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Tablet 214

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Vindolanda Inventory No. 88.940

Introduction

The top of the left-hand portion of what was presumably a diptych, with probable remains of a notch in the left-hand edge. It contains the opening of a letter to Cassius Saecularis from a legionary aquilifer whose cognomen is Adiutor and it is the longest and most elaborate example of such an opening. The warm and familiar tone in which Adiutor addresses Saecularis suggests that the rank and status of the correspondents is comparable. The content of other letters to Saecularis (213 and 215) fits the hypothesis that he might have been a centurion, a decurion or an optio in a unit stationed at Vindolanda. A.R.Birley (1990b) has transcribed this text, reading the name of the aquilifer as Vettius Adiutor and his unit as leg(io) ii Aug(usta), and arguing that Vettius Adiutor might be one of two brothers attested on inscriptions from Pannonia. The identifications of the individual and the unit are obviously attractive but attention needs to be drawn to a difficulty in the reading of the gentilicium which we prefer to read as Vittius (see further note to line 1). As for the identity of his legion, the numeral is very badly abraded but ii is the most plausible reading. It is, of course, the case that legio ii Augusta is the only legion with this epithet stationed in Britain (at Caerleon) in this period; there is, however, evidence for the presence of an individual from legio iii Augusta and a vexillation from legio viii Augusta in Britain probably in the Hadrianic period (see further note to line 2). 216 is also written by the same hand and the tablet has similar semicircular notches in the edge (as does Inv.no.87.809, which has only illegible traces).

n 1 Vittius Adiutor aqui-
n n 2 lifer leg(ionis) · ii Aug(ustae)
n 3 Cassio Saeculari fra-
n n 4 terclo suo plurimam
5 ]...
. . . . . . . . .

Notes

"Vittius Adiutor, eagle-bearer of the Second Augustan Legion, to Cassius Saecularis, his little brother, very many [greetings] ..."