Great discussion tonight! I will try to use this to post questions. I always have questions. =)
Thanks for your participation, Brenda!! I really love connecting with you this way. :)
Loved the discussion last week! I wanted to expand on something I said during it, regarding Aeneus' culpability and Dido's relative innocence. 1. Aeneus has already shown himself to be inconstant -- he's already stopped twice and started building a city in spite of knowing he's supposed to go to Italy. 2. Dido is under the influence of Cupid, and as far as I can tell in the stories, that's an irresistible force. 3. That meeting in the cave wasn't "shacking up." The goddess of marriage was present giving her blessing, the wedding hymns were sung, it was witnessed. If Aeneus did that knowing not only that he was NOT supposed to stay in Carthage, but that he himself didn't intend it to be a wedding (he didn't even ask her to bring her people with him and help him found his city), it just shows us how rotten a person he is at this stage in his life. 4. Dido's guilt isn't because she believes she's fornicating with Aeneus or that it's a sham marriage. Rather, she knows she's breaking the vows she made after her first husband's death never to love anyone but him. In sho rt, Aeneus is a scumbag and a ratfink and if he turns out to be pia fidelis at the end of the story, it'll be a miraculous conversion.
Kelly, Thanks for these thoughts! I've reread the marriage-in-the-cave portion, and I see now how it is a marriage. Juno arranged and oversaw it. I think what threw me in my original hearing of it was the phrase at the end that paragraph, "she no longer thinks to keep the affair a secret, no, she calls it a marriage, using the word to cloak her sense of guilt." But i realize now her guilt was due to breaking the vow to her husband, as you've said. I don't want to make excuses for Aeneas, but I guess I want to understand correctly. Was he not compelled by the gods? Not in the same way as Dido; I understood the ”spell” of Cupid to be irresistible, too. Maybe he was very lazy and forgetful in accomplishing it, but that they would end up in Italy was foretold by Cassandra, and it was given to him in more than one vision, so it seems it was destined for him to journey on to Italy. It wasn't his own idea and ambition that drove him. And his own mother conspired with Juno for that wedding, although the text says she saw thru Juno's plan from the start. So Venus didn't care at all for the heart of her own son, let alone Dido’s. I'll admit that all confuses me, because I forget which god had it in for who and why, and then I am unsure of the affected human’s agency in their future acts. Also, Book Four, lines 553 & 554, about “the Fates bar the way…”so he was dead to the pleadings of Dido and Anna. I have questions especially now that I know my first understanding of a story isn't usually grasping the whole picture (as I've demonstrated here again, haha). For instance, I thought for a while that Achilles was a whiny baby until I understood better how rotten Agamemnon was. So, thanks again for interacting here! I'm looking forward to more reading and discussion. :) Brenda
Right now I'm thinking Venus should get the Worst Mother Ever prize. Aeneus seems to be very impulsive and forgetful of whatever's not right in front of him. And then when he tries to be determined and manly he's just bone-headed and heartless. Okay, not completely heartless. He at least had the decency to feel tormented over dumping Dido, but I wonder whether his torment had more to do with not really wanting to leave the good thing he had going there. He doesn't seem to care at all what she's going through. Once he decides he needs to leave he's ready to go RIGHT NOW without considering the effect it'll have on Dido, and without considering any options for doing right by her. He does have good qualities, of course. He's brave and seems to be a skilled warrior. He really wants a close relationship with his mother, and he took good care of his father. But still, the whole episode strikes me as being very much like Adam and Eve. She was deceived, and he just fla t out let that happen to her, then sinned knowing full well what he was doing, and THEN tried to blame her for it.