(b. 1774, Paris, d. 1833, Roma)
Dido and Aeneasc. 1815
Oil on canvas, 292 x 390 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
Dido was, in Roman mythology, the queen of Carthage. She was the daughter of a king of Tyre. After her brother Pygmalion murdered her husband, she fled to Libya, where she founded and ruled Carthage. According to one legend, Dido threw herself on a burning pyre to escape marriage to the king of Libya. In the Aeneid, Vergil tells how she fell in love with Aeneas, who had been shipwrecked at Carthage, and destroyed herself on the pyre when, at Jupiters command, he left to continue his journey to Italy.
In this painting Guérin depicted the scene when Aeneas narrates the destruction of Troy.
Henry Purcell (c. 1659-1695), the English composer and organist, composed an opera from the story of Dido and Aeneas. Listen to the MIDI version of the overture of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.