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DIDO, QUEEN of CARTHAGE

by Christopher Marlowe
and Thomas Nashe

1585-6

 

 

Annotations and notes © Copyright ElizabethanDrama.org, 2017
This annotated play may be freely copied and distributed.


 

DIDO QUEEN OF CARTHAGE

by Christopher Marlowe
and Thomas Nashe

1585-6

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

INTRODUCTION to the PLAY

Gods:

    Dido, Queen of Carthage was likely Christopher

Jupiter, King of the Gods.

Marlowe's first venture into drama. The play is a faithful

Ganymede, Cup-bearer to the Gods.

retelling of Books I-IV of the Aeneid, focusing mainly on

Cupid, God of Love.

the North African queen who was caused by Venus to

Mercury, or Hermes, the Messenger God.

fall helplessly and hopelessly in love with Aeneas, the

princely fugitive from Troy. From a dramatic standpoint,

Goddesses:

Dido is clearly inferior to Marlowe's subsequent works,

Juno, Queen of the Gods.

and may be considered a staging-ground for the explosive

Venus, Goddess of Love and Beauty.

Tamburlaine which followed it, but the elegant blank-

verse is still enjoyable to a contemporary reader.

Trojans:

Aeneas.

OUR PLAY'S SOURCE

     Ascanius, his son

Achates.

     The text of the play is adapted from an edition published

Ilioneus.

in 1825 in London by D.S. Maurice (no editor named), with

Cloanthus.

alterations and modifications incorporated from Alexander

Sergestus.

Dyce's edition, cited at #9 below.

Carthaginians:

NOTES ON THE ANNOTATIONS

Dido, Queen of Carthage.

Anna, her sister.

     References in the annotations to various editors refer to

Nurse.

the notes provided by these scholars for Dido in their

individual collections of Marlowe's work, each volume

Other African Leader:

cited fully below.

Iarbus, King of Gaetulia.

     The most commonly cited sources are listed in the

footnotes immediately below. The complete list of footnotes

Lords, &c.

appears at the end of this play.

     Footnotes in the text correspond as follows:

     1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online.

     2. Crystal, David and Ben. Shakespeare's Words.

London; New York: Penguin, 2002.

     3. Smith, W., ed. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman

Biography and Mythology. London: John Murray, 1849.

     6. Fagles, Robert, trans. Virgil. The Aeneid. New York:

Viking Penguin, 2006.

     9. Dyce, Alexander. The Works of Christopher Marlowe.

London: George Routledge and Sons, 1876.

     13. Ribner, Irving. The Complete Plays of Christopher

Marlowe. New York: The Odyssey Press, 1963.

     15. Cunningham, Lt. Col. Francis. The Works of Chris-

topher Marlowe. London: Chatto and Windus, 1879.


 

THE AUTHORSHIP PROBLEM

     The first edition of Dido was published in 1594, a quarto which attributed the authorship of the play to both Christopher Marlowe and his contemporary, the pamphleteer and playwright Thomas Nashe. This is about the only thing that editors and academics have agreed on since.

     Determining the degree to which Nashe contributed to Dido has been a source of frustration for centuries, and the conclusions tentatively reached by scholars have ranged from Nashe having added nothing at all to Nashe having written the entire second half of the play.

     The fact that Marlowe and Nashe were at Cambridge together adds further complications, as it naturally leads to speculation as to whether Dido was a collaboration between co-students at university; at the other end of the spectrum are those who lean towards the theory that Nashe augmented, or even completed the play, only after Marlowe's death in 1593.

     The topic of authorship is explored at length on the website of the Marlowe Society, www.marlowe- society.org.

ALLITERATION and RHYMING COUPLETS

in DIDO

     Marlowe, in this his likely first play, filled Dido with numerous examples of alliteration and rhyming couplets. Of the former, we will point out some of the more interesting and notable examples. Of the latter, rather than call attention to each example, we present below a list of the locations of most of the rhyming couplets in the play - no doubt some have avoided the editor's detection:

     Alliteration has a long and pedigreed history in English literature; the earliest epic poems, such as Beowulf and the later Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, were written in densely alliterative lines, but without regular meter.

     Though Marlowe filled his plays with alliteration, he never used it again to the same extensive degree as he did in Dido, suggesting that this figure of speech was already slowly passing out of fashion in the 1580's.

     As the Elizabethan era progressed, rhyming couplets came to be used primarily but only occasionally to signal the end of a scene, and less frequently the end of a character's part in a scene.

     List of rhyming couplets in Dido:
 
   Act I: i.30-31; i.89-90; i.104-5; i.161-2; ii.27-28; ii.52-53.
     Act II: i.128-9; i.412-3.
     Act III: i.21-23; iii.105-7 (a rhyming triplet)
     Act IV: i.36-37; ii.15-16; ii.20-21; ii.43-44; v.43-44.
     Act V: i.105-6; i.132-3; i.237-8.


 

ACT I.

SCENE I.

Scene I: be prepared: the first scene is densely fraught with mythological and legendary Roman allusions!

Here the curtains drawn: - there is discovered

Stage Direction: a curtain at the back of the stage opens to
     reveal (discover) this tableau. The front (and main) part
     of the stage was uncurtained.

Jupiter dandling Ganymede upon his knee,

Entering Characters: Jupiter is the king of the gods.

and Mercury lying asleep.

     Ganymede was a Trojan prince whom Jupiter, enchanted
     with his beauty, kidnapped and brought to Mt. Olympus
     to serve as cup-bearer to the gods. Here Ganymede is
     portrayed as a young but precocious boy, and thus
     played by a young boy actor. Mercury is the messenger
     god, who primarily serves Jupiter.

1

Jup.  Come, gentle Ganymede, and play with me:

2

I love thee well, say Juno what she will.

= Juno is both sister and wife to Jupiter, and as such is the queen of the gods. She was notoriously jealous of her husband's frequent flings with the opposite sex, and noteworthily vengeful at that. Juno was often described as particularly outraged at the uncomfortable attention showered by Jupiter on Ganymede.

4

Gany.  I am much better for your worthless love,

= the sense is "better off thanks to". Ganymede is ironic.

That will not shield me from her shrewish blows:

6

To-day, whenas I filled into your cups,

= when.

And held the cloth of pleasance while you drank,

= a rich gauze.

8

She reached me such a rap for that I spilled,

= gave or struck.  = "which caused me to spill"; we may
     mention here that the gods drank nectar, not wine.

As made the blood run down about mine ears.

= and caused.

10

Jup.  What! dares she strike the darling of my thoughts?

12

By Saturn's soul, and this earth-threat'ning hair,

= Saturn was Jupiter's father; 12-13: according to Homer,

That, shaken thrice, makes nature's buildings quake,

     when Jupiter nods his head, all of Mt. Olympus shakes
     (the Iliad, Book I, 528-530).

