining on his hair and armor. He thanks Dido graciously and greets his lost men.

Dido orders a great feast to celebrate, and things seem to be looking up for the Trojans. But Venus still isn't satisfied. She knows that Carthage is Juno's favorite city and she's afraid that Juno may make Dido turn against Aeneas. So Venus invents a scheme. She has Cupid, the god of love, dress like Ascanius (Aeneas' son) while she puts the real Ascanius to sleep. Cupid's mission is to infect Dido with a "blazing passion" for Aeneas so that Juno won't be able to influence Dido against him.


The scheme works. Dido can't take her eyes off the little boy-or Aeneas, either. It becomes very late but Dido is enjoying herself so much that she won't let anyone go to bed. She begs Aeneas to tell his story-from the beginning. He agrees. In Books II and III we'll hear what he has to say.

NOTE:

You are familiar with the pictures of Cupid with his bow and arrow on Valentine's Day cards. That's exactly what Virgil had in mind with this scene. Although we think that love develops inside a person, Dido is "wounded" by love that comes from outside herself. She can't help it. Keep this image of a wound in mind; you'll see it again in Book IV. Note also how Dido's passion is described as a fire. That's also an important image you'll see again. These violent, destructive images suggest that this love affair may not have a happy ending.


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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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