- "I condemn anyone who would not lay down their life for Carthage."
Dido, also known as Elissa, was, according to the Aeneid, the first queen of Carthage, which she founded after fleeing the Phoenician city of Tyre when her husband was murdered by king Pygmalion. She leads the Phoenicians in Civilization VI: Gathering Storm.
Queen Dido, mother of Carthage, all your life you faced great threats and overcame them through wit and cunning. Wherever waves break on the shore, there your cities shall rise. The seas are your roads, the far horizon is your destiny and your refuge.
Her leader ability is Founder of Carthage. It grants cities with a Cothon the unique Move Capital project, which moves the Phoenician Capital Capital to that city. She also gains +1 Trade Route Trade Route capacity after building the Government Plaza or any Government Plaza building and a 50% Production bonus towards districts in the city with the Government Plaza.
Phoenicia needs to get Biremes and embarked Settlers into play as early as possible. The combination of these two units allows Dido to quickly settle and protect an empire of interconnected coastal cities. As you settle this naval trading empire, choose a single continent for the permanent location of your capital and use a Cothon project to move it there. Ensuring that your cities on that continent cannot suffer any sort of pressures from other inland empires allows you to secure your settlements’ loyalty.
Agenda-based Approval: May prosperity come to your cities—the ones away from the coast.
Agenda-based Disapproval: We have no interest in the land—that is for you to claim—but the seas and the shores are Phoenician.
Attacked: War? Are you a fool? Your cities will suffer the fate of Epirus and Saguntum.
Declares War: Now we have war between us. Look to the seas—already the horizon is crowded with the sails of my fleets.
Defeated: Do not glory in your conquest. One day you may see your capital bathed in flame.
Greeting: I, Dido, queen and mother of Carthage, greet you on behalf of the Phoenicians.
Denounced: Your senators call for our destruction and you dare acclaim them as orators? You walk blind into your destruction.
Invitation to Capital: Tell me of the location of your capital, that our maps might be complete. I shall share our capital's location in exchange.
Invitation to City: Come and see the great Phoenician cities. Carry word of it back to your land, and to the rest of the world.
Requests Declaration of Friendship: Come, gracious one, and declare to the world that you stand as Phoenicia's friend!
Accepts Declaration of Friendship: Yes, this I swear.
Dido, also called Elissa, was the founder-queen of the city of Carthage. She founded the city after fleeing from an attempt on her life in her home city of Tyre. She appears both in the foundational myth of Carthage and in Virgil's Aeneid. It is likely she was a real, historical person, although many elements of her life were mythologized or fictionalized. They do make for a good story, though.
Records from around the 1st Century CE by Timaeus and Josephus both describe her as the sister of the Tyrian king Pygmalion. In a more detailed Roman story (which calls her Elissa), she was married to Acerbas, the chief priest of Hercules (but most likely the Phoenician god Melqart) and the second-most-powerful man in the city. Pygmalion wanted more power for himself and had Acerbas slain, and would have slain Dido, but she agreed to exile from the city.
Acerbas' temple had a large treasury, which passed to Dido. Dido knew that Pygmalion coveted the treasure, so she made a great show of sending container after container from the temple to the docks, then before departing Tyre, poured the contents of containers into the harbor in sight of Pygmalion's spies. Pygmalion assumed she had sacrificed the treasure, but Dido had in fact substituted sand in the containers and departed with her deceased husband's treasure safely hidden.
She wandered the Mediterranean for years afterwards, accompanied by her faithful retinue. She landed on Cyprus, where she added a group of desperate young women of the island to her band, who became wives for her soldiers.
The wanderers came to the North African coast, and there encountered a local king named Iarbas. Dido negotiated with Iarbas for permission to settle, saying she wanted “only as much land as an oxhide could cover.” Iarbas agreed. Dido ordered the cowhide sliced into a long, thin strips, and used the strips to encircle a hill near the coast. In honor of this bit of clever topology, the main hill of the city of Carthage became known as the Byrsa, which is a Greek word for oxhide.
There are two main accounts of her death. In the Aeneid, an anachronistic Aeneas stops in the newly-founded city of Carthage, and Dido falls madly in love with him, forgetting her vows to her deceased husband. Aeneas, reminded by Mercury of his destiny to found a great city of his own, departs suddenly, without bidding her farewell. Dido, heartbroken, realizing she has betrayed the memory of Acerbas, stabs herself with Aeneas' sword and swears unending enmity between Carthage and Aeneas' descendants. Aeneas sees her funeral pyre from the sea, and is briefly saddened by the turn of events, but then promptly goes back to the business of being a hero. This Roman account speaks volumes about Roman attitudes towards the Carthaginians, but maybe says less about Dido's history.
In the second account, King Iarbas demands Dido's hand in marriage from a Carthaginian delegation, and threatens the destruction of Carthage should she not comply. The delegates, knowing their queen's temper, cannot bring themselves to raise the issue to her, even despite the danger of war. One of their number phrases the situation delicately to her saying: “King Iarbas has requested the hand of one of our citizens in marriage, and says he will destroy the city if she does not accept.” To which Dido snaps: “Anyone who would not accept this marriage request, and so doom the city, should be put to death.”
When she realizes that the marriage proposal was extended to her, Dido agrees to the marriage, but says she must placate the spirit of Acerbas before marrying Iarbas. To this end, she constructs an immense pyre, and makes offerings, before slaying herself (and remaining loyal to Acerbas and outside of Iarbas' rule) rather than marrying Iarbas. Thus she remains faithful to her own word as queen, her own vows, and her own independence.
The chronology of Pygmalion's rule and the foundation of Carthage roughly support the story of Dido and her wanderings. Some archaeological evidence also supports her existence, although some scholars say these inscriptions are referring to the Phoenician goddess Tanit. If she did exist, and founded the city of Carthage while remaining independent and a ruler in her own right as in the myth, it would have been a remarkable achievement of the ancient world. Establishing the foundation of a mighty power from a humble start as refugees clinging to an unfriendly coast speaks volumes to her capability and guile as a ruler.
- As of the release of Gathering Storm, Dido is one of nine returning leaders from Civilization V and its expansions (along with Gandhi, Genghis Khan, Montezuma, Pachacuti, Pedro II, Alexander, Shaka, and Suleiman).
- Dido's diplomacy screen shows a ship leaving port.
- Dido's leader ability references her status as the alleged founder of Carthage, while her leader agenda references the series of conflicts between Carthage and the Greek city-states over control of Sicily.