DIDO AENEAEAfter the destruction of Troy by the Greeks, Aeneas, the son of Anchises and Venus, having saved his domestic Gods and those of his country from the flames, and collected what number he could of the vanquished Trojans, put to sea in a fleet of twenty ships. Being overtaken by several storms, and tossed from sea to sea, he was at last thrown upon the coast of Libya, where at that time, according to the fiction of Virgil, Dido reigned (Aen. 1.340). This princess was the daughter of Belus, and wife to Sichaeus the priest of Hercules. Her brother Pygmalion, king of Tyre, being of an avaricious disposition, and imagining that Sichaeus possessed great treasures, murdered him for the sake of his wealth. As soon as this was known by Dido, she left Tyre, accompanied with such as were disgasted at the tyrant, and, landing in Africa, built Carthage. The town was approaching to completion, when Aeneas was driven upon that coast. He applied to the queen, and was hospitably received. Being after some time admonished by Mercury (Aen. 4.265), he prepared to sail for Italy, the country promised to him by Fate. Dido, who had been seized with a violent passion for him, upon hearing the fatal news, endeavors by this epistle to divert him from his intention, and threatens, in case of refusal, to put an end to her own life.
Sic … concinit; that is, uti ego nunc cano; which the poet designedly omits, to give the complaint a more moving air. Some copies begin this epistle with the two following lines:
“Accipe, Dardanide, moriturae carmen Elissae.
Quae legis a nobis, ultima verba legis.
 Fidemque ferent; that is, eris perfidus; a proverbial way of speaking, not unusual even with us, when we mean to say that a thing is uncertain and of no weight. 'It is no more to be depended upon than the wind.'
 Cum foedere solvere naves. The poet here again plays upon the different signifieations of the same word. Solvere foedus, is the same as foedus frangere, 'to break an engagement.' Solverenaves, signifies 'to weigh anchor,' 'to set sail.' The meaning is, Decrevisti simul et pariter matrimonium nostrum dissolvere, et, abeundi causa, naves portu solvere.
 Facta fugis, facienda petis. 'You disdain Carthage already built, and which offers you a secure retreat; and go in quest of a city which is yet to be built:' for Aeneas gave out, that he had been admonished by the Gods to sail for Italy, and there found a city.
 Materiam; 'nourishment,' 'fuel;' that is, provided Aeneas burns with a mutual flame,
 Dido fraude coacta mori. Whatever is said of the loves of Dido and Aeneas, is altogether founded upon a fiction of Virgil, who introduces this story into his poem to embellish it. Carthage, according to the computation of the best chronologists, was founded only 132 years before Rome; and Rome was not built till 432 years after the destruction of Troy; so that Aeneas must have flourished 300 years before Dido.
 Presserunt humeros. Virgilgives to Aeneas the epithet of pious, because he rescued his father, and the images of the Gods, from the flames, and bore them upon his shoulders to a place of safety. Painters have taken this hint from the poet, and always represent him stooping under the pious load.
 Si quaeras. We are to consider Dido as transported by her resentment, and disposed to view every thing in the worst light. She reproaches him with having before abandoned his wife Creusa, who was the daughter of Priam, and mother to Ascanius. This is affirmed by some writers; while others even say that he slew her with his own hand. Virgil gives a different account. According to him, Aeneas, missing his wife, whom he had ordered to follow him, went back in quest of her, and exposed himself to infinite dangers amidst the crowds of his enemies, but in vain; the Fates had decreed their separation, and destined for Aeneas another country and spouse.
 Nocuit. The poet here alludes to what is related by Virgil, that Aeneas and Dido being driven into a case by a sudden storm of rain, there their intimacy first began.
 Sichaeus. See the first note to this Epistle. By Sichaeus, in this verse, we are to understand a statue of him preserved by Dido, to which she paid her vows with great reverence.
 Diva parens. She here takes occasion to enumerate all the circumstances that may serve to lessen her guilt. She had every reason to believe that he would prove constant and honorable. Being the son of Venus, he had a goddess for his mother. He had given strong proof of his paternal piety, in the care he took of old Anchises; whom, while Troy was in flames, he bore upon his shoulders out of the reach of danger. These were strong grounds of confidence and trust; nor was it likely that a man who had given such evidence of an humane, pious disposition, would treacherously abandon her.
 Exul agor. For some time after the murder committed by Pygmalion, the ghost of Sichaeus came to Dido in the night, and informed her of what had happened, exhorting her at the same time to fly her country and the cruelty of her brother. He also told her where his treasures lay, advising her to carry them along with her, as what might be serviceable in her exile. By these she was enabled to buy the ground, whereon Carthage was afterwards built.