14

I vow, if she but once frown on thee more,

To hang her, meteor-like, 'twixt Heaven and earth,

= Heaven, like all two-syllable words with a medial v-, is usually (but not always) pronounced in one-syllable, the v- essentially omitted: Hea'n.

16

And bind her hand and foot with golden cords,

As once I did for harming Hercules!

15-17: Juno hated Hercules, because he was Jupiter's son by the Greek princess Acmene.
     Hercules had saved the daughter of Troy's King Laomedon from being sacrificed to a sea-monster, on the condition that the king would give him his famous team of horses, a gift from Jupiter. When Laomedon reneged on the deal, Hercules sacked Troy.
     On Hercules' trip back to Greece, Juno drove the great hero onto the island of Kos, destroying the rest of his fleet. Jupiter punished Juno for harming his favourite by hanging her by her hands, which were bound in a golden chain, and hung two anvils from her feet. Juno's punishment is described in Book XV of the Iliad.

18

Gany.  Might I but see that pretty sport afoot,

= with sport here and game in line 21, Ganymede
     emphasizes the entertainment value of watching Juno
     get her comeuppance.

20

O how would I with Helen's brother laugh,

= Helen of Troy was conceived as the result of Jupiter's
     seduction of her mother Leda while he was in the form
     of a swan. Born at the same time were her brothers, the
     twins Castor and Pollux, who by the time of the Trojan
     War were part of the constellation Gemini.

And bring the gods to wonder at the game.

22

Sweet Jupiter! if e'er I pleased thine eye,

Or seemèd fair, walled-in with eagle's wings,

= "appeared beautiful to you".  = Ganymede was often
     portrayed in art at the moment when he was carried
     away by Jupiter in the guise of an enormous eagle.

24

Grace my immortal beauty with this boon,

= favour.

And I will spend my time in thy bright arms.

26

Jup.  What is't, sweet wag, I should deny thy youth?

= playful form of address for a mischievous boy.2

28

Whose face reflects such pleasure to mine eyes,

As I, exhaled with thy fire-darting beams,

= "as I, consumed with burning passion" (Ribner, p. 4).13

30

Have oft driven back the horses of the Night,

30-31: in this rhyming couplet, Jupiter, perhaps hyper-

Whenas they would have haled thee from my sight.

     bolically, explains how he has kept Night from arriving,
     because its appearance meant Ganymede would have to
     go to sleep, thus denying Jupiter his company.
         Marlowe frequently uses the image of Night coming
     on in a rusty coach.
  

32

Sit on my knee, and call for thy content,

= "ask for anything that would make you happy".

Control proud Fate, and cut the thread of Time;

33: allusion to the three Fates, who determine the length of
     every person's life; Atropos was the Fate who cut the
     thread of life which brought death.

34

Why, are not all the gods at thy command,

And Heaven and earth the bounds of thy delight?

= the sense is, "the outer limits of your playground".

36

Vulcan shall dance to make thee laughing sport,

36: Vulcan is the god of fire and the blacksmith god; lame
     since birth (at least according to Homer, though other
     stories trace his crippled condition to a later fall to earth
     from the sky), Vulcan's condition was a cruel source of
     amusement for the other gods.

And my nine daughters sing when thou art sad;

= Jupiter was the father of the nine Muses, the goddesses
     of both song specifically and the arts in general.

38

From Juno's bird I'll pluck her spotted pride,

38: Jupiter refers to the peacock, a bird sacred to and most
     frequently associated with Juno.

To make thee fans wherewith to cool thy face:

40

And Venus' swans shall shed their silver down,

= swans were sacred to Venus.

To sweeten out the slumbers of thy bed:

42

Hermes no more shall shew the world his wings,

42: Hermes is the Greek name for Mercury; as the messenger god, he was usually depicted wearing winged sandals and a winged cap.

If that thy fancy in his feathers dwell,

44

But, as this one, I'll tear them all from him,

= Jupiter plucks a feather from the sleeping Mercury's cap
     or sandals.

Do thou but say, "their colour pleaseth me."

46

Hold here, my little love, these linkèd gems

= chain of jewels.

My Juno wore upon her marriage day,

48

Put thou about thy neck, my own sweet heart,

And trick thy arms and shoulders with my theft.

= adorn.  = ie. "these jewels I stole from Juno" (Dyce, p.
     251).9

50

Gany.  I would have a jewèl for mine ear,

= ie. "like", or "also like".9

52

And a fine brooch to put into my hat,

And then I'll hug with you an hundred times.

54

Jup.  And shall have, Ganymede, if thou wilt be my love.

56

Enter Venus.

Entering Character: Venus, the goddess of beauty and

58

love, is the mother of Aeneas, the hero of the Aeneid. Virgil portrayed her as actively solicitous for her son's welfare.

Venus.  Aye, this is it; you can sit toying there,

60

And playing with that female wanton boy,

= delicate, effeminate.

While my Aeneas wanders on the seas,

61: Aeneas, a Trojan prince, was forced to flee Troy with a
     large number of followers - enough to fill 24 ships - after
     its destruction by the Greeks. Aeneas has so far traveled
     the seas for seven years, trying to get to Italy to fulfill his
     destiny to be founder of the Roman race, but is always
     sidetracked by the intervention of Juno, who hated the
     Trojans.
   

62

And rests a prey to every billow's pride.

= ocean wave's.

Juno, false Juno, in her chariot's pomp,

= treacherous Juno. Juno had supported the Greeks against
     the Trojans, and her hatred of the Trojans was further
     fueled by the fact that her favourite people, the
     Carthaginians, were fated to be destroyed by the future
     Romans, who would descend from Aeneas and his fellow
     Trojans. Hence Juno did everything in her power to delay
     what fate decreed could not ultimately be prevented.
 

64

Drawn through the heavens by steeds of Boreas' brood,

= Boreas was the north wind; he was described by Homer
     as having mated with and produced offspring from the
     horses of Erichthonius, an ancestor of the Trojan royal
     family.

Made Hebe to direct her airy wheels

65-66: Juno's chariot (airy wheels) was guided by her

66

Into the windy country of the clouds;

     daughter Hebe to the land (country) ruled by Aeolus,
     the lord of the winds.
         Hebe functioned as a general servant to Juno.

Where, finding Aeölus intrenched with storms,

= Aeolus was the king of the Aeolian Islands, and had been
     given charge of the winds, which he kept chained in his
     dungeon, under orders to keep strict control of them.3

68

And guarded with a thousand grisly ghosts,

She humbly did beseech him for our bane,

= "our destruction"; Venus conflates Aeneas' ruin with
     her own.

70

And charged him drown my son with all his train.

= commanded.  = all his retinue, ie. Aeneas' entire fleet.

