Thursday, September 27, 2012

Similarities Between Dido and Medea

As I'm reading the Aeneid, I cannot help but notice the similarities between Dido's situation and Medea. Dido falls in love with this great hero, marries him, and sacrifices much for him (in line 417 she says, "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 towards the stars."). But then, like Jason secretly left Medea, Aeneas decides to secretly leave Dido. Both men leave because they want to seek greater things - Jason wants to become a king and Aeneas wants to found the city of Rome. Granted, Aeneas leaves much more reluctantly than Jason does, but the men's actions are still similar. Both Medea and Dido are devastated and enraged by their husbands' betrayals and both of them resort to violent retaliation. However Medea's retaliation is violent towards other people while Dido's retaliation is violent towards herself and Aeneas. In both cases, the men perceive the women as irrational. Jason looks down on Medea, who, according to him, is so overcome with passion that she cannot understand the logic behind his actions. Dido is displayed as being too passionate to the point of it as a flaw. As she pines over Aeneas, all the construction ad the success of Carthage comes to a halt. Then, as Dido tries to bring vengeance on Aeneas, he is warned by Mercury, who says in line 760, "Woman's a thing forever fitful and forever changing." In both stories, women are portrayed as less emotionally stable than men.


Madeline Davis said...

Adding to this, I'd also like to point out the weak excuses and unreliability of both Jason and Aeneas. While Medea and Dido are madly in love with their men, Jason and Aeneas leave them for bigger and better things. We know that Jason claims to leave to "make life better" for Medea and their children, which is such a horrible excuse for cheating on your wife and abandoning your family. Aeneas uses the excuse, "the gods made me do it." Seriously? I know that a god actually did tell him to leave Dido, but he seemed to abandon her willingly, not putting up a fight to stay with her. His placing the blame on the gods removes all guilt from his conscience and Aeneas doesn't bother to worry about Dido until he sees her in the underworld after her suicide. It seems to me that if he truly cared for her as he claims he did, there would have been more of an effort to either stay with her or break away from her gently, rather than just leaving. In my opinion, this would have also made Aeneas a more well-rounded and redeemable character.

Anonymous said...

IF Aeneus did not leave Dido, he would have just been killed by the Gods for not for filling his pietas