Extract from the Dionysiaca by NONNUS OF PANOPOLIS (a Greek poet who flourished in Egypt in the 5th century A.D.)
“[The city of Beruit is founded at the dawn of creation:] Here dwelt a people age mates with the dawn, whom Phusis (Nature) by her own breeding, in some unwedded way, begat without bridal, without wedding, fatherless, motherless, unborn: when the atoms were mingled in fourfold combination, and the seedless ooze shaped a clever offspring by comingling water with fiery heat and air [i.e. the four elements–Air, Earth, Fire and Water], and quickened the teeming mud with the breath of life. To these Phusis (Nature) gave perfect shape . . . And these dwelt in the city of Beroe, that primordial seat which Kronos (Cronus) himself built . . .
This city, this country never tires. A land of many contradictions which seems so obvious to the naked eye yet is part of the fabric of its normality.
Beirut, always vibrant and bubbling with an air filled with a heady mix of urban pollution and orange blossom, is a city where streets are a living collision of history and glamour.
What happened to this place that once stood tall? Served as a palace of intellectual growth, or perhaps a gateway from one place to another time, one world to another realm, connecting minds and hearts.
I want to run. I want to hide. I want to find my way in this city with many lives.
After life is exploded, changed, dehumanized, there are shattered pieces that do not heal for years, if at all. “What is left are scars and something else – shame, I suppose, shame for letting it all continue. Glances at the past where solace in tradition and myth prevailed only brings more shame over what the present is. We have lost the splendors of what our ancestors have created and go elsewhere.” (Anthony Shadid _ House of Stone)
Driving in the city, under the scorching sun, we stop at an assuming little ice cream shop on the ground floor of a rundown building carrying bullets that echo of a past life that reverberates of times where bombs ripped the city’s skies. Echoes that no one hears anymore amongst the city’s cacophony of sounds.