Opbouw en vernietiging | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



In the Aeneid, the recurrent themes of ‘construction’ and ‘destruction’ (the topic of the Latin final exam of 2020) can be connected to generic roles. Dido, founder of Carthage, is presented progressively in elegiac terms, as is suggested by a number of echoes of Sapphic love poetry; as a character, she is guided primarily by personal motives. Dido’s ‘elegiac role’ forebodes her own destruction and that of her city. Aeneas, on the other hand, needs to adhere to his epic role as founder of the new Trojan/Roman nation, in order to avert destruction and the repetition of Troy’s fate. When during his stay in Carthage he starts to show signs of transforming into an elegiac lover, the gods intervene and put him back onto the epic track: the public interest should take precedence over personal feelings. This opposition between elegiac Dido and epic Aeneas may grant insight into Vergil’s message for his contemporaries.


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