diptych, complete at the top, left and right, containing