Part II. The Trojans in Carthage
The people of Carthage and Didon their Queen give praise to the achievements that have been made in the last seven years since leaving Tyre and founding a new city. Didon considers the proposal of a Nubian warrior to conclude a marriage pact that will bring mutual benefits from a political point of view. The people of Carthage swear their loyalty to Didon, and representatives of various professions – builders, sailors and peasant farmers – are, in turn, presented to the Queen.
As the triumphant ceremonies come to an end, Didon and her sister Anna discuss love. Anna calls on Didon to enter a second marriage, but Didon insists on observing the memory of her late husband Sichée. At this time, the Queen is informed of foreigners arriving in the port; they have been shipwrecked and are asking for refuge. Didon gives her agreement. Ascagne enters, showing the Queen the saved jewels of Troy and informing her of the city's destruction. Didon admits that she has heard of this sad event. Panthée then announces his prediction that a new city will be founded by the Trojans. Throughout this scene, Énée is getting dressed as a simple sailor.
The royal councillor Narbal appears with the news that the fierce ruler of the Nubian people, leading a vast horde of savages, is approaching Carthage. The city has insufficient weapons to defend itself. Then Énée comes forth and offers the services of his people to assist Carthage. Leaving Ascagne to the cares of Didon, he takes command of the united troops and hurries to meet the enemy.
In Didon's Gardens
The Numidians are broken in spirit, and the people of Carthage free Narbal and Anna, who had been taken prisoner. But Narbal is worried that Didon is neglecting the rule of the State, filled as she is with feelings for Énée. Anna sees nothing amiss in this and says that Énée would be a magnificent ruler of Carthage. Narbal reminds her that the gods have decreed that Énée link his destiny with Italy. Then Anna replies that there is no god on Earth more powerful than love itself.
Didon enters and a ballet begins – the dances of young Egyptian and Nubian slave girls. Then, at the Queen's command, village songs are sung. Didon asks Énée to tell her something more of Troy. Énée relates that Andromaque has become the wife of Pyrrhus, son of the Greek hero Achilles who killed her former husband, Hector. Didon senses that her last recollections of her dead husband are fading. She drops Sichée's ring, whose memory she has already betrayed in her heart. The Queen and Énée confess their love for one another. Their declarations are interrupted by the appearance of Mercury, messenger of the gods, who informs Énée it is Jupiter's will he leaves Carthage and sets out for Italy where he is to found a great city and a powerful nation.
Symphonic Entr'acte A Royal Hunt
The sea coast at Carthage
The sea coast is covered in tents of the Trojans, guarded by two sentinels; in the distance Trojan ships can be made out, and on the tall mast of one of them a sailor is singing a song of his anguish for his native land. The sentinels laugh at him, as never again will he see his father's home. Panthée and the Trojan leaders are discussing the terrible omens of the gods, displeased at their being delayed in Carthage. Voices from the underworld can be heard: «Italy!» The Trojans are seized with terror and undertake preparations to sail the very next day. After the leaders depart, the sentinels express their displeasure: they have seen no omens, they have heard no voices and they have no desire whatsoever to leave Carthage, where the women are so favourable to foreigners. Énée runs in, his soul in anguish at the cruel struggle between his duty, which calls him to Italy, and his love, which holds him in Carthage. He resolves to see the Queen one last time, but this time he is confronted by the ghosts of Priam, Chorèbe, Hector and Cassandre, who call to him to depart without delay. Énée understands that he must obey the will of the gods, recognising how cruelly and ignobly he is acting towards Didon. He gives the order to sail at dawn; it is at this time that Didon enters, in shock that Énée is attempting to sail away in secret, leaving her behind. Énée begs her to forgive him, denoting the will of the gods, but Didon pays no heed to these supplications and curses him.
Scene 1. Didon's Palace
Didon begs Anna to ask Énée once again to remain. Anna is sorry that she gave her blessing to the love between her sister and Énée. Then Didon, in a fit of temper, declares that if Énée truly loved her, he would not thus challenge the gods – and once more begs her sister to persuade Énée to remain in Carthage a few days more. At the same time, the Queen announces that the Trojan ships have cast off from the city. In fury, Didon orders the people of Carthage to sail after them and sink the Trojan fleet, filled with dismay that she did not wage war with them earlier, as soon as they sailed into Carthage. Left alone, Didon prepares to meet death, drawing the whole force of the wrath of the gods on her head.
Scene 2. Didon's Gardens
At the order of the Queen, a vast fire has been lit on the shore of the sea. Around the fire are the priestesses of Pluto. They call to the gods of the underworld for Didon to be soothed. The Queen burns Énée's armour and weapons. Narbal and Anna curse Énée, praying for him to die an ignoble death in battle. Didon removes her veil and throws it into the flames on top of Énée's toga. She prophesies that her blood will produce a nemesis – Hannibal the great warrior, who will rise and attack Rome to avenge her. To the terror of her subjects, Didon stabs her breast with a sword, and her body is placed on the pyre. However, at the moment of her death, the Queen is visited by a final vision: Carthage will be destroyed, while Rome will become the Eternal City.
In the apotheosis, the Capitol of Rome can be seen. The people of Carthage and the priests curse Énée and his people.