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Lines 1–8: Sleepless in Carthage

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 1–2: At regina graui iamdudum saucia cura/ uulnus alit uenis et caeco carpitur igni: the ‘at’ at the beginning startles. Rather than announcing a fresh start, the adversative force of the particle sets up a contrast to what immediately came before.[1] To appreciate its full force, it is therefore necessary to recall how Book 3 ended (3.716–18):

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Sic pater Aeneas intentis omnibus unus
fata renarrabat diuum cursusque docebat.
conticuit tandem factoque hic fine quieuit.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 [Thus father Aeneas, with everyone listening eagerly, was alone recounting the destinies ordained by the gods and was teaching of his travels. At last he fell silent and, having come to a stop here, rested.]

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 This marks the end of Aeneas’ narrative of the fall of Troy and his subsequent odyssey, which covered two full books (Aeneid 2 and 3). There can be few more apposite uses of tandem (‘finally’, ‘at last’). Virgil gives the finish triple emphasis: conticuit, facto hic fine, quieuit.[2] The silence that settles in has a funerary finality: the last event Aeneas has recounted before ceasing to speak is the death of his beloved father Anchises (3.708–11):

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 hic pelagi tot tempestatibus actus

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 heu! genitorem, omnis curae casusque leuamen,

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 amitto Anchisen; hic me, pater optime, fessum

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 deseris, heu! tantis nequiquam erepte periclis!

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 [Here I, who have been driven by so many storms of the ocean, lose, alas! my father Anchises, solace of every care and contingency; here, best of fathers, you desert me in my weariness, snatched, alas! from such great dangers all in vain.]

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The pathos is palpable—and chimes well with Dido’s own sense of abandonment and grief at the murder of her husband Sychaeus, which she voices at 4.15–29. Both characters are coping with traumatic bereavement when they meet, yet are forced to move on, driven by divine forces. Aeneas continues on his way to Italy; and Dido is compelled to re-experience erotic desire. At the end of Book 1, she had requested of her host a comprehensive account of his labours (1.753: a prima dic, hospes, origine nobis…; ‘Tell us, guest, from the first beginning….’), forcing Aeneas to relive his grief (2.3: ‘infandum, regina, iubes renouare dolorem…; ‘Unspeakable is the grief you bid me renew, o queen…’). He does so for two full books. But now, at the beginning of Book 4, it is Dido who is suffering from something that she cannot well put into speech, something infandum (see explicitly 4.85: … infandum si fallere possit amorem, with note below). And thus the ‘at’, a pointed antithetical gesture across book boundaries, fittingly cancels any premature sense of closure. Whereas Aeneas has finally come to a momentary rest, the opposite is true of Dido: we encounter her in a permanent state of restlessness. Contrast, especially, 3.718: … quieuit and 4.5: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem. The ‘at’ thus underscores the sense that Aeneas and Dido constitute a complementary couple. As Austin notes, ‘the strongly contrasting particle at not only shows that the story now turns from Aeneas and the Trojans to Dido, but also points the antithesis between Aeneas’ sufferings that are now past, a mere tale that is told (conticuit tandem, iii. 718), and Dido’s sufferings that are already beginning, between his composed silence and her agitation’[3]—though one may debate in what sense the trials and tribulations of Aeneas ‘are now past.’ A more ambivalent reading of at, which takes into account that the moment of closure Aeneas experiences at this stage is ephemeral, could start by considering to what extent Dido’s mental unrest highlights Aeneas’ failure to understand and communicate with the Carthaginian queen. Presumably, the last thing he wished to do is to mentally unsettle his gracious hostess.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 [Extra information: especially for the history buffs among you, the end of Aeneid 3 is worth a closer look. In his account of how they sailed along the shore of Sicily, Aeneas mentions as the final two spots Lilybaeum (706) and Drepanum (707). They are situated on the western-most point of Sicily—virtually midway between Carthage and Rome. Intriguingly, Lilybaeum was founded by Phoenician settlers in the 8th century (under the name Motya); and, even more intriguingly, Lilybaeum and Drepanum were both sites of major military actions in the First Punic War (when this part of Sicily was a stronghold of the Carthaginians). In 250 BC a Roman Consular army led by Gaius Atilius Regulus Serranus and Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus put Lilybaeum under siege, which was, however, lifted after the battle of Drepanum, in which the Romans suffered their one major naval defeat in the First Punic War (249 BC). Once Lilybaeum had fallen under Roman domination, it served Scipio Africanus Maior as boot camp and launching pad for the invasion of Africa towards the end of the Second Punic War (from 205 BC onwards). Add to this the etymological affinity of Lilybaeum and Libya (where Aeneas has now ended up on his Juno-triggered detour: cf. 3.715: hinc me digressum uestris deus appulit oris; ‘departing from there a god drove me to your shores’), the end of Book 3 obliquely prepares not just for the African setting of Book 4 but also prefigures the historical consequences of Aeneas’ legendary stay with Dido: the lethal enmity between Rome and Carthage and the series of Punic Wars.][4]

