Our male character is both Aeneas and Dante. Yep. Deal with it. He’s on a pilgrimage and she is his aggressive, annoying, willful, intelligent, wise, and annoying guide.
This reference is to when Dante sees Beatrice in all her glory after going through hell, literally, and half way through purgatory. From Robert Hollander.
“The love that Dante feels now for Beatrice is described in terms that indicate its ‘Carthaginian’ dimension. The ‘antica rete’ (old, familiar net) reminds us of the ‘antica fiamma’ (ancient flame – Purg. XXX.48) that flared in Dido and then in Dante, Dido’s words become his own. Dante’s morals may have been cleansed on the mountain, and Lethe may have made him forget his now forgiven sins, but his intellect is surely not working at its highest level. Having seen Beatrice as God loves her, he still contrives to think she is that pretty girl from Florence. The poet records her ‘holy smile’; the protagonist remembers his earthly feelings.”
Fuck. Yeah. Fuck yeah!