Dido remembered the first time she and Sychaeus met. She was about seven and he was about 10. His father had come to visit hers, and as most boys his age, Sychaeus was fascinated by the castle. He wanted to explore it, find all the secret passages, and maybe even save the princess from a dragon. With these adventures in mind, he dashed from his father's side as soon as possible.
He explored the castle, but found no hidden passages, or princesses, or dragon. He did find the gardens though, so he guessed that could count as his 'big discovery'. Sychaeus sat at one of the fountains, thinking. The castle may not have any hidden passages or dragons, but he did know it had a princess. He remembered his father telling him about her on the travel there. She was named Dido, about seven or eight years old, and their fathers hoped they would marry one day.
Sychaeus, lost in these thoughts, didn't notice the little girl approach him.
"Hi! My name's Dido! What's yours?" she asked curious.
"Sychaeus, are you Princess Dido?"
"Yes," she pouted. "But I don't like being called princess; the head gardener accused one of his workers of being a princess when he complained about a stubbed toe. I never complain about a stubbed toe! They make being a princess sound like being a bad thing!" she exclaimed.
"I'm sorry, then may I call you just Dido? Like it would be if we were friends, and you could call me Sy," he replied.
"I've never had a friend before," she confessed quietly. "Everyone my age doesn't stay here long, and I'm the only kid who lives here. Some of the adults are pretty nice, but they can't really be considered as friends."
Sy jumped up from where he was sitting and made a bow to Dido, "Well Dido, I am honored to be your first friend," he said, eliciting a giggle from her. She gave a graceful curtsey back, well it was as graceful as a seven year old can manage, which was still pretty good.
The rest of the afternoon Dido and Sy played together in the gardens. They ran around, played a hiding and seeking game, they even ended up climbing a tree. Sy had to help Dido get the hang of it, since as a princess she usually didn't climb trees.
Dido was very nervous at first, clutching the tree branch tightly with both arms. Sy laughed at her a bit, and then showed her there was nothing to be afraid of. She slowly got the hang of it, and relaxed on her perch. Dido really admired the view of the gardens she got, and she could just barely see over the walls to the outside world; a place she had been only a handful of times. Sy was enjoying it too; this really was a nice place.
A shriek from Dido nearly stopped his heart. He turned to find her clutch a branch and scooted all the way to the trunk. Her eyes were giant saucers, staring at this tiny lizard on the branch between them.
"What's wrong? Are you afraid of lizards?" he asked concerned.
Dido nodded. "My nursemaid said the reason there are no more dragons is because they all shrunk and became the lizards we see now. I don't care if it's small; a dragon's still a dragon."
"Well watch this," Sy said. He brushed the lizard off the branch between them and watched as it landed safely on a branch beneath them; he didn't really want to hurt it.
"Thank you Sy!" Dido gasped, scooting back over and throwing an arm around him in a side hug. "You saved me from the dragon!" Sy smiled. It seemed he was able to complete at least one of his planned adventures today.
Dido, now queen of Carthage after the tragic murder of Sychaeus by her brother, listened to the story of the Trojan prince with rapt attention. She had never heard such a fascinating story before, and found herself quite attracted to the prince Aeneas.
After he finished his story she bid him and his friends good night and went to talk to her sister, Anna, about these new feelings. She had been encouraged to find a new husband and had many suitors, among them Iarbas, a nearby king she had rejected like the rest.
Dido deeply loved Sychaeus, and felt that to marry anyone else would be a dishonor to him and his memory. So she swore to never marry or love another man, which was why she felt so conflicted over her feelings for Aeneas.
Anna consoled her, "Dido, it's perfectly natural for you to have feelings for another man. It's been years since Sychaeus died, and you need to move on. Aeneas is a good man, and his warriors would strengthen the city should he stay. So go for it, follow these feelings and see where they lead you."
"Thank you, Anna," she replied, feeling slightly better about loving Aeneas.
