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TVII Tablet: 225
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter from Cerialis to Crispinus concerning patronage
Category: Correspondence of Cerialis


This text can now be recognised as a draft of a letter from Cerialis to Crispinus. The association with the correspondence of Cerialis is established by the identity of this hand with that of 227, where the name of Cerialis is to be found in the nominative. There are six other fragmentary texts (226, 228-32) written by the same hand, and it may also be at work in the closure in 242.ii; see also 466. The hand, discussed in detail in the ed. pr., is very idiosyncratic and unlike those found in texts which we suppose to have been the work of "professional scribes"; for this reason we think it probable that it is the hand of Cerialis himself, although this cannot of course be proved.

Minor revisions of the readings in the ed. pr. are signalled in the notes. Our view of the general sense and purpose of the letter has not changed. A.R.Birley (1991), 95-100, has suggested that Cerialis is asking for a transfer or promotion; it is certainly possible that this is the implicit point of the request for patronage but there is nothing explicitly about promotion in this or the other letters of Cerialis. Nor is it clear that we should regard this as an example of litterae commendaticiae in which the writer recommends himself, cf. Speidel and Seider (1988).

We are confident that the name of the addressee in Cerialis' draft was correctly read as Crispinus. The cognomen is common and we cannot identify him. Our original view that the draft should not be associated with what we identified as the "Archive of Crispinus" has been proved correct by the recognition that the name of the principal person in that archive is, in fact, Priscinus (295-8). The terms in which Cerialis writes suggests that Crispinus is an important man (note line 6, d]ominum meum) and well-placed to assist an equestrian prefect by interceding with the governor. He might therefore be of senatorial status, a laticlave tribune or a legionary legate (cf. 154.5-6 note).


n 1 [ ] uacat Crispino suo [ uacat?
n n 2 [G]rattio Crispino redeunte .[...
n n 3 [ c.10 ] [[non fui mihi]] et .d.[..
4 [ c.7 li]benter amplexus s[um do-
5             mine salutandi te occassionem
6 [d]ominum meum et quem saluom
7 [[habere]] esse et omnis spei
n 8 [[suae]] compotem inter praecipua
n 9 uoti habeo hoc enim de
10           me semper meruisti usque
n 11 ad hanc d[ c.4 ].tem cuius fid-
12 [ c.4 ]..[ c.6 ][...
n 13 [....]m Marcellum clarissi[mum ui-
n 14           [rum] consularem meum quar.[....
n 15 [oc]cassionem nunc ut.[ c.11
n 16 [...]. tibi amicorum do[ c.10
n 17 sua [p]raesentia quos tu[ c.9
n n 18 illius scio plurimos habere [....
n 19           quomodo uoles imple quidq[uid
n 20 de te exspecto et me .lu.[.]...
n 21 amicis ita instrue ut beneficio
n 22 tuo militiam [po]ssim iucundam
n 23 experiri ha[ec ti]bi a Vindolan-
n 24           da scribo .[ c.6 ]. hiberna [..
n 25 [.].n.u. h..[ c.6 ].ius a.[
. . . . . . . . .


"To his Crispinus. Since Grattius Crispinus is returning to ... and ... I have gladly seized the opportunity my lord of greeting you, you who are my lord and the man whom it is my very special wish to be in good health and master of all your hopes. For you have always deserved this of me right up to the present high office (?). In reliance on this ... you first ... greet (?) ... Marcellus, that most distinguished man, my governor. He therefore offers (?) the opportunity now of ... the talents (?) of your friends through his presence, of which you have, I know, very many, thanks to him (?). Now (?), in whatever way you wish, fulfil what I expect of you and ... so furnish me with friends that thanks to you I may be able to enjoy a pleasant period of military service. I write this to you from Vindolanda where my winter-quarters are (?) ..."


1          The omission of the name of the sender is unique in the tablets; it is understandable in a draft, however, especially if this is a draft jotted down by Cerialis himself.

2          We retain the reading of the cognomen as Crispino; Priscino is less attractive palaeographically. Even if the latter were correct, he should probably not be identified with the principal person in the correspondence of Priscinus (295-8).

3          For similar erasures in draft letters see 227, 232 and 317, and for examples from elsewhere see e.g. Sijpesteijn and Worp (1977), Speidel and Seider (1988).

2-3          A possible restoration would be: redeunte a [Vin-/dolanda] et ad [te / ueniente].

8-9          inter praecipua uoti habeo: cf. O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 2.2 (= CEL 74), opto deos ut bene ualeas que mea uota sunt.

11          We propose the restoration of d[ignit]atem here, which might be the antecedent of the following cuius.

13-14          il[.../....]m Marcellum: we retain the reading of the ed. pr. despite the fact that A.R.Birley (1991), 96 proposes N[e-/ratiu]m. There is no doubt that the reference in these lines is to L.Neratius Marcellus, known to have been governor of Britain in AD 103. In the ed. pr. we suggested reading il[lum / Luciu]m Marcellum, while indicating in our discussion that we recognised the difficulties posed by this restoration. Birley has argued that instead of il it is possible to read n and that the correct restoration is N[e-/ratiu]m Marcellum (accepted in CEL 105). This removes the difficulties we indicated but we are unable to accept it for two reasons. First the word division: ratiu]m must have come in line 14 but there would have been ample room for Nera in line 13. Secondly, while we accept that n is not impossible at the end of the preserved part of line 13, the reading is much more likely to be il (pace Birley there is no other n in this text made in quite this way). However, study of many more Vindolanda letters than were available to us when we produced the ed. pr. has shown that writers sometimes began the first line of a second column further to the left than the subsequent lines (see 215, introduction); if we imagine our writer as having done this in the first line on the back of his leaf, it would be possible to restore the whole of Neratiu]m in line 14.

Before it, we now think it possible that we should read s]alutes or possibly even salutes. The traces just after the break are indeterminate but l looks plausible; ut is written above the line and it is impossible to tell whether there is erasure below or just an irregularity in the grain of the wood which the writer has avoided.

15-18          The sense which we envisaged here in the ed. conveyed by a restoration such as: quare [dat / oc]cassionem nunc ut f[auoris sit gra-/ti]a tibi amicorum do[tes augendo] / sua [p]raesentia.

18-20          See CEL 105, where [nunc] is restored at the end of line 19 and the alternative reading uoles (for uoues) which we discussed in the is preferred. This necessitates a different understanding of the preceding passage, for which Cugusi offers: quos (sc. amicos) tu [gratia] / illius (sc. Marcelli) scio plurimos habere. This seems to us a more attractive reconstruction than our original suggestion.

21          The reading of the word at the end of the line is difficult. plur[i]mis makes good sense and we now think that it might be possible to read it, although mis is far from easy.

22-24          Compare Speidel and Seider (1988): rogo domine dignum me iudices ut .... possim beneficio tuo ... (a text also regarded by its editors as a draft letter).

25          c[um ia]m hiberna (or q[uom), CEL 105: this seems to us improbable.

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