Dido (Queen of Carthage)

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Dido (pronounced /ˈdaɪdoʊ/ DYE-doe) was, according to ancient Greek and Roman sources, the founder and first Queen of Carthage (in modern-day Tunisia). She is best known from the account given by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid. In some sources she is also known as Elissa (pronounced /iːˈlɪsə/ ee-LISS).

The name Elissa is probably a Greek rendering of the Phoenician Elishat (𐤕𐤔𐤉𐤋𐤏).[citation needed] The name Dido, used mostly by Latin writers, seems to be a Phoenician form meaning "wanderer" and was perhaps the name under which Elissa was most familiarly known in Carthage.[citation needed]

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Early accounts

The person of Elissa can be traced back to references by Roman historians to lost writings of Timaeus of Tauromenium in Sicily (c. 356260 BC). Timaeus apparently dated the foundation of Carthage to 814 BC (or 813 BC), but he also placed the founding of Rome in the same year, which suggests legend had been at work.

Other historians gave other dates, both for the foundation of Carthage and the foundation of Rome. Appian in the beginning of his Punic Wars claims that Carthage was founded by a certain Zorus and Carchedon, but Zorus looks like an alternative transliteration of the city name Tyre and Carchedon is just the Greek form of Carthage. Timaeus made Carchedon's wife Elissa the sister of King Pygmalion of Tyre, and modern scholars still put Pygmalion (Pumayyaton) on the throne of gold at that time, so Timaeus' date usually appears in modern chronologies as the normal dubious and legendary date for the founding of Carthage. Nevertheless, archaeological evidence of settlement on the site of Carthage before the last quarter of the 8th century BC has yet to be found. So the whole story might be legendary or the synchronism between Elissa and Pygmalion might be legendary or archaeologists may have as yet missed important evidence for earlier settlement. That the city is named 𐤕𐤔𐤃𐤇 𐤕𐤓𐤒 Qart-hadasht "New City" at least indicates it was a colony. (There is another Qart-hadasht in Cyprus as well as in Spain).

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