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  • A Fleeting Ripple

roma aeterna: montblanc homage to hadrian rosso antico

As the sun lowers in the horizon, the orange rays start to come into the plane, drenching the sterile interiors in warm light. Most people start to pull down their blinds then. What they miss out is the clouds down below, painted in the most beautiful colours of the fading sun. They ripple and move like a calm tide above the clouds. It is all accompanied by the deafening roar of the engines and the most un-picturesque view of the plane’s wing. The world seems so peaceful, so small when you are so far away.

I want to write about this ink so much, but whenever I pick up the pen up, all well-formed thoughts and ideas leave my mind.

It is hard to explain why you like something. This pen fits right in your hand, the other does not. Why? Sometimes it is as easy as “this pen’s section is too steep” or “it is too heavy.” With inks, it is even harder, because you don’t buy most of the ink you own because it behaves good on the page. You simply expect that it will be well formulated enough to behave good on the page and will not hinder your writing. You might like some properties like shimmer, sheen, shading. Trying to explain inks leaves me flustered and grasping for almost-there words.

Then, let me start from the beginning.

Emperor Hadrian has been my favourite Roman emperor for as long as I could remember. What are you even doing if you don’t have a favourite Roman emperor? To be fair, it is mostly due to his contributions in art and architecture. He finished up the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, built up his breath taking villa in Tivoli; and, of course, the Pantheon. If you said that Pantheon was the most amazing building in Rome, you wouldn’t get any disagreement from me, even if I cannot outright make such a bold claims.

This is a safe space for bold claims, as my professor said once.

Montblanc’s Patron of Art for the year 2019 was Hadrian. Perhaps it wasn’t the most popular one, because I got this ink around late 2020. It was my most expensive ink to date and the first red. It’s called Rosso Antico, after the bricks of Pantheon. How could I ever skipped this?

Sometimes, I tend to let things sit for too long before using them, like I’m afraid they’ll finish or something. This ink helped me break free from that, because as long as I wasn’t using it, it was sitting there. It didn’t do anyone any good, and then I learned that inks can actually go bad. I filled it up.

The ink reminded me of all the great time I had in Rome, in Athens, visiting the greatest works of antiquity. It reminded me of the great oculus of Pantheon, where weathered bricks have stood for two millennia. How dwarfed and awed I felt when I saw the Temple of Zeus for the first time, barely in high school, trying to get a good look at it from behind the bars where the busy street tried to sweep me with its tide. There are some moments in your life that -even at that moment- you know you will not forget.

That is how I felt every single time I have seen the Pantheon.

Every time I used this ink, I was reminded how special we are because we get to see brilliant works of art and architecture. At the same time, humbled by them that even with all the might of the modern era, we are so lost in our petty squabbles that we lose the sight of what is important. We are but temporal, only the things we create can attempt to be not. Some say that this is an evasion of death, escaping our own mortality. I think they’re the exact opposite, they’re the mirror in which we accept our own mortality. I am only a visiting speck of dust in the lifetime of the Pantheon. It will change and shift, still withstanding. I’ll be long gone.

That’s why I like this ink. Yes, it is beautiful, a red brick that leans more burgundy than orange, with shading that mimics the plays of light and variations in those ancient bricks. It flows well.

Those qualities are not the reason why you buy this ink.

You buy this ink because you want a piece of Pantheon with you, wherever you go.

Thank you for reading. All the pictures are mine, including the ones of Pantheon. Hehe, I'm quite proud of them!


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