Dido, or Elissa, the legendary founder of Carthage, was the daughter of the Tyrian king Belus or Agenor, and the sister of his successor Pygmalion. Pygmalion murdered her husband and uncle Acerbas or Sichaeus, a priest of Hercules. With the treasures of Sichaeus, which Pygmalion had sought for in vain, and accompanied by many Tyrians, Dido escaped to sea. She landed in Africa, not far from the Phoenician colony of Utica and built a citadel called Byrsa (Bursa - the hide of a bull) on a piece of ground which she had bought from the Numidian king Hiarbas. The meaning of the word Byrsa gave rise to the legend that Dido purchased as much land as could be encompassed with a bullock's hide. Once the agreement was concluded, she cut the hide into small thongs, and thus inclosed a large piece of ground, on which she built her city of Carthage. To avoid being compelled to marry Hiarbas, she stabbed herself on a funeral pyre which she had caused to be erected, and after her death was honored as a deity by her subjects.
Virgil ascribes the death of Dido to her unrequited passion for Aeneas; but many of the ancient writers conceived that the poet had committed an anachronism in making her contemporary with the Trojan prince. In the common chronology, more than three hundred years separated the fall of Troy (1184 B.C.) from the founding of Carthage (853 B.C.)
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