I wish I had Carthaginian or Etruscan authors to love as much as the Greek or Roman ones. I stared at the Pyrgi Tablets last night and thought again that they are one of the coolest things I know from the ancient world, and so very singular. Wikipedia in translating both texts renders the personal name of Thefarie Velianas as "Tiberius," although the Etruscan form is older. His city was Cisra. The Romans called it Caere; it was Kyšryʼ to his Phoenician-speaking allies. I'm sure the political situation was complex. It is a curious thing for a ruler to dedicate a shrine in gratitude to another people's god. But he calls her Uni-Astre, syncretizing. (Her name on the Phoenician side of the tablets is rendered ʻštrt, Aštart—cognate with Akkadian Ištar, Hebrew Aštoret, I don't like to use Astarte outside of Greek contexts for the same reason I prefer not to Romanize Greek names wherever possible. That š is important.) The Romans assimilated Tanit to Juno Caelestis, raised temples to her after the destruction of Carthage and the building of Roman Carthage on the same ground. Not Venus, despite her equivalence to the evening star. Carthage is Juno's city in the Aeneid; its future defeat is the reason the goddess hates Aeneas, his abandonment of Dido and her enmity-ensuring curse a closed loop of time. Roman tradition held that Juno herself was taken from the Etruscans by evocatio at the siege of Veii in 396 BCE. Scipio Aemilianus is supposed to have performed the same ritual on Tanit during the sack of Carthage in 146. At Cisra, she was offered a shared name and invited in. These old, old links, irrecoverable fragments. Everything becomes a sigil of something lost: an unspoken language, an unreadable book. I have no more right to the Etruscans than D.H. Lawrence, but I can't stand reading his Sketches of Etruscan Places (1932), lovingly as he writes of their ruins and their art; he romanticizes them so much, so much freer, more spontaneous, more sexual, more primitive than the clipped stony Romans who succeeded them. So much more in tune with nature, so unspoilt. (Plus lots of assumed phallic symbolism, because this is Lawrence. I cannot actually read his interpretation of the duck with a straight face.) The Etruscans were as warlike as anyone else in the ancient world, not just in fighting off Roman expansion. They had colonies themelves. They made sacrifice of prisoners taken in war. Nothing is as simple as falling in love with a painting on a tomb wall. I keep coming back to voices that cannot speak for themselves; I never want to be Lawrence. I wish I knew some of their poetry. Or even the histories they wrote.