Le Roux on Brink

12/12/1972. The piazza Campidoglio was designed by Michelangelo in the time of Pope Paul III in 1537. Enclosed between the buildings and looking down the great stair-ramp, I am suddenly back in one of Strauss BRINK's lectures (after one of his frequent and unplanned visits to Rome). He could turn any lecture to end in the city - whether he started off in Ancient Greece or Medieval France. He loved the city, was in awe of its history and its beauty and could abandon lectures, students, family (we believed) at the drop of a hat, whenever the chance arrived (or was contrived by him) to visit his favourite place.

I think of him now and of the buildings and paintings made by Michelangelo, Bernini, Borromini or Raphael - seemingly just for his future pleasure. He could walk from the Tiber, greeting acquaintances along the way, hesitate at the mouth of the piazza and gaze up to the dome of San Pietro while strolling up the aisle of the lecture room; he could not really understand that we were blind to the beauty of Piazza Navona, while in his mind he carefully circled the fountain in the middle of our studio; he would take us up to the Campidoglio to gaze over the city, but disgusted with our blindness he would go off to book an air ticket to reassure himself.

Then one day he would be back, smiling and happy, trying to tell us what he saw. I see now what he saw all the time and think I understand him somewhat better.

But Strauss never told us of the people and their careless acceptance of their inheritance. Rome belongs to the Romans and they have made it liveable for themselves, despite the old and precious history they are forced to live with.

Excerp from: Roman Holiday, notes for a letter to Val
Le Roux Schalk W. 1998. Terugtog. Jeffeysbaai. Adamastor: pp. 22-23.

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