Dido, Queen of Carthage

Dido, Queen of Carthage

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Dido, Queen of Carthage is a short play written by the English playwright Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

, with possible contributions by Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

. The story of the play focuses on the classical figure of Dido, the Queen of Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

. It tells an intense dramatic tale of Dido and her fanatical love for Aeneas
Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 (induced by Cupid
Cupid
In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. He is the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. His Greek counterpart is Eros...

), Aeneas' betrayal of her and her eventual suicide on his departure for Italy. The playwrights depended upon Books 1, 2, and 4 of the Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

of Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

 as their main source.

Publication


The play was first published in 1594 by the bookseller Thomas Woodcock. The title page attributes the play to Marlowe and Nashe, and also states that the play was acted by the Children of the Chapel
Children of the Chapel
The Children of the Chapel were the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who formed part of the Chapel Royal, the body of singers and priests serving the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they were called upon to do so....

. That company of boy actors
Boy player
Boy player is a common term for the adolescent males employed by Medieval and English Renaissance playing companies. Some boy players worked for the mainstream companies and performed the female roles, as women did not perform on the English stage in this period...

 stopped regular dramatic performance in 1584, but appears to have engaged in at least sporadic performances in the late 1580s and early 1590s, so that scholars give a range of 1587-93 for the first performance of Dido.

Authorship


The nineteenth-century scholar Frederick Gard Fleay
Frederick Gard Fleay
Frederick Gard Fleay was an influential and prolific nineteenth-century Shakespeare scholar.Fleay, the son of a linen draper, graduated from King's College London and Trinity College, Cambridge , where he received mathematical training that was key to his later achievements...

 attempted to delineate the collaborators' respective shares in the text, and assigned these portions of the play to Nashe:
Act I, scene i (second part, after line 122); Act III, scenes i, ii, and iv; Act IV, scenes i, ii, and v;


— and the rest to Marlowe. Yet few other critics have agreed with this assessment, and Nashe's share remains an open question. Some critics have virtually ignored the participation of Nashe — yet the presence of a collaborator may help to explain the play's divergences from Marlowe's standard dramaturgy. No other play by Marlowe has such a strong female lead character, and in no other "is heteroerotic passion the centripetal force of the drama's momentum."

Adaptation


The English composer Stephen Storace
Stephen Storace
Stephen Storace was an English composer. His sister was the famous opera singer Nancy Storace. He was born in London in the Parish of St Marylebone to an English mother and Italian father...

 wrote an opera titled Dido, Queen Of Carthage (1794) — alleged, by his sister Anna (Nancy) Storace, for whom the title role was written, to have been his greatest work — which largely set Marlowe's play to music. It was also the only one of Storace's works to have been completely sung throughout, with no spoken dialogue. However, the jealous suspicions of Storace's impresario Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan was an Irish-born playwright and poet and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For thirty-two years he was also a Whig Member of the British House of Commons for Stafford , Westminster and Ilchester...

 led to the opera being kept in a single copy at the Drury Lane Theatre
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

, to prevent pirated versions appearing elsewhere — and the opera is presumed to have been lost in the 1809 Drury Lane Theatre fire, since nothing of it has survived.

Characters

  • Dido - Queen of Carthage
    Carthage
    Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

  • Aeneas
    Aeneas
    Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

     - a Trojan
    Troy
    Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

     royal hero, son of Anchises
    Anchises
    In Greek mythology, Anchises was the son of Capys and Themiste . His major claim to fame in Greek mythology is that he was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite . One version is that Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced him for nearly two weeks of lovemaking...

     and the goddess Venus
    Venus (mythology)
    Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

  • Ascanius
    Ascanius
    Ascanius is the son of the Trojan hero Aeneas and a legendary king of Alba Longa. He is a character of Roman mythology, and has a divine lineage, being the son of Aeneas, who is son of Venus and the hero Anchises, a relative of Priam; thus Ascanius has divine ascendents by both parents, being...

     - son of Aeneas

  • Iarbas
    Iarbas
    In Roman mythology, Iarbas or Hiarbas was the son of Jupiter Hammon and a Garamantian nymph. He became the king of Gaetulia. According to Virgil's Aeneid, he fell in love with the Carthaginian queen Dido, who rejected his advances in favour of Aeneas...

     - King of Gaetulia
    Gaetulia
    Gaetuli was the Romanised name of an ancient Berber tribe inhabiting Getulia, covering the desert region south of the Atlas Mountains, bordering the Sahara. Other sources place Getulia in pre-Roman times along the Mediterranean coasts of what is now Algeria and Tunisia, and north of the Atlas...

     who is in love with Dido
  • Achates
    Achates
    In the Aeneid, Achates was a close friend of Aeneas; his name became a by-word for an intimate companion. He accompanied Aeneas throughout his adventures, reaching Carthage with him in disguise when the pair were scouting the area, and leading him to the Sibyl of Cumae...

     - friend of Aeneas
  • Ilioneus
  • Cloanthus
  • Sergestus
    Sergestus
    In Greco-Roman mythology, Sergestus was a friend of Aeneas. He was the ancestor of gens Sergia, a famous Patrician family of which Catilina was a member....

  • Anna - Dido's sister in Roman mythology
    Roman mythology
    Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

  • Jupiter
    Jupiter (mythology)
    In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

  • Ganymede
    Ganymede (mythology)
    In Greek mythology, Ganymede is a divine hero whose homeland was Troy. Homer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals. In the best-known myth, he is abducted by Zeus, in the form of an eagle, to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus. Some interpretations of the myth treat it as an allegory of...

  • Cupid
    Cupid
    In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, affection and erotic love. He is the son of the goddess Venus and the god Mars. His Greek counterpart is Eros...

  • Mercury
    Mercury (mythology)
    Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

  • Venus
    Venus (mythology)
    Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

  • Juno
    Juno (mythology)
    Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera...

  • A Lord
  • A Nurse
  • various attendants

Modern productions


  • American Repertory Theater, Boston, March 2005
  • Royal National Theatre
    Royal National Theatre
    The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...

    , London, March–June 2009

External links