Then ‘gan the winds break ope their brazen doors,

71: the winds began to break free from their confinement;
     brazen = bronze.

72

And all Aeolia to be up in arms;

= the islands ruled by Aeolus.
 

Poor Troy must now be sacked upon the sea,

= Venus identifies the fleet of Trojans with the city of Troy
     itself, given that these wanderers are all that is left of
     that great people.

74

And Neptune's waves be envious men of war;

74-78: within this extended military metaphor of Aeolus at
     war with Aeneas, the waves raised by Aeolus' winds
     are depicted as soldiers as they crash onto the Trojans'
     ships. Neptune is the god of the sea.
         envious = hateful, malicious.
 

Epeus' horse, to Aetna's hill transformed,

= Epeus was the builder of the Trojan horse, the instrument
     of Troy's destruction, which is by analogy identified with
     Mt. Etna, the volcano on Sicily's eastern shore, in front
     of which are located dangerous rocks and reefs.

76

Preparèd stands to wrack their wooden walls;

76: the volcano (or the dangers off the shore before it)
     prepares to ambush (stand refers to an "ambush", a
     noun) to wreck the ships (walls is a synecdoche - a
     figure of speech in which a named part of something
     represents the whole - for the ship).
 

And Aeölus, like Agamemnon, sounds

77-82: elements of the war against Aeneas are directly

78

The surges, his fierce soldiers, to the spoil:

     compared to those of the Trojan War: in 77-78, Aeolus,
     in charge of the winds, is identified with Agamemnon,
     the commander of the Greek forces.
         surges = waves.
 

See how the night, Ulysses-like, comes forth,

79-80: the night steals quickly upon the Trojan ships. The

80

And intercepts the day as Dolon erst!

     reference is to an episode in Book X of the Iliad, in
     which the Greeks Ulysses (the Roman name for
     Odysseus) and Diomedes captured a Trojan named
     Dolon who had entered the Greek ranks to spy on them.
     Once Dolon had revealed the Trojans' dispositions to
     his Greek captors, Diomedes sliced off his head.
         as Dolon erst = as he (Ulysses) did intercept Dolon
     at a previous time.
 

Ah, me! The stars surprised, like Rhesus' steeds,

81-82: the stars suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves

82

Are drawn by darkness forth Astraeus' tents.

     shining (since Ulysses has cut off the day).
         surprised = overcome or overpowered when unpre-
     pared.9  
         Rhesus' steeds = having learned from Dolon the
     location of the camp where the Thracians, Trojan allies
     led by their king Rhesus, were sleeping, and where they
     kept their fine horses, Ulysses and Diomedes snuck up
     on the Thracians, and as Ulysses untied and drove away
     the horses, Diomedes slaughtered a dozen of the sleeping
     enemy, including their king.
         forth = from.
        Astraeus = this Titan god was the father of all the stars.3

What shall I do to save thee, my sweet boy?

84

Whenas the waves do threat our crystal world,

84: "when the waves are so high they threaten the homes of
     us, the gods"; the palaces of the gods were built above
     the clouds on Mt. Olympus.

And Proteus, raising hills of floods on high,

= well-known sea god possessing the ability to change his
     form at will.
 

86

Intends, ere long, to sport him in the sky.

= transport Aeneas up to the sky, ie. kill him.

False Jupiter! reward'st thou virtue so?

87-88: Aeneas was understood to be one of the great heroes

88

What! Is not piety exempt from woe?

     of the age, courageous in battle, courteous to all, and
     famously pious; he deserves better treatment from the
     gods!

Then die, Aeneas, in thy innocence,

90

Since that religion hath no recompense.

90: "since piety is no longer rewarded."

92

Jup.  Content thee, Cythereä, in thy care,

92: Content thee = "be satisfied", ie. "worry no longer".
     Cytherea = alternate name for Venus. 
     care = anxiety.

Since thy Aeneas' wandering fate is firm,

93f: Jupiter comforts Venus; Aeneas' fate, which is to one
     day found the Roman race, is unalterable, no matter what
     obstacles the gods throw in his path.

94

Whose weary limbs shall shortly make repose

= rest or sleep.1

In those fair walls I promised him of yore:

= ie. the protective walls the Trojans will eventually build
     for Rome.
 

96

But first in blood must his good fortune bud,

96: note the rhyme within the line.

Before he be the lord of Turnus' town,

97-99: Turnus is the king of the Rutulians, and will become
     Aeneas' primary enemy once the Trojans land in Italy;
     the Trojans will be forced to fight a long war with the
     natives before they can settle peacefully in Italy. Aeneas
     will slay Turnus in the climax of the Aeneid.

98

Or force her smile, that hitherto hath frowned:

98: ie. or before Juno will (finally) no longer make Aeneas
     the target of her displeasure.

Three winters shall he with the Rutiles war,

= the Rutulians, a tribe of Italy.

100

And, in the end, subdue them with his sword;

And full three summers likewise shall he waste,

102

In managing those fierce barbarian minds;

= controlling.

Which once performed, poor Troy, so long suppressed,

104

From forth her ashes shall advance her head,

= power, strength.

And flourish once again, that erst was dead.

= previously.

106

But bright Ascanius, beauty's better work,

106-8: Aeneas' son Ascanius is fated to become the Romans'
     first great king.

Who with the sun divides one radiant shape,

107: ie. who is as attractive as Apollo, the sun-god (Ribner,
     p. 6).13

108

Shall build his throne amidst those starry towers,

= the shining walls of Rome.

That earth-born Atlas, groaning, underprops:

= Atlas was the Titan god responsible for carrying the
     heavens on his shoulders.
 

110

No bounds, but Heaven, shall bound his empery,

110: Rome's boundaries will be limited only by Heaven
     itself.
         empery = empire; a favourite word of Marlowe's.

Whose azured gates, enchasèd with his name,

= blue as the sky.  = inscribed; or suggesting Ascanius'
     name will be written in jewels set in the door (Ribner,
     p. 6).13

112

Shall make the morning haste her gray uprise,

To feed her eyes with his engraven fame.

111-3: Morning will hurry to arrive every day so that it can
     feast its eyes on all that is Rome.

114

Thus, in stout Hector's race, three hundred years

114: stout Hector's race = brave Hector's descendants;

The Roman sceptre royal shall remain,

     Hector, a cousin of Aeneas, was a Trojan prince, a son
     of Troy's King Priam, and the greatest fighter on the
     Trojan side.
         114-5: three hundred…remain = the immediate
     descendants of Aeneas and Ascanius will rule Rome as
     kings for three centuries.
 

116

Till that a princess, priest-conceived by Mars,

116-7: Silvia, a vestal virgin (and as such a priestess of 

Shall yield to dignity a double birth,

     Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, but not a princess),
     was raped by Mars, the god of war, and produced the
     twins Romulus and Remus, who went on to found the
     city of Rome (the Roman capital prior to this had been
     Alba Longa, several miles south-east of Rome).3

118

Who will eternish Troy in their attempts.

