Aeneas gets his men on land, starts them roasting grain and drying out supplies, and then goes to look for food. He and his friend Achates kill 7 deer, one for each ship, and they feast, remembering their fallen comrades.
The scene switches to the heavens, where Venus, Aeneas’ mother, is complaining to Zeus that the Trojans are being treated unfairly. Zeus calms her down and reads off a list of things that will happen in the future for the Trojan people.
Aeneas and Achates go exploring and come across a young maiden dressed in hunting gear. Aeneas thinks that she is too ethereal to be a maiden, and inquires if she is actually a goddess in disguise, such as Diana or Minerva.
After much dialogue, the maiden is set to leave when she does reveal her divine nature—his mother Venus. Aeneas is not particularly happy about this.
Aeneas and Achates continue on to Carthage surrounded in a mist provided by Venus so that no one will stop them.
Eventually, they come to the temple of Juno (you would think this would be a signal of doom for them, but no...). Inside the walls are picture depicting the Trojan War and all the battles, including some pictures with Aeneas. He weeps.
Dido takes Anna’s advice and begins preparing for her courtship of Aeneas.
She makes all the proper sacrifices—to Ceres, for being the Earth mother; to Apollo, for being the giver of light; to Bacchus, god of wine (associated here with marriage); and to Juno, goddess of marriage and motherhood.
Dido crushes hard on Aeneas. She wanders the streets in a stupor, she thinks of nothing but him, and she neglects the day-to-day operation of her city. Walls remain half-built, projects were stopped, and she would sit in her room with Ascanius (Aeneas’ son by his late wife Creusa), marveling at how much he resembled Aeneas.
Juno approaches Venus and suggests a marriage between Dido and Aeneas. Her reasons are very deceitful—remember, she does not like the Trojans, and will do anything to keep them from Italy—and so this, according to her thoughts, will keep the Trojan exiles in the same city as the Tyrian exiles.
Venus urges Juno to talk this over with Jupiter. Juno says she will take care of it.
The party goes out hunting (1). But something is amiss. The animals, instead of being playful or running and hiding from the hunters, are running away from the mountain and its protection. A storm is approaching, rain and hail pouring from the sky (2). Then “Tyrians and Trojans in alarm—with Venus’ Dardan (Trojan) grandson—ran for cover here and there in the wilderness (3).
The following comes from the Robert Fitzgerald translation of the Aeneid .
Now to the self-same cave came Dido and the captain of the Trojans (4). Primal Earth herself and Nuptial Juno opened the ritual, torches of lightning blazed, high Heaven became witness to the marriage (5), and nymphs cried out wild hymns from a mountaintop...She (Dido) thought no longer of a secret love but called it marriage. Thus, under that name, she hid her fault.
(Born) to the giants Cocus and Enceladus, giving her speed on foot and on the wing: monstrous, deformed, titanic. Pinioned (feathered), with an eye beneath for every body feather, and, strange to say, as many tongues and buzzing mouths as eyes, as many pricked-up ears, by night she flies between the earth and heaven shrieking through darkness, and she never turns her eyelids down to sleep. By day she broods, on the alert, on rooftops or on towers, bringing great cities fear, harping on lies and slander evenhandedly with truth.
Now Aeneas is faced with a dilemma— to tell or not to tell.
Aeneas never refuses the gods—one of his characterizations is pius Aeneas , loyal, dutiful, worshipful Aeneas—so he tries to think of a way to let Dido know he and his men are leaving without breaking her heart...so he chooses to NOT say anything, but to try to leave as quickly as possible without Dido finding out until it is too late to stop him.
I don’t deny what you have said. I can only say that I have been commanded by the gods. I don’t want to leave, it’s the gods who want me to leave. But I have a duty to my comrades rather than to you—I love you, but we are not married.
You liar, you wretched cheat! You are not born of a goddess, you are not Trojan! You were fed by wild tigresses! How can I believe that? We were fated by the gods to be together. Don’t give me your ‘the gods told me to leave’ lines...You are a pathetic excuse of a man! Can’t you just say truthfully that you want to leave?
If divine justice is real, you will crash into a reef in the middle of the sea and you will drown thinking of me! I shall come at you from afar with black fires, and even after I am dead, I shall haunt you from the Underworld! You will pay!
Aeneas listens to her, then after she leaves, gets back to work with his men, preparing the ships and finally sailing toward Italy.
Dido runs to her bedchamber and faints onto the bed.
She arises, asking Anna if it is true, if the Trojans are leaving. She begs Anna to go to the harbor and plead with him to stay for only a little while. She does not care if he stays forever; she just wants him to stay until she can come to grips with his choice.