The Aeneid Book 4
The Aeneid Book 4
At the beginning of Book 4, Dido expresses her love for Aeneas to her sister, Anna.
Since Dido’s previous husband, Sychaeus, “cheated” her by death, Dido vowed to never marry
again. However, while talking to her sister she realized that she loved Aeneas so much that the
promise she previously made didn’t matter anymore. Anna even suggests that if Dido marries
Aeneas the city of Carthage will become a great kingdom. After taking all of this in, Dido realizes
that Anna is right.
Then Anna and Dido begin to make offerings to the gods (slaughtering sheep),
especially to Juno because she is the guardian of marriage. However, Dido remains unsatisfied and
chooses to put the work of the city on hold.
When Juno sees what this love has done to Dido, she decides to find a way to make
peace, instead of war. She believes that if Aeneas and Dido marry there will be peace between the
Trojans and Tyrians.
After deciding what to do, Juno makes a peace offering to Venus; this will end their
feud. Even though Venus knows that Juno is trying to keep Aeneas from going to Italy, she agrees
to what Juno requests and says, “I’ll follow.” Juno planned to make peace by creating a storm
when Dido and Aeneas are hunting in the woods together. This intense storm will cause the two to
flee and end up in the same cave. In that particular cave, Juno planned to await them and,
eventually marry them.
When dawn rises Dido, Aeneas, and Ascanius plan to get ready to go out hunting.
Dido is dressed as a beautiful huntress, while Aeneas is dressed as Apollo. In the meantime, a
storm hits the area in which they are hunting. They all flee to the nearest caves for protection.
Ironically, just as Juno planned, Dido and Aeneas end up in the same cave. Given the signal,
Juno flashes lightning and the sea nymphs begin to shout while the two make love in the cave.
Once all is said and done, Dido calls this miracle marriage; however, Aeneas does not.
As time goes on, Rumor spreads throughout the entire city that the two are officially
married. When King Iarbus hears of this word, he becomes infuriated. Iarbus is angry because
he had previously asked Dido to marry him; but because of the promise she made to herself,
Dido refused and now she was “married” to Aeneas. Because he is so upset over the whole
ordeal, Iarbus prays to Jove. When Jove hears his son’s desperate words, he orders Mercury to
find Aeneas and figure his true fate.
Mercury follows the commands obediently and flies down to find Aeneas, clothed in
a new, purple, hand-woven cloak from Dido, watching over the building of new houses and
fortresses. Mercury brings the word of his father to Aeneas and tells him to go to Italy, where he
is destined to be. However, Aeneas is unsure as to what to do. He does not want to leave Dido.
Eventually, Dido finds out about Mercury’s words through Rumor, and she becomes
extremely infuriated. Dido confronts her husband about the situation and asks him how he
planned to keep this from her. She even tried to convince him to stay by telling him that the
Nomad princes and Tyrian people were hostile to her. Dido makes one last attempt to try and
convince Aeneas to stay by saying that she at least wanted a son to remind her of him if he did
end up leaving.
Aeneas finally tells Dido that he never meant to hide anything from her and that he
didn’t want to leave her. He didn’t want to even leave the city of Troy in the first place, let alone
go to Italy. However, it was fate that was controlling everything. All awhile Aeneas was
speaking, Dido just stood there in silence. She didn’t believe anything that he was saying. She
begins to wish that bad things will happen to Aeneas and his ships while on their journey. Then,
suddenly, she stops her speech. Although Aeneas longed to soothe Dido’s sorrow, he left to go
Upset from everything that was going on at the moment, Dido turned to her sister
once again. In tears, Dido went to Anna begging her to go and try to get Aeneas to stay home.
Again, Anna obeys her sister’s wishes and tries to convince Aeneas to return to Dido. However,
because of what the Fates have in store for Aeneas, he will not return. Distraught and angered
once again, Dido begins to concoct a plan to commit suicide. Instead of telling Anna of her
plans, she says that she found a magical remedy to make Aeneas fall in love her once more.
