IAS Fellows’ Public Lecture – Song of Dido: can the life of an ancient mythic heroine present us with a vision for the future?, by Dr Magdalena Zira
November 21 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
IAS Fellows’ Public Lecture by Dr Magdalena Zira (Fantastico Theatro)
Why do we tell stories?
Can art effectively respond to the calamities facing humanity?
Does the past really have something to teach us today, during this unprecedented crisis in our relationship with the natural world?
What’s the point of revisiting ancient myth while the planet is on fire and the movement for peace is retreating everywhere around us?
The discovery of an alternative biography for the legendary Carthaginian Queen Dido, recorded in less known historiographical sources that completely subvert the Roman propagandist love story of Dido and Aeneas, led to the creation of a new play, in which she is a feminist icon. In the story behind the play, largely unknown in the West, she is a rare find: a political refugee and a female protagonist of an epic adventure. This Dido had a vision for the world that was not meant to prevail in antiquity, but one that is perhaps now more relevant than ever.
Why do we not know more about this version of her life? In the transformation of her story through Eurocentric mechanisms of patriarchy and imperialism, the traditions of the Carthaginians were silenced by Roman propaganda, erased along with Dido’s heroic achievements and—quite possibly—along with a view of the world very different to Pax Romana. The Carthaginians and their legends were a casualty of Roman expansion and their fate is a testament to the fragility of human civilizations.
This new play about Dido, challenging Western certainties and literary canons, can be relevant today, since it alludes to contemporary themes such as the refugee crisis, the disappearance of the world’s smaller cultures under the pressure of globalization and the environmental repercussions of global inequalities. Above all, it examines the forces that continue to divide us according to creed, ethnicity and gender.
This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person.