A Very Messy Love Triange

The Tragedy Of Dido Queene Of Carthage - Christopher Marlowe

This is a rather scrappy play and from what I gathered, the Kit Marlowe's first. In the collection that I read it actually came last, though I am not inclined to believe that the order that the plays appeared in the book were the best to the worst (considering that they begun with Tamerline the Great). The play is based upon an episode in The Aeneid, though is more of a love triangle that has been created by the gods (as is typical with Greek and Roman drama, which appears that Kit is trying to emulate). As is typical of most love triangles (well, not the Hollywood ones, but this is hardly Hollywood) it all ends badly (with the exception of Aeneas, who goes on to found Rome).


I won't go much more into the play itself because while the setting and the story is interesting, it is not my favourite namely because of the dubiousness of its authenticity. In fact, I don't believe the episode actually happened. While I will go more into the reasoning when I get around to reading the Aeneid again, I will briefly explain. The reason that I believe the story (of Aeneas and Dido) is dubious is not just because the dating is completely out of sync, but because I do not actually believe that Aeneas is the founder of Rome. The reason that I say that is because as far as I am concerned the Aeneid is little more than a piece of propaganda that was commissioned by the emperor Augustus Ceaser to create a reason for the Roman's enmity against Greece, namely by making the founder of Rome a Trojan.


Aeneas actually appears in the Illiad, and according to Greek mythology he was one of the few survivors. After leaving Troy, he travels about the Mediterranean. During his adventures he travels to hell to discover his destiny, and then gets trapped in Carthage where he becomes embroiled in a love affair with Dido. Aeneas then manages to flee and as a result Dido kills herself. To me this sounds like a complete rip off of the Odyssey.


Dido, however, has some more solid historical background. She was originally from the Phonecian city of Tyre and was exiled after her brother assumed the throne. According to myth, she then travelled the Mediterranean and ended up in Africa. She was given the option of taking a portion of land for herself, but the catch was that she could only take enough that was covered by an oxhide. So she cut the oxhide into strips and encircled a hill, which became Carthage.


The other thing about the Roman version of the story is that it not only creates a reason as to why the Greeks and Romans were at odds (not that it mattered during the reign of Augustus because Greece was already a Roman province, which makes me suspect that the story is much older) but it also creates a reason as to why Carthage and Rome were enemies. The reason being is that Dido was a jilted lover and this memory was passed down to the Cartheginians who ended up becoming enemies of Rome. Obviously it does not actually account for the fact that both were empires that had come into conflict over a piece of land (Sicily) and ended up going to war over it, but it seems that even in the Ancient World governments would create stories to justify wars.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/877851247