Ovid, Vergil’s younger peer, composed the Heroides, a series of fiften epistolary poems in the voice of aggrieved women. The seventh letter is in the voice of Dido to Aeneas. Here’s the Latin original; a prose translation; a commentary; and verse translations by Míceál F. VaughanA. S. KlineGrant Showerman; and James Hunter.

The lament concludes with an epitaphic gesture towards the tomb:

Do not write ‘Sychaeus’s Elissa’, when I’m consumed by fire,

let this verse, alone, appear on my marble tomb:

‘Aeneas offered a reason to die, and the sword.

Dido killed herself by her own hand.’ (Kline trans.)

As Marilynn Desmond observes, “Heroides 7 emphasizes Dido’s role as lover in Aeneid 4; her attributes as amans thereby eclipse her role as dux. . he initiates . . . a tradition of detaching Dido and her story from the Aeneid as a whole, thereby displacing Aeneas as the thematic focus of the text and implicitly disrupting the imperial context within which Aeneas acts . . . the figure of Aeneas becomes a marginal character” (Reading Dido 34).

Raphael Lyne has reproduced online a transcription of an early modern translation of Ovid’s Heroides 7 as well a reply from Aeneas; while the texts are unattributed in ms., he has proposed that they might have been written by Isabella Whitney.

Annotated bibliography on Heroides 7.

Professor Megan Drinkwater (Agnes Scott College) joined our seminar via Skype, to discuss with us her work on “National Identity and Heroides 7: Narrative Interrupted.”

Didon [Dido from Ovid’s Heroides]

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