5.4 Vergil, Aeneid, Book 4 Lines 659-705

7 min readseptember 26, 2020

Jack Marso

Jack Marso

AP Latin 🏛

24 resources
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Once Aeneas finished his rebuttal, Dido fiercely responded only to storm off ⛈️ before Aeneas responded as Aeneas ignored her and continued to prepare for Italy. Meanwhile, as preparations are quickly moving, Dido’s will to live becomes shattered as Anna has no luck 🍀 in slowing down the Trojan’s preparations. Dido has all intentions to commit suicide, but can’t sleep 😴 as love takes over, questioning whether she should go with Aeneas or stay in Carthage.
As Aeneas is quickly sent on his way as Mercury speaks to him once more, Dido becomes enraged from the sight once more and asks the gods to take vengeance 👹 on Aeneas and the Trojans. We are now caught up to where Dido recalls her vast accomplishments as she stands atop of the pyre, which is to be her last words. The end of Book IV awaits in the last section.
Before we dive into breaking down the Latin lines into text we can more clearly comprehend, we will answer some questions based on the designated skill categories! The skill categories for these lines are Reading and Comprehension and Argumentation

Lines 667-674

lamentis gemituque et femineo ululatu
tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus aether,
non aliter quam si immissis ruat hostibus omnis
Karthago aut antiqua Tyros, flammaeque furentes
culmina perque hominum volvantur perque deorum.
audiit exanimis trepidoque exterrita cursu
unguibus ora soror foedans et pectora pugnis
per medios ruit, ac morientem nomine clamat:
  1. A stylistic device that occurs in line 1 (lamentis… ululatu) is
  2. A stylistic device that occurs in line 2 (tecta… aether) is
  3. A stylistic device that occurs in line 3-4 (non… Tyros) is
  4. Why was the suicide of Dido grieved within Carthage to the extent as if it had fallen?
  5. Why is Anna acting the way she does as she notices Dido lying on the pyre?

Answers (Don't peek!👀)

  1. Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia is the forming of a word that produces a sound associated with it. In our case, this line features “sobbing, women’s cries” and “mourning” as the city grieves Dido’s attempted suicide.
  2. Personification: Personification is the attribution of human qualities to something non-human. In our case, this line features the “sky echoing with immense grief” which is something that the sky doesn’t normally possess.
  3. Simile: Simile is a comparison between two or more things utilizing like or as. In our case, this line describes the citizens mourning the suicide of Dido “as if all of Carthage or ancient Tyre were falling to an invading enemy.”
  4. Dido was the founder and Phoenician Queen of the Carthaginian people.
  5. This was the norm for how women mourned in classical literature

Lines 693-699

Tum Iuno omnipotens longum miserata dolorem
difficilisque obitus, Irim demisit Olympo
quae luctantem animam nexosque resolveret artus.
nam quia nec fato merita nec morte peribat,
sed misera ante diem subitoque accensa furore,
nondum illi flavum Proserpina vertice crinem
abstulerat Stygioque caput damnaverat Orco.
Translate these lines as literally as possible

Translation (don’t peek👀!) Remember if you have different words than I did, that’s perfectly acceptable 😀 Just make sure they have the same meaning attached to them.

Then mighty Juno, lamenting the lengthy hardship of her demanding death, urged Iris from Olympus, to free the grappling soul, and imprisoned body. For since she had not died by fate, or by a deserved death, but sadly, before her time, enraged with immediate anger, Proserpine had not yet acquired a lock of golden hair from her head, or convicted her soul to Stygian Orcus.

Breakdown of Lines 659-705 🔎

  • Dido’s last words before her death are being transpired within these next few lines. “I will die unavenged, but let me die” is what Dido cries. Dido doesn’t believe any vengeance on Aeneas will take place but just wants the pain and sorrow to fade away 🌬️. Dido is pleased “to go under the shadows 🌑” as “sub umbras” is the same vocabulary Vergil uses once (spoiler alert) Turnus is killed by Aeneas as well.
  • The “cruel Trojan” refers to “he who must not be named” (see what I did there) as Dido wants Aeneas to sadly learn about his death on his Trojan ship and bear 🐻 the consequences of the bad omen derived from it. Aeneas will ultimately see the flames from Carthage in Book V.
  • Dido “had spoken” and in the middle middle of her words, everyone realized that Dido had “fallen on the blade” which was Aeneas’s own sword. Her hands were “stained” in blood and the sword “foaming in blood.” Dido’s death is compared to that of tragedy as in the fall of a city.