= immortalize.

120

Venus.  How may I credit these thy flattering terms,

= "how can I believe".

When yet both sea and sands beset their ships,

122

And Phoebus, as in Stygian pools, refrains

122-3: a highly allusive and densely image-filled way of

To taint his tresses in the Tyrrhene main?

saying, "and the sun refuses to shine on the Mediterranean Sea (Tyrrhene Main)?"
     Phoebus refers to Apollo in his guise as the sun-god, frequently used to mean the sun itself.
     as in Stygian pools = Stygian refers specifically to Hades' River Styx, but Stygian pools more generally to all the lakes and rivers of the underworld; the point is that the sun refuses to rise over earth just as it never shines its light on the underworld.
     taint his tresses = dip its hair, metaphorically meaning "to shine (on)".9 The intended image may be the moment of sunrise over the horizon as one looks out towards the sea, when the sun seems to be rising out of the water.
     Cunningham has a somewhat different interpretation of 122-3: he suggests taint has its normal meaning of "stain" or "tarnish", and that Phoebus does not want to stain his hair in the sea, just as he would not want to sully it by dipping it into a lake or river of Hades (p. 338).15

124

Jup.  I will take order for that presently: −

125: "I will take steps to address this (take order)1 at once."

126

Hermes, awake! and haste to Neptune's realm;

= hurry.

Whereas the wind-god, warring now with Fate,

= where.  = ie. Aeolus' winds are delaying or preventing
     Aeneas' fate from being fulfilled.

128

Besiege the offspring of our kingly loins,

128: in some stories, Venus was the daughter Jupiter and
     the Titan goddess Dione, hence making Aeneas, through
     Venus, Jupiter's grandson (offspring).3

Charge him from me to turn his stormy powers,

= command.  = divert.1

130

And fetter them in Vulcan's sturdy brass,

130: "and tie up the winds in brass chains", which would
     have been manufactured by the smith god.

That durst thus proudly wrong our kinsman's peace.

= dares.

132

[Exit Hermes.]

134

Venus, farewell! thy son shall be our care; −

136

Come, Ganymede, we must about this gear.

= "go about this business."

138

[Exeunt Jupiter and Ganymede.]

138: the scene now changes to the woods along the shore of Carthage. The original edition of Dido contained no scene locations; all settings in this edition are the suggestions of Dyce.

140

Venus.  Disquiet seas, lay down your swelling looks,

140-151: Venus apostrophizes (that is, she speaks to entities
     which are either inanimate or not physically present) first
     to the sea (lines 140-4), then to Oceanus (145-7).

And court Aeneas with your calmy cheer,

142

Whose beauteous burden well might make you proud,

Had not the heavens, conceived with hell-born clouds,

= made pregnant.1

144

Veiled his resplendent glory from your view;

= concealed.

For my sake, pity him, Oceänus,

= in ancient times, the known world was believed to be
     comprised of a single land-mass, made up of Europe,
     Asia, and Africa; all of which were surrounded by a
     single massive river, whose name and associated god
     were both called Oceanus.

146

That erst-while issued from thy wat'ry loins,

= "I who was earlier born from"; Venus alludes to the
     alternative story of her birth, in which she rose on the
     shore of Cyprus from the foam of the sea.

And had my being from thy bubbling froth:

148

Triton, I know, hath filled his trump with Troy,

148: Triton was another sea-god, and son of Neptune; he
     was usually portrayed with a trumpet (trump) made out
     of a conch shell, which he blew (filled) to calm the
     waves, but sometimes in battle; in this case, he has
     blown his horn to announce the fall of Troy (Ribner,
     p. 6).13
         Note the nice alliteration with tr- in this line.

And, therefore, will take pity on his toil,

= struggle or labours.1

150

And call both Thetis and Cymodoce,

150: both Thetis and Cymodoce were Nereids, or sea
     nymphs; the former married the mortal Peleus, and
     became the mother of Achilles.

To succour him in this extremity.

= aid.

152

Enter Aeneas, Ascanius, Achates, and one or two more.

Entering Characters: Aeneas has landed on North Africa's

154

shore with a total of seven ships (out of the original twenty-four he left his last port of call with), though he does not know yet where he is. Ascanius is Aeneas' young son; Achates is a Trojan who has landed with Aeneas.

What do I see? my son now come on shore?

156

Venus, how art thou compassed with content,

= enveloped, filled.

The while thine eyes attract their sought-for joys: −

= while, as.

158

Great Jupiter! still honoured may’st thou be,

For this so friendly aid in time of need! −

160

Here in this bush disguisèd will I stand,

= hidden.1

While my Aeneas spends himself in plaints,

= exhausts.1  = laments.

162

And Heaven and earth with his unrest acquaints.

162: Aeneas acquaints Heaven and earth of his apprehen-
     sion (unrest); a typically complex inverted sentence.

164

Æn.  You sons of care, companions of my course,

= poetic description of Aeneas' Trojan companions, who
     are at the moment defined by their worry or grief.1

Priam's misfortune follows us by sea,

= Priam was the king of Troy. His misfortune was the loss
     of his kingdom generally and the bad luck now following
     Aeneas and his Trojans specifically.
 

166

And Helen's rape doth haunt us at the heels.

= Helen of Troy's abduction; in a very real sense, the entire story of the destruction of Troy and its collateral damage to and disruption of the lives of countless men, women and children can be traced back to the decision by Helen to leave her husband, King Menelaus of Sparta, and elope with the Trojan prince Paris to Troy. The Greek brothers Menelaus and King Agamemnon of Mycenae incited the entire Greek world to join their crusade against the Trojans.
     Helen is often referred to in literature as a whore for having left her husband on her own volition, but she is sometimes described, as here, as having been abducted, depending on the point the speaker wants to make, so as to appear to shift the responsibility for the entire tragic history which followed onto Paris and the Trojans.
 

How many dangers have we overpast?

= endured, passed through.1

168

Both barking Scylla, and the sounding rocks,

168: Scylla was a monster that lived in a cave overlooking
     the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian
     mainland; she would pluck up and eat sailors from ships
     that passed too close to her shore. Homer describes her
     voice as sounding like the barking of a dog.
         In trying to reach the western shore of Italy from its
     eastern shore, Aeneas sailed all the way around Sicily
     rather than have to pass this fearsome sea-monster (in
     the Odyssey, Scylla consumed six of Ulysses' men as
     they passed her rocks).
  

