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Lines 9–30: Sister Act I: Dido’s Address to Anna

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Not having slept during the night, Dido seeks out her sister Anna the following morning and tries to articulate her thoughts and feelings. Despite her emotional turmoil, her speech is well structured, in two different ways:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 (a)        It comprises 21 lines in all, which fall into two halves of near-equal length (11/10), marked by two direct addresses to the internal audience, her sister Anna: Anna soror (9) and Anna (20). Those who count along and expect the second half to be precisely equal in length to the first half will thus be disappointed. In line 30, which could have been the 11th line of the second half, Dido has finished speaking and bursts into tears. But this slight imbalance and seemingly premature end to her speech may be an artistic effect designed to convey Dido’s emotionally unbalanced condition.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 (b)        In thematic terms, the structure is tripartite, again in a symmetrical design (6/9/6):

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 1: 9–14: Dido’s attempt to articulate in words her thoughts and feelings about Aeneas

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 2: 15–23: Exploration of a ‘what-if’

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 3: 24–29: Rejection of the ‘what-if’

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 9–14: ‘Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!/ quis nouus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes,/ quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!/ credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum./ degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The opening segment of the speech comprises an attempt by Dido to articulate in words the impression Aeneas has made on her. In doing so, she repeats from a personal, subjective perspective what Virgil has just described from the external, objective perspective of the narrator. She is so overpowered by feelings and emotions (ranging from deep reverence to strong erotic attraction and incipient sexual desire) that she appears to be ‘gushing’, and her Latin is accordingly palpably out of control. Noteworthy features that underscore that Dido is here venting strong feelings include the sequence of exclamations introduced by quae (9), quis (10), quem (11), quam (11), quibus (13), quae (14); the overemphatic string quis nouus hic (10); and the contorted expression quem sese ore ferens (11). Dido reaches the height of her pathos-dripping outburst with the exclamation heu (13), a profound expression of empathy for the trials and tribulations her hero has suffered, but also indicative of the profound yearning and passion-driven anxiety that she is experiencing herself this very moment, before she sobers down to a more measured mode of discourse from line 15 onwards.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 9: quae … insomnia terrent: paradoxically, insomnium, usually in the plural, can mean both ‘sleeplessness’ (OLD s.v. 1) and ‘an apparition seen in a trance or dream’ (OLD s.v. 2). Virgil may here play with both possibilities to convey a sense of Dido’s ‘altered’ state of mind: she cannot sleep and partly as a result begins to hallucinate as if dreaming. She hovers between wakefulness and sleep, a condition liable to blur any clear-cut boundary between what is based on ‘real’ sense perceptions and what are figments of the imagination. terrent raises similar issues of interpretation. It is a highly emotive verb and rather unexpected: why should Dido feel fear? She has fallen in love. But the notion that she experiences ‘erotic nightmares’ is in dramatic terms highly appropriate and psychologically insightful: it introduces at the outset a sinister note, as Dido confesses that her obsessive passion for Aeneas conjures up ghosts of terror, however erotically thrilling the experience may be. (Goold’s ‘what dreams thrill me with fears?’ captures the paradox nicely.) Specifically, Dido may here betray awareness of the impact these insomnia have on her resolve to remain faithful to her dead husband Sychaeus, and she fears the consequences. In other words, Dido is afraid of herself, afraid of what she will do: the verb thus carries a strong sense of foreboding of what will happen later in the book.[1]>

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 [Extra information: One of Virgil’s models here is Apollonius, Argonautica 3. At 3.616–18 he describes Medea asleep, but worried for Jason: ‘As for the girl, deep sleep was furnishing relief from her troubles as she lay in bed. But soon deceptive, baleful dreams began to disturb her, as they do when a girl is in distress.’[2] And when she wakes up, Medea soliloquizes as follows (3.636–44):

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 ‘δειλὴ ἐγών, οἷόν µε βαρεῖς ἐφόβησαν ὄνειροι.

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 δείδια, µὴ µέγα δή τι φέρῃ κακὸν ἥδε κέλευθος

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 ἡρώων· περί µοι ξείνῳ φρένες ἠερέθονται.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 µνάσθω ἑὸν κατὰ δῆµον Ἀχαιίδα τηλόθι κούρην,

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 ἄµµι δὲ παρθενίη τε µέλοι καὶ δῶµα τοκήων.           640

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 ἔµπα γε µὴν, θεµένη κύνεον κέαρ, οὐκέτ’ ἄνευθεν

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 αὐτοκασιγνήτης πειρήσοµαι εἴ κέ µ’ ἀέθλῳ

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 χραισµεῖν ἀντιάσῃσιν, ἐπὶ σφετέροις ἀχέουσα

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 παισί· τό κέν µοι λυγρὸν ἐνὶ κραδίῃ σβέσει ἄλγος.’

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 ‘Poor me! How these dire dreams have frightened me! I fear that this expedition of heroes will indeed bring some great harm—my mind is all aflutter about the stranger. Let him woo an Achaean girl far away among his own people, and let my care be for virginity and the home of my parents. Yet nevertheless, I will make my heart shameless and, no longer remaining aloof, will test my sister, to see if she will entreat me to aid in the contest because she is distressed for her sons—that would quench the terrible pain in my heart.’

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 There are, then, clear parallels in plot (a heroine in erotic distress, deciding to seek out her sister after a night of frightful visions), and Virgil’s Latin obliquely recalls Apollonius’ Greek also on the level of metre and diction. Compare the opening line of Medea’s self-address with the opening line of Dido’s speech to Anna:

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 δειλὴ ἐγών, οἷόν µε βαρεῖς ἐφόβησαν ὄνειροι.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 Poor me! How these dire dreams have frightened me!

