In Aeneid by Virgil, on who lays the responsibility for the death of Dido in book IV?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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On face value, Aeneas' departure is the reason why Dido goes mad and ends up killing herself.  It is his insensitivity and his failure to understand their connection and relationship after consummation that causes her to kill herself.  Yet, I think that the fault may lie in the Gods' actions.  Like Homer, Virgil is able to bring out how the temperament of the Greek immortals is actually more akin to mortals, who themselves must act like forces of divinity in impossible situations.  It is Venus who enables Dido to madly fall in love with Aeneas.  Additionally, it is the alliance between Venus and Juno that ensures Dido is going to be placed in a predicament where her sanity does not even register a concern.  It is Mercury who descends to warn Aeneas that his destiny is not to "build a woman's city" and encourages him to leave.  Of course, it is Jupiter who does not aid mortals in difficult predicament or at least provide guidance to them as to what to do in such agonizing of a condition.  In this, I think that a large level of Dido's death can be placed on the feet of the Gods', who use Aeneas as a way to carry out their own desires.


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