The Cyclops' shelves, and grim Ceraunia's seat,

169: Cyclops' shelves = the reference is to a harbour along the eastern coast of Sicily near Mt. Etna; here the Trojans briefly landed, only to learn the neighbourhood was home to the race of man-eating one-eyed giants, and when the Cyclops Polyphemus - the one which had captured Ulysses and his men, only to have his eye burnt out by the wily Greek captain - began to chase them, they quickly departed.
     shelves = sandbanks.
     grim Ceraunia's seat = reference to a mountain chain which runs in part along the western coast of Epirus in ancient Greece, now Albania, and which was very dangerous to navigate.5 From here Aeneas crossed the Strait of Otranto to reach the heel of Italy.
 

170

Have you o'ergone, and yet remain alive.

= crossed or passed.1

Pluck up your hearts, since fate still rests our friend,

= always remains.

172

And changing heavens may those good days return,

= ie. "repay" or "return to us".

Which Pergama did vaunt in all her pride.

= another name for Troy.  = boast of.

174

Acha.  Brave Prince of Troy, thou only art our god,

= "our only god is you".

176

That, by thy virtues, free’st us from annoy,

= harm.2

And mak'st our hopes survive to coming joys!

178

Do thou but smile, and cloudy Heaven will clear,

Whose night and day descendeth from thy brows;

180

Though we be now in éxtreme misery,

And rest the map of weather-beaten woe,

= remain.  = picture or image.

182

Yet shall the agèd sun shed forth his hair,

= "his blazing tresses" (Dyce, p. 253.)9

To make us live unto our former heat,

184

And every beast the forest doth send forth,

Bequeath her young ones to our scanted food.

= limited; in 184-5, Achates expresses hope that now they

186

     have landed, they will be able to find something to eat!

Asc.  Father, I faint; good father, give me meat.

188

Æn.  Alas! sweet boy, thou must be still a while,

190

Till we have fire to dress the meat we killed.

= cook.1

Gentle Achates, reach the tinder-box,

192

That we may make a fire to warm us with,

And roast our new-found victuals on this shore.

189-193: Aeneas in this speech seems to suggest the Trojans have already killed some game to eat, yet below in line 204 he announces he will go explore inland to see if there are any "beasts" around.

194

Venus.  See what strange arts necessity finds out:

195: a variation on "necessity is the mother of invention."
     arts = skills, cunning or strategies.1

196

How near, my sweet Aeneas, art thou driven!

196: "to what difficulty, Aeneas, you have been forced!"1

198

Æn.  Hold; take this candle, and go light a fire;

You shall have leaves and windfall boughs enow

= branches blown down by the wind.  = plural form of

200

Near to these woods, to roast your meat withal:

     enough.

Ascanius, go and dry thy drenchèd limbs,

202

While I with my Achates rove abroad,

To know what coast the wind hath driven us on,

204

Or whether men or beasts inhabit it.

206

Acha.  The air is pleasant, and the soil most fit

For cities, and society's supports;

208

Yet much I marvel that I cannot find

No steps of men imprinted in the earth.

= any; the double negative (I cannot find no steps) was

210

     acceptable in Elizabethan language.

Venus.  [Aside]

212

Now is the time for me to play my part. −

212: Venus compares herself to an actor on stage - there
     were no actresses in Elizabethan times!

Ho, young men! saw you, as you came,

= "did any of you see".

214

Any of all my sisters wand’ring here,

Having a quiver girded to her side,

= tied (around).

216

And clothèd in a spotted leopard's skin?

218

Æn.  I neither saw nor heard of any such.

But what may I, fair virgin, call your name,

= maiden.

220

Whose looks set forth no mortal form to view,

220f: even disguised as a mere mortal, Venus cannot fully
     hide her divine nature.

Nor speech bewrays aught human in thy birth?

= betrays, reveals.  = anything mortal, ie. she is no mortal.

222

Thou art a goddess that delud'st our eyes,

And shroud'st thy beauty in this borrowed shape;

224

But whether thou the sun's bright sister be,

224-5: Diana, the goddess of the hunt, was the twin sister

Or one of chaste Diana's fellow nymphs,

     of Apollo, the sun god; as a virgin-goddess, Diana's
     woodland followers - her nymphs - were also expected
     to retain their maidenhoods, hence the adjective chaste.

226

Live happy in the height of all content,

And lighten our extremes with this one boon,

= hardships.1  = favour.

228

As to instruct us under what good Heaven

= inform.

We breathe as now, and what this world is called

230

On which, by tempest's fury, we are cast?

Tell us, O, tell us, that are ignorant;

232

And this right hand shall make thy altars crack

232-3: the ancients traditionally honoured their deities with

With mountain heaps of milk-white sacrifice.

large and formal animal sacrifices; they assumed such offerings pleased the gods and goddesses, and would persuade the divinities to treat them with favour in return.

234

Venus.  Such honour, stranger, do I not affect;

= care for.

236

It is the use for Tyrian maids to wear

= custom.  = the Carthaginians were recent immigrants from
     Phoenicia, an ancient kingdom on the coast of the Levant,
     whose principle city was Tyre. The story of why Dido
     was forced to leave her homeland is told below in the
     annotation at Act II.i.115.

Their bow and quiver in this modest sort,

= type. In the Aeneid, Venus describes her outfit as
     consisting in part of "a quiver and high-laced hunting-
     boots in crimson" (Fagles, p. 59).6
 

238

And suit themselves in purple for the nonce,

238: suit = clothe or dress.
     purple = an appropriate colour for Tyrians to wear; in ancient times, Tyre was famous for the scarlet dye it was able to manufacture from the secretions of certain sea snails which were found off of Tyre's shore. It is because of the rarity and expensiveness of this dye that purple became the colour of royalty.
     for the nonce = for the purpose.

That they may trip more lightly o'er the lawns,

= walk, cross.  = glades or grass-covered meadows.1

240

And overtake the tuskèd boar in chase.

But for the land whereof thou dost inquire,

242

It is the Punic kingdom, rich and strong,

= Roman word for Carthaginian.

Adjoining on Agenor's stately town,

= bordering.  = Agenor was the legendary founder of Tyre,
     referring here to Carthage.

244

The kingly seat of southern Libya,

244: Carthage is described by Virgil as bordering Libya.
 

Whereas Sidonian Dido rules as queen.

= where.  = Dido is the queen of the Carthaginians;
     Sidonian is another word for Phoenician.

246

But what are you that ask of me these things?

= who.

Whence may you come, or whither will you go?

= from where.  = to where. The English language has sadly

248

     long lost these delightful directional adverbs.

Æn.  Of Troy am I, Aeneas is my name;

250

Who driv’n by war from forth my native world,

Put sails to sea to seek out Italy;

252

And my divine descent from sceptred Jove:

= alternate name for Jupiter, the king of the gods.

