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Compare the portrayal of Dido in the Aeneid to that of Calypso, Circe and Nausicaa in the Odysseys. Which figure creates the most pity in the reader?

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Introduction

Andrew Belcher Compare the portrayal of Dido in the Aeneid to that of Calypso, Circe and Nausicaa in the Odysseys. Which figure creates the most pity in the reader? These four characters all have the same role within the Odyssey and the Aeneid as they are all put in place as obstacles to the hero's quest. Odysseus and Aeneas both have arduous journeys to undertake and these characters are simply temptresses, there to prevent the heroes from fulfilling there quests and in my opinion pose a greater threat to the completion of the journeys then the physical dangers both heroes have to endure. However although within these epics the characters have negative roles to play they themselves are victims of fate. Without each heroes underlying mission spurring them on it is reasonable to assume each of these women would have a good chance of having a long-term relationship with either Odysseus or Aeneas (indeed each character with the exception of Nausicaa engage in a brief relationship with the hero of there respective epic) ...read more.

Middle

background; The knowledge the audience would have of Calypso's and Circe's background would be through legend, which regardless of how tragic some legends may be, are fantastical, which means the audience wouldn't relate to them like they would Dido's background and doesn't give the goddesses the sense of vulnerability you get with Dido. Nausicaa is a young princess of Phaeacia, so although her background isn't mention in any great detail in the odyssey, as the princess of a paradise it is unlikely to be negative. Another impotent sympathy factor is the characters motivation for falling for their respective hero. Calypso and Circe have the least sympathetic motives as they are simply looking for a companion (a modern phrase we would use is trophy husband) and as goddesses have more then likely had many companions before Odysseus. Nausicaa simply has a crush on Odysseus, and therefore her emotional attachment to him is not very high, the fact they never engage in a relationship also means their attachment isn't as matured as the other characters. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dido as the most vulnerable (lost her husband and livelihood) has the furthest to fall, and assuming the educated guesses as to the outcome of the other characters are correct, by committing suicide Dido suffers the worst fate by far. Book 4 of the Aeneid dictates the devotion and downfall of Dido; Dido lets her civic duties slide due to the distraction of Aeneas and the City of Carthage's construction grinds to a halt. Dido states in her speech to Aeneas that her people have lost all respect for her, and as a result she feels the only way to regain some respect is to kill herself. Book 4 could almost be a tragic play; Dido's hubristic act of sleeping with Aeneas before marriage leads to her catastrophic downfall; a downfall which can be said to be entirely down to the cruelty of fate and the gods. Dido is the most vulnerable with the most too loose, and as far as we know comes to the worst end so for me is far more sympathetic a character then the female characters of the Odyssey. ...read more.

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