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TVII Tablet: 213
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter from Curtius Super to Saecularis referring to barley
Category: Correspondence of Saecularis

Commentary:

Part of a diptych, complete at the top and both margins, containing a letter from Curtius Super to Cassius Saecularis. Curtius Super does not appear elsewhere in the tablets (for another person with this cognomen see 255.i.1). What is preserved of the substance of the letter concerns a transaction involving barley which has been purchased and Super seems to be suggesting that some persons or group should obtain it from Saecularis (see ii.2-3 note). This concern with supplies would fit the hypothesis that Saecularis was perhaps an optio. It is noteworthy that, despite the fact that both the gentilicium and the cognomen of the addressee are given on the back, the opening of the letter simply has Cassio suo. There is no precise parallel to this in the openings of the Vindolanda letters, nor have we found one in CEL (it is unclear whether Valerius of P.Qasr Ibrîm 30 = CEL 4 had a cognomen). In 291.ii.9 Claudia Severa refers to her husband Aelius Brocchus as Aelius meus. In 343.i.1 the writer calls himself Octavius only, but this could be a cognomen (NPEL s.v., cf. A.R.Birley (1991), 94). The hand, a practised one writing rapidly, is of some palaeographical interest and can also be identified in 313. The use of ligature is frequent, particularly notable in Super (i.1). Letter-forms of interest are o left open at the right, n which is made in a single stroke in ii.1 (contrast ii.3) and i with a serif at the right and not always at the top of the vertical; b in habeant, which seems to be ligatured to a preceding, has almost completely lost its bow. The writing in column ii slopes up to the right in relation to the grain of the wood.

Text:

i
1 Curtius Super Cassio suo
2 salutem
3 ].[..].[..].[..].[
. . . . . . . .
ii
4 ut interpreteris
5 et ut hordeum commer-
6 cium habeant a te [
7 [...]...l.be.m...ua.e
8 ]e.da
. . . . . . .
Back
n 1 Cassio Saecu-
2 [lari]
. . . . . .

Translation:

"Curtius Super to his Cassius, greetings. ... so that you may explain and so that they may get from you barley as commercial goods ... (Back) To Cassius Saecularis."

Notes:

i 3          Only the tops of letters survive of which the penultimate is either l or b.

ii 1          interpreteris: one meaning of interpres is "agent" or "go-between" (OLD, s.v.1); it would make good sense if Saecularis were being asked to act as go-between but the citations in TLL VII.1 2250.3 suggest that it is only used thus with reference to verbal or written communication. Alternatively, it may be that the verb has a general sense and that Cassius Saecularis is simply being asked or told to explain something. We should presumably not rule out the possibility, however, that he is being asked or instructed to act as interpreter (OLD, s.v.6) in some transaction with non-Latin speakers. In that case the implication would be that military personnel are selling barley to the natives.

ii 2-3          hordeum commercium: the reading of commercium is secure (cf. A.R.Birley (1990b), 6); there is not room for a and the form of i with an emphatic serif at the right is well exemplified elsewhere (i.1.Cassio, ii.1 second i in interpreteris). commercium is, however, normally a noun and we presume that it is here used in apposition, "barley as commercial goods", in distinction to something for personal use. For this meaning see TLL III 1874.11 (merces, res emptae uenditaeque). Note P.Mich.VIII 469.4 = CEL 144, where Cugusi, following the original editors, suggests the restoration ut emas ille[i al]iqua [co]mmercia and notes that this would constitute the earliest example of commercium in this sense; the Vindolanda text is roughly contemporary.

ii 3          There is a piece of the tablet missing after te.

ii 4          At the left perhaps libe. No writing is visible after e at the right but there is room for up to three letters and the surface may simply be abraded here; uare is possible, uale is not.

ii 5          The line might end with -enda, possibly a gerundive, but if so the form of d is different from that in ii.2.

Back 1          The address is written on the back of the right-hand portion and the left-hand portion is blank, making it clear that the cognomen did not overrun on to this side. For another example of the name running on to a second line see 221.


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