Multi- layered conversations in Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage
in Interweaving myths in Shakespeare and his contemporaries
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Greek authors celebrate Dido under the name of Elissa as the virtuous founder of Carthage. This chapter first considers the medieval tradition of Dido that Marlowe was also heir to. It demonstrates that Dido gains from being read against that tradition, which Tudor translators and printers ushered into early modern culture. This coloured Marlowe's reading of the classics and contributes to the play's rich fabric of irony and pathos. Second, the chapter shows how, although the choice of a proto-feminist stance in Dido is Ovidian in spirit, Marlowe's inventio simultaneously lies in a clever dispositio of Virgilian material. This implies that Dido's seeming inconsistencies on stage result from deeply embedded aesthetic choices. When Marlowe engages in playful intertextual games, he reflects on his own activity as a reader, a translator and a dramatist while sharing with his audience a common historical, literary and imaginary backdrop.


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