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 1: regina: After referring to the anonymous, ‘eager crowd’ that listened to Aeneas’ account at the end of Book 3 (cf. 716: intentis omnibus), Virgil, in the first line of Book 4, singles out the queen for exclusive attention. This is Dido’s book and with At regina Virgil uses an appropriate keynote. Significantly, he chooses to return our attention to Dido not by mentioning her name but her social role: she is a queen. The noun regina recalls Dido’s royal entry into the epic at 1.496–97: regina ad templum, forma pulcherrima Dido,/ incessit (‘the queen Dido, of surpassing beauty, approached the temple’). But the contrast between her first appearance and the state she is in when Book 4 opens is pointed and poignant: whereas she is ‘surrounded by a large throng of followers’ in Book 1 (1.497: magna iuuenum stipante caterua), at the beginning of Book 4 we encounter Dido all alone. And whereas Virgil invited us to observe Dido discharging her civic responsibilities when we first set eyes on the queen, we now see a helpless victim of uncontrollable desire, tossing about sleeplessly: the focus has shifted from her impressive public persona to her tormented inner self. Yet Virgil’s programmatic use of ‘regina’ at a moment when she is, above all, a woman madly in love serves as encouragement to appraise her not just as a desiring individual, but as a queen, that is, as someone who has a key social role to perform and may do so well or badly. The question of what makes a good king (or, more generally, leader) was a topic of hot debate in antiquity (it still is now), to which literary genres made important contributions. Reflections on excellence or shortcomings in leadership constitute an important facet of the political discourse of epic poetry in particular, from Homer onwards.[5] Virgil’s handling of the topic is characteristically complex, insofar as he invites his readers to assess his royal personnel against various and often conflicting benchmarks of excellence, deriving from literary predecessors (both Greek and Roman), philosophical discourse (in particular Stoicism), and lived experience, both republican and imperial. In the case of Dido, it is worth paying particular attention to her gender (and the difficulties this causes not least for male observers such as king Iarbas: see 4.206–18, discussed in detail below) and the potential conflict between her feelings for Aeneas and the role-expectations that come with being the royal leader of a young city and civic community in a hostile environment.[6]

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 1: regina graui iamdudum saucia cura: regina (a1) agrees with saucia (a2), graui (b1) with cura (b2). We thus have the following pattern: noun (a1) – adjective (b1) – adverb: iamdudum (c) – adjective (a2) – noun (b2). The arrangement artfully combines a parallel patterning in the way the two phrases regina saucia and graui cura interweave (a1 b1 c a2 b2) with a chiastic design in terms of grammatical categories (noun, adjective; adjective, noun). The set-up helps to foreground the adverbial modification of time at its centre (iamdudum), which reminds the reader of what happened before Aeneas started speaking: Dido has been burning with love ever since Cupid’s stealth attack on the unsuspecting queen in the guise of Aeneas’ son Ascanius in Book 1. See esp. 1.719–22: at memor ille [sc. Cupido]/ matris Acidaliae paulatim abolere Sychaeum/ incipit et uiuo temptat praeuertere amore/ iam pridem resides animos desuetaque corda (‘But he [sc. Cupid], mindful of his Acidalian mother [sc. Venus], little by little begins to efface Sychaeus [i.e. Dido’s deceased former husband], and attempts to incite with live passion her long-inactive soul and her heart that had unlearned to love’). The adverb, which means ‘some while ago now’, thus serves as bridge between Books 1 and 4 and, like tandem at the end of Book 3, mischievously underscores the length of Aeneas’ narration.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 1: cura: the meaning of cura ranges from ‘anxiety’ to a (public) ‘task’ or ‘responsibility’, to be carried out with diligence and care. Here the former sense is of course paramount, but in signifying love pangs the term also evokes negatively its public-political meaning: Dido’s real cura ought to be the prudent governance of her city’s affairs. Some interesting passages to consider for the semantics of cura in the Aeneid include 1.227 (the first occurrence of the word in the epic, referring to the cosmic administrative responsibilities of Jupiter), 1.562 (Dido replying to Aeneas’ impassioned plea for support: … secludite curas (‘set aside your cares’), which resonates ironically in the light of our passage), 1.662 (Venus imagining Juno preoccupied by anxiety, a passage cited and discussed below), 1.678 (Venus referring to Ascanius as mea maxima cura), and the trail of further instances of the word in Book 4 at lines 5, 59, 332, 341, 379, 394, 448 (magno persentit pectore curas, of Aeneas), 488, 521, 531, 551, and 608.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 2: uulnus alit uenis et caeco carpitur igni: uulnus alit uenis and caeco carpitur igni are two carefully balanced clauses of three words each. Both feature the verb in the middle (alit, carpitur: Dido is the subject of both) and involve alliteration (uulnus uenis; caeco carpitur). But Virgil alternates the construction. The first clause consists of an active verb, a direct object (uulnus) and an ablative of either place or instrument (uenis: ‘in or with her bloodstreams’), the second of a passive verb and an ablative of agency (caeco igni, as often in poetry without the preposition a/ab). Caecus has both an active (blind, i.e. unable to see) and a passive (hidden, i.e. invisible) sense. Here it is clearly the latter: the consuming fire of Dido’s passion does its damage out of sight, more specifically in or through her bloodstreams. There is, then, a thematic link between the last word of the first clause (uenis) and the first word of the second clause (caeco). Virgil may be alluding to Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.1120: usque adeo incerti tabescunt uolnere caeco (‘in such uncertain state they waste away with a wound invisible’). Appropriately, the line is part of his diatribe against love (‘a romantic delusion’) as opposed to sex (‘a biological necessity’). And he certainly has in mind book 3 of Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, which features Medea burning in secret love for Jason after being hit by one of Eros’ arrows.[7]

