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Vindolanda Inventory No. 86.409
fragment of a leaf containing part of two lines. It is complete at the right and, probably, at the foot. The
back is blank.
reason for suggesting that this text may be literary is entirely
palaeographical. The hand in which it is written is remarkable for being much
more elegant than is normal in the tablets. It reminds one forcibly of P.Hawara
24 = PLP II.1 7, which has on one side a line of Virgil used as a
writing exercise; see Turner (1957), Dow (1968), Seider (1976), esp. 133-6 and
165-72. All agree in assigning the papyrus to the later first century AD, thus
making it more or less contemporary with our Vindolanda text. As in our text,
the letters in P.Hawara are a mixture of capitals and cursives.
All the letters are similar or very similar to those in the Vindolanda text;
note especially the very tall ascender to b (made in the cursive
form), u with the left stroke a diagonal and the right almost
vertical, and r in the cursive form but with a very short
descender. Other literary texts from the late first century BC and the first
century AD, whether writing exercises or not, which may be compared are: the
Gallus papyrus (Anderson, Parsons and Nisbet (1979)), P.Iand. V 90
= PLP II.1 1, Doc.Masada 721 and P.Oxy.L
3554 (= Cockle (1979)). We therefore think there is some reason to class the
present text as literary, but we have not succeeded in identifying it with any
known piece of Latin literature.
There is no reason to think it was a writing exercise and it is
certainly possible that it is just a fragment of an ordinary private letter,
over the writing of which the writer took more than usual care.
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