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

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 This section can be divided into five parts of 2, 12, 6, 12, and 4 lines respectively:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 (a) Introduction

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 54–55: Effect of Anna’s discourse on Dido

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 (b) Efforts to Ensure Divine Support

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 56–64: Dido and Anna endeavour to win the favour of the gods

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 65–67: Dismissal of ‘civic’ religion

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 (c) The Pathology of Love Illustrated

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 68–73: Wounded-hind simile

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 (d) Dido’s Effort to Win over her Beloved

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 74–79: Dido’s behaviour in the company of Aeneas

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 80–85: Dido’s behaviour when apart from Aeneas

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 (e) The Impact of Love on Leadership

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 86–89: Effect of Dido’s condition on the construction of Carthage

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 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.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 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.’[1] 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.’[2] 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 attributein line with the two accusative objects that follow, i.e. spem and pudorem.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 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.’

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 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 markedsee comments on 60and coincides with a shift from entirely appropriate to somewhat inappropriate behaviour. The passage here has a correlate in 450–73.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 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.[3] 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 participlesin contrast to 60–64.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 56: per aras: per conveys the sense that the sisters are making the rounds of the altars, leaving no stone unturned.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 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).

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 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 Junoinvoked as the goddess of marriage: cf. her instantiation as Iuno Iuga, hinted at in the relative clauseit 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)[4], 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).[5] (Unless there was no altar to Venus in the city: but what would that tell us about Carthage?)[6] Perhaps the late-antique commentator Donatus (cited by Pease)[7] 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.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 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, thenand 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) andshackles. 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.’

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 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.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 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.’[8] 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 vignettechoosing a very early stage in the process leading up to the sacrifical killingleaves 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).[9] 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.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 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.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 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’;[10] ‘of walking where it is the walk itself which is important, especially of the solemn gait appropriate to the approach of a temple’.[11] 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.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 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.[12] 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:

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 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.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 [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.]

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 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.[13]

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 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.’[14] In fact, ‘inhio clashes with consulo—improper desire defacing ritual due process’ (Henderson, per litteras).

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 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.[15] O’Hara likes to stress that ‘we cannot see exactly what Dido sees’, which is true enough, but hardly surprising:[16] 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).

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 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.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 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’).[17] 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?].’[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21]

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 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.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 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.[22]

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 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.)

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 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.[23] 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’).[24] 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.

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 Some further points: ‘madness’ has its generic home in tragedy, from which it entered the epic tradition in full force.[25] 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.[26]

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 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?[27]

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 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);[28] 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’).

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 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.[29] 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.’[30]

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 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.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 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).

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 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!’[31]

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 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.’[32] 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.’)

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 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’,[33] Horsfall thinks that Virgil has chosen Crete because the inhabitants of the island were notorious for using poisoned arrows,[34] and Morgan argues that the Cretan setting reminds Virgil’s readers of animals who there find a herbal cure for poisoned arrows.[35] 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.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 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.)[36] 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.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 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.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 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).

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 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 purposeand does so rather successfully.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 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).

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 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…’).

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 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.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 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.’)[37] 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.)

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 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’.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 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’).

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 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.[38] 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.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 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.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 83: illum absens absentem auditque uidetque: the –que after uidet links audit and uidet; the –que after audit is technically speaking redundant.[39] 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.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 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.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 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.[40] 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.

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 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.’[41] 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.’[42] 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.[43]

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 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.[44]

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 87: portusue: the –ue links non … exercet and parant.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 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.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 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.

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 89: aequataque machina caelo: caelo serves as pointer to where the narrative will continue at 90.

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0  

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 [3]
Expressed in Latin the principle is the snappy do ut des, i.e. ‘I give [something] so that you may give [something in return]’—though this precise phrase is not attested in our sources.

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0  

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 [5]
Somewhat ironically, the only parallel passage routinely cited that mentions all three divinities comes from the Pervigilium Veneris (‘The Night-watch of Venus’): Nec Ceres, nec Bacchus absunt, nec poetarum deus (43). But this poem dates to the second or third century AD, and the author may well have fashioned this line with Aeneid 4.58 in mind, which would render the argument circular.

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0  

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 [6]
Terence, at Eun. 732, famously claimed sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus, i.e. without food and drink, love goes frigid, but one wonders what Ceres and Liber here do sine Venere.

