After the fall of Troy, Aeneas leads the remaining Trojans as they sail near Sicily on their quest to reach Latium, an Italian region where their descendants are fated to one day found the city of Rome. Juno, who hates the Trojans because it is also fated that they will one day destroy her favored city of Carthage, wants to stop them from reaching Latium. She goes to Aeolus, the god of wind, to raise a storm to destroy them. However, Neptune notices the storm and calms it, and the Trojans land at a North African city called Carthage.
As Aeneas and his friend Achates walk through the forest toward the city, Aeneas's mother, the goddess Venus, appears in disguise and tells them the story of Dido, and how she came to be the founder and queen of Carthage. When they reach the city, Dido welcomes the Trojans and Aeneas. At the feast that night, to ensure Dido's hospitality toward her son, Venus sends down Cupid, disguised as Ascanius, to make Dido fall in love with Aeneas. At the feast, Aeneas tells the whole story of the fall of Troy and his wanderings, resulting in a long flashback.
Aeneas describes how the Greeks tricked the Trojan's with their gift of the Trojan horse, which secretly housed Greek warriors inside it. He further tells about the death of Priam, how he (Aeneas) lost his wife Creusa while fleeing the defeated city of Troy, and then about his and his followers' misadventures around the Mediterranean Sea, including encounters with the Harpies and the Cyclops, and the death of his father Anchises. Back in the present time, Dido falls madly in love with Aeneas, who only mildly returns the feeling. Juno plots to get Dido and Aeneas alone together during a trip in the forest, and then officiates a wedding for the couple, which Dido uses to justify her behavior. However, Aeneas doesn't even realize the wedding has occurred. When the god Mercury reminds Aeneas that he must go and follow his fate, Aeneas leaves Carthage with his men. Dido, devastated, commits suicide.
Unaware of Dido's death, Aeneas and the Trojans return to Anchises's burial…