The love of Dido and Aeneas: Could it have been viable? As one hopes to have a long-term relationship, one cannot assure its existence or permanence. Some relationships are destined to fail from the start. Dido and Aeneas’s relationship exemplifies this. When Dido and Aeneas engage in their relationship, they fail to realize how they each perceive their love for each other. Dido perceives their relationship as a marriage, whereas Aeneas perceives their relationship as something merely sexual. By failing to understand their love for each other, their relationship was doomed from the start. In addition, their relationship could have never lasted because Aeneas was fated to marry Lavinia and not Dido. Aeneas had to marry Lavinia because it was his duty to ensure the success of Rome. The love of Dido and Aeneas was doomed to fail because Dido and Aeneas perceive their love for each other differently and because Aeneas has to fulfill his obligations.
After Dido and Aeneas sleep in a cave together, she justifies their sexual union as a “marriage,” even though proper ceremonial rites were not made. Dido’s declaration of her sexual union with Aeneas as a marriage is noteworthy because she “set [her] face against remarriage/After her first love died.” (IV, 22-23). By breaking her vow of never remarrying, she reveals how enamored she was about Aeneas. Breaking her vow not only meant betraying her word, but also betraying the trust of others. She points out her loss of integrity to Aeneas as he prepares to leave for Italy:
Have pity now on a declining house!
Put this plan by, I beg you, if a prayer
Is not yet out of place.
Because of you, Libyans and nomad kings
Detest me, my own Tyrians are hostile;
Because of you, I lost my integrity
And that admired name by which alone
I made my way once toward the stars. (IV, 435-42)
Dido’s desperate plea for Aeneas to stay highlights her obsession with him. Dido was so consumed by passion for Aeneas that she lost her integrity and name, sleeping with him and assuming him as her husband.
Aeneas, on the other hand, does not realize Dido perceived their union in the cave as a marriage. He perceived it more as a romantic fling; Aeneas only engaged in a relationship with Dido out of lust. Although Aeneas acts like Dido’s husband by building walls for Carthage, he never explicitly accepts the position. He only stays in Carthage because of the benefits made available to him: Dido’s love and her luxurious gifts....