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 Anna soror, quae me suspensam insomnia terrent!

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Anna, my sister, what dreams frighten me with fears?

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0δειλὴ ἐγών [poor me] ~ Anna soror: Medea’s address to herself, i.e. δειλὴ ἐγών [poor me], has been replaced by Dido’s address to her sister Anna (Anna soror) in the same metrical pattern.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0οἷόν [how] ~ quae: Instead of an adverb, Virgil uses an an interrogative adjective (quae modifies insomnia: ‘what dreams…’). Apollonius’ Medea stresses the degree of her fear (how!); Virgil’s Dido enquires into the nature of her frightening dreams.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0µε [me] ~ me: in both Apollonius and Virgil, the direct object of the verb is the first person personal pronoun.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0βαρεῖς [dire] ~ suspensam: Apollonius here uses an adjective to modify the dreams; Virgil instead chooses to elaborate on Dido: suspensam, which means something akin to ‘on tenterhooks’ (see next note) modifies me.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0ἐφόβησαν [have frightened] ~ terrent: both authors use a verb with the basic meaning ‘to frighten.’ But Virgil shifts the tense from the past (ἐφόβησαν is a so-called aorist) to the present. Whereas Medea reflects on the nightmares from which she has just woken up, Dido (who has never fallen asleep) confesses to her sister that she is being plagued by ‘nightmarish visions’ at this very moment. Virgil thereby achieves a heightened sense of urgency and immediacy.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0ὄνειροι [dreams] ~ insomnia: in line with the present tense, Virgil uses a term that can refer to visions in dreams or hallucinations while awake.]

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 9: suspensam: in predicative relation to me, meaning ‘in a state of anxious uncertainty or suspense, on tenterhooks’ (OLD s.v.).

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 10: quis nouus hic nostris successit sedibus hospes: The design is symmetrical: quis nouus hic agrees with hospes and nostris with sedibus, leaving the verb (successit) at the centre. (The position of successit between nostris and sedibus enacts its meaning, i.e. ‘has entered into.’) The use of quis as an exclamation together with the demonstrative pronoun hic makes a literal translation difficult: ‘What an unforeseen guest, this, who has entered our house!’[3] As Conington points out, Dido here quotes herself. See 1.627 (Dido speaking to Aeneas and his men): quare agite, o tectis, iuuenes, succedite nostris (‘Come therefore, young men, enter our halls’).

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 [Extra information: Virgil repeats the phrasing of 1.627 and 4.10 with minor variation at 8.123: nostris succede penatibus hospes. The speaker is Pallas, the son of Euander, addressing Aeneas—the same Pallas, in other words, who will go to war with the Trojan leader only to have his life cut short by Turnus. The correspondence in diction draws attention to parallels in plot, which are further underscored by the remarkable fact that the last time we hear of Dido is when Aeneas covers the corpse of Pallas with the cloak of gold and purple Dido had made him (11.72-5; for the cloak see below 4.262–64). Is Virgil hinting at the fact that playing host to Aeneas leads to tragedy and death? Or is the point of these parallels that Aeneas, just like Dido, is a tragic figure who deserves our respect and sympathy?]

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 11: quem sese ore ferens, quam forti pectore et armis!: syntactically, the line continues in apposition to hospes, giving two further specifications in different constructions: a present participle (ferens), followed by ablatives of quality (forti pectore et armis). The phrase ore ferre means ‘to exhibit or display in one’s features or expression’ (OLD s.v. ferre 9c). A painfully literal translation of quem sese ore ferens would go something like: ‘as whom (quem) displaying (ferens) himself (sese) in his mien (ore)!’ It may be significant that Virgil already used the expression se ferre during Dido’s entrance into the narrative, more specifically the Diana-simile at 1.503–04: talem se laeta ferebat/ per medios. And it is certainly significant that a similar formulation recurs later on in the book when Dido wishes that Aeneas had made her pregnant before setting sail (4.327–30):

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 saltem si qua mihi de te suscepta fuisset
ante fugam suboles, si quis mihi paruulus aula
luderet Aeneas, qui te tamen ore referret,
non equidem omnino capta ac deserta uiderer.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 [If at least before your flight an offspring of yours had been conceived by me, if in my hall a little Aeneas were playing, who would bring you back in his mien, I would not seem entirely conquered and deserted.]

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 From a modern perspective, getting Dido pregnant before abandoning her would seem to heighten the sense of betrayal. But Dido is so obsessed with the Trojan hero that she would prefer a living reminder of their time together to being left all alone. The wish, of course, is perverse since it hints at incest, and Virgil continues the Homeric paradigm of ‘sterile sex’ for his protagonist during his travels.[4] But Dido cannot/ does not want to ever take her eyes off the Trojan hero.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 [Extra information: Gutting points out a powerful Catullan intertext in 4.327–30: ‘The phrase parvulus Aeneas is striking because it is a rare use of a diminutive adjective in Vergil’s epic. The diminutive recalls the parvulus Torquatus of Catullus 61. There, the parvulus Torquatus exemplifies perfectly the use of children as tokens of the conjugal bond. Catullus explains that the child should be a replica of his father in order to serve as a sign to all of his mother’s pudicitia (61.209–18). But in Dido’s case, the typically conjugal desire for a child who looks like his father has become a facet of erotic desire.’[5] And yet: if we take the genre Catullus is writing in seriously, then Dido is thinking of a wedding first of all, a proper and joyful union blessed with offspring—the problem is that she infects this Roman model of wedlock and procreation with the warped and disturbing desire worthy of a Cleopatra, who did indeed give birth to such a child, Caesar’s ill-fated son Caesarion. Roman readers who pursued the implications of this intertext, then, would have ended up in uncomfortable territory.][6]

