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Transcript of Evaluating Dido
A Changed Figure
How does Dido change between her introduction in Book 1 and the end of Book 4?
Identify her characteristics and qualities and support them with evidence from the text, preferably in sequential order.
A Tragic Figure?
The Tragic genre borrows much from the Homeric epic, and Virgil would have been familiar with both styles.
To what extent can Dido be considered a tragic figure?
Do you think her plight is less effective than if it was presented in a tragic play?
To what extent does Virgil evoke sympathy for Dido, and by extension, Carthage in The Aeneid?
How would this be accepted in Augustus' Rome?
Dark Wings, Dark Words
Rumour is quick of foot and swift on the wing, a huge and horrible monster, and under
every feather of her body, strange to tell, there lies an eye that never sleeps, a mouth
and a tongue that are never silent and an ear always pricked. By night she flies
between earth and sky, squawking through the darkness, and never lowers her eyelids
in sweet sleep. By day she keeps watch perched on the tops of gables or on high
towers and causes fear in great cities, holding fast to her lies and distortions as often as
she tells the truth. At that time she was taking delight in plying the tribes with all manner
of stories, fact and fiction mixed in equal parts: how Aeneas the Trojan had come to
Carthage and the lovely Dido had thought fit to take him as her husband; how they were
even now indulging themselves and keeping each other warm the whole winter through,
forgetting about their kingdoms and becoming the slaves of lust. When the foul
goddess had spread this gossip all around on the lips of men, she then steered her
course to king Iarbas to set his mind alight and fuel his anger.
Virgil, Aeneid 4, 180–197
The Union in The Cave
How far does Virgil present the union in the cave as a romantic moment or as a moment of tension and fear?
Support your argument with both reference to the text and Roman values.
01 Who is Iarbas (line 13)? (
02 What have Aeneas and Dido done immediately before Rumour sets out? Make two points. (
03 What instructions does Jupiter give to Mercury after Iarbas prays to Jupiter? Give two details. (
04 In this passage, how effectively does Virgil portray the power of Rumour? (
...by 29 BC Augustus was willing to resuscitate it [Julius Caesar's plan to rebuild and colonise Carthage]. From its inception the new city was clearly meant to impress. The street plan was set out with a regularity that was unusually exact even for a Roman city. Each block measured 120 by 480 Roman feet (35.5 by 142 metres), making up precisely one hundredth of the original Roman land allotment.46 The administrative and religious centre of the new foundation was built on top of the Byrsa, the heart of the old Punic city. The summit of the hill was now crowned by a series of magnificent monumental buildings and grand spaces, including a huge civic basilica, temples and a forum. This dramatic reshaping of the physical landscape, and the construction of a new (Roman) religious and administrative topography, proclaimed not only the absolute supremacy of Rome, but also the unity which it had brought to once hostile states.47 Thus Carthage was reborn as Colonia Iulia Concordia Carthago, the administrative capital of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis.48 Although other Roman colonies had been named in celebration of the concord restored by the Julian clan, the name of the restored Carthage must have had a particularly powerful resonance for the Roman people.49
Paradoxically, the rebuilding of Carthage involved a far more extensive destruction of the old Punic city than that achieved by Scipio in the previous century. To prepare the terrain for this monumental building project, the entire summit of the hill was levelled, and an enormous rectangular platform was constructed for the city centre. Over 100,000 cubic metres of rubble and earth–the debris created by this enormously ambitious project–were then pushed down the slopes of the Byrsa. By building a system of retaining walls, a series of terraces was created on the sides of the hill, where residential neighbourhoods and other structures would eventually be built. The new city of Roman Carthage managed to proclaim not only the extraordinary powers of concord and reconciliation possessed by the Augustan regime, but also Roman mastery over an alien landscape. Thus Augustus conquered Carthage with the spade and the trowel with a finality that his predecessors had failed to achieve with fire and the sword.