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 The metaphorical wound of Dido here corresponds to the literal wound she inflicts upon herself at the end of the book. 4.689: infixum stridit sub pectore uulnus recalls both 4.2: uulnus alit uenis and 4.4: haerent infixi pectore, the latter also via the deer simile at 4.70–3. (See further below on 4: haerent infixi.) Likewise, the metaphorical caecus ignis here has a real counterpart at the end of the book: the flames of Dido’s funeral pyre. At 5.4–5 Aeneas gazes back from his departing ship to a Carthage aglow in flames: quae tantum accenderit ignem/ causa latet (‘Which cause set ablaze so great a fire remains hidden’). In the case of the fire-imagery there is an intermediate stage: the literal fire of the funeral pyre not only harks back to the fiery passion from which Dido suffers at the beginning but also picks up the transformation of the fires of love into the fires of wrath midway through the book: see the ‘black fires’, the atri ignes, that animate her curse at 4.384, which will pursue Aeneas and his descendants.[8] The gradual transformation of metaphors of love into realities of death is one of the most haunting (and poetically brilliant) aspects of Aeneid 4. As Oliver Lyne puts it: ‘These sequences of fire and wound images are fine examples of “linked imagery” … They introduce among other things a sense of tragic inevitability. Dido’s love wound is converted remorselessly and seemingly inevitably in the maintained imagery into the wound of her suicide; and the fire of her love is converted with similar but less sympathetic inevitability into the fires of her curse.’

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [Extra information: in the lines that follow upon Dido stabbing herself, Virgil uses a simile to connect her suicide to the historical fate of her city (4.667–71):

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 lamentis gemituque et femineo ululatu
tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether,
non aliter quam si immissis ruat hostibus omnis
Karthago aut antiqua Tyros, flammaeque furentes
culmina perque hominum uoluantur perque deorum.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 The palace rings with laments, sobbing, and women’s shrieks, heaven echoes with load wails—as if all of Carthage or ancient Tyre were collapsing under the onslaught of enemies and raging flames were rolling over the roofs of men and over the roofs of the gods.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 As already Macrobius observed (Saturnalia 4.6), Virgil adapts the scene of lament and the illustrative simile from Iliad 22.408–11, where we have a similar intertwining of individual and city in the context of lament: Priam and the Trojan women mourn for Hector slain, in anticipation of the fall of their city:

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 ᾤµωξεν δ’ ἐλεεινὰ πατὴρ φίλος, ἀµφὶ δὲ λαοὶ

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 κωκυτῷ τ’ εἴχοντο καὶ οἰµωγῇ κατὰ ἄστυ.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 τῷ δὲ µάλιστ’ ἄρ’ ἔην ἐναλίγκιον ὡς εἰ ἅπασα
Ἴλιος ὀφρυόεσσα πυρὶ σµύχοιτο κατ’ ἄκρης.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 His father groaned piteously, and all around the people were given over to wailing and groaning throughout the city. To this it was most alike, as if all of proud Troy were smouldering with fire from top to bottom.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 And, in the teeth of Jupiter’s promise in Aeneid 1 that the Romans would come to enjoy an imperium sine fine (1.279: ‘an empire without end’), Greek sources report that Scipio Africanus Minor was stirred into a moment of tragic reflexivity after his sack of Carthage in 146 BC, reciting two verses from the Iliad, in which Hector recognizes the inevitability of the fall of Troy (6.448–49):[9]