With twice twelve Phrygian ships I ploughed the deep,

= Phrygia describes the entire land mass of north-western
     Asia Minor, which included Troy.
         We may note that in the Aeneid itself, Aeneas sailed
     from Asia Minor with 20, not 24, ships, though both
     Virgil and Marlowe agree that Aeneas landed safely with
     seven of them.

254

And made that way my mother Venus led;

= headed in that direction.

But of them all scarce seven do anchor safe,

256

And they so wracked and weltered by the waves,

= ravaged, crippled.  = rolled.1

As every tide tilts 'twixt their oaken sides;

257: ie. "which like the tide moves up and down (tilts)1
     between the sides of the ships."

258

And all of them, unburthened of their load,

258-9: a ship that is empty of ballast (extra weight in the

Are ballasted with billows' watery weight.

     hold, usually rocks or the such in ancient times) would
     be easily and dangerously tossed by rough seas. Aeneas
     seems to be suggesting that the high pounding waves
     were filling their ships with water.
 

260

But hapless I, God wot! poor and unknown,

= knows.

Do trace these Libyan deserts all despised,

= cross.

262

Exiled forth Europe and wide Asia both,

= from; the storms and gods won't let Aeneas land in
    Europe, ie. Italy, and Asia was lost to him when Troy
    was destroyed.

And have not any coverture but Heaven.

= shelter.2  = ie. the sky.

264

Venus.  Fortune hath favoured thee, whate'er thou be,

= whoever.

266

In sending thee unto this courteous coast:

In God's name, on! and haste thee to the court,

= hurry yourself.

268

Where Dido will receive ye with her smiles;

= "all of you"; ye is the plural form of you.

And for thy ships, which thou supposest lost,

270

Not one of them hath perished in the storm,

270: in the Aeneid too, Venus assures Aeneas his whole

But are arrivèd safe, not far from hence;

     fleet has come in; but during the storm, Virgil tells us that

272

And so I leave thee to thy fortune's lot,

     Aeneas witnessed one of his ships being swallowed by

Wishing good luck unto thy wandering steps.

     a whirlpool, and six others being broken up on rocks or

274

     reefs.

[Exit.]

276

Æn.  Achates, 'tis my mother that is fled;

278

I know her by the movings of her feet: −

Stay, gentle Venus, fly not from thy son;

279f: Aeneas bitterly regrets that Venus never appears to

280

Too cruèl! why wilt thou forsake me thus?

      him properly as his mother.

Or in these shades deceiv'st mine eyes so oft?

= unsubstantial forms.1 Cunningham prefers shapes here.15

282

Why talk we not together hand in hand,

And tell our griefs in more familiar terms?

284

But thou art gone, and leav'st me here alone,

To dull the air with my discoursive moan.

= ie. moaning as an act of conversation.1

286

[Exeunt.]

ACT I, SCENE II.

[Within the walls of Carthage.]

Enter Iarbus, followed by Ilioneus, Cloanthus,

Entering Characters: Iarbus is the king of the Gaetulians,

and Sergestus.

a large tribe of North Africa, and a neighbour of the Carthaginians. The remaining characters are Trojans whose ships were separated from those of Aeneas during the storm, but who have now also landed safely on African soil.

1

Ilio.  Follow, ye Trojans! follow this brave lord,

2

And ‘plain to him the sum of your distress.

= complain, explain.

4

Iarb.  Why, what are you, or wherefore do you sue?

= who.  = why.  = "entreat (me)". The desperate Trojans may even kneel or throw themselves down at Iarbus' feet (see line 7), the traditional position of supplication.

6

Ilio.  Wretches of Troy, envíèd of the winds,

= hated by; envied is tri-syllabic: en-VI-ed.

That crave such favour at your honour's feet,

8

As poor distressèd misery may plead:

Save, save, O save our ships from cruèl fire,

10

That do complain the wounds of thousand waves,

= ie. "we who lament about".

And spare our lives, whom every spite pursues.

= vexation.2

12

We come not, we, to wrong your Libyan gods,

Or steal your household lares from their shrines:

= (images of) household gods;7 lares is disyllabic: LA-ers.

14

Our hands are not prepared to lawless spoil,

Nor armèd to offend in any kind;

16

Such force is far from our unweaponed thoughts,

Whose fading weal, of victory forsook,

= well-being.2  = denied.1

18

Forbids all hope to harbour near our hearts.

20

Iarb.  But tell me, Trojans, Trojans if you be,

Unto what fruitful quarters were ye bound,

= direction.2

22

Before that Boreas buckled with your sails?

= god of the north wind, hence the north wind.  = did battle
     with.2 The alliteration in this line is jarring.

24

Cloan.  There is a place, Hesperia termed by us,

= Roman name for Italy.

An ancient empire, famousèd for arms,

26

And fertile in fair Ceres' furrowed wealth,

= Roman goddess of crops; note the agricultural adjectives
     fertile and
furrowed, as well as the rigorous alliteration.

Which now we call Italia, of his name

= ie. "named for Italus", the legendary founder of Italy.

28

That in such peace long time did rule the same.

Thither made we;

29: "towards there we headed."

30

When suddenly, gloomy Orion rose,

= Virgil calls the constellation of the hunter "stormy Orion",
     as it is attended by bad weather when it appears in late
     fall.19

And led our ships into the shallow sands;

32

Whereas the southern wind, with brackish breath,

= where.  = salty.

Dispersed them all amongst the wreckful rocks;

= causing shipwrecks.

34

From thence a few of us escaped to land;

34: Cloanthus assumes the ships of Aeneas' group were
     sunk.

The rest, we fear, are folded in the floods.

= concealed, ie. lost.

36

Iarb.  Brave men at arms, abandon fruitless fears,

= useless.

38

Since Carthage knows to entertain distress.

ie. "how to show hospitality to those in".

40

Serg.  Aye, but the barbarous sort do threat our ships,

= crowd, pack.  = threaten. In the Aeneid, Ilioneus begs Dido

And will not let us lodge upon the sands;

     to help call off the natives who are not letting the ships
     of the fleet land, and who appear bent on destroying or
     setting fire to them.

42

In multitudes they swarm unto the shore,

And from the first earth interdict our feet.

43: ie. "they prevent (interdict) our feet from stepping onto

44

the land." The phrase first earth was used by early writers to refer to the state of the world before the Great Flood, so its poetic use by Sergestus is appropos; the phrase is from Revelation 21:1: And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were banished away, and there was no more sea (The Bishop's Bible, 1568).

Iarb.  Myself will see they shall not trouble ye:

46

Your men and you shall banquet in our court,

And every Trojan be as welcome here

48

As Jupiter to silly Baucis' house.

