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This paper analyses Geoffrey Chaucer’s rendition of the famous relationship between Aeneas and Dido, founder of Rome and queen of Carthage, respectively. The discussion focuses heavily on reflections of labyrinth myth and custom in both Chaucer and Vergil’s versions. Based on recent thesis research from the University of Melbourne, I conclude that while Vergil uses the labyrinth as the basis for his plot structure and timeline, Chaucer recreates it instead at the word level, creating syntactical pathways which resemble the winding dance of an ancient labyrinth. Chaucer takes this as well as several other influences from Vergil and combines them with traits of Ovid’s version of the story to create his House of Fame. While using elements of both, Chaucer is less committed to either party than are Vergil or Ovid. Vergil sides with Aeneas and Ovid with Dido, but Chaucer offers both praise and critique of each party. I argue that this is due to Chaucer’s consistent questioning of the meanings of truth, knowledge, and literature, and how they interact. He rarely fed his readers opinions and often labored over where true knowledge could be found, so the disorienting labyrinth of words that he builds is an appropriate reflection of his tendency for encouraging deep thought. In building this argument I also discuss how Chaucer’s variances from Vergil, while slightly more sympathetic to Dido, also serve to further dehumanize her in death, instead expounding on the wrongdoings of men in love and ultimately serving Chaucer’s more philosophical interest.


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  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
  • Event date
    • 26 March 2021

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Laura Getty