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 ἔσσεται ἦµαρ ὅτ’ ἄν ποτ’ ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 καὶ Πρίαµος καὶ λαὸς ἐϋµµελίω Πριάµοιο.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 The day shall come when sacred Ilios will perish and Priam and the people of Priam with goodly spear of ash.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 This is a particular striking instance of the way in which Virgil in the Aeneid intertwines Roman history and the literary tradition by means of an oblique allusion—behind the scenes as it were of the tragic plot that is centred in the gruesome transformation of erotic passion into bloody suicide and lethal hatred: in this epic, the personal is always already also political. Or, as Otis puts it: ‘The wound and the flames that mark Dido’s end, and proleptically Carthage’s end as well (flammae furentes, 670), are thus the visible signs of an inner tragedy: the course of the book has developed Dido’s private wound and private conflagration into a public catastrophe, foreshadowing a greater one to come.’[10]]

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 3–4: multa uiri uirtus animo multusque recursat/ gentis honos: there is a switch in subject from Dido to the contents of her thought. Two assets of Aeneas are foremost in her mind. Virgil captures them in the pair of grammatically identical phrases multa uiri uirtus and multus gentis honos, i.e. the excellence of the man (uiri uirtus) and the distinction of his lineage (gentis honos). (The –que after multus links uirtus and honos.) The polyptotic adjectives multa and multus that modify uirtus and honos stand in place of adverbs and combine with the frequentative verb recursat to highlight the obsessive nature of Dido’s mental activity: Aeneas’ manly qualities and family prestige render any peace of mind impossible.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 [Extra information: the repetition of multa/ multus recalls both the beginning and the end of Book 1. See 1.3–5: multum ille et terris iactatus et alto/ ui superum … multa quoque et bello passus (‘much thrown around on sea and land by violence of the gods … and also much enduring in war’) and 1.749–50: longumque bibebat amorem,/ multa super Priamo rogitans super Hectore multa (‘she drank deeply of love, asking much of Priam, much of Hector’). Likewise, recursat harks back to 1.662: urit atrox Iuno, et sub noctem cura recursat, a parallel discussed in further detail below.]

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 3: uiri uirtus: an alliterative figura etymologica: uirtus is what distinguishes the uir.[11] Originally, uirtus seems to have indicated martial prowess above all. But in the course of the Roman assimilation of Greek philosophical thought, the semantics of the term expanded considerably, as uirtus became the preferred Latin term to render the Greek arete.[12] In this process it also became a generic designation for good qualities more generally. The English ‘virtue’, while deriving from Latin uirtus, inevitably carries moral connotations and hence does not capture the full semantic range of the Latin term very well. ‘Excellence’ (uirtus) or ‘excellences’ (uirtutes) is therefore frequently the better option in translating. (Not all excellences need have a moral dimension.)

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 4: gentis honos: in enjambment. The phrase yields a metrical pattern (– u u –) called the choriamb, which enhances its unity and impact. Both gens and honos are key components of the political culture of the Roman republic. Latin authors tend to contrast the populus Romanus with foreign people (gentes), but with reference to Rome itself the term gens invariably designates one of the noble families (gentes) that formed the traditional polycentric core of Rome’s senatorial ruling elite:[13] Hence we have (say) the gens Claudia (giving us the Claudii), the gens Cornelia (to which the Cornelii belonged) or the gens Fabia (the kin-group of the Fabii). Julius Caesar and hence also his adopted son Caesar Octavianus (later to be known under the honorific name Augustus) were part of the gens Iulia, which famously derived its name from Aeneas’ son Ascanius, also named Ilus, from Ilion, the Greek name of Troy (hence Iliad) and renamed Iulus after the fall of Troy.[14] During the years of the republic (and also, under slightly altered circumstances, imperial times), members of the various gentes vied with each other for public offices (honos/ honores; the phrase gentis honos hints anachronistically at this key feature of Roman republican politics). In so doing, they could draw on the prestige of their gens in making themselves attractive to voters.[15]

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 [Extra information: Against this republican background of a plurality of gentes, Virgil throughout the Aeneid promotes a semantic reorientation of the term: from the proem onwards, he integrates the multiple gentes into a single overarching gens, the gens Romana. See his announcement at the end of his extended proem at 1.33: tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem! (‘So vast was the effort to found the Roman race!’). This shift from many aristocratic gentes to one Roman gens is programmatic: at various places in his epic, Virgil uses the language of blood-descent to intimate an overlap approximating identity between the family of Anchises and Aeneas (later called the gens Iulia) and the entire Roman people (conceived not as the populus Romanus but the gens Romana). This is spin, very much aligned to the ideological preoccupations of the Augustan principate, which it is important to bear in mind whenever Virgil uses gens.[16]]

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Dido here repays Aeneas the compliment Aeneas had paid her in Book 1.609–10: semper honos nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt,/ quae me cumque uocant terrae (‘forever shall your honour, your name, and your praises abide, whatever lands summon me’), especially if one considers that nomen is a virtual synonym of gens (via the phrase nomen gentile: see e.g. 6.756-59).[17] She knows of his partly divine lineage: at 1.615–18 she addresses Aeneas as soon as she realizes who has just walked into her city as nate dea (‘goddess-born’) before displaying an impressively detailed knowledge of his parentage and the circumstances of his birth: tune ille Aeneas, quem Dardanio Anchisae/ alma Venus Phrygii genuit Simoentis ad undam? (‘Are you that Aeneas, whom nurturing Venus bore to Dardanian Anchises by the wave of Phrygian Simois?’).

