The Marlowe Society

Marlowe's Works

Marlowe's Works
Dido Woodcut

Dido

Dido, Queen of Carthage

History:

History:

Interpretation:

Interpretation:

Plot:

Plot:

References:

References:

Dido, Queen of Carthage

Dido, Queen of Carthage

Plot Summary

Click on the scene number to read a more detailed overview of that scene.

I.1: Ganymede bemoans his treatment at the hands of Juno to Jupiter. Venus implores Jupiter to save her son Aeneas as the Trojan fleet has been caught up in a storm whipped up at Juno's behest. Venus then watches as the fleet lands safely on the Carthage shore, and (in disguise) urges them on to Queen Dido's court. Aeneas recognizes his mother as she departs.
I.2: The remaining ships in the Trojan fleet land safely further up the Carthaginian coast. They meet Iarbus, who invites them into "our" court.
II.1: The Trojans are reunited at the court, and Queen Dido enters to meet Aeneas for the first time. Increasingly intrigued, she encourages Aeneas to recount his tale of the fall of Troy and their subsequent escape. Venus takes Ascanius away and leaves her own son Cupid in his place. Her plan is for Cupid to have Dido fall in love with Aeneas, so that she will either help repair his boats so he can sail for Italy, or will marry him and make him King of Carthage.
III.1: Cupid disguised as Ascanius does his work and Dido begins behaving erratically and dismisses Iarbus. She confides her sudden falling for Aeneas to her sister Anna, who we learn is secretly in love with Iarbus. Dido offers to repair Aeneas' ships if he will stay with her.
III.2: Juno has found the hidden Ascanius, and contemplates murdering him out of vengeance. But Venus has been warned and confronts Juno. Despite their enmity, the two goddesses hatch a plan that will suit both their ends: to lure Aeneas into marrying Dido so that he will remain in Carthage.
III.3: The party goes hunting, and Iarbus cannot hide his jealousy of Aeneas. He is again dismissed by Dido, and ruminates on revenge against the Trojan.
III.4: The storm raised by Juno duly finds Dido and Aeneas chancing upon one another in a cave as they seek shelter. Dido finally declares her love, and Aeneas reciprocates, promising to stay in Carthage with his love. Dido gives him her wedding ring, and the fate dealt them by Juno is seemingly sealed.
IV.1: The storm is over, and Iarbus' jealous torment is heightened still further when he sees Dido and Aeneas emerging from the cave.
IV.2: Iarbus feels he is being punished by the Gods, and offers up a sacrifice to Jupiter. Anna implores the King to switch his passion to her, but Iarbus knows he cannot change "the course of his desire".
IV.3: Mercury has appeared to Aeneas in a dream with a message from Jupiter, reminding the Trojan of his mission to Italy. Resigned to his fate, he bids his companions board. He briefly contemplates saying goodbye to Dido in person, but feels he would not be able to resist her attempts to make him stay.
IV.4: Dido learns of Aeneas' planned escape, and the Trojans are brought before her. Aeneas wilts in her presence, professing his love and determination to stay. But Dido cannot trust him now, and arranges for Ascanius to be taken into the country so that his father may not leave without him, and for the tackle, oars and sails to be removed from the Trojan ships to ensure that they cannot sail for Italy.
IV.5: Dido's Nurse persuades Ascanius (Cupid) to go to her house in the country.
V.1: This lengthy climactic scene can be divided into three sections. First Aeneas and his companions are visited by Hermes with a stern message from Jupiter to sail for Italy. Hermes also brings Ascanius, and his father realises that Dido's love is the result of Cupid's intervention. Iarbus volunteers to help re-rig the Trojan fleet. Seeing this, Dido then confronts Aeneas about his plans to leave: this time he does not succumb to her efforts to make him stay. He eventually departs, and the grief-stricken Queen builds a pyre on which she throws herself to end her life. Iarbus rushes in, and, distraught at Dido's death, also kills himself. Anna does likewise.
 
Tweets by @Marlowe_Society