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Tablet 119

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Vindolanda Inventory No. 85.183.a


              Two joining fragments with writing on both sides. The side which is likely to have been the front is probably complete at the foot but is less likely to have been complete at the top; it is complete at the right but not the left. Most of this side is taken up with four lines of shorthand, for which see 122. At the foot, and almost certainly upside down in relation to the shorthand, is part of one line.

             The rest of the tablet is not blank but the ink which survives does not look like writing and is perhaps best described as pen trials; there are some such ink marks after QVINTIA in line 2, but they do not resemble letters. We are confident that this is to be classed as a writing exercise, both because of the repetition and because it has been written on a tablet which was previously used for another purpose and was no doubt then discarded. It was a commonplace to use lines from literature for such purposes, which is one reason for thinking that this text may be literary. The other reason is the hand in which it is written: it is a capital script, not unlike the script of 118 and possibly the work of the same writer. I, N, T and A are very similar, but V is made in a more rounded form, and the writing in general is not as elegant as 118. Q breaks the bilinearity with a long diagonal descender, especially noticeable in line 1 on the back.

              Quintia must be a name; we have considered the possibility that it is the start of the longer name Quintianus, but the ink marks after QVINTIA in line 2 on the back do not support this.  We therefore suggest the possibility that we have an attempt to write the first line of Catullus 86, which begins: Quintia formosa est multis. It is worth noting that Catullus is an author not represented in the literary papyri (see Pack (1965)).

1 QV IN traces? [