How effectively does Virgil handle the relationship between Dido and Aeneas? Consider who is presented more sympathetically, and why.

Essay by HamilcarCollege, Undergraduate May 2006

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There are similarities and differences between Dido and Aeneas and the similarities and differences play an important role in their relationship. For example they are both refugees from troubles they faced in their homelands and they are both looking to save their people and continue the existence of their respective nations. Factors such as these bring the two together, however there are also great differences particularly in what stage they are at in their missions. Dido has already found a new home and is building a nation, Aeneas on the other hand is still trying to reach Italy and this is how the two are not perfect for each other. Also the way Virgil treats the two is very different. While Aeneas suffers throughout his journey, Dido is at first shown as a proud queen who is soon engulfed by Aeneas' troubles. In order to fully assess their relationship and how Virgil handles the two we must look at books 1, 4 and 6 in which the two feature together.

From the very beginning Aeneas is shown to be suffering and immediately gains the audiences sympathy and also establishes him as the main character and the aspect of suffering is associated with him. Also in book 1 we are shown a precedent in the Aeneid, Aeneas having to leave the things and people he loves behind so that he may carry on with his mission. In this example he leaves his father who has just died in Sicily and again this makes the audience sympathise with him but this also links to the relationship between him and Dido. He is forced to leave her behind in order to fulfil his fate and this in turn causes her suffering. In book 1 Aeneas sees Dido ruling her city with pride and...