I would like to take some time this week to indulge in one of my favorite love stories: Dido and Aeneas. Over this weekend, I saw at the Los Angeles Opera Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas;” and it got me thinking about the countless retellings of this couple and their themes of love and fate.
The opera that I saw was an interesting retelling (debuted in 1688) felt extremely Shakespearean and far removed from the Latin and Roman myth. There are no gods and fate is not the villain, but instead three witches. I have provided the opera in its entirety, and interestingly enough it is one of few operas in English.
OR- if you prefer a quicker rendition of it the opera; check this out!
Artwork has constantly retold and reimagined the myth of love and fate to become one of the first (if not the first) star-crossed lovers.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the myth of Dido and Aeneas, it is quite heart-breaking. Aeneas is a Trojan survivor who in his own right is a “hero.” A hero in the sense that his parentage is one involving a god and a mortal. His mother was Venus and his father was a Trojan commander known as Anchises. Aeneas is fated to find Rome and on the way his fleet arrive at Carthage where Dido reigns. Upon his arrival, Dido’s cold heart ( widowed and bitter) is melted by Aeneas and Cupid. However their love is not meant to be, because Aeneas must find Troy and Rome and Carthage must have their resentment and bad relationship for future strife. Therefore, Aeneas leaves to find Rome at the bequest of the gods visiting him and reminding him of his fate. And, thus- Dido out of love (perhaps rampaged crazy Cupid causing love) kills herself and curses Aeneas and his people (Romans).
Furthermore, this story of Aeneas and Dido from Vergil’s Aeneid has also found its way into modern television and retellings. There is a wonderful article on how the Aeneid ( an thus Dido and Aeneas) is retold in Battlestar Galactica (the article is here). The Aeneid even finds it way into the Star Trek lore; as seen (here).