Dido and Camilla - Leaders Blinded by their Passions in the Aeneid

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Dido and Camilla - Leaders Blinded by their Passions in the Aeneid

In Book I of Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneas observes a depiction of the female

warrior, Penthesilea, on the walls of Dido's temple. As Aeneas is looking

at this portrait, Dido enters the temple. Later in Book XI, as Camilla

walks through the carnage of battle, she is likened to an image of

Penthesilea returning home victorious. Virgil presents many such

similarities in his portrayals of Dido and Camilla because it is through

them, the only two female leaders in his work, that he illustrates the

destinies of rulers who fall victim to their passions. To Virgil, a great

leader is one who practices restraint, represses all passions, and
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She also had commanding power.

Venus describes how Dido was the captain of the entire escape venture.

Thus, it is Dido who is behind the founding of Carthage, "a nation hard to

fight against in war." (I, 463) From a ridge above the city, Aeneas

observes Dido's Carthage for the first time:

Marvelous buildings, gateways, cobbled ways,
And din of wagons. There the Tyrians
Were hard at work: laying courses for walls,
Rolling up stones to build the citadel,
While others picked out buildings sites and plowed
A boundary furrow. Laws were being enacted,
Magistrates and a sacred senate chosen.
Here men were dredging harbors, there they laid
The deep foundation of a theatre. (Book I 577-585)

Carthage is a place of progress. Dido's subjects are engaged in building

her city's future political and defense systems. Under Dido's command,

Carthage is to be untyrranical and unconquerable. Dido and her subjects are

creating Carthage's potential future greatness. As Dido is engaged in the

building a great temple planned in Juno's honor, she is initially a pious

Queen who does not forget to make rich offerings to the gods. When Dido

first appears in the work, as she is walking towards her temple, Virgil

compares her to a goddess.

The queen paced toward her
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