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 4–5: haerent infixi pectore uultus/ uerbaque: Virgil here systematically inverts standard word order: the main verb (haerent) precedes the subjects (the alliterative uultus uerbaque) and the participle infixi precedes its adverbial qualification (pectore). Vultus (which, as infixi makes clear, is in the ‘poetic plural’) refers to Aeneas’ appearance, uerba to his speech: he is a handsome hero and a spell-binding speaker. Together, these two qualities affect Dido profoundly and stay fixed deep within her heart. uerbaque is another instance of enjambment. Yet unlike in lines 3–4, where the enjambment of gentis honos was set up by multus—which was left ‘dangling’ without referent in the previous line—uerbaque comes as a surprise. It is tagged on, without advanced warning, either as an afterthought or for special emphasis. The design could suggest that it does not really matter what, precisely, Aeneas is saying since Dido is anyway completely beholden, stunned by his striking good looks; or it could mean that the verbal stimuli outweigh the visual ones in importance. Virgil underlines the contrast between the stable presence of Aeneas’ appearance and the mellifluous nature of his discourse metrically: apart from pectore, the phrase haerent infixi pectore uultus is spondaic, whereas uerbaque, for a moment, picks up dactylic speed, which comes to a somewhat abrupt stop at the diaeresis after the first foot. Virgil’s lexical choices here recall 1.717-19, where Dido cuddles Cupid disguised as Ascanius: haec oculis, haec pectore toto/ haeret et interdum gremio fouet, inscia Dido,/ insidat quantus miserae deus (‘with her eyes, with all her heart Dido hangs on him and from time to time fondles him in her lap, unknowing how great a divinity sits there to her sorrow’). As planned by Venus, the physical affection Dido displays for Aeneas’ insidious ‘son’ has evolved into a mental obsession with the father.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Vultus and uerba is the third pair of words linked by u-alliteration in the opening lines, after uulnusuenis and uiriuirtus. Virgil seems to be hinting at a thematic link between the uulnus of Dido and the uirtus, uultus, and uerba of the uir Aeneas—a nexus reinforced if we take into consideration the erotic uenenum (poison) that Venus ordered her son Cupid to assault Dido with fire and poison (cf. 1.688: occultum inspires ignem fallasque ueneno; the poison metaphor continues at 1.749: longumque bibebat amorem).[18]

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 4: haerent infixi: Virgil reuses infixus with reference to Dido’s suicidal wound at 4.689: infixum stridit sub pectore uulnus. The lexical parallel thus constitutes another literalization of a metaphorical image as love turns into death. Both verbs also recur in the stricken-deer simile at 4.70–3: quam [sc. ceruam] … fixit/ pastor agens telis; … haeret lateri letalis harundo (again inverting subject and verb). The simile marks a midway stage in the gradual transformation of the metaphorical imagery at the opening of the book into deadly reality at its end: it is a narrative comparison, designed to illustrate Dido’s pathological condition (and as such is a figurative use of language), but involves the actual wounding and killing of an animal.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 5: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem: the subject (cura) recalls the cura of line 1, but the switch from ablative to nominative suggests a subtle increase in Dido’s anxiety. The phrase membris dat cura separates the adjective placidam from the noun it modifies (quietem), generating a hyberbaton that is thematically appropriate: the unsettled word order enacts Dido’s inability to achieve a restful state of mind. The opening five lines contain a veritable anatomy of Dido: after hailing her wholesale as queen (regina, 1), Virgil focuses in turn on her veins (uenis, 2), her mind (animo, 3), her heart or breast (pectore, 4), and the rest of her limbs (membris, 5).

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 [Extra information: Before moving on, it is instructive to set the opening five lines of Aeneid 4 against a passage from Book 1—a backward glance designed to illustrate how Virgil generates intratextual coherence and suggestive complexity by means of the strategic repetition of key words and phrases (1.657–63):

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 at Cytherea nouas artes, noua pectore versat
consilia, ut faciem mutatus et ora Cupido
pro dulci Ascanio ueniat, donisque furentem
incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem;     660
quippe domum timet ambiguam Tyriosque bilinguis;
urit atrox Iuno, et sub noctem cura recursat.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 ergo his aligerum dictis adfatur Amorem:

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 But Venus revolves new designs, new schemes in her breast, how Cupid transformed in face and form may come instead of sweet Ascanius and by means of his gifts inflame the raging queen and embed the fire in her bones. In fact, she fears the uncertain house and the double-tongued Tyrians; black-biled Juno burns and at nightfall her anxiety rushes back. Therefore she addressed winged Amor with the following words…

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 Parallels to note include:

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 (i)         At Cytherea (1.657) correlates with At regina (4.1).

