Monday, April 9, 2012

A Chronology of Events

The question came up in some of our earlier rehearsals about when all of the things that happened in the play actually happened, and the answer is that they didn't. The chronology of events that Vergil describes in The Aeneid are inconsistent with the archaeological and historical records. If Aeneas showed up on the coast of Tunisia seven years after the fall of Troy, he would have to wait about a hundred years for the first colonial ships from Tyre to arrive and lay the foundations of the city that would become Carthage.

I have included events in this chronology beyond the scope of The Ballad of Dido. It's easy to forget that The Aeneid was written partially as a propaganda piece to create a mythical justification for the bloody Punic wars that Rome fought with Carthage, and lead to the latter's destruction, a century and a half earlier, in much the same way that former Confederate states try to create a founding mythology that excises the role of slavery from the history of the southern rebellion in the American Civil War.

I have also included significant dates pertaining to significant works about Dido that have served as inspirations for The Ballad of Dido.

~3000 BCE – Founding of Troy
~1400 BCE – Athens becomes a major hub of Mycenean Civilization
~1180 BCE – The Trojan War, combined forces from the Greek peninsula attack Troy, and lay siege to it for nearly ten years. The Greeks eventually defeat Troy through the now-famous Trojan Horse, kill or enslave its citizens, and burn its buildings and temples to the ground, not even sparing Trojan holy places.
~1000 BCE -- Founding of Carthage as a Tyrian colony.
~753 BCE -- Founding of Rome
~700 BCE -- Composition of The Iliad~700 BCE -- Composition of The Odyssey
573 BCE – Nebuchadnezzar destroys Tyre.
508 BCE -- Roman Republic established.
508 BCE -- Athenian Democracy established.
264 – 241 BCE -- 1st Punic War, Carthage’s power and influence weakened following their defeat at Rome’s hands.
218 – 201 BCE -- 2nd Punic War, Carthage is decisively defeated by Rome, and is reduced to a minor power.
149 – 146 BCE -- 3rd Punic War, Carthage is utterly destroyed by Rome. Only about 50,000 Carthaginians survive the war, and they are made slaves by the Romans. Over the course of about two weeks, Roman forces burn everything in Carthage that will burn, and tear down everything that will not.
29 – 19 BCE -- Composition of The Aeneid
27 BCE – Caesar Augustus becomes the first emperor of Rome.
1381 – 1386 CE – Chaucer composes The Legend of Good Women.
1594 CE – First printing of Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage.
1688 CE – Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas Premiers.
1985 CE – The mayors of Rome and Carthage sign a pact of friendship and collaboration to bring a symbolic end to the millennia of war between their peoples.
It's worth noting that the peace agreement of 1985 was always meant to be a highly symbolic gesture, but I have included it here because that is, after all, mostly what The Aeneid is. I like to think that, however many thousands of years it may have taken Dido and Aeneas to reconcile in the under world, we are all capable of making peace with the people we've hurt. If not in this world, than maybe in the next. 

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