Dido

Dido

Dido

Dido was the founder and first queen of the city of Carthage, according to ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Carthage was located in the modern-day country of Tunisia. According to one source, an unnamed king who ruled over the city of Tyre had two children, Dido and Pygmalion. Although he had appointed both his children as his joint heirs, after his death the people only considered Pygmalion as their true ruler. Dido married her uncle Acerbas, who was second in power after Pygmalion. There was a rumour that Acerbas had a hidden stash of gold, and Pygmalion murdered him in order to take his wealth. Dido wanted to escape the city, and formulated a plan; she said that she wanted to move into the palace of Pygmalion. When her brother sent help for the move, Dido told the helpers to throw into the sea a number of bags that presumably contained gold as an offering to her husband's spirit; however, the bags only contained sand. She then persuaded the helpers to follow her to another land, rather than face her brother's wrath when he found out what had happened to Acerbas' "wealth".

The party wandered and eventually reached the lands of the Berber king Iarbas on the coast of North Africa. She asked Iarbas for a small piece of land, so they would settle there, enough land that could be encircled by an oxhide. The king agreed, and Dido cut the oxhide into fine strips, eventually managing to encircle a nearby hill. On the hill, they founded a settlement, naming it Carthage. Carthage became a prosperous city, and Iarbas eventually asked for Dido's hand, or else he would attack the city. The envoys of Dido went back to their queen and told her that Iarbas had asked for someone to live with him so he could learn the Phoenician way of living, and that no one in Carthage would agree. Dido condemned the Carthaganians for not wanting to save their city and for being so selfish. The envoys then revealed that Iarbas had actually asked for her hand in marriage. Dido was trapped in her own words, but still wanted to remain faithful to her first husband. She decided to create a ceremonial pyre, presumably as a last honour to her late husband, before becoming Iarbas' wife. However, at the end, she ascended to the pyre, announced that she would go to her husband and killed herself with a sword. Since then, she was deified by Carthaganians.

Dido Q&A

Who was Dido?

Dido was the founder and first queen of the city of Carthage, according to ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Carthage was located in the modern-day country of Tunisia.

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