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Dido

In Greek mythology, Dido ("manly woman", also named Elissa) was the founder and first Queen of Carthage. Her father was Belus. After Aeneas fled Troy, he stopped in Carthage and Dido fell in love with him. When he left to go found Rome, she killed herself. When Aeneas when to Hades, he talked to her ghost; she refused to forgive him. Also as a ghost, Dido told her sister, Anna Perenna, that Aeneas' wife, Lavinia, was a jealous person.
Another story about the founding of Carthage, which may contain more than a core of truth, is that Elissa was the sister of Pygmalion, the king of Tyre. Elissa was married to her uncle Acherbas[?], high priest of Melkart, and thus the second most important man in Tyre. When their father, Mattan I[?], died, he wanted his children to be kings together. The people of Tyre objected, choosing Pygmalion, only 11 years old at the time. Much of the aristocracy preferred Acherbas and Elissa, however.

Pygmalion seized the power, and had Acherbas assassinated, taking hold of his riches. Elissa, together with a number of aristocrats who had supported Acherbas, fled to Cyprus, and from there on to the later site of Carthage, where she planned to build a colony. They landed there in 814 (or 813) BC. The local Libyans received them friendly, and when they asked land to build a city offered them as much land as could be covered by an oxhide. Elissa spread out the oxhide in fine strips, and so had enough to use it to surround a hill, Byrsa[?], that would become the basis of their new city Qarthadasht ("new city").

The native king demanded to marry Elissa, but she preferred to stay faithful to her husband, and committed suicide by throwing herself in the fire. After this self-sacrifice she was deified.

Some of this story is in all probability mythological (for example, the oxhide story comes from the name of the hill - Byrsa means "oxhide" in Greek, but the name itself is probably derived from the Semitic brt, "fortified place". However, there are also elements in the story that are clearly of Phoenician, and not Greek or Roman, origin.


Dido is also the stage name of the singer Dido Armstrong.



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