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0  

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 [9]
See also his note ad Aen. 6.244. Both are quoted by Pease (1935), p. 138.

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91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 [12]
The cultural logic behind this practice is fascinating and tells us a lot about how the Romans construed their supernatural sphere. An instauratio (‘repetition of a ritual’) could be proactive as well as reactive. If a ritual was clearly disrupted, it could simply be repeated to pre-empt the displeasure of the divinities involved. (A good example is the festival of the Bona Dea in 62, which Clodius allegedly gate-crashed to spy on Caesar’s wife: the priests ordered a repetition.) But it could also be reactive, to deal with cases in which the flaw had gone unnoticed and disaster had struck. instauratio thus enabled the Romans to explain failures and disasters without giving up on their belief in benevolent and supportive divinities. The (retrospective) argument after, say, a military disaster could always be that the rituals performed before the battle had been in some respect flawed (given the complicated rules, slips are easy to posit), meaning that the gods had no reason to lend their support in this particular instance. And a careful repetition of the ritual would ensure a restitution of the pax deorum.

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0  

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 [13]
For those of you who want to learn more about Rome’s civic religion (and Roman religion more generally) Beard, North, and Price (1998) offer a superb account of the material.

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0  

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 [15]
See the excellent website by Eleanor Robson, ‘Sacrificial divination: confirmation by extispicy’, Knowledge and Power, Higher Education Academy (2010) http://knp.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/essentials/sacrificialdivination/, which discusses the practice in ancient Assyria and includes some good illustrative material (including the sketch of a liver).

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0  

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 [16]
O’Hara (2011), p. 27. See also O’Hara (1993), p. 110 and O’Hara (1997), p. 251.

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0  

105 Leave a comment on paragraph 105 0 [19]
See e.g. the fabulations of Austin (1963), p. 44: ‘Virgil means that nothing could really help Dido, for her offerings were no more than lip-service to the gods, and her soothsayers (uates) were powerless to diagnose and heal her mental disorder (furentem). We are not told what the omens were; presumably the vates were satisfied, or perhaps they deliberately produced the favourable signs that Dido so plainly desired; but at least she had formally expiated her fault…, and that was the main thing.’ Are Dido’s offerings really no more than ‘lip-service’? Where are we told of uates trying to diagnose and heal Dido’s mental disorder—or that they interpreted omens, or, indeed, lied about what they saw? And one wonders how and where Dido formally expiated her ‘fault’ (whatever that may be in this context).

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0  

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0 [20]
One haruspex appears in the Aeneid, the venerable Etruscan Tarchon, who backs Aeneas against Turnus. See 8.498 and 11.739. He is a figure quite different from (if genealogically related to) the specialist entrail-inspectors (haruspices) of historical times. For one, Virgil assimilates him to a uates (seer-prophet) by having another figure of privileged insight into the workings of the divine (Euander) note that he sings of fate (8.499: fata canens).

108 Leave a comment on paragraph 108 0  

109 Leave a comment on paragraph 109 0 [21]
The strong line taken here should not obscure that distinguished scholars have argued the opposite case, with reference to further evidence. See e.g. Conington (1884), p. 256, who concedes the force of the parallels at 4.464 and 8.627, before continuing: ‘But the ordinary interpretation, “vatum mentes”, is clearly right, confirmed as it is by Apuleius, Met. 10. 2, “Heu medicorum ignarae mentes”, where the reference is to the powerlessness of physic in the case of love, and by Sil[ius Italicus] 8. 100, “Heu sacri vatum errores”, also an imitation of this passage.’ But are these parallels from other authors really more conclusive than evidence from the Aeneid itself, especially since imitation does not necessarily require slavish imitation? (One should at least entertain the possibility that Apuleius and Silius could have—deliberately or unintentionally—misread Virgil.)

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0  

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0 [22]
For this complication see O’Hara (1990), a book best read in conjunction with the review by Alessandro Schiesaro in Classical Philology 88 (1993), pp. 258–65.