Dido requests that Anna gathers all of Aeneas’s belongings and burns them on a pyre, and
Anna fulfills her sister’s requests.
As night fell and Dido was laying in her bed, she began to wonder if she should join
the Trojans on the ships or if she should have the Carthaginians charge them. After much
thought she decides to do neither. In the meantime, Aeneas is asleep on one of his ships. In his
dreams appears Mercury. Mercury tells Aeneas to leave before he faces any danger with the
Tyrians. He quickly awakes and gathers his men. As dawn is quickly approaching, they all row
their way into sea.
When she wakes, Dido sees that the shore is abandoned. She begins to think of
hunting Aeneas down; she also wonders why she just didn’t butcher all of his comrades. Dido
prays to Juno to guard her in her death and to place a curse on the Trojans and Aeneas in war.
Dido called to her last husband’s nurse, Barce, and told her to prepare Anna for the
ceremony. Dido mounted the pyre, took out a sword, and prayed to the god. Soon after, Dido’s
words were gone and her people could see the blood foaming from her bloodstained sword.
Then her sister heard the news. All along, without her knowledge, she had been helping Dido
plan her own death.
After the ceremony, Juno sent Iris down to take Dido to the Underworld. So she cut
off a lock of Dido’s hair and let her life pass in the winds.
Juno offers to make a peace treaty with Venus and end their fight
Juno tries to make peace between Trojans and Tyrians by
marrying Dido and Aeneas.
Venus really knows that Juno is just trying to keep Aeneas from going
to Italy, but she lets Juno go ahead with her plans. This leads Juno to
intervene with the lives of Dido and Aeneas.
After the “marriage”, Rumor spread throughout the city and King
Iarbus finds out about the new couple. He is angered because after he
asked Dido to marry him, she said no. He goes and complains to
Jupiter which leads Mercury to intervene in Aeneas’ life.
Mercury tells Aeneas that he must go to Italy
Aeneas isn't sure how to tell Dido about the news. When she does find
out, they begin to fight, and Aeneas ends up going to Italy with his
Mercury visits Aeneas in his dreams
In the night, Mercury goes and tells Aeneas that he and his troops need to leave
in order to avoid any danger from the Tyrians. When Dido wakes up in the
morning to see that abandoned shores, it is like the last straw for her. She
begins to foreshadow that the men may face harsh struggles while in war in
Juno sends Iris to take Dido to the Underworld
Because there was such an importance to bury the dead properly, Juno sent Iris
down to Dido so that she may be properly sent to the Underworld. She does
this by cutting off a lock of Dido’s hair and letting her life “pass” in the winds.
In our opinion, the most significant event in Book
4 was Aeneas’ important decision to follow the
order of Mercury and go to Italy to fulfill his
We felt that it was so significant because this caused
the queen of Carthage, Dido, to commit suicide. Her
death may change some things to the Carthaginian
1- “Let us make, instead of war, an everlasting peace and plighted wedding.
You have what you were bent upon: she burns with love; the frenzy now is in
her bones. Then let us rule this people – you and I - with equal auspices; […]”
~ Juno to Venus
It is important because this is showing how Juno is attempting to make peace between
Trojans and Tyrians; she is also trying to end the fight with herself and Venus. This
foreshadows the “marriage” of Dido and Aeneas.
2- “Deceiver, did you even hope to hide so harsh a
crime, to leave this land of mine without a word?
Can nothing hold you back– neither your love, the
hand you pledged, nor even the cruel death the lies
in wait for Dido […]
~Dido to Aeneas
These are the harsh words that Dido expresses to Aeneas when
she finds out the he is fated to go to Italy. It is important
because, in this quote, Dido foreshadows that she will be the
victim of a cruel death.
