), a term
applicable to any black liquid (for instance; that emitted by the
cuttle-fish, Cic. N. D. 2.5.
, 127), but specially to three different kinds of black colouring
substances :--1. Atramentum sutorium
), used by shoemakers as a sort of
blacking to dye leather with (Plin. Nat.
). It contained a poisonous ingredient, probably sulphate of
copper (Cic. Fam. 9.2. 1
). 2. Atramentum tectorium
a black pigment used by painters Pliny describes
many varieties, the best of which was made by collecting the soot arising
from the combustion of the pitch-pine on the marble walls of a specially
constructed furnace, mixing it with glue, and then drying the mixture in the
sun (Pliny, Plin. Nat. 35.41
; Vitr. 7.10
). A kind made with vinegar instead of
glue was especially permanent. Another kind, which was imported from India,
was probably the same as our Indian ink. Apelles (Plin. Nat. 35.97
) coated his pictures with
a thin atramentum
or varnish, which both
protected them and toned down the colours. 3. Atramentum
in Byzantine Greek μελάνιον, ἀτέραμνον,
whence our English word ink
) was usually prepared in the same way as atramentum
gum being substituted for glue
(Pliny and Vitruv. l.c.
) The proportions, according
to Dioscorides (5.182), were three parts of soot to one of gum. An infusion
of wormwood protected manuscripts from mice (Plin. Nat. 27.52
). This ink was more unctuous than ours, and
perhaps more durable, resembling our printer's ink. It could, however, be
easily wiped out soon after writing (Athen.
c). Hence the sponge was one of the regular implements
of the scriba librarius
(Suet. Aug. 85
7; Anthol. Pal.
6.295, 2; 65, 7; 66,
7). An inkstand containing some ink, thick but still fluid, was found at
Pompeii. Its viscous character was sometimes a ground of complaint (Pers.
), yet it was well adapted for writing. on
The invention of our modern ink, composed of oxide of iron and galls, has
been placed as late as the 12th century, but it is almost impossible to
write on parchment with the ink described above, and the use of galls is
mentioned not only by Martianus Capella (3.225) in the 5th century, but by
Philo of Byzantium (p. 102, Vet. Mathem.
) in the 2nd, in a
description of a sympathetic ink, and has, moreover, been established by Sir
H. Davy's experiments on the Herculanean manuscripts (Phil.
The black fluid of the cuttle-fish (sepia) was also used as an ink,
especially in Africa (Pers. Sat.
Schol.; Auson. 4.76).
Coloured inks were also in use among the Romans [CINNABARIS, MINIUM, RUBRICA], and even a species of illumination
in gold (Suet. Nero 10
Something like what we call sympathetic ink,, which is invisible till heat or
some preparation be applied, appears not to have been uncommon, So Ovid
3.627) advises writing love letters
with fresh milk, which would be unreadable until the letters were sprinkled
with coal-dust. Ausonius (Ep.
23.21) gives the same
direction. Pliny (26.62
) suggests that the
milky sap contained in some plants might be used in the same way. Philo of
) says that a letter written with an
infusion of galls becomes invisible until a sponge dipped in a solution of
sulphate of copper is passed over it, when it again becomes visible.
An inkstand (πυξίον, μελάνδοκον, μελανδοχεῖον,
late Lat. atramentarium,
) was either single or double. The double was probably
intended to contain both black and red ink, much in the modern fashion. They
were also of various shapes, as, for example, round or
Inkstands from Pompeii.
hexagonal, and of various materials, as terracotta, bronze or
bronze inlaid with silver and gold, and sometimes highly decorated. It will
be observed [p. 1.245]
that two of the inkstands in the
woodcut have rings whereby to attach them to the girdle (Petr. Sat.
The preceding cuts represent inkstands found at Pompeii. [CALAMUS
] (Caneparius, de
Atramentis cujusque Generis,
Lond. 1660; Beckmann,
History of Inventions,
1.106, 2.266, London, 1846;
2.222, &c.; Gallus,