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 11: quam forti pectore et armis!: literally, this part of the sentence means ‘with how brave a chest and arms/ shoulders!’ pectore recalls 4.4: haerent infixi pectore uultus, but whereas in the earlier passage pectus means Dido’s heart, here pectus seems to be referring above all to Aeneas’ musculature, specifically his pects. armis could come either from armus (‘shoulder’) or, more likely, from arma (‘arms’). While armus is a possibility (Dido appreciating the buff chest and broad shoulders of her hero), arma yields a better meaning. Dido’s diction here (and elsewhere: see above all below on heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat!) recalls the language of the proem: if armis comes from arma, forti pectore et armis chiastically paraphrase Virgil’s keynote, which introduces his plot and his protagonist, i.e. arma uirumque cano (1.1), with forte pectus as a metonym, or pars pro toto, for uir. Dido’s appraisal of Aeneas is thus grounded in the poet’s reality, however much her overall picture may be distorted by the influence of Cupid.

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 12: credo equidem, nec uana fides, genus esse deorum: credo introduces the indirect statement genus esse deorum, with nec uana fides [sc. est] inserted as a parenthetical exclamation. Dido’s assertion that she believes in Aeneas’ divine ancestry is strategically placed between her appreciation of his appearance (11) and a sympathetic recapitulation of and reaction to his tale of adventures (13–14): both his looks and his account of his deeds confirm his supernatural lineage, which she already took for granted at 1.615–18. The use of fides also subtly hints at the desirability of a third quality, in addition to appearance and bravery, namely trustworthiness and reliability in social relations—which Aeneas, from Dido’s point of view, ultimately reveals himself as conspicuously lacking. Her vote of confidence here functions as ironic foil for the aspersion she casts on Aeneas after she has heard the news of his imminent departure (4.365–67):

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 nec tibi diua parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
perfide, sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus, Hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tigres.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 [‘You do not have a divine mother nor is Dardanus the founder of your lineage, treacherous one, but rugged Caucasus on his hard rocks begot you, and Hyrcanian tigresses suckled you…’]

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 In the light of this radical change of heart, the parenthesis nec uana fides acquires a touch of tragic irony. Even if Aeneas remains of divine descent, the fides (‘trust’) that Dido invests in Aeneas more generally (and not just his DNA) turns out to be uana (‘misplaced’): he is not fidus (‘trustworthy, loyal’) but perfidus (‘treacherous’).

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 13: degeneres animos timor arguit. heu, quibus ille: a ‘breathless’, dactylic line. The gnomic formulation degeneres animos timor arguit is a curiously abstract and negative way of making the positive point that Aeneas has shown no fear and hence is not a ‘degenerate.’ (A degener is a person who has fallen short of the standards of excellence shown by his ancestors, indicating a worsening of the blood-line: put differently, Dido assesses Aeneas as living up to his illustrious ancestry.) This negative proof—arguere, in its basic sense, means ‘to show, demonstrate’, then also, in law court settings, ‘to convict, prove guilty’—reinforces Dido’s and Virgil’s obsession with lineage: the theme of noble descent and ignoble disposition recalls gentis honos at 4.4 (though the causal link Dido asserts between a show of fear and degeneracy also comes as a bit of a surprise given that a few lines earlier she had confessed to be suffering from a significant amount of fear: insomnia me … terrent). Still, by way of etymology, degeneres continues the thought that concluded the previous line, i.e. genus esse deorum, in a kind of chiastic paronomasia: the prefix de– playfully alludes to deorum (though pointing downwards, rather than upwards), whereas –generes picks up genus.[7] As Henderson suggests (per litteras), it is almost as if Dido tries her best to think of ways to put Aeneas down, to diagnose some holes in his impeccable armour and appearance, but without apparent success. From her point of view, Aeneas will indeed come to oscillate sharply between someone of quasi-divine status and being a lowly brute (see the rhetorical bestialization she performs on her former lover at 4.365–67, cited in the previous note): the decisive criterion is the key Roman value of fides (‘trustworthiness’), which he fails to live up to.

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 13–14: heu, quibus ille/ iactatus fatis! quae bella exhausta canebat! Dido continues to speak of Aeneas in an ‘authorial’ idiom and additionally assimilates Aeneas to the narrator. Her own assessment in quibus ille iactatus fatis matches that of Virgil (see fato profugus and multum ille et terris iactatus et alto at Aen. 1.2 and 1.3, respectively), and her quae bella exhausta, while referring to Aeneas’ account of the sack of Troy, harks back to Aen. 1.1: arma [= bella] and 1.5: multa quoque et bello passus and anticipates Aen. 7.41 (Virgil addressing the Muse Erato): tu uatem, tu, diua, mone. dicam horrida bella). By referring to Aeneas’ dinner performance with the verb canebat, Dido correlates his narrative with Virgil’s own narration of the Aeneid: arma uirumque cano (Aen. 1.1). How does Dido know that Aeneas is tossed about by fate, given that she thinks of her own biography as shaped by fortune? She may have picked up a hint from Aeneas’ discourse in Books 2 and 3, where fata figures prominently as a divine force shaping affairs in the human realm. Yet Dido, while adopting the idiom of historical necessity, remains unwilling to draw the necessary consequences.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 14: fatis: fatum (or, as here, in the plural fata) is a key concept in Virgil’s theology, which he introduces right at the beginning of his epic (1.2: fato profugus). Scholarship has been much preoccupied with sorting out how it works in the Aeneid, not least in relation to Jupiter. What has been somewhat overlooked in all this is that the notion of historical necessity implied by fatum was at variance with the conception of history that prevailed in republican times, i.e. an annalistic sequence of years, marked by the entry into office by publicly elected consuls (who gave their names to the year), with an open future. Rome’s civic religion, tailored to maintaining the so-called pax deorum, i.e. ‘peace with the gods’, tried to ensure that this contingent future brought success and prosperity rather than defeat or disaster—but it was a continual process of negotiation with the supernatural sphere with an uncertain outcome. Those who invoked the concept of fate as supporting their own ambitions during the republic tended to be revolutionaries (followers of Catiline, for instance, who argued that Rome was heading towards an apocalyptic and preordained moment of crisis), warlords and potentates (such as Caesar or Octavian who liked to represent their rise to power as the fulfilment of destiny), or individuals with a passionate belief in their historical importance (notably Cicero, who, towards the end of his career, started to see a coincidence between his fatum and the fatum of the res publica, though he remained strictly opposed to any notion of historical necessity). Virgil’s theology is therefore indebted not primarily to the civic religion of the Roman republic but to this revolutionary, autocratic rhetoric.[8]