Dido took Anna's advice and spent time with Aeneas, showing him the city and how she was rebuilding it. As she did this, she couldn't help but fall even more in love with the man. She fell swift and hard; warning bells rang in the back of her mind, this wasn't natural or like her at all, remember how long she knew Sy before she knew she loved him, but all of these she chose to ignore.
One day she invited Aeneas to come with her on a hunting trip, and while they were in the forest a freak thunderstorm passed over them. The entire hunting party scattered to find shelter, and somehow Aeneas and Dido found themselves in the same cave.
"Strange how that storm came out of nowhere, isn't it?" Aeneas asked, staring out of the cave into the pouring rain. "It's almost as if the gods blew it over," he mused.
"Yes, it was sudden, but it will provide much needed water for the plants and animals of the forest," Dido replied sitting down next to him.
Aeneas gave a hearty chuckle. "Look at me, trying to find the gods hand in every misfortune that comes my way," he laughed putting an arm around Dido's shoulders.
"You think it was a misfortune, you coming here?" she questioned, looking up at him.
"No, not at all, I'm very glad to have come here, and to have met you," he replied, looking down at her.
He then bent down and kissed her. A loud voice rang out saying, "I, Juno, Goddess of Marriage, pronounce you husband and wife."
Dido opened her eyes to see the figure of a very tall, very beautiful woman standing in the cave with them. She was truly godly looking; she even had a bit of a glow to her.
In that moment Dido was happy for the first time since Sychaeus died.
The first times she saw it, or thought she saw it, was when she and Aeneas were walking back inside from taking a stroll along the outer wall. There was a large crowd of people in the outer courtyard, and Dido always loved to see the faces of her people. One of them made eye contact with her, slowly shook his head, and then walked away. One that happened to look eerily like Sychaeus.
Dido felt her heart stop. How could this be? Sychaeus was dead!
Aeneas put a hand on her arm. "Hey, are you alright?" he asked, noticing Dido had stopped walking and seemed to be disturbed.
"Yes, I'm fine," she answered smiling up at him. They continued to walk back inside, hands locked together. But Dido couldn't forget what she had seen.
Dido thought about saying something to Anna, but decided against it. Anna would just say something about this being a product of Dido's slight guilt she still felt about loving again. She definitely would not say anything to Aeneas; it was a general rule that you didn't mention a past lover to your current lover.
As Dido was getting ready for bed, she heard a noise in her bedchamber. She thought it might be Aeneas, wishing to spend the night with her. She entered her bed chamber and froze. There was a man in her bed, but Aeneas it was not. This man had the exact same features of her husband, Sychaeus.
"But you're dead, I saw you're body, how are you here?" she gasped.
Sychaeus sat up and looked at her with sad eyes. "It seems my wife does not care for my company anymore," he said. His voice was strange and hollow sounding, like he was speaking to her from far away. But then, Hades was pretty far away.
Sychaeus then got up from the bed and rushed toward her. Dido closed her eyes, expecting his wrath, but it never came. She opened her eyes and was alone in her room. She could feel tears stream down her face and she ran to the bed and sobbed into her pillow. It was at times like these that she wished she could drown the memory of Sy.
Dido continued to see Sychaeus more often, sometimes in the background, sometimes right in front of her, staring at her, in empty hallways.
Dido soon figured out that she was the only one who could see him; no one else reacted to the things he did. He would yell things at him, saying deeply personal things that only he knew about her. He also insulted her, calling her terrible names for breaking her vow to never love or marry again.
"I guess you never really loved me, if you can lose your heart so quick to this good-looking prince who sweet talks you. It's a good thing I died when I did, so that I never had to find out the truth." This always hurt Dido the most. She could take it when he yelled, but when he softly accused her of not loving him, she had to make some excuse and leave the room should she be with people to go cry.
This she endured for a couple weeks. It wasn't that bad if she thought about it, after all she did have Aeneas.