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 (ii)        pectore uersat (1.657) points to animo … recursat (4.3) and infixi pectore (4.4)

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 (iii)       the sentence incendat reginam, atque ossibus implicet ignem (1.660) anticipates reginauulnus alit uenis [~ ossibus] et caeco carpitur igni (1–2) in the sense of ‘mission accomplished.’

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 (iv)       sub noctem cura recursat (1.662) prefigures the opening of Aeneid 4 more generally, with a specific lexical parallel in animo … recursat (4.3): in both passages, it is night; cura (worry on behalf of Aeneas on the part of Venus, love of Aeneas in the case of Dido) causes emotional upheaval; and emotive thoughts assault the peace of mind of the character in question.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 At the same time a displacement has occurred: because of the cura that Venus felt in Book 1, Dido feels cura in Book 4. The lexical reminiscences thus serve as a reminder that Dido’s pathological condition owes itself at least in part to a divine intervention and therefore encourage theological reflection about the interface between the divine and the human realm (as well as the ethics thereof).]

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 6–7: postera Phoebea lustrabat lampade terras/ umentemque Aurora polo dimouerat umbram: Virgil here offers an elaborate description of dawn (or Dawn, the goddess Aurora, who is the subject of both lustrabat and dimouerat). Myth has it that Aurora fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal, son of the Trojan king Laomedon. She prevailed upon Jupiter to grant her beloved immortality but forgot to request eternal youth as well.[19] The lines feature two striking hyperbata: postera … Aurora (‘the following dawn’) and umentemque … umbram, the last linked by the um-alliteration and containing a touch of paronomasia that suggests a thematic affinity between umens and umbra. The symmetry of line 7 is striking: umentem and umbram frame the subject (Aurora) and the verb (dimouerat), with polo, in the ablative of separation, dead centre. Aurora and dimouerat thus function as buffers that keep the dewy (umentem) darkness (umbram) away from the sky (polo): in other words, Virgil reproduces on the level of verbal architecture the result of the action described in the line.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 6: Phoebea lustrabat lampade: the phrase acquires formal coherence through alliteration (lu-, la-) and assonance (-bea, –ba-, –pade). Phoebeus means ‘of or associated with Phoebus Apollo; of Phoebus, belonging or sacred to him.’ It is formed as a calque on Greek Φοίβειος, which explains why the –be– is scanned as a long syllable: it represents a long syllable (the diphthong -ει-) in Greek. lampas, in the poetic sense that Virgil uses it here means ‘the light of the sun’; but its primary meaning is ‘torch’ or ‘fire-brand.’ As such the term could be taken to foreshadow the tragic turn of events, more specifically Dido’s funeral pyre. The last image that Aeneas catches of Carthage are the city walls aglow with the funeral flames of Dido at 5.3–4: moenia respiciens, quae iam infelicis Elissae/ conlucent flammis (‘looking back on the city walls, which now gleam with the funeral flames of unlucky Dido’). The primary meanings of lustrare are ‘to purify ceremonially with rituals usually involving a procession’ and hence ‘to walk around, to circle.’ Here it means ‘to spread light over or around, to irradiate’ (OLD s.v. 4), though Maclennan believes that the primary meaning also registers ‘because Dido feels in some way polluted by her feelings for Aeneas.’[20] This is an interesting suggestion, but the rising of the sun does not alter the religious quality or implications of Dido’s feelings, and the key thematic contrast here seems rather between night/ darkness/ secrecy/ solitude and day/ light/ confession/ company.[21]

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 8: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem: The so-called cum-inversum—inverted because the background action (here: sunrise) comes in the main clause, whereas the main action (here: Dido approaching her sister to share confidences) is put in the subordinate cum-clause—is a favourite device of Virgil to enhance a dramatic scene.[22]

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 [Extra Information: two correlated instances of the cum-inversum occur at the beginning of the poem. See Aeneid 1.34–7: uix e conspectu Siculae telluris in altum/ uela dabant laeti, et spumas salis aere ruebant,/ cum Iuno, aeternum seruans sub pectore uulnus, haec secum [sc. dixit]… (‘Hardly out of sight of Sicilian land, they were spreading their sails onto the high sea and were gladly ploughing the foaming sea with brazen prow, when Juno, nursing an immortal wound in her breast, spoke thus to herself…’). The narrative stretch thus introduced, i.e. Juno’s outraged soliloquy, her subsequent visit to the wind-god Aeolus, and the unleashing of the storm that will blow Aeneas’ fleet off-course to Carthage, finds its conclusion at 1.223–26, with another cum-inversum: Et iam finis erat, cum Iuppiter aethere summo/ despiciens mare ueliuolum terrasque iacentis/ litoraque et latos populos, sic uertice caeli/ constitit… The syntactic device thus frames the initial stretch of action, being first associated with Juno, the goddess of beginning, interference and obstruction, whose intervention verges on generating chaos but also provides dramatic energy, and then with Jupiter, the god of ending (cf. finis), entropy, settlement, ordaining, and order.]