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 14: quae bella exhausta canebat!: Dido has a point: Aeneas’ narration must have lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Still, the attribute exhausta, which here has the sense of ‘down to the bitter end’, is highly ironic if one ponders the fact that horrida bella (Aen. 7.41) lie in store for Aeneas upon his arrival in Italy and Dido herself will curse the future city of Rome with the prospect of prolonged warfare against her avenger Hannibal (4.621–29).

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 15–19: si mihi non sederet … si non pertaesum … fuisset, … potui succumbere …: Lines 15–19 contain one long conditional sequence. The protasis consists of two asyndetic si-clauses (15: si … sederet; 18: si … pertaesum fuisset). The first is in the imperfect subjunctive (a present contrary-to-fact), the second is in the pluperfect subjunctive (a past contrary-to-fact). They share the apodosis, i.e. potui, which is in the perfect indicative (rather than the subjunctive) since it is one of those verbs that ‘contain within themselves a subjunctive type of meaning (e.g. “could”, “should”).’[9] Scholars are divided on the meaning of the change in tense from imperfect to pluperfect subjunctive. Here is Gutting: ‘Dido’s first protasis is a statement that precludes infidelity to Sychaeus at the present time, but the second protasis only precludes infidelity in past time. The possibility of present infidelity is left open. Thus the change in tense reflects the incremental paulatim abolere Sychaeum begun by Cupid at 1.720. The apodosis, huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpae, leaves no doubt of the cracks in Dido’s fidelity.’[10] Contrast Maclennan, who offers a more innocent reading: ‘The strength of feeling in this sentence is worth setting out. Dido could say in routine language, using the imperf. subj., si non me taederet succumbere possem—“If I were not weary, I could yield”. Virgil gives her the intensive prefix per-; he suggests that the matter is over once and for all by using the pluperf. subj., intensifying that idea by pertaesum fuisset rather than esset.’[11] Who is right?

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 15–16: si mihi non animo fixum immotumque sederet/ ne cui me uinclo uellem sociare iugali: mihi: a so-called ‘ethic dative’.[12] The ne-clause, which is the subject of the first si-clause with fixum immotumque as a predicative complement (‘if it were not planted in my mind as fixed and immovable that…’), specifies what Dido thinks she will remain unconditionally committed to. (ali)cui (ali– dropping out after si, nisi, ne and num) is the dative object, me the accusative object of sociare, which is a complementary infinitive with uellem. The generic reference to a comprehensive aliquis (‘anyone’) already prepares for the exception. In fact, nomen est omen: if one derives Dido from a Phoenician root, it means ‘Wanderer’—suitably enough for someone forced into exile, but the exact opposite of anything fixum immotumque that remains settled and in place (sederet).[13]

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 17: postquam primus amor deceptam morte fefellit: primus amor refers to Dido’s feelings for her first husband Sychaeus or Sychaeus himself (‘my first love’). Virgil elides the direct object of fefellit, i.e. the personal pronoun me, on which deceptam depends. morte goes with both deceptam and fefellit, and there is a striking alliterative patterning that gives stylistic coherence to the entire formulation: p-, p-; am-, mo-; fe-fe-. Note also the paronomastic relation amor ~ morte. The intervening deceptam almost makes the two words merge into one another: amor-de [cept] am-morte. The phrasing is iconic, suggesting the tragic identity of love and death. In the figure of ‘Dido deceived’ the two coincide twice: her first husband is the victim of brutal murder; and her would-be husband causes her suicide. Lyne offers a nuanced interpretation of Virgil’s syntax and Dido’s psychology. He first notes that the idiom derives from funerary inscriptions where it takes two forms: ‘the bereaved are said to be cheated by the death of a loved one, and the dead persons themselves are said to have been cheated by death’ (31).[14] Then he points out that Virgil tweaks the commonplace in an interesting way: here it is the deceased (Sychaeus) who is thought to have deceived and cheated his surviving spouse by dying: ‘“deceptam” may legitimately be seen as reinforcing the action in “fefellit”: “deceptam fefellit” = “decepit atque fefellit”’ (31). He concludes: ‘By his death Sychaeus has cheated her as surely as, much more surely than he would have by leaving her for another woman. Such unfair (and perhaps largely unconscious) resentment in the face of bereavement is something that I think we can all understand. Certainly Dido feels it, and Vergil’s language extorts it for her’ (32). There is yet another unconscious plot embedded in Dido’s choice of idiom, to do with her description of her love and marriage to Sychaeus as primus amor. Tragically, the ‘second love of her life’, her secundus amor, will also deceive her and result in death, this time her own. Dido, of course, is unaware that her phrasing is both retrospective and proleptic: a case of tragic irony, here reinforced by the fact that she falls prey to the (subliminal) trickery of her own idiom, which too deceives her (cf. fefellit).

