Aeneas and Dido

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Anon. (1607)

Historical Records


Correspondence of Antoine de La Boderie

8 June 1607. To Nicolas Brûlart de Puisieux.

Antoine de La Boderie, the French ambassador, recorded that the performance took place at a banquet hosted by Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, to entertain Charles de Lorraine, Prince de Joinville, during his visit to England:

Le soir le Comte d'Arundel donna un grand festin où il se trouva avec le Roi, la Reine, & force Dames; & à la fin d'icelui se présenta une Tragédie d'Enée et de Didon, qui les tint jusques à deux heures après minuit. (2:264)
That evening the earl of Arundel held a great banquet where he was with the King, the Queen, and many ladies, and at the end of which a tragedy of Aeneas and Dido was presented, which occupied them until two o'clock after midnight.

Theatrical Provenance

Performed on 25 May 1607 at a banquet hosted by Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Virgil, Aeneid 1-4.

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Graves (525-26) considered the possibility that the play was a revival: "It is perhaps impossible to say whether the tragedy mentioned above was written especially for the elaborate entertainment given by Henry Howard, Earl of Arundel, or whether it was an old play revived—Halliwell's Latin Dido, acted at Cambridge in 1564, Gager's Dido acted at Oxford before the Prince Palatine of Poland in 1583, the tragedy by Marlowe and Nash, or the 'dido & eneus' mentioned in Henslowe's diary, provided the two plays mentioned last are different productions."

Harbage (Annals 1607) also queries: "An earlier play revived?"

Liebler (22) contextualizes the play as part of the Jacobean interest in female tragic heroes who give their names to plays' titles, such as Elizabeth Cary's Tragedy of Mariam, Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, and Webster's Duchess of Malfi.

Wiggins (#1530) notes that the 1598 "Dido" was written for the Admiral's Men while they were under the patronage of Charles Howard. If the company, now the Prince's Men, retained its connection with the Howard family, they may have been asked to provide the entertainment for the 25 May 1607 banquet.

For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

de La Boderie, Antoine. Ambassades de M. de La Boderie en Angleterre. 5 vols. [Paris?], 1750.
Graves, T. S. "A Tragedy of Dido and Aeneas Acted in 1607." Modern Language Review 9 (1914): 525-26.
Liebler, Naomi Conn. "Introduction: Wonder Woman, or the Female Tragic Hero." The Female Tragic Hero in English Renaissance Drama. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 1-32.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 9 December 2017.