Are Aeneas and Dido Married?

Are they married? It is a moot question. They are quite clearly separated and permanently so. Whereas the true essence of a marriage consists in a commitment borne of, sustained in, and perpetually honored by the hearts of its betrothed, and whereas the legally binding and socially distinguishing aspects of a marriage exist only in the mute pulp of filed papers and the withered gray minds of Platonists, we must conclude that Dido and Aeneas, however propitious and well-intentioned their unifying ceremony may have been, were not successfully entered into a lifelong compact by which their thoughts were wholly entangled, their individualities melded into an acceptable compromise, and their modes of being synchronized.

If the inquiry must really be strained it will likely yield no more satisfying or conclusive an answer. Even if some quibbling busybody could not help but seize upon events and circumstances tertiary to the actual state of Aeneas’s and Dido’s personal pact as indicative of a standing connubiality, they would not find therein much convincing proof. Whoever claims the influence of the divine as evidence of the marriage’s sanction and therefore indissolubility must contend with the division amongst the gods themselves as to the proper courses of these mortals. For while Juno may well have spoken in certain terms of a union, supporting a claim of a premeditated, finalized and permanent marriage, The almighty father himself decreed that Aeneas not tarry, that he in fact leave the queen without a moment’s hesitation.

Furthermore, one might dismiss Aeneas’s professed ignorance of having ever been entered into a marriage as a subterfuge wrought by his holy haste under which to escape to destiny, but we must deduce that a hero so forthright as to lay bare his utter helplessness and resignation to the fates before his men in a moment of peril is in fact telling the truth. If the marriage ceremony itself still today arouses such confusion as to necessitate the creation of this illuminating exegesis, we must deduce that the event itself was even more confusing for a refugee king with not only the concern for his and the queen’s own personal safety in the midst of a storm pressing upon his chest, but also the common kingly cares related to his people’s well being, and also the innumerable futures of untold generations to come, and also the magnitude of a divinely decreed undertaking, all weighting his heart; indeed, bursting into and falling back from realization with its every palpitation.

Therefore, as is now clearly seen, not even the sequence of events leading to the contested conjugality can be trusted to reveal the true nature of Aeneas and Dido’s relationship. Yet this should not even enter into the consideration. The only measure of a marriage is an outwardly invisible and unquantifiable one. It rests in the secret space created by two reciprocally embracing minds.