Dido in most tellings was a great and chaste queen; everybody knew that Aeneas' visit was a Roman invention to provide a mythical aetiology of the hostility between Rome and Carthage. The fault for which Juvenal's bluestocking pardons her and the Christian Serena condemns her is surely her affair with Aeneas; the culpa that she covers with the name of marriage. Building the great city and avenging her first husband are not crimes.

Leofranc Holford-Strevens

In message <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, Rosemary Grayston <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes
I've just been in a discussion of the ever prickly question of how far we
should inculpate or find fault with Dido.  The point was made that Dido
is introduced as dux femina facti, someone who combines femininity
with decisive leadership, and the claim was made that this combination
is presented as unsustainable and that Dido's underlying culpa lies in
her attempt to sustain it. The speech in which she inculpates herself to
some degree  - infelix Dido, nunc te facta impia tangunt?  Tum decuit,
cum sceptra dabas - was cited.  Just to say that though the problem of
femina/dux is undeniably an issue in Book IV, and an issue related to
the painful question of Cleopatra, I don't think that this passage gives
any support to the overall interpretation that I've mentioned.  Even if
the facta impia are her own - and some say that they are Aeneas'
misdeeds, not hers - I don't think that the words can be made to say that
she should have kept out of politics or been readier to submit to a
dominant male.  It's not 'it would have become you to be sensitive to the
evil of those deeds before you thought of taking power' but 'while you
were wielding power', which is rather different.  The actual implication
is not that a Femina can never be a Dux as that a Femina could indeed
lead effectively if she could being knocked off moral balance by
passion: and this sort of proposition surely applies to a Vir as much as
to a Femina.  One could say that in V's view every woman has a
passionate bullet with her name on it, but this idea is rather subverted in
V's text by the fact that Venus the huntress gets a clear shot at Dido
only by taking very special measures.


Leofranc Holford-Strevens
67 St Bernard's Road                                         usque adeone
Oxford               scire MEVM nihil est, nisi ME scire hoc sciat alter?

tel. +44 (0)1865 552808(home)/353865(work)          fax +44 (0)1865 512237


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