Woman is a Thing Forever Fitfull and Forever Changing
The question of responsibility when it comes to fate is an ever tricky one. Depending on your viewpoint, the blame for Dido’s end belongs to a different person, or, if the blame should be shared, to each of the different persons in different amounts. In the context of The Aeneid, Dido’s wholly unnecessary death was caused by numerous simultaneous factors and wasn’t the fault of any singular entity.
Aeneus certainly caused Dido’s death. If Aeneus had not landed on those African shores, Dido would have had no reason to die in the way she did. Though Aeneus’ responsibility is severely mitigated by the fact that he really does nothing actively to cause her death. As he himself says, “he never touched the bridal torch.” Dido and Aeneus were never officially married, nothing was officially promised. Aeneus’ only crime is ignoring the well know axiom of today – and I’m sure ancient Troy had a similar version – that, politely said, urges men to be wary of the mental state of their partners. No matter Dido’s intentions, Aneus had to continue his fate. As he says, “I sail for Italy not of my own free will.”
Not without blame is Dido’s sister, Anna. Early on, Anna encourages Dido to grasp for the “crown of joy that Venus brings” and convinces her of the “great city you’ll see rising here, and what a kingdom, from this royal match!” Anna is the carrier of the messages of love and lamentations. Anna even, however unknowingly, builds the funeral pyre that Dido throws herself on to. But it can’t be Anna’s fault. Anna’s every intention was for the happiness and renown of her sister and her city. Anna did everything within her power to save Dido from her fate.
The fault should lay squarely on the gods. These supreme beings using humans as chess pieces, not caring for the lives of a single one. If it were up to the gods, every human would do a little dance and throw themselves in to a fire for their amusement. Humans...