48: an allusion to one of the gentlest of ancient myths: Jupiter and Mercury, disguised as mortals, went searching for good people, but the doors of a thousand houses were shut in their faces; the impoverished elderly couple Philemon and Baucus, however, invited the gods in and served them as much as their means permitted. In return for their kindness, Jupiter granted the couple any wish; they asked to be made priests of Jupiter and to die together. After drowning all their neighbors, Jupiter turned their home into a temple, and when the couple died, transformed them into intertwining oak and linden trees (Humphries, 200-4).8
     silly = simple, plain-hearted.7

Come in with me, I'll bring you to my queen,

50

Who shall confirm my words with further deeds.

52

Serg.  Thanks, gentle lord, for such unlooked-for grace;

Might we but once more see Aeneas' face,

54

Then would we hope to ‘quite such friendly turns,

= requite, ie. repay.  = acts, deeds.

As shall surpass the wonder of our speech.

56

[Exeunt.]


ACT II.

SCENE I.

[Uncertain location, but perhaps a temple of Juno.]

Enter Aeneas, Achates, and Ascanius.

Entering Characters: Ascanius, we remember, is Aeneas' young son, a small child still. Achates is one of Aeneas' comrades.

1

Æn.  Where am I now? These should be Carthage walls.

1ff: Aeneas and his companions have gotten lost as they

2

     try to make their way to the city of Carthage.

Acha.  Why stands my sweet Aeneas thus amazed?

4

Æn.  O my Achates! Theban Niobe,

5-7: in Greek mythology, Niobe, proud of her 12 children

6

Who, for her sons' death, wept out life and breath,

     (actually 6 boys and 6 girls), bragged that she was

And, dry with grief, was turned into a stone,

     superior to the gods, who vindictively slew all of the
     children; in mourning, Niobe went to Mt. Sypilus, where
     she was turned into stone, in which form she continued
     to mourn.3

8

Had not such passions in her head as I.

= sorrows.

Methinks, that town there should be Troy, yon Ida's Hill,

= "and over there should be Mt. Ida", the famous mountain
     located 50 miles south-east of Troy on Asia Minor.

10

There Xanthus' stream, because here's Priamus,

10: Xanthus' stream = the river Scamander, a river of Troy,
     whose god was Xanthus.3
         Priamus = alternate name for Troy's King Priam.

And when I know it is not, then I die.

12

Acha.  And in this humour is Achates too;

= mood, queer state of mind.

14

I cannot choose but fall upon my knees

And kiss his hand; O, where is Hecuba?

= Priam's.  = wife of Priam, and queen of Troy.

16

Here she was wont to sit, but, saving air,

= ie. next to Priam.13  = accustomed.  = except for.

Is nothing here; and what is this but stone?

= based on Aeneas' response below in lines 20-21, Dyce

18

     suggests the pair are looking at a statue.9

Æn.  O, yet this stone doth make Aeneas weep;

20

And, would my prayers (as Pygmalion's did)

= Ovid tells the tale of the Cyprian citizen Pygmalion, who
     shunned women because of their shameful behavior. He
     carved a statue of a woman that was so beautiful he fell
     in love with it. Hearing Pygmalion's prayer for a wife like
     his statue, Venus caused the statue to come to life, and
     Pygmalion and his new bride lived happily forever.

Could give it life, that under his condúct

22

We might sail back to Troy, and be revenged

On these hard-hearted Grecians, which rejoice

= who.

24

That nothing now is left of Priamus!

O, Priamus is left, and this is he:

26

Come, come aboard; pursue the hateful Greeks.

26: Aeneas, his grief overwhelming him, suggests they

     climb onto a ship he imagines to be in front of them.

28

Acha.  What means Aeneas?

30

Æn.  Achates, though mine eyes say this is stone,

Yet thinks my mind that this is Priamus;

32

And when my grievèd heart sighs and says no,

Then would it leap out to give Priam life. −

= Priam was killed by Pyrrhus, Achilles' son, during the
     general slaughter at Troy.

34

O, were I not at all, so thou might’st be! −

34: ie. Aeneas tells the absent Priam he would gladly give
     his life to bring him back.

Achates, see, King Priam wags his hand;

= waves.

36

He is alive; Troy is not overcome!

38

Acha.  Thy mind, Aeneas, that would have it so,

Deludes thy eye-sight. Priamus is dead.

40

Æn.  Ah, Troy is sacked, and Priamus is dead;

42

And why should poor Aeneas be alive?

44

Asc.  Sweet father, leave to weep, this is not he,

= cease.

For were he Priam, he would smile on me.

46

Acha.  Aeneas, see, here come the citizens;

48

Leave to lament, lest they laugh at our fears.

= cease. Note the intense alliteration in this line.

50

Enter Cloanthus, Sergestus, Ilioneus, and others.

50: the scene now changes to the city of Carthage.

52

Æn.  Lords of this town, or whatsoever style

52f: Aeneas does not recognize his companions, whom he
     assumed to be lost at sea, because they have been given
     fine new clothes by their hostess. In fact, he takes them
     for high-ranking Carthaginians.
         style = title.

Belongs unto your name, vouchsafe of ruth

= "out of compassion (ruth), please deign (vouchsafe)".

54

To tell us who inhabits this fair town,

What kind of people, and who governs them:

56

For we are strangers driven on this shore,

= foreigners.

And scarcely know within what clime we are.

= land.

58

Ilio.  I hear Aeneas' voice, but see him not,

59-60: Ilioneus naturally believes Aeneas has perished in

60

For none of these can be our general.

     the sea.

62

Acha.  Like Ilioneus speaks this noble man,

= Ilioneus is pronounced in four syllables, stressing the

But Ilioneus goes not in such robes.

     first and third: IL-io-NE-us. He is named for Ilion, an

64

     alternative name for Troy.

Serg.  You are Achates, or I [am] deceived.

66

Acha.  Aeneas, see Sergestus, or his ghost!

68

Ilio.  He names Aeneas; let us kiss his feet.

70

Cloan.  It is our captain, see Ascanius!

72

Serg.  Live long Aeneas and Ascanius!

74

Æn.  Achates, speak, for I am overjoyed.

76

Acha.  O, Ilioneus, art thou yet alive?

78

Ilio.  Blest be the time I see Achates' face.

80

Cloan.  Why turns Aeneas from his trusty friends?

82

Æn.  Sergestus, Ilioneus, and the rest,

84

Your sight amazed me: O, what destinies

Have brought my sweet companions in such plight?

85: "have brought my companions into such a (fortuitous)
     state?"

86

O, tell me, for I long to be resolved.

= freed from ignorance, ie. informed.

88

Ilio.  Lovely Aeneas, these are Carthage walls,

And here Queen Dido wears th' imperial crown;

90

Who, for Troy's sake, hath entertained us all,

And clad us in these wealthy robes we wear.

92

Oft hath she asked us under whom we served,

= often.

And when we told her, she would weep for grief,

94

Thinking the sea had swallowed up thy ships;

= as leader of the Trojans, and member of a royal family,

And now she sees thee, how will she rejoice!

