Who is Anna in the Aeneid?

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Greg Jackson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dido's sister Anna is a relatively minor character in the Aeneid, but she plays a crucial role. If it were not for her, it is possible that Dido, the queen of Carthage, would not have formed an alliance with Aeneas and the Trojans. Anna serves as Dido's confidant and sounding board. When Dido confesses that she is in love with Aeneas but cannot marry him without breaking her vows to her deceased husband, Anna applies a practical approach to her advice. Anna tells her sister that she should marry again as this will be a boon for both her personal life and her role as a queen in need of political alliances. She tells Dido that she should not be concerned about breaking her former vows as long as she placates the gods with a sufficient sacrifice. Anna also takes part in delivering her sister's messages to Aeneas, begging him not to leave.

Anna is clearly an easy person to confide in. Not only does Dido trust her with her gravest concerns but so does Aeneus. The Trojan leader tells Anna what his concerns are and why the Trojans must leave Carthage, despite his strong romantic connection with Dido.

Anna's love for her sister is all the more apparent when Dido kills herself. Forgetting her own safety and grief-stricken, Anna climbs on top of the pyre in a vain attempt to save her sister. She laments that her sister did not include her in her plan to die. In the end, Anna represents the strong sibling bonds that exist between the queen of Carthage and her devoted sister.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dido shares a very close bond with her sister Anna. The two love each other deeply, confiding in each other and sharing their innermost thoughts. So when Dido falls head over heals in love with Aeneas she naturally turns to her sister to try and make sense of it all. Anna provides Dido with what seems like good, sisterly advice: she should forge an alliance with this stranger from a far-off land. In this way, the personal—Dido's love for Aeneas—can be put to good use in achieving important political objectives. Dido may be in love with Aeneas but she's also Queen of Carthage, and so has to consider what's best for her people.

Unfortunately, Anna is blissfully unaware that her sister's love for Aeneas isn't real; she's been bewitched so that she can play an unwitting role in a gigantic cosmic drama orchestrated by the gods. When a love-crazed Dido kills herself after Aeneas leaves her to continue with his epic voyage, Anna is wracked by grief. Overcome by guilt at encouraging her sister's relationship with Aeneas, Anna expresses deep regret that she did not share Dido's fate on the funeral pyre.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Here is a little bit more background on the character of Anna:

"After Aeneas' narration, Dido had listened with growing unnatural love and desire for the stranger (a foreign prince destined to come by decree of an oracle).

The only person she could talk about this was to be her sister, Anna. Anna didn't realise the love was not natural; she was unaware the gods had inflicted upon sister a love that would bring tragic consequences to her queen. Anna thought that Aeneas would be the perfect husband for her sister, a fate that was not meant to be. She encouraged the queen to give the utmost attention to their suppliant and guest."

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bmadnick eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Anna is Dido's sister. She persuades Dido that an alliance with Aeneas is in her own best interests as well as in the best interests of Carthage.

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