Depiction of Dido seated on the pyre surrounded by attendees as she committed suicide. Image Courtesy of Welcome Collection

  • Fama’s appearance spreading rumors is once again noticed as rumor “riots pass through the troubled city.” Houses filled with sobbing 😢, women’s cries, and mourning as the “sky echoed with immense grief.” The sorrow is compared to if Carthage or ancient Tyre had been sacked and becoming burned over the temples 🕍of gods as their Queen has committed suicide, although not pronounced dead quite yet.
  • Meanwhile, Anna hears about Dido’s suicide and immediately becomes frantic. Anna “hurried through the crowd, destroying her cheek with her nails 💅, and pounding her chest.” This was normal for how women mourned in classical literature. These lines are repeated in Book XII when Juturna can’t save Turnus any longer from the overwhelming presence of Aeneas (spoiler alert).
  • Anna called out to Dido, who was dying, in an attempt to bring her back to full health 💯. Anna realizes that her attempted suicide was the reason behind building the pyre and was deceived by her own sister. Anna can’t believe the pyre, the fires, and the altar where they performed rituals to “free her from loving Aeneas” were meant for her suicide.
  • Anna wonders what she should grieve 😔 first in her abandonment and is naturally shook that Dido didn’t tell her about her planned suicide. Anna would have followed the same fate if Dido only summoned her as the “same sword’s stroke should have taken us both in the same hour.” Anna even built the pyre with her own hands, the location where Dido would commit suicide, and that emotionally affects her.

Anna rushes throughout the crowd in hope of rescuing Queen Dido, her sister, from death. Image Courtesy of Martitadu.96

  • Anna reflects on performing the sacred rites and that praying to the gods would only mean her being absent and seeing her lying there. Even before Rome sacked Carthage in the aftermath of the Punic War, Dido is to be blamed 🙊 for “terminating yourself and me, your people, your Sidonian fathers, and your city.”
  • Anna concludes by addressing the people watching over the dying Dido as “washing 🚿 of the wounds” is one of the last rites before a funeral while “catching with my mouth whatever dying breath still remains” is traditionally done to have preservation of the body.
  • Anna had climbed 🧗 to the top of the pyre while she was speaking to the attendees as Anna attempted to bring Dido back to life. Anna brought Dido’s hand to her breast and restricted the flowing of blood with her dress, but only ended in Dido failing to open her eyes 👀 once again. Air continues to escape the “hissing wound” in Dido’s breast.
  • Dido strived to lift herself up but dwindled back to the bed 🛏️ after attempting three times to find support on her elbow. Dido registered that she wouldn’t be able to rise once more and searches for the light as her “wandering eyes” finds it and exhales her final time as she devotes herself solely to death.

Dido commits suicide on the pyre and Iris flies to cut off a lock of her hair. Image Courtesy of Munich Digitization Center

  • The rest of the book is viewed from the perspective of the gods. Juno, who has done nothing to save Dido even though it’s her favorite 😻 city, having pitied the “long-suffering of her difficult death.” Juno finally takes action by sending Iris, an agent of Juno, to “separate the struggling spirit from her captive body.”
  • Although Aeneas was fated to leave Carthage and head for Italy by Apollo ☀️, Dido was never fated to die, nor deserved and did so before her own time ⌚ because of love-filled rage. The death was truly based on her own will 📜, but also doesn’t fill any requirements of dying.
  • Proserpine, the wife of Pluto during the spring 🌻, had not either “cut a lock of her golden from her head” or “castigated her soul to Stygian Orcus”, the god of the Underworld and master of the undead. Iris and her wings golden wings are “dragging a thousand various colors across the sun” referring to her as the goddess of the rainbow 🌈 as she hovers over her head over Dido.
  • Dido’s body is being ordered as an offering to Pluto as Dido is “removed from the body of yours.” Iris cuts ✂️ a lock of Dido’s hair, meaning she can escape her body and retreat to the Underworld. Lastly, the warmth from Dido’s body receded and her “life fading away into the winds.”

The Ending 🤗

Well, that's all you need to know for Unit 5 🤓. I hope you enjoyed reading the Aeneid once more just as much as we did.
In the next unit, we're moving back to Caesar's Gallic War to read Book V. It seems like we just started reviewing AP Latin together, and now we're already nearing the end. Keep pushing forward😃, and we hope to see you back here real soon!
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