To Carthage then I came. The great city that became a metaphor

by Rashmee

Posted on December 26, 2015



Carthage and its harbour
Carthage and its harbour

Carthage has a powerful hold on the imagination. Founded in the 9th century B.C., it is the great city whose greatness did not enable it to escape destruction. The centre of a great trading empire, it was reduced to rubble, its dreams became dust. It is the place that produced Hannibal, one of the greatest military commanders in history, but it could not strategise enough for the future. It was the centre of successive empires but could not rule its own destiny.

At the Baths of Antonine. They are only 2,000 years old!
At the Baths of Antonine. They are only 2,000 years old!

It is a metaphor for the corrupt city, for rise and fall, and for the inevitability of decay.

In ‘The Wasteland’, T.S.Eliot writes:

“To Carthage then I came

Burning burning burning burning

O Lord thou pluckst me out

O Lord thou pluckst

burning”

It’s thought that this is a reference to Saint Augustine’s Confessions: “To Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves sang all about mine ears.”

Carthage today, a UN World Heritage site, is not so much “a cauldron of unholy loves” as a wealthy suburb with a slightly chaotic way of conveying its 3,000-year history.

Jack Kerouac
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac

(Tomorrow: Carthage Musuem has great potential. When will it achieve it?)


Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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