Abrazar in Spanish means to embrace, abrasar means to set on fire. An embrace must set the one in your arms on fire, as Dido was set on fire by the embraces of Aeneas, as she had to set herself on fire literally in order to put an end to her desire for consummation at the absence of Aeneas. Love is always a form of consumption by the flames, always another kind of immolation. There are fires and motions in the soul that cannot be constrained by our being, but these are under constant assault by our culture.
Joan of Lorraine no longer feared the flames of her persecutors, having already been set ablaze by God and his Holy messengers, as Teresa D’Avila knew the burning devotion of God, as all lovers, true, understand and bear this as every woman bears her child, internally, interconnectedly, with a complete sublimation of all thought. Donne understood this devotion, or how all devotion of one kind or another is always holy. Keats is correct in asserting that there is a holiness to the hearts affections; could any of us live as intensely in his senses and his sensibilities, his mind/soul and body as did Keats; do any of us feel or do we only just emote. Again, recall that it is called The Passion of the Christ, not The Emotion of the Christ. There is a mutually exclusive categorical distinction between the two, emotion and passion; it is compassion, not com-emotion. Commotion is another thing altogether, yet related.
Dido had left Tyre with her following of Phoenicians and settled and built what was to become Carthage on the Tunisian shores of North Africa on the Mediterranean. Carthage would rival Rome in the Western Mediterranean and in points east for nearly two hundred years, and it was not until the death of Carthage, the annihilation of everything Carthaginian at the end of the Third Punic War could you say that Rome had its advent. The descendants of Aeneas had to wage war repeatedly against Carthage, had to seek the annihilation of everything Carthaginian because the memory of Dido was too much to bear. Her choice to perish in the flames is not in effect different from Joan’s choice. Everything she left in her wake had to be possessed or destroyed. We want to say that Joan could not have chosen to live, that she could not have chosen to free herself of burgundian persecution, even if they were not laying traps for her in a trial that had been fixed prior to its commencement. Joan, though, still chose her fate; her actions, her honesty in testimony established this course inevitably, we could say. Yet, she still chooses what Dido chose. This notion that everything left must be possessed or destroyed is as invariably true for us today, as it has been humanly true for always, at least potentially for us today because we do fear this truer feeling more than we even give lip service to respecting it, admiring it, believing in it. The Serpent in the Garden speaks to Eve with forked tongue, no?
Desire becomes act, an act that is being in itself, another actuality pure. Dido chooses her death appropriately; would you or I do the same? Could we love as intensely?