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 18: si non pertaesum thalami taedaeque fuisset: the verb of this second si-clause is the impersonal pertaesum fuisset, the pluperfect subjunctive of pertaedet, ‘to fill with exceeding weariness or disgust.’ The intensifying per-, which picks up postquam and primus from the previous line, and the etymological play in per-taesum ~ taedae are meant to emphasize Dido’s tedium. But the intensification is arguably a feeble, rhetorical gesture, especially in the light of her subsequent confession that there is one (cf. huic uni, solus hic), who could rekindle positive associations of the wedding torch. Impersonal verbs of feeling have the person who feels in the accusative (remember the jingle me piget, pudet, paenitet, me taedet et me miseret; in our verse, a me has to be supplied mentally) and the object that causes the feeling in the genitive (here it is thalami taedaeque, i.e. sex and marriage). The three times in Aeneid 4 that Virgil uses the term taeda, the wedding torch, mark three important stages in the plot. See Hersch: ‘In Book Four of Virgil’s Aeneid, taeda surfaces three times; the first two taedae are unequivocally nuptial. At the beginning of the book, Dido tells her sister Anna that she is thoroughly tired of the “torch and the bridal chamber”.’[15] Later, Aeneas quite specifically denies that any wedding occurred when he says, “I never held out the torches of a spouse, or entered into a pact!” [4.337–39] The third time Virgil uses taeda in Book Four, he does so in what appears to be a simultaneous wedding, suicide, and funeral: at the end of the book, Dido commits suicide surrounded by the trappings of an elaborate anti-wedding. Dido decorates the space with foliage and makes her pyre “huge with torches (perhaps pine-torches are meant here) and cut oak” [4.504–08].’

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 19: huic uni forsan potui succumbere culpae: up to succumbere, it appears as if huic uni (words that are unspecific in terms of gender) refer to Aeneas, as the one exception to Dido’s earlier, comprehensive dimissal of ‘anyone’ (cui)—an impression perhaps reinforced by her use of the demonstrative pronoun in line 10 (quis nouus hic … hospes). Hence culpae at the end of the line—the noun that huic and uni modify—comes as a surprise. Virgil’s temporarily ambiguous syntax arguably reflects the movement of Dido’s thought. She starts singling out Aeneas as the one man to whom she might yield before calling herself to order and recognizing that such a move would amount to an instance of wrongdoing (culpa). Support for this reading comes from line 22, where solus hic, which is all but synonymous with huic uni, indeed refers to Aeneas. forsan introduces a hedge: Dido confesses to her sister that if matters had turned out otherwise in her past and she had not committed herself to a life of chastity, then, perhaps (forsan), she might have given herself up to this one (huic)—but this one only (uni)—transgression (culpae). This, of course, is precisely what will happen: ironically, Dido’s seemingly counterfactual musings prefigure the plot. It is noteworthy that she here acknowledges to Anna, and to herself, that the pull of desire she feels is a guilty pleasure and giving in to temptation an act of transgression or wrongdoing (culpa)—in contrast to her behaviour at 4.172, after the fateful encounter in the cave, where she re-evaluates her position: coniugium uocat [sc. Dido], hoc praetexit nomine culpam (see note ad loc.).

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 20–22: Anna (fatebor enim) miseri post fata Sychaei/ coniugis et sparsos fraterna caede penatis/ solus hic inflexit sensus animumque labantem/ impulit: the two names (Anna; Sychaei) are placed at the beginning and end of line 20—in antithetical correlation (Anna will pull Dido one way; Sychaeus another). Dido has reached the midway point of her speech, which she marks by a renewed address to her sister (Anna). We learn of Dido’s past in Book 1.343–59, where Venus recounts her story to Aeneas: Dido’s brother Pygmalion (hence fraterna caede) killed her husband Sychaeus out of greed, forcing her into exile from her home in Tyre. Dido’s account of the murder is considerably more bloody, dramatic, and detailed than the one Venus gives to Aeneas at 1.348–50: ille Sychaeum/ impius ante aras atque auri caecus amore/ clam ferro incautum superat (‘he [sc. Pygmalion], impious before the altars and blinded by lust for gold, stealthily overcomes unsuspecting Sychaeus with a sword’). Indeed, there are some incongruous touches: according to Venus, Pygmalion managed to hide the deed for long (1.351: factum diu celauit), which is difficult to reconcile with the notion that the images of the household gods (penates) were splattered in blood as Dido would have it. One wonders whether her specific reference to the penates owes anything to the fact that her new object of adoration, Aeneas, is world-famous for carrying the penates of Troy out of the burning city—together with his father and his son. Arguably, his powerful versus spondiacus and its monosyllabic ending from the beginning of Book 3 (11–12: feror exsul in altum/ cum sociis natoque, Penatibus et magnis dis; ‘As exile, I am carried upon the high seas, with my comrades and son, my household gods and the great deities’) still resonates with the queen, as she empathizes away for love. If so, Dido’s foregrounding of her own desecrated household gods subtly hints at her exile from home and underscores the striking parallels in the biographies of herself and Aeneas.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 20: fatebor … fata: a figura etymologica.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 20–21: miseri post fata Sychaei/ coniugis: another effective enjambment that may convey a hint of reluctance on Dido’s part to acknowledge her status as widow sworn to chastity: ‘after the death of wretched Sychaeus—my husband.’ Alternatively, we can read the enjambment as underscoring her persistent loyalty to her dead husband: ‘by placing Sychaei coniugis in enjambment Virgil makes Dido stress the idea of “husband”, and thus continue the process of attempting to persuade herself not to think of Aeneas so.’[16] Which reading do you prefer?

