Dryden's Dido: ‘Somewhat I find within’

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
Dryden's Dido: ‘Somewhat I find within’

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But it is Dido whose story most exemplifies the ‘opening’ of a secret. ‘Somewhat I find within’, Dryden makes her say of the passion that has been implanted in her by Venus; and the ‘somewhat’ is revealed progressively via her secret encounter with Aeneas in a cave, and its publication by ‘Fame’. But Dido cannot enforce her feelings for Aeneas in the open form of a binding verbal agreement: as the tragedy unfolds, Dryden translates so as to accentuate the contrast between her withdrawal into private obsession and Aeneas's departure into the public world of imperial destiny. Dryden sees Aeneas as reflecting his own practice as a translator: he makes things ‘open’ but does wrong in doing so—just as Dryden did (he says) ‘great wrong to Virgil in the whole translation’.

Keywords: Dryden; Virgil; Aeneid; Dido; secret; opening; interpretation; Aeneas; Fame

Chapter.  3727 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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