Then came the straw that broke the camel's back.
"Dido? Uh, I um, got a message from the gods, and I have to leave. I have to go found a mighty nation, and I'm not exactly doing that here in Carthage," Aeneas hesitantly told her after she had already found them preparing to leave.
"Ha! It seems like lover boy can't stand you either, at least he's getting out while he has the chance!" Sychaeus cackled behind her.
"So you're just going to leave? You weren't going to tell me?" she whispered.
"I knew you would be sad, and I didn't want to see you sad. This is the way it has to be, I was wrong to become involved with you; I knew I wouldn't end up staying very long. But it wasn't like we were married or anything," he tried to explain.
"Just stop! I don't want any more of your excuses, or trying to blame things on the gods, just go already!" she yelled, storming off.
Later that night Dido watched the white sails of Aeneas' ship sail away in the moonlight.
"Anna, gather all the things Aeneas left, I wish to burn them and forget about him," she ordered in a dejected voice. Anna obeyed. She had seen Dido like this right after their brother killed Sychaeus, and knew Dido had her own way of grieving.
Anna gathered all the things and placed them in the courtyard and had servants place logs around them like a bonfire. They waited for Dido; she wished to light it herself.
The ghost of Sychaeus never left Dido now. For the past several hours it was constantly yelling at her, and telling her she was a failure as a queen and a woman.
"If you can't even keep a simple man in line then how do you expect to rule an entire country of them?"
Dido tried to keep the tears from her eyes. Even though Aeneas had left, the ghost of Sychaeus that had been tormenting her showed no sign of leaving. She waited a few more hours, but still he was with her.
Dido had one last thing to bring to the bonfire- a dagger that Aeneas had given her. When she got to the courtyard she found the bonfire already lit. Anna and the servants had waited for Dido, and when she hadn't showed they went ahead and lit it.
"Why don't you just kill yourself?" Sychaeus sneered. "It's not like you have anything worth living for, other than me. I'll be here to keep you company all the days of your life.
"Come on, just take the dagger and stab it through your heart, it'll be over before you know it."
Dido realized he was right, and it would just be easier to kill herself; that's what she really had in mind with the bonfire. Also, she would hate to live with this…thing that looked like her only love yelling abuses at her as long as she lived.
She turned the dagger in her hands, admiring it. It really was pretty, in a way. It was such a shame it would have such an ugly purpose.
Resolved, she quickly grasped the dagger by its hilt and, pointing it toward her, plunged it deep into her chest.
"DIDO!" screamed Anna, who had seen the whole thing. Anna rushed to her sister, intent on trying to save her. Dido saw Anna running to her and gave a sad smile.
"Goodbye, Anna," she whispered, pulling the dagger from her chest.
Strangely, Dido didn't feel like she was dying. She looked down and could see her dark blood running down her chest, staining her white dress, as well as feel it, but she didn't have any pain. She put a hand to where the dagger had been, and was intrigued to find that the blood pulsed out, like the beat of her heart.
Anna was getting closer, and Dido knew Anna would try to save her. Dido couldn't have that happen.
She took a step closer to the bonfire, and felt her strength leave her. With the last of it, she jumped onto the bonfire, and proclaimed a curse: "Neither love nor compact shall there be between our nations. Let them fight, they, and their sons' sons, forever!"
Anna ran up and managed to pull Dido's body from the pyre, sobbing as she did.
"How could you do this to me? How could you leave me like this?" Anna cried, throwing her arms around her dying sister. She covered the gaping hole in Dido's chest with her hands, thinking that maybe if she could stop the blood flow everything would be alright.
Dido tried to open her eyes and lift her head; to say something to comfort her grieving sister. But it was too late; Dido was too far gone.
As Anna mourned there by the fire, covered in her sister's blood, Dido's spirit left her body to dwell in Hades.
Thus Dido went to join her true love, Sychaeus.