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 22: post fata … et sparsos fraterna caede penatis: the et links fata and penatis (accusative plural = penates); the second clause ‘particularizes the meaning of fata Sychaei (et is often so used by Virgil in appending an explanation or an enlargement of a theme).’[17] Note the mimetic word order: the murderous actions of her brother have torn Dido’s household apart, and the notion of shattering something to pieces is hinted at by the hyperbaton: the phrase fraterna caede, an instrumental ablative going with sparsos, separates the participle (sparsos) from the noun it modifies (penatis).

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 22: solus hic: this picks up chiastically the huic uni of line 19, and obliquely hints at the fact that Dido had other options before Aeneas’ arrival, notably the local king Iarbas; but she rejected all suitors, making a lot of enemies in the process—as Anna points out at 36-8 (despectus Iarbas/ ductoresque alii…). Her spotless record of having rejected all comers until Aeneas heightens her tragedy: so far Dido has been true to her word and proud of it!

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 22–23: inflexit sensus animumque labantem/ impulit: the design is chiastic: verb (inflexit)—accusative object (sensus): accusative object (animum labantem)—verb (impulit). Overall, the phrase works up to a climax in three stages: (a) inflecto in its primary sense signifies ‘to bend, curve’; here it means ‘to cause to turn from one’s purpose, principles, or mode of life’ (OLD s.v. 3); (b) this sense of turning from what is right is picked up and reinforced by the attributive participle labantem (labo: to be unsteady, waver, falter); (c) then comes the finale (impulit): Aeneas has indeed overthrown the mind that was already faltering: ‘The run-on to impulit, followed by a strong pause, is characteristic of Virgil (cf. 72, 83, 261, 624 etc.) and very effective …; Dido draws a deep breath before her explicit admission that she is in love.’[18] Note the perfect tense of inflexit and impulit: Dido, who previously talked about yielding to her passion in a present and past counterfactual condition, now owns up (cf. fatebor enim) to her altered mental disposition. She has become a person torn in two, being pulled this way by former loyalties and that way by overpowering attraction to Aeneas.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 23: ueteris uestigia flammae: the phrase looks backward to the internal conflagration of Dido that opens Book 4 and forward to the conflagration of her corpse that opens Book 5 (3–4: moenia…, quae iam infelicis Elissae/ conlucent flammis).

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 24-27: sed mihi uel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat/ uel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,/ pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam,/ ante, pudor, quam te uiolo aut tua iura resoluo. With sed Dido calls herself to order: yes, passions are stirring; but, so she reminds herself, she is under religious obligation not to break her vow of loyal chastity to her dead husband. The syntax of the period is as follows: the potential subjunctive optem (24) introduces a wish-clause that specifies two things that should happen (uel dehiscat; uel adigat) before she breaks her vow: the prius in line 24 is picked up by ante … quam (note the tmesis, effected by the direct address to Pudor) in line 27. It is a very elaborate way of saying ‘I’d rather die than fail to respect my sense of shame by being disloyal to my murdered husband.’ This passage is picked up in 457–65, i.e. shortly before her suicide, when Dido visits the marble chapel she had constructed in honour of Sychaeus and where she now hears his voice calling at night (460–61: hinc exaudiri uoces et uerba uocantis/ uisa uiri, nox cum terras obscura teneret; ‘thence she heard, it seemed, sounds and speeches of her husband calling, whenever dark night held the earth’): ‘As Sychaeus calls from the grave, he unexpectedly realizes the adynata which Dido relied upon in her initial oath (4.24-29).’[19]

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 24: mihi: a dative of disadvantage.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 24: tellus … dehiscat: the notion of the earth gaping open recurs in a simile in the Hercules and Cacus episode, where terra dehiscens (8.243) reveals the Underworld below.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 25: pater omnipotens: Jupiter. omnipotens (‘all-powerful’) is the standard epithet of the supreme Olympian divinity in the Aeneid.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 26: pallentis umbras Erebo noctemque profundam: the entire line stands in apposition to ad umbras (25): it specifies more precisely what kind of shades she means: those in the Underworld. Erebus is a Greek loanword in Latin, and several passages in Homer and Hesiod in particular come to mind. At Iliad 9.571–72, we learn that the Erinys, the Avenging Fury, the divinity, in other words, who sees to it that violations of oaths or self-imprecations like the one Dido is here uttering do not go unpunished, dwells in Erebos. At Odyssey 11.563–64, Ajax, after being addressed by Odysseus, silently wanders off ‘into Erebus’ in a scene that Virgil rewrites in Book 6, with Dido taking the role of Ajax and Aeneas that of Odysseus. And Erebus is also the place where Father Sky kept his defiant sons Obriareus, Cottus, and Gyges in bondage, until Zeus released them so that they could aid the Olympians in their battle with the Titans (Hesiod, Theogony 616–86, esp. 669). In Greek, erebos, apart from specifying a location within the Underworld, means ‘shadowy darkness’, and the placement of umbras next to Erebo thus provides a neat Latin gloss on what Erebus signifies in Greek. Otherwise, the design of the verse is perfectly symmetrical, with a chiasmus of attribute (pallentis)—noun (umbras): noun (noctem)—attribute (profundam) framing the decisive cosmographic specification, Erebo (an ablative of place: in Erebus, i.e. the Underworld) further stressed by the caesura (hepthemimeres). A further stylistic touch is the alliteration of the two attributes pallentisprofundam placed at the beginning and the end of the line. Dido does not fool around: she calls herself to order, to re-bind herself to her vow of chastity, by the strongest possible means. (As Henderson puts it, per litteras, ‘putting the fear of Hesiodic Zeus up herself SHOULD work!’) But of course it doesn’t—and the consequences are indeed as dire as the self-imprecation designed to prevent them.

