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Barron's Booknotes-The Aeneid by Virgil-Free Book Summary
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(IV. 66-73)

Remember how Dido's love was described as a "wound" in Book I? Here's the same imagery again. Note how Virgil also uses the image of fire. In Book II, Virgil used fire imagery to describe the destructive power of anger and war. Here he uses it to describe how dangerous passionate love can be.

NOTE: The description of Dido as a wounded deer is another epic simile. The hunter was careless; he didn't mean to shoot the deer. Keep this image in mind as you try to decide whether or not Aeneas is responsible for what happens to Dido. Do you think Virgil is hinting that Dido is a victim of Aeneas? Of the gods? Or maybe even of herself?

After her husband was murdered, Dido had vowed never to marry again. Now her sister, Anna, tells her that she's been a widow long enough and that it would be good for Carthage if she married Aeneas. Anna means well, but she's encouraging Dido to make a fatal mistake.

Juno sees what's happening to her favorite queen and quickly devises a plan to help Dido get what she wants-and also to keep the Trojans from reaching Italy. She sweetly suggests to Venus that they should make Aeneas and Dido marry. Venus agrees with this because she knows that Aeneas is fated to reach Italy and that the marriage can never last.

Why doesn't Juno realize this, too? The answer must be that Juno is irrational. That's one of the reasons she's so destructive. She's always fighting the inevitable. The result can only be trouble-even for people she likes, such as Dido.


The next morning the two goddesses carry out their scheme. Aeneas and Dido go hunting with a great crowd of Trojans and Carthaginians. They both look wonderful. Suddenly a huge storm whips up and everyone dashes for shelter. (Remember that storms are one of Juno's favorite tricks.) Aeneas and Dido find themselves in the same cave-alone. What happens next? Virgil is too refined to tell us, but he does say that Dido decides to call this "natural" ceremony a marriage. She's so in love with Aeneas that she forgets her reputation and her position as queen. It's not long before rumors of what's happened spread all over Carthage. Aeneas and Dido spend a wonderful year together but, in the meantime, all the work in Carthage grinds to a halt and the Trojans sit, waiting for directions from their leader.

Finally, Jupiter gets angry at Aeneas for spending so much time in Carthage and avoiding his destiny. He sends Mercury, the messenger of the gods, with a message for Aeneas to get going.

If your own fame and fortune count as nothing, Think of Ascanius at least, whose kingdom In Italy, whose Roman land, are waiting.


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