Why does Aeneas leave Dido in the Aeneid?



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When Aeneas docks in Carthage, he meets Dido and falls in love with her. The text infers that Dido feels like she and Aeneas are married, though they are not husband and wife. This shows the level of love and admiration Dido has for Aeneas. However, when Jupiter learns of Dido and Aeneas’s affair, he dispatches Mercury to Carthage to remind Aeneas that his destiny lies elsewhere and that he must leave for Italy. Aeneas has no choice but to leave Dido, since his destiny lies elsewhere. Aeneas confesses, “I sail for Italy not of my own free will” (IV.499), which shows that his will wants to stay with Dido, but he must leave since he is obliged by the gods.

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