Page 377. " I want Carthage and Troy to be conjured before us, and Dido and Aeneas "
Dido and Aeneas, by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
Public DomainDido and Aeneas, by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

On his journey from Troy to Italy to found ancient Rome, Aeneas and his men were washed up at Carthage on the coast of North Africa. There Aeneas sought the hospitality of Dido, queen of Carthage, who fell in love with the Trojan prince. Aeneas stayed with her for a time, but destiny bade him move on. When he left, Dido was so distraught that she committed suicide. Later, Dido and Aeneas’ love story would become a tragic episode in Virgil’s epic The Aeneid, written during the reign of Augustus (after Cicero’s death).

Listen on Spotify: Dido's Lament by Henry Purcell


Page 380. " The unspoken dreads which attend all births – of agony, death and deformity "

Ancient Greek stele (gravestone) of a recently deceased new mother
Public DomainAncient Greek stele (gravestone) of a recently deceased new mother - Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons
Infant mortality rates were high in the ancient world, and death during or after childbirth was a common fate for women.

Page 400. " he was an Epicurean not in the commonly misunderstood sense, as a seeker after luxury, but in the true meaning, as a pursuer of what the Greeks call ataraxia, or freedom from disturbance. "
Epicurus, the founder of Epicureanism
Public DomainEpicurus, the founder of Epicureanism - Credit: Interstate295revisited/Wikimedia Commons
 Epicureanism was the philosophy based on the teachings of the Greek Epicurus (4th century BC) that man should live according to what will make him happiest; he should seek out pleasure and avoid pain. Surprisingly, this did not necessarily lead to a hedonistic, luxury filled lifestyle, for what might bring a momentary pleasure one minute could cause lasting pain for years. For example, Epicurus believed that moderation should be shown in all aspects of life; eating too much or too richly would lead to regret and ill health, buying too many material things would lead to poverty, over-indulgence of sexual yearnings would lead to growing dissatisfaction, and so on. If whims are not restrained, the person will simply want more and more until his desires are unattainable.

The pursuit of power or a political career was to be avoided; it could only bring danger, worry and eventual dissatisfaction. Instead, the best life was one spent in philosophy, as only through learning and the pursuit of higher knowledge could man break from superstitious fears and the petty desires of the body.