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 27: pudor: the basic meaning of pudor, which is here personified and addressed directly in an apostrophe, is a gender-neutral ‘sense of shame.’ It is clearly one of the key themes of the Dido episode: see also 4.55, and 4.322. The following considerations may serve as stimuli for further discussion of a complex term:

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 (a) Pudor Personified: The personification of pudor is a development of the Augustan period. Bendlin, in his Brill’s New Pauly entry on ‘Pudor’, points out that, unlike other personifications (such as Pudicitia, the personification of female chastity), pudor as a personification of human social behaviour never received a public cult, though Augustan poets often seem oblivious to this distinction.[20]

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 (b) The Literary Background: Virgil has crafted his text with the αἰδώς (the Greek equivalent of pudor, also meaning ‘sense of shame’) of Apollonius’ Medea in mind, and it is instructive to consider the relation between the maiden and the emotion in his Greek model, both for similarities and differences. After waking up from nightmares about Jason and what she might be doing on his behalf, Medea decides to consult her sister, but is checked by her sense of shame (Argonautica 3.646–55): ‘And she truly desired to visit her sister and crossed the threshold to the courtyard, but for a long time she remained there in the vestibule of her room, held back by shame (αἰδώς). She turned around and went back again, but once more came forth from within, and again shrank back inside. Her feet carried her back and forth in vein: whenever she started forth, shame (αἰδώς) held her back inside, but while restrained by shame (αἰδώς), bold desire kept urging her on. Three times she tried, three times she halted. The fourth time she whirled back around and fell face down on her bed.’ Alerted to Medea’s crying, Chalciope then seeks out her sister, whereupon Medea experiences another struggle between shame (αἰδώς) and desire (3.681–87): ‘The girl’s cheeks blushed, and for a long time her virgin shame (αἰδώς) restrained her, although she longed to reply. At one moment her words rose up to the tip of her tongue, but at another fluttered deep down in her breast. Often they rushed up to her lovely lips for utterance, but went no further to become speech. At last she spoke these words deceitfully, for the bold Loves were urging her on.’ And finally, once back on her own, she decides to help Jason and sends shame packing, in a direct address (3.785–86): ἐρρέτω αἰδώς,/ ἐρρέτω ἀγλαΐη; ‘Away with Shame, away with glory!’. Despite the Apollonian model, it is important to note that αἰδώς and pudor are not entirely identical in meaning. As Collard puts it: ‘Pudor is a concept of moral restraint of far greater meaning than Greek αἰδώς. Its power within Dido increases her stature as a symbolic adversary to Aeneas. She is here invested with a peculiarly Roman quality: her humanity and sympathy for Aeneas are overlaid with a dignity of personal conduct appropriate to a Roman lady.’[21] This leads to the next aspect:

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 (c) The Social and Cultural Logic: Pudor is an emotion that ensures that our actions conform to what is acceptable behaviour, either by our own standards or those of others: ‘People feel pudor not only because they are seen, or fear being seen, by someone else, but also because they see themselves and know that their present behavior falls short of their past or ideal selves.’[22] Its remit of reference is broader than pudicitia, which, while deriving from pudor, has the more specific sense of ‘female virtue in sexual matters.’ But, as Kaster notes, in the case of women, pudor ‘was largely limited to a single frame of reference, the sexual: the pudor of women is, in effect, congruent with their pudicitia, or sexual respectability.’[23]

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 (d) Dido as uniuira?: Some scholars have tried to explain Dido’s feeling of pudor with the Roman ideal of a woman who only ever had one husband. But as O’Hara points out, such a contextual solution is far from straightforward: ‘Dido’s feelings also involve the Roman concept of univiratus, or a woman’s having only one husband for life, which in Vergil’s time was partly revered, partly ignored as old-fashioned. Only univirae could sacrifice to the goddess Pudicitia, but around the time of the posthumous publication of the Aeneid widows were strongly encouraged to remarry by the Augustan marriage laws of 18 BCE.’[24] It is thus not entirely clear what aspect of yielding to her feelings for Aeneas provokes pudor and what, precisely, the laws (iura) of pudor are that Dido feels she would break. Her sister Anna, for instance, will argue shortly that giving in to her feelings should be no cause for pudor whatsoever. The different attitude of the two sisters suggests that Dido’s pudor is to some extent self-made or perhaps even excessive—or is Anna simply shameless?

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 (e) Rewriting History: Personally, I believe the discussion could benefit from a shift in emphasis away from sexual ethics to what one might call the problem of ‘literary slander.’ I suspect that the complicated prominence of pudor in Virgil’s text has a lot to do with the fact that this concept focalizes his outrageous rewriting of Dido’s story: before Virgil—and for many authors after Virgil, who refused to give any credence to the Virgilian version—Dido was an exemplar of chastity, who preferred to commit suicide rather than remarry: in our historiographical sources, her own people tried to force her into an arranged marriage with Iarbas and she escaped from the imposition by taking her own life. Inverting this tradition, Virgil eroticizes the historical Dido in making her fall in love with Aeneas, which drives a wedge between the queen and her pudor, hitherto her hallmark quality: if in the historiographical tradition Dido kills herself to preserve her sense of shame, in Virgil she kills herself because she has lost her sense of shame and tries to regain at least some of it in a cataclysmic act of suicidal wrath.[25]

