30.05.2014

I hear you Carthage: Ode to gloom

Carthage haunted her successor. Two centuries and a prophet after her death, she appeared to the people of the prosperous town. In her mother tongue she requested an elegy.

She was barely visible as she told the story of her own destruction.

Hearing someone tell how she was razed to the ground can be chilling.

Her grace as she lay beneath the inscription was chilling.

She was too flat to spark off desire.

Harsh inflections. Sounds that were crushed long ago by some Romance yet still making sense—Scipio’s name was the first to be picked up by the residents of the new town.

The resilience of her language was petrifying.

Scipio Aemilianus... rushed to... crush the hungry citizens... to consecrate... his victory... Adon-Baal...

She could have done with less than an elegy perhaps. Her uncanny Punic might have misled the new Carthaginians, when all she needed was to be heard: “I saw children being sacrificed, I forgave parents, I bosomed bones, I let skeletons hug one another, I led parents underground to where they could smell their offspring.” How deep? Six feet? Who knows—no inscription to help; Phoenician history has been wiped off by romance.

Classius Secundus found the inscription and instantly spotted Scipio. Soldier recognizing the soldier.

Looked up Malouf on the web, heard the music. Tunisian, influenced by the Ottoman. Too familiar to be interesting, too... human and too boring: It’s in the name—Malouf: normal, familiar, customary.

Malouf is music to a qasidah.

Perhaps it was an ode that she, the Ancient Carthage, needed to hear. An ode to her grace, to motherhood. The mother tongue.