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The Art of JAMA
June 25, 2014

Dido, Queen of CarthageLéonard Limosin

JAMA. 2014;311(24):2464-2465. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279572

Dido, Queen of Carthage, pictured here in an enamel portrait by the French artisan Léonard Limosin (circa 1505-circa 1575), was the founding ruler of an ancient city-state on the coast of northern Africa. According to Roman historians and the Latin poet Virgil, who embellished Dido’s biography for his epic poem The Aenead, she was born a princess of the Phoenician city of Tyre in the eighth century bce. Dido was forced to leave Tyre when the king assassinated her husband in an unsuccessful attempt to steal his fortune; she tricked the king into thinking the treasure had been cast into the sea as an offering to her husband’s spirit and escaped by ship with her companions. They landed in North Africa, purchased a small section of land from the Berber king Iarbas, and built a walled city on a headland overlooking a bay. King Iarbas asked Dido to marry him, but she declined, saying that she would never marry again.

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