Aeneas would be well within his rights to expect his subordinates to address him with the more formal you, but his relationship with his people is a close and intimate one, and they freely address him as such with thou.

96

Serg.  See, where her servitors pass through the hall,

= servants; the Trojans are understood to now be within

98

Bearing a banquet; Dido is not far.

     the palace.

100

Ilio.  Look where she comes: Aeneas, view her well.

102

Æn.  Well may I view her, but she sees not me.

104

Enter Dido and her Train.

= retinue.

106

Dido.  What stranger art thou, that dost eye me thus?

108

Æn.  Sometime I was a Trojan, mighty queen:

= formerly.

But Troy is not; − what shall I say I am?

108-9: an interesting speech: how should Aeneas call

110

     himself, now that he is a man literally without a country?

Ilio.  Renownèd Dido, 'tis our general,

112

Warlike Aeneas.

114

Dido.  Warlike Aeneas! and in these base robes?

= mean, lowly.

Go, fetch the garment which Sicheus wore. −

= Sychaeus was Dido's beloved husband in Tyre. A rich

116

     man, Sychaeus was murdered by Dido's evil brother
     Pygmalion for his gold; for a time Pygamlion was able
     to hide his crime, until Sychaeus' ghost informed Dido
     of his murder in a dream. At her husband's instigation,
     Dido fled Tyre to found Carthage.

Exit an Attendant who brings in the garment,

118

which Aeneas puts on.

120

Brave prince, welcome to Carthage and to me,

= excellent.

Both happy that Aeneas is our guest!

122

Sit in this chair, and banquet with a queen;

Aeneas is Aeneas, were he clad

124

In weeds as bad as ever Irus wore.

= clothing.  = Irus was a beggar from the Odyssey.

126

Æn.  This is no seat for one that's comfortless:

= inconsolable or spiritless.1

May it please your grace to let Aeneas wait;

128

For though my birth be great, my fortune's mean,

Too mean to be companion to a queen.

130

Dido.  Thy fortune may be greater than thy birth:

132

Sit down, Aeneas, sit in Dido's place,

And if this be thy son, as I suppose,

134

Here let him sit; − be merry, lovely child.

136

Æn.  This place beseems me not; O, pardon me.

= "is not fitting for me."

138

Dido.  I'll have it so; Aeneas, be content.

140

Asc.  Madam, you shall be my mother.

140: Ascanius' real mother, and Aeneas' wife, was Creusa,

a daughter of Priam, who got lost at Troy while Aeneas was guiding his family from the wreckage of their home and destruction of Troy.

142

Dido.  And so I will, sweet child: − be merry, man,

Here's to thy better fortune and good stars.

= allusion to the oft-referred-to belief that the position of

144

     the stars at one's birth foretold one's fate.

Æn.  In all humility, I thank your grace.

146

Dido.  Remember who thou art; speak like thyself;

= "talk like the great man you are", ie. Aeneas is too distin-
     guished a personage to grovel.

148

Humility belongs to common grooms.

= servants.

150

Æn.  And who so miserable as Aeneas is?

152

Dido.  Lies it in Dido's hands to make thee blest?

Then be assured thou art not miserable.

154

Æn.  O Priamus, O Troy, Oh Hecuba!

156

Dido.  May I entreat thee to discourse at large,

158

And truly too, how Troy was overcome?

For many tales go of that city's fall,

159-160: Aeneas has actually been traveling for 7 years since the fall of Troy, plenty of time for various versions of the story of the city's ruin to reach Carthage.

160

And scarcely do agree upon one point:

Some say Antenor did betray the town;

= Antenor was a Trojan elder who successfully fled Troy while the Greeks were besieging the city; he and his followers sailed to north-east Italy where he founded the city of Padua. Antenor gained a reputation by writers after Homer of being overly-friendly with the Greeks, or even a traitor to Troy.3
 

162

Others report 'twas Sinon's perjury;

= Sinon was a Greek agent, who, when the Greeks pretended to have abandoned their war with Troy, stayed behind, allowing himself to be picked up by the Trojans. He told his captors that he was hated by Ulysses, and consequently had been left behind as a sacrifice to the gods to give the Greeks fair winds so they could sail home.
     Sinon then convinced the Trojans to bring the giant wooden horse into the city to fulfill an oracle made by a Greek seer, the oracle being that if the Trojans did bring the horse within Troy's walls, they would be able to gather all the armies of Asia and defeat the Greeks in their own land.
     perjury = as Sinon had made oaths that he was telling the Trojans the truth about the horse, and then grandly lied to them, his story could be described as perjury.

But all in this, that Troy is overcome,

164

And Priam dead; yet how, we hear no news.

166

Æn.  A woeful tale bids Dido to unfold,

Whose memory, like pale Death's stony mace,

= sceptre.2

168

Beats forth my senses from this troubled soul,

168-9: ie. the memory of what Aeneas went through will

And makes Aeneas sink at Dido's feet.

     cause him to swoon. His image of Death beating him

170

     over the head with his mace is a powerful one.

Dido.  What! faints Aeneas to remember Troy,

172

In whose defence he fought so valiantly?

Look up, and speak.

174

Æn.  Then speak, Aeneas, with Achilles' tongue!

175ff: Aeneas' tale of the fall of Troy comprises Book II of
     the Aeneid.
          with Achilles' tongue = ie. without breaking down
     emotionally; Achilles was famous for his cold-blooded
     and pitiless nature.

176

And Dido, and you Carthaginian peers,

= nobles.

Hear me! but yet with Myrmidons' harsh ears,

= "but listen".  = the Myrmidons were Greeks from Thessaly
     who were led by Achilles; if Aeneas speaks with Achilles'
     tongue, then naturally his listeners should hear him with
     Myrmidons' ears.

178

Daily inured to broils and massacres,

= accustomed to battles.

Lest you be moved too much with my sad tale.

180

The Grecian soldiers, tired with ten years' war,

Began to cry, "Let us unto our ships,

182

Troy is invincible. Why stay we here?"

With whose outcries Atrides being appalled,

= alternate name for Agamemnon, leader of the Greek 

184

Summoned the captains to his princely tent;

     armies at Troy.

Who, looking on the scars we Trojans gave,

186

Seeing the number of their men decreased,

And the remainder weak, and out of heart,

188

Gave up their voices to dislodge the camp,

= voted.1

And so in troops all marched to Tenedos;

189: Tenedos is actually an island just west of Troy. The
     Greeks sailed (they did not march) to Tenedos and hid
     behind the island while awaiting the fate of their wooden
     horse.

190

Where, when they came, Ulysses on the sand

Assayed with honey words to turn them back:

= persuaded.

192

And as he spoke, to further his intent,

= ie. as if to help Ulysses in his task.

The winds did drive huge billows to the shore,

194