Carthaginian Queen


Dido by Henry Fuseli

Dido by Henry Fuseli (1781)

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CTPublic Domain


Dido, also known as Elissa, was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of a king of Tyre known to Virgil as Belus. When her greedy brother Pygmalion murdered her rich husband Sychaeus, Dido fled to Africa, where she founded the city of Carthage.

As queen of Carthage, Dido gave hospitality to the Trojan refugee Aeneas when he was shipwrecked on her shores. Dido fell in love with Aeneas, and was so heartbroken when he left to continue his journey to Italy that she killed herself after cursing Aeneas and his descendants.

The tragic tale of Dido is now best remembered from Virgil’s Aeneid, though it did exist in some form even before Virgil. Dido has remained a popular figure in western art, literature, and opera.[1]