"Ponderynge together yestardayes promise, and two-dayes doyng"
(Hall's Chronicle - 1548)


"Goronigl gwyr yr Ynys" (Lewis Glyn Cothi - 1450)

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Dido and Aeneas



So Purcell in his Dido and Aeneas rendered here beautifully by Emma Kirkby in period fashion.

Compare this example of English melancholy with the frenzy of Dido's words of the source in Virgil's Aeneid:

O Sun, you who illuminate all the works of this world,
and you Juno, interpreter and knower of all my pain,
and Hecate howled to, in cities, at midnight crossroads,
you, avenging Furies, and you, gods of dying Elissa,
acknowledge this, direct your righteous will to my troubles,
and hear my prayer. If it must be that the accursed one
should reach the harbour, and sail to the shore:
if Jove’s destiny for him requires it, there his goal:
still, troubled in war by the armies of a proud race,
exiled from his territories, torn from Iulus’s embrace,
let him beg help, and watch the shameful death of his people:
then, when he has surrendered, to a peace without justice,
may he not enjoy his kingdom or the days he longed for,
but let him die before his time, and lie unburied on the sand.
This I pray, these last words I pour out with my blood.
Then, O Tyrians, pursue my hatred against his whole line
and the race to come, and offer it as a tribute to my ashes.
Let there be no love or treaties between our peoples.
Rise, some unknown avenger, from my dust, who will pursue
the Trojan colonists with fire and sword, now, or in time
to come, whenever the strength is granted him.
I pray that shore be opposed to shore, water to wave,
weapon to weapon: let them fight, them and their descendants.”

(translation : A S Kline)

From "pursue my hatred against his whole line" to "Remember Me" might be thought to be a long journey. It is a journey of sensibility as much as one of sentiment. What one age chooses to find in a story might not be the same as what another age chooses to find. Looking back at both, where do we stand?

2 comments:

Bo said...

It is an extraordinary transformation in the source material. I remember being played this as an undergraduate in a Classics and English seminar called 'The Reception of Dido'.

Greg said...

Yes, isn't it.