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 8: unanimam … sororem: Dido’s sister (Anna, who is not named until the following line) appears out of nowhere, but Virgil obliquely stresses the strong attachment that unites the siblings by means of two formal instances of bonding: the adjective unanimus enacts its meaning by merging the two words unus and animus into one; and the elision of unanimam adloquitur practices bonding at the level of metre. The notion of two individuals being of one mind ultimately goes back to the Homeric ideal of ‘likemindedness’ (ὁµοφροσύνη) that forms the basis of Odysseus’ and Penelope’s perfect marriage. After Dido has mortally wounded herself on her funeral pyre, Virgil stages a last encounter between her and her sister Anna, using language that refers the reader back to the beginning of Book 4. Anna bedding her dying sister in her lap (686): semianimemque … germanam amplexa (‘embracing her dying sister’) constitutes a tragic gloss on 8: cum sic unanimam adloquitur male sana sororem. Since Dido and Anna are each a unanima soror to the other, the phrase semianimis germana not only captures Dido’s limbo state between life and death, but also the fact that Anna and Dido, who were unanimous, are split in half: half of Anna dies with Dido.[23]

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 8: male sana: a periphrastic, colloquial way of saying insana, though male seems more than a mere synonym for non: combined with sana, it is not simply a negation but produces a contradictio in adiecto or even an oxymoron. The phrase stands in predicative position to the subject of the cum-clause, i.e. Dido: ‘she addressed her sister, in a state of ill-health/ mentally disturbed.’

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 The reference to Dido’s psycho-pathological condition concludes the multi-faceted metaphorics of love that Virgil has splashed across these opening lines. It will be useful to take stock of the images he uses here and elsewhere in Aeneid 1 and 4 to capture Dido’s amorous feelings for Aeneas:

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 (a)        Wounds: 4.1: saucia, 4.2: uulnus, 4.69–73: the simile of the deer killed by an arrow. Note, though, that, in contrast to his counterpart Eros in Apollonius’ Argonautica 3, Virgil’s Cupid does not use arrows in inflicting a wound on Dido; bow and arrow imagery are displaced upon Aeneas: ‘Vergil’s Cupid is emphatically not an archer. That role is reserved for his half-brother: for Aeneas, here in 4.69ff.’[24]

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 (b)        Fire: 1.660: incendat [sc. Amor] reginam atque ossibus implicet ignem (1.660), 1.688 (Venus to Amor): occultum inspires ignem, 4.2: igni, 4.68: uritur infelix Dido. At the end of the book, the hidden fire inside Dido will turn into the conflagration that engulfs her corpse on the funeral pyre.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 (c)        Poison: 1.688 (Venus to Amor): fallasque ueneno, 1.750: bibat amorem, 4.2: uenis (hints at uenenum), 4.73: Cretans in stories hunt with poisoned arrows.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 (d)        Pathologies of the body, i.e. infection and disease: 1.712: pesti deuota futurae, 4.8: male sana, 4.90: tali persensit peste teneri, 4.389: aegra.

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 (e)        Pathologies of the mind, i.e. madness: 1.659: furentem, 4.8: male sana, 4.69: furens, 4.78: demens, 4.301: bacchatur, 4.642: effera.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 The metaphors point to different stages and aspects of erotic experience: the metaphorics of wounding construe being in love as the outcome of an assault by Eros, Amor, or Cupid, the god of love, armed as he is with bows and arrows, though he also uses more insidious means to press his attack. Fire imagery, too, has associations with Cupid, the fire-brand or marriage torch, but the notion of a conflagration also refers to physiological symptoms of love (going hot and cold at the sight of the beloved, for instance). The idea of poisoning points to Cupid as an infiltrator who secretly enters the bloodstream—as do notions of ill-health (whether physical or mental).

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0  


57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 [1]
The most striking use of at as a keynote has to be the opening of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass: it is the first word of the novel, casting it as an already begun ‘conversation’ with the reader.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0  

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 [2]
facto hic fine arguably refers both to the action in the poem (the deictic hic in a temporal sense: at this moment) and to this particular point of the poem, i.e. the end of Book 3 (hic in a spatial sense: at this point in the scroll).

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0  

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 [4]
I owe this Extra Information section to John Henderson, who recommended its inclusion ‘to emphasise just how wide a range of registers the Aeneid spans—from pedantic aetiological-etymological scholasticism to searing hot erotics in a turn of the page/switch of a scroll—and how sheer the juxtapositions can be—a big part of Virgil’s “sheer” audacity’ (per litteras).

