In legend, Dido was an ancient Phoenician queen, and founder of Carthage, a city in modern day Tunisia which was later to become a prominent rival to Rome. Both ancient Greek and Roman sources describe her as Carthage's first queen. Carthage was directly opposite from Sicily, with only about seventy miles separating the two points of land. Because its location was a natural dividing point between the the west and east parts of the Mediterranean Sea, Carthage quickly grew in influence in Phoenician culture.
Dido is a prominent character in the Aeneid in which she is the lover of Aeneas, but she is forced to fall in love with him by the goddess Venus who casts a strong spell on her and undoes her heart. Dido had previously been married before she met Aeneas, and she swore an oath that she would never remarry. But her sister Anna helped persuade her to fall in love with Aeneas, but when fate forces Aeneas to head onwards to meet his destiny to found the city of Rome, Dido is angry, bitter, and hurt by the seeming nonchalance of Aeneas, and she commits suicide. Later in the epic story, Aeneas looks at the ghost of Dido in the underworld, but she won't even look at him, and walks away without saying a word. The Aeneas-Dido love story forms a major transition in the epic tale. According to some sources, Dido is also called by the name Elissa.