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What Is 'Dido und Aeneas'?


Aeneas and Dido [Enea e Didone. Digital ID: 1621539. New York Public Library]

Enea e Didone. Digital ID: 1621539. New York Public Library. From Storia della lettertura italiana dalle origini ai giorni nostri. (Torino : Unione Tipografico, 1904)

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Question: What Is 'Dido und Aeneas'?
Answer: Dido und Aeneas is the German for 'Dido and Aeneas'. It can refer in German to an English 17th century opera by Baroque composer Henry Purcell (c. 1659-1695) that was named 'Dido and Aeneas.' Dido and Aeneas appear in the Aeneid of Vergil (Virgil) as lovers in the ancient city of Carthage, which Dido had recently founded. Aeneas, a prince of Troy and a mortal son of Venus, landed with his band of followers who had escaped from the burning city of Troy and accepted the hospitality of Carthage's queen. When Aeneas abandoned Dido to follow his destiny in Italy, Dido was devastated and committed a very dramatic suicide.

Incidentally, another Baroque artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, (c. 1619), sculpted Aeneas, Anchises, and Ascanius, a famous marble piece showing Anchises, holding the ancient gods, on top of the shoulders of his son Aeneas and followed by Aeneas' son Ascanius.

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