Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences

School of English Research Seminar

Meadhbh O Halloran, Disrupting translatio imperii: Virgil, Marlowe and the Medieval Dido

Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage (c.1587) is one of a small selection of Elizabethan plays dramatising the tale of Dido and Aeneas from Virgil’s Aeneid. The classical epic was not only conceived as authentic history in sixteenth-century England, but it was also specifically English history. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanae claimed Britain was founded by Brutus, a descendant of Virgil’s eponymous hero Aeneas. Accordingly, depictions of Aeneas in Elizabethan literature and art tend to follow Virgil’s text, presenting Aeneas as an infallible hero, steadfast in fulfilling his destiny. Decisively, Marlowe elects to present a uniquely medieval version of events. Whilst dramatising a Virgilian narrative, Marlowe does not stage Virgil’s specific version of the Dido myth. Instead he depicts a medieval version of the tale, in which Dido is the protagonist and Aeneas a rather emasculated figure. In opting for this dismissed medieval account over the prized Virgilian narrative lauded by Elizabethans, Marlowe’s play offers a counter- narrative to orthodox representations of British history.

Meadhbh O Halloran is a PhD candidate in the School of English, University College Cork. She has recently submitted her thesis on the subversive use of medieval literature in the work of Early Modern poet and dramatist Christopher Marlowe, and is awaiting her viva. She is supervised by Dr. Edel Semple, Prof. Lee Jenkins and Dr. Andrew King. Her research interests include Elizabethan drama and fiction, medieval literature and drama, particularly in the context of the Reformation. She has published short pieces in the Literary Encyclopaedia and The Spenser Review and has contributed to the Shakespeare in Ireland blog.

Category: Public Lectures and Seminars: Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences
Time: 3-4pm
Location: Room 2.12 O'Rahilly Building UCC
Target Audience: All welcome
Admission Price: € Free
Contact: Clíona Ó Gallchoir
021 4903288

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