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113 Leave a comment on paragraph 113 0 [23]
See 1.294–96: Furor impius intus/ saeua sedens super arma et centum uinctus aënis/ post tergum nodis fremet horridus ore cruento; ‘within, impious Rage, sitting on savage arms, his hands fast bound behind with a hundred brazen knots, shall roar in the ghastliness of blood-stained lips.’ The reference to the temple of Janus blurs the distinction between external and internal warfare in ways that readers with traditional-republican allegiances would not have appreciated.

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115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0 [24]
Does Virgil thereby imply that his hero is flawed and the killing unjust and unjustified? Or does he want to suggest that at times the maintenance of order and the restitution of justice may require ‘furious’ actions?

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117 Leave a comment on paragraph 117 0 [25]
The standard treatment is Hershkowitz (1998).

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119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0 [26]
See Gildenhard (2011), pp. 324–26, 328–30.

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121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0 [27]
You may enjoy reading W. H. Auden’s poem ‘Secondary Epic’ (1959), which mocks the pretension of Virgil’s uates-persona since it turns him into a retrospective prophet at the service of Augustus and his regime: ‘No, Virgil, no:/ Not even the first of the Romans can learn/ His Roman history in the future tense,/ Not even to serve your political turn;/ Hindsight as foresight makes no sense.’

122 Leave a comment on paragraph 122 0  

123 Leave a comment on paragraph 123 0 [28]
infelix is of course Dido’s standard epithet: apart from here, Virgil also uses it at 1.712, 749; 4.450, 529, 596; and 6.456.

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125 Leave a comment on paragraph 125 0 [29]
In his first simile at 1.148–56, Virgil inverts the conventional dynamics of comparison by using a simile drawn from the socio-political sphere (a mob at the brink of violence calmed down by a senior authority figure) to illustrate events in nature (the winds whipping up a storm being called to order by Neptune).

126 Leave a comment on paragraph 126 0  

137 Leave a comment on paragraph 137 0 [35]
Morgan (1994), pp. 67–68 with reference to Cicero, de Natura Deorum 2.126: auditum est … capras autem in Creta feras cum essent confixae uenenatis sagittis, herbam quaerere quae dictamnus uocaretur, quam cum gustauissent sagittas excidere dicunt e corpore (‘it has been reported … that wild goats in Crete, when pierced with poisoned arrows, seek a herb called dittany; when they have eaten of it, so people say, the arrows drop out of their bodies’) and Pliny, Natural History, 8.97 and 26.142.

138 Leave a comment on paragraph 138 0  

139 Leave a comment on paragraph 139 0 [36]
Armstrong (2002), pp. 330–31. For what Cretan women get up to in Latin poetry, see Armstrong (2006). I owe these references to John Henderson.

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141 Leave a comment on paragraph 141 0 [37]
Henderson, per litteras. He refers us to A. D’Angour, The Greeks and the New: Novelty in Ancient Greek Imagination and Experience (Cambridge, 2011), Ch. 1.

142 Leave a comment on paragraph 142 0  

143 Leave a comment on paragraph 143 0 [38]
See further Austin (1963), p. 47: ‘Note the varied vowels, the repeated s sounds, the gentle assonance of “suadentque cadentia”, … The rhythm of 81 itself suggests sleep…, with no strong caesura, and the regular diminishing of the three final words.’

144 Leave a comment on paragraph 144 0  

145 Leave a comment on paragraph 145 0 [39]
See Austin (1963), p. 48: ‘This use of double –que is a mannerism of high epic style, very common in Virgil, Lucan, and Statius; it is never found in classical prose. It goes back to Ennius, who took it over from Homer’s use of τε … τε.’ Within the assigned passage, double –que also occurs at 94 (tuque puerque tuus) and 146 (Cretesque Dryopesque).

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147 Leave a comment on paragraph 147 0 [40]
The second-century BC historiographer Polybius (a Greek hostage in Rome) gives an account of the ritual at 6.53–54. See further Flower (1996).

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153 Leave a comment on paragraph 153 0 [43]
The other passage to bear in mind here is 4.296: quis fallere possit amantem?

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155 Leave a comment on paragraph 155 0 [44]
The wording also recalls Laocoon’s assessment of the wooden horse at 2.46: haec in nostros fabricata est machina muros (‘this has been built as a war-machine against our walls’).

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Source: https://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/30/54-89%E2%80%82crazy-little-thing-called-love-queen-2/