 Hoste sequente; her brother, who pursued her closely. Dido studiously amplifies every circumstance, and gives a long account of the difficulties she had to encounter--a murdered husband, a cruel brother, exile, and the settling among strangers.
 Emo. It is related of Dido, that, upon her arrival in Africa, she purchased of Hiarbas, king of Getulia, as much land as she could encompass with a bull's hide. This she cut into small thongs, and enclosed with it that whole extent of ground whereon she afterwards built Carthage.
Qui me coiere, querentes. Some read in me, after qui: others, me cupiere, or petiere. But the common reading is the best, if we omit the preposition in, upon the authority of the best copies. The construction is, querentes me praeposuisse, 'complaining that I have preferred,' &c. Coire has, in this passage, the same signification with convenire; as in book VIII. of the Metamorphoses.
“Lecta manus juvenum, coiere cupidine laudis.
 Quid dubitas. By this she would insinuate, that Aeneas had forfeited his claim to piety and humanity; since he was so far from relieving one who deserved well of him, for delivering him from dangers, that, on the contrary, he plunged her into them, and then abandoned her.
 Situ, &c. The meaning is: 'The Gods will repent of having escaped the flames, if you are to be their adorer. They would rather have perished with their country, than receive the homage of an impious votary.'
 Sed iubel ire Deus. This is an objection which Aeneas might be supposed to make to his stay. A God commands me to be gone. She means, doubtless, either Mercury or Apollo, by whose command he sought to settle in Italy, as he tells us himself in the
 Hoc duce. This is spoken ironically. 'Is it in compliance with the will of this God, that you have wandered seven years seeking a settlement in Italy? Surely, if Apollo had advised and favored your voyage, he would have preserved you from such a succession of calamities'
 Et advectas Pygmalionis opes. For Dido carried with her into Atrica, not only the immense treasures of Sichaeus, but also a great part of the wealth of Pygmalion; being followed by many of the nobility.
 Inque loco regis sceptra sacrata tene. In some manuscripts, this whole verse is effaced, but in such a manner, that it appears to have been originally written sceptraque sacra. There are several conjectures about the first part of the verse: some read Nomine corregis, others Nomine cum regis. We have chosen to render it according to the ordinary reading.
 Sic superent; the form of an adjuration. Sic vivant omnes qui, Troiae incendio elapsi, tuam fortunam sequuntur, ut tu meae domui peperceris. 'So may the Gods prolong the lives of all who have escaped the flames of Troy, and embarked in your fortune, as you deal kindly with me.'
 Dum tua sit Dido, quidlibet esse feret. Some crities have remarked of Ovid, that he would appear to greater advantage, were his verses in many places transposed; because his sentiments are often introduced at a wrong time, and would suit other parts of the epistle better than that in which they stand. Here they seem to have ample matter of animadversion. Dido, after loading Aeneas with reproaches, has recourse to supplication. What in appearance can be more ridiculous? And yet it is certainly a stroke of the greatest art and delicacy; for nothing could have served more happily to describe the giddy inconstant nature of the sex.
 Nota mihi freta sunt. Dido still persists in her endeavors to dissuade Aeneas from his intended voyage. She enumerates all the dangers which he would probably encounter by hazarding himself at this time, while the season was broken and unsettled; assures him that, when the sea becomes navigable, he shall be allowed to depart, and be even urged to it: that a short delay for the present is necessary, that his companions may recover from their fatigue, and his ships be refitted. Finally, she will learn to bear a separation with patience and resolution; and, therefore, our of regard to one who deserved well of him, he ought not to deny a request so reasonable.
 Eiectam continet alga ratem; that is, Naves undequaque eiectamentis maris obsessae, qua adversos ventos et concitatum pelagus indicant, eas portu continendas esse admonent, et ab itinere retrahunt. Such is the comment of Helvetius. Perhaps it may imply, that the sea-weed floated round the ships in such quantity, as to fetter and detain them.
 Instruis. It was the practice of the ancients to adorn the sepulchres of their friends at a great expence, and throw gold, rich vestments, and armour, upon the funeral pile. Dido, in allusion to this, tells Aeneas, but in the bitterness of reproach, that his sword shall be the instrument of her death, and the ornament of her sepulchre.
 Anna soror, soror Anna. She addresses her absent sister, whom, when she intended to stab herself, she had dismissed under some feigned pretence; and begs her to pay the last offices to her remains.
 Concidit. Ovid takes the story as it is related by Virgil, and makes her kill herself in despair.