The Queen of Carthage - new collection
Updated: Sep 6
This collection deals with the torment of thwarted love. One of the most famous classical stories in the canon is by the Roman poet Virgil. Virgil mythologized the tragic love of Dido, founder and first queen of Carthage, for the Roman Aeneas in his epic Aeneid. The gods ordered Aeneas to found Rome and he duly left Dido behind. Virgil had her in her grief utter a curse that led to the brutal Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome. In her anguish, she then burned herself to death on a funeral pyre. The tale has resonated down the centuries.
“But the queen--too long she has suffered the pain of love,
hour by hour nursing the wound with her lifeblood,
consumed by the fire buried in her heart. [...]
His looks, his words, they pierce her heart and cling--
no peace, no rest for her body, love will give her none." [1-7]
― Virgil, The Aeneid, Book IV
There are earlier echoes of the theme; one example is from the Argonautica:
Σχέτλι᾽ Ἔρως, μέγα πῆμα, μέγα στύγος ἀνθρώποισιν,
ἐκ σέθεν οὐλόμεναί τ᾽ ἔριδες στοναχαί τε γόοι τε,
ἄλγεά τ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τοῖσιν ἀπείρονα τετρήχασιν.
-- Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, IV, 445–447 (tr. E. V. Rieu)
[Unconscionable Love, bane and tormentor of mankind, parent of strife, fountain of tears, source of a thousand ills.]
Dido's Lament in Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas is perhaps one of the most wrenching arias ever scored.
I am grateful to Lucy.Artmodel for portraying the theme so memorably.