Jorge Luis Borges’s magnificent tribute to Hannibal and ancient Carthage (with English translation at the end):

Jorge Luis Borges’s magnificent tribute to Hannibal and ancient Carthage (with English translation at the end):

FRAGMENTOS DE UNA TABLILLA DE BARRO DESCIFRADA POR EDMUND BISHOP EN 1867

…Es la hora sin sombra. Melkart el Dios rige desde la cumbre del mediodía el mar de Cartago. Aníbal es la espada de Melkart.

Las tres fanegas de anillos de oro de los romanos que perecieron en Apulia, seis veces mil, han arribado al puerto.

Cuando el otoño esté en los racimos habré dictado el verso final.

Alabado sea Baal, Dios de los muchos cielos, alabada sea Tanith, la cara de Baal, que dieron la victoria a Cartago y que me hicieron heredar la vasta lengua púnica, que será la lengua del orbe, y cuyos caracteres son talismánicos.

No he muerto en la batalla como mis hijos, que fueron capitanes en la batalla y que no enterraré, pero a lo largo de las noches he labrado el cantar de las dos guerras y de la exultación.

Nuestro es el mar. ¿Qué saben los romanos del mar?

Tiemblan los mármoles de Roma; han oído el rumor de los elefantes de guerra.

Al fin de quebrantados convenios y de mentirosas palabras, hemos condescendido a la espada.

Tuya es la espada ahora, romano; la tienes clavada en el pecho.

Canté la púrpura de Tiro, que es nuestra madre. Canté los trabajos de quienes descubrieron el alfabeto y surcaron los mares. Canté la pira de la clara reina. Canté los remos y los mástiles y las arduas tormentas…

Bern, 1984
Los conjurados
Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1985

TRANSLATION:

FRAGMENTS OF A CLAY TABLET DECIPHERED BY EDMUND BISHOP IN 1867

… It is the hour with no shade. Melkarth the God rules from the top of the midday hill the sea of Carthage. Hannibal is the sword of Melkarth.

The three bushels of gold rings from the Romans who perished in Apulia, six times a thousand, have arrived at the port.

When autumn is in the grape clusters I will have dictated the final verse.

Praise to Baal, God of the many heavens, praised be Tanith, face of Baal, which gave victory to Carthage and who made me inherit the vast Punic language, which is to be the language of the world, and whose characters are talismanic.

I have not died in battle as my children, who were captains in the battle and whom I did not get to bury, but over the night I crafted the song of the two wars and of exultation.

Ours is the sea. What do the Romans know of the sea?

The marble edifices of Rome tremble, they have heard the rumor of war elephants.

At the end of broken agreements and lying words, we have condescended to resort to the sword.

Yours is the sword now, Roman; you have it nailed your chest.

I sang of the purple from Tyre, which is our mother. I sang of the labors of those who discovered the alphabet and sailed the seas. I sang of the pyre white queen. I sang of the oars and the masts and of arduous storms …

Jorge Luis Borges

 
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