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Dido, Queen of Carthage

The legendary founder and queen of Carthage is the daughter of a king of Tyre (a man whose name, Mutton, lacks charm in English). After a family crisis - her husband is killed by her brother - she flees to north Africa, where she buys a plot of seaside land from a local chieftain. Seeing his plot turn rapidly into Carthage, the chieftain offers the queen his hand in marriage with an accompanying threat of war if she refuses. To save her city from war, Dido builds a funeral pyre and stabs herself upon it.

In Rome, in the 1st century BC, Virgil borrows part of this legend for the Aeneid. He allows Aeneas to dally with Dido on his way to founding Rome. Her dramatic suicide becomes a result of his betrayal.


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