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0  

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 [5]
Homer was considered the fountainhead of every conceivable type of discourse, including political theory, and his epics certainly portray key issues in politics in a proto-philosophical spirit. A good place to start from to explore this topic further is Murray (1965).

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0  

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 [6]
A good starting point for exploring Virgil’s representation of Aeneas and Dido as king and queen against ancient discourses on kingship is Cairns (1989), esp. Ch. 1, ‘Divine and Human Kingship’ and Ch. 2, ‘Kingship and the Love Affair of Aeneas and Dido.’

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0  

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 [7]
For further discussion and other possible intertexts see Essay 5.3: Allusion.

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0  

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 [8]
See Lyne (1987), p. 120, n. 31, with reference to Otis (1964), pp. 70–72 and others.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0  

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 [9]
See Polybius 38.21–2 and Appian, Roman History 8.19.132.

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0  

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 [11]
See esp. Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 2.43: appellata est enim ex uiro uirtus (‘for the word for excellence [uirtus] is derived from the word for man [uir]’).

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0  

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 [12]
For a recent monograph on the term, see McDonnell (2006), though reviewers have argued that he unduly simplifies the evidence: see e.g. R. A. Kaster in Bryn Mawr Classical Review (02.08.2007).

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0  

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 [13]
For a splendid and exhaustive treatment of this difficult subject matter see Smith (2006).

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0  

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 [14]
Jupiter, in his magisterial unscrolling of destiny in Book 1, comments on this nomenclature as follows: at puer Ascanius, cui nunc cognomen Iulo/ additur (Ilus erat, dum res stetit Ilia regno)… (‘But the boy Ascanius, now surnamed Iulus (Ilus he was, while the Ilian state stood firm in its kingdom)…’).

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0  

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0 [15]
Hence the difficulties ‘new men’ (homines noui) such as Marcus Tullius Cicero faced, who hailed from the gens Tullia: they were called ‘new’ since they belonged to gentes that had no prior consulship to their credit.

86 Leave a comment on paragraph 86 0  

87 Leave a comment on paragraph 87 0 [16]
See further Gildenhard (2007), esp. pp. 92–98.

88 Leave a comment on paragraph 88 0  

89 Leave a comment on paragraph 89 0 [17]
The passage is important also to illustrate that Aeneas, from the beginning, considered his stay in Libya nothing more than an unforeseen, temporary sojourn—his ultimate goal is Italy, and he will travel on. He is, however, noticeably more reticent about his final destination here than he was at 1.380, when talking to his (disguised) mother Venus: Italiam quaero patriam et genus ab Ioue summo (‘I seek Italy, my fatherland, and a race sprung from Jupiter most high’).

90 Leave a comment on paragraph 90 0  

91 Leave a comment on paragraph 91 0 [18]
For a word of caution on the possible etymological connection between Venus and uenenum, see O’Hara (1996), p. 106: ‘Due [another scholar] has suggested that the metaphor is underscored by a presumed connection between the words Venus and venenum, but this suggestion must remain tentative, since ancient awareness of the perhaps genuine connection beween Venus and venenum is not clearly attested, and wordplay in Vergil here is not certain.’

92 Leave a comment on paragraph 92 0  

93 Leave a comment on paragraph 93 0 [19]
Virgil hints at the mythic background later in the book. See 4.584–85: Et iam prima nouo spargebat lumine terras/ Tithoni croceum linquens Aurora cubile (‘And now early Dawn, leaving the saffron bed of Tithonus, was sprinkling the earth with fresh light’).

94 Leave a comment on paragraph 94 0  

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0 [21]
Virgil here develops an idiom pioneered by Cicero, de Republica 6.17, where Sol is described as of such magnitude ut cuncta sua luce lustret et compleat (‘that he illuminates and fills all things with his light’) and Lucretius 5.693, where the sun is described as ‘illuminating lands and sky with oblique light’ (obliquo terras et caelum lumine lustrans).

98 Leave a comment on paragraph 98 0  

99 Leave a comment on paragraph 99 0 [22]
For metrical devices underscoring Dido’s mental disposition see Austin (1963), p. 28: ‘the elision at the end of the second foot, and the absence of a third-foot caesura, give a metrical picture of urgency.’ (Note, however, that the elision occurs at the beginning of the third foot, though there is an elision at the end of the second foot in the previous line: umentemque Aurora.)

100 Leave a comment on paragraph 100 0  

101 Leave a comment on paragraph 101 0 [23]
For the dialogue with Catullus and Callimachus that is arguably built into Virgil’s use of the adjective unanima, see Essay 3: Allusion.

102 Leave a comment on paragraph 102 0  

103 Leave a comment on paragraph 103 0 [24]
Lyne (1987), p. 195.

Source: http://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/30/lines-1-8%E2%80%82sleepless-in-carthage/