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 28–29: ille meos, primus qui me sibi iunxit, amores/ abstulit: Dido’s way of saying ‘he was the first—and is going to be the last.’ She returns to themes first broached in 16–17: vinclo…sociare iugali is picked up by me sibi iunxit, and primus amor by meos…amores and primus. Commentators note the ‘convoluted word order’ (such as the hyperbaton of meos…amores or the placement of primus outside the relative clause into which it belongs), which ‘reflects Dido’s confusion and agitation’,[26] and the alliteration and enjambment in amores/ abstulit: as Maclennan notes, perceptively, ‘Dido half wishes this were true.’[27] But Virgil, through verbal architecture, has already made clear that Dido is lying or, rather, deceiving herself—even before she bursts out in tears in the subsequent line. For in terms of verse design, lines 28–29 mirror lines 22–23 (animumque labantem/ impulit), an effect enhanced by the fact that no other line in the vicinity features a diaeresis after the first foot. This is hardly coincidental: the words in enjambment, i.e. impulit (subject: Aeneas) and abstulit (subject: Sychaeus), stand in antithetical relation to one another and the construction of the metre, as well as the homoioteleuton –pulit/ -tulit, subtly intimate that her assertion here is belied by her earlier confession that she has fallen for Aeneas.

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 29: ille habeat secum seruetque sepulcro: the accusative object of habeat has to be supplied from the previous sentence: meos amores; sepulcro is an ablative of place, set up by the alliterative sequence secum seruetque sepulcro. The anaphora of ille in lines 28 and 29 contrasts with Dido’s use of the demonstrative pronoun hic to refer to Aeneas in lines 10 and 22 (and with ille in line 14), suggesting that Aeneas has already acquired a more urgent and immediate presence in Dido’s heart than her dead husband. It is poignant that Dido’s first speech in the Book ends with a reference to a tomb (sepulcro). In fact, whereas Dido tends to be deluded in matters of love, she sees remarkably clear in matters of death. Sychaeus has indeed preserved his affection for her, as Aeneid 6.473–74 illustrates: after her encounter with Aeneas in the Underworld, Dido recedes to a shady grove, coniunx ubi pristinus illi/ respondet curis aequatque Sychaeus amorem (‘where Sychaeus, her former husband, devotes himself to her sorrows and gives her love for love’).

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 30: sic effata sinum lacrimis impleuit obortis: Pease notes with reference to lacrimis … obortis that ‘the verb seems to imply that the tears came spontaneously, in spite of her intention, as opposed to the lacrimis … coactis of Sinon (2, 196).’[28] He cites the ancient commentator Donatus for possible reasons: Dido may have been overwhelmed by the affectionate memory of her dead, yet faithful husband; or the tears could be interpreted as an index of the profound misery her determination to remain loyal to Sychaeus is causing her. The two reasons are not mutually exclusive and there may be others as well: the tears could perhaps also be taken as an indication of her dawning realization that she will soon abandon her resolve?

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0  


72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 [1]
See in particular 4.450–51, the moment when Dido embraces death: tum uero infelix fatis exterrita Dido/ mortem orat (‘Then, indeed, shocked and awed by her doom, luckless Dido prays for death’).

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0  

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 [2]
I cite the translation of William H. Race in the Loeb Classical Library edition (Cambridge, MA, and London, 2008).

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0  

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 [3] Goold in the Loeb edition (‘Who is this stranger guest…?) and Mclennan in his commentary (‘What a strange visitor…’) translate nouus with ‘strange’, but that does not seem quite right: Aeneas is no stranger to Dido; indeed, she is quite familiar with his background and story—but he arrived out of the blue.

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0  

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 [4]
According to Homer, Odysseus, despite sharing the bed with various immortals during his voyage (Circe, Calypso), does not sire any offspring; in an alternative tradition, however, he had a son by Circe, called Telegonos.

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0  

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 [6] I owe the complications to John Henderson, per litteras.

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0  

84 Leave a comment on paragraph 84 0 [7]
The term occurs one other time in the Aeneid (at 2.549, with reference to Neoptolemus) and, unsurprisingly, becomes a favourite of Lucan, who uses it 13 times in his Bellum Civile.

85 Leave a comment on paragraph 85 0  

96 Leave a comment on paragraph 96 0 [13]
I owe this point to John Henderson.

97 Leave a comment on paragraph 97 0  

106 Leave a comment on paragraph 106 0 [18] Austin (1963), p. 31. Others, including Conington (1884), argue that labantem should be taken with impulit and construe the sense to be animum impulit ut labaret. Which reading do you find more compelling?

107 Leave a comment on paragraph 107 0  

110 Leave a comment on paragraph 110 0 [20]
http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/brill-s-new-pauly/pudor-e1014400. See further Langlands (2006), esp. Ch. 1: ‘Sexual virtue on display I: the cults of pudicitia and honours for women.’

111 Leave a comment on paragraph 111 0  

114 Leave a comment on paragraph 114 0 [22]
Kaster (1997), p. 5, and, in more detail, Kaster (2005), Ch. 2: ‘Fifty Ways to Feel Your Pudor.’

115 Leave a comment on paragraph 115 0  

118 Leave a comment on paragraph 118 0 [24] O’Hara (2011), p. 23. See Pease (1935), p. 110 for further details.

119 Leave a comment on paragraph 119 0  

120 Leave a comment on paragraph 120 0 [25] See Essay 2: Historiographical Dido, for the full story.

121 Leave a comment on paragraph 121 0  

Source: http://aeneid4.theclassicslibrary.com/2012/11/30/lines-9-30%E2%80%82sister-act-i-didos-address-to-anna/