3- “[…]Why not flee this land headlong, while there is time? You soon will
see the waters churned by wreckage, ferocious torches blaze, and beaches
flame, if morning find you lingering on this coast. Be on your way. Enough
~Mercury to Aeneas (while Aeneas is sleeping)
This quote is important because Mercury is warning
Aeneas that if he doesn’t leave there will big trouble
coming his way. Right after Mercury says this, it leads
Aeneas to get his men and start rowing out to sea. When
Dido wakes the following morning, she sees the
abandoned shores; she prays to Juno and asks her to place
a curse on Aeneas. This foreshadows that Aeneas and his
men may face some hard times while in Italy.
Anna ~ Dido’s sister
Has good intentions, but somehow always seems to be in
Unknowingly, she was tricked into helping Dido commit
King Iarbus ~ Son of Hammon
Built many temples and shrines for Jupiter
Asked Dido for her hand in marriage, but Dido denied his
Experiences extreme rage when he finds out about the marriage
between Dido and Aeneas
After finding out about the couple, he prays to Jove which
causes the intervention of Mercury
Motivator of his men
Respects the gods
Marries Dido to gain peace between the Trojans and Tyrians
His trip to Italy, will allow him to fulfill his fate
Queen of Carthage
Leaves Tyre after her husband was killed by her brother, Pygmalion
She falls in love with Aeneas, and breaks her promise to herself
After Dido leaves to fulfill his fate in Italy, she becomes enraged
So enraged, she commits suicide
Ruler of the Gods
Favors the Trojans
Just as in the Iliad, he is the father figure that many of the gods
and goddesses cry and complain to.
Queen of the Gods
Can be labeled as another antagonist to Aeneas
Tries to do her best to delay him from destroying Carthage, as
fate has planned. (creating storms, casting him under love
She tries as hard as she can to make everything to go in her
favor, but it kills her to know that fate controls everything.
Dislikes Juno; often feuding with her, as well
Aeneas ~ Trojan Chief(tain), Dardan Chief(tain)
Venus ~ Cytherea, Primal Earth
Jupiter ~ All-able Jove
Many of the characters make long speeches
Praying or making offerings to the gods
Expressing their emotions
Gods and Goddesses
Many interventions throughout the entire book
They are often looking to finds ways to control fate
Juno suggests to Venus that they make a wonderful wedding
between Dido and Aeneas.
When Dido is confronting Aeneas about leaving for Italy, she says
to him, “Can nothing hold you back– neither your love, the hand
you pledged, nor even the cruel death the lies in wait for Dido
This hints that the two goddesses will intervene and make the
marriage a reality.
Here, it is foreshadowed that Dido will die a horrible death; however,
it is unknown if that death would be murder or suicide.
“Many, many prophecies of ancient seers now terrify her with
their awful warnings. And in her dreams it is the fierce Aeneas
himself who drives her to insanity.”
Virgil foreshadows that Aeneas will be the reason why Dido commits
Dido pleads to Juno that a curse be set on Aeneas and the
Trojans. She demands that he suffers in war and struggles with
audacious nations and watch his peoples’ shameful slaughter.
Dido is foreshadowing that when the Trojans reach Italy, they will
be faced with many struggles.
Weather (harsh storms)
Control of the Gods
Juno sends a storm along the path of Dido and Aeneas.
This shows her great power and will to do as she pleases.
“I know too well the signs of the old flame […]” ~ Dido
The flame represents the feeling of love. Because of her previous marriage, Dido is
expressing that she understands what real love is.
“I should have carried my torches to his camp and filled his decks with fire […]”
The flame and fire represents Dido’s anger towards Aeneas when she sees the
abandoned shores. Therefore, Dido is enraged and wanted to destroy Aeneas and
Can you figure the figurative language?
[…] swift as whirlwinds […]
[…] tremendous turmoil […]
[…] the setting stars invite to sleep […]
[…] dying Dido […]
[…] so deep the roots it reaches down to Tartarus […]
As Aeneas was given his Fate, he was still
thinking about the possibilities of staying with
Dido. Were you ever in a situation, similar to
Aeneas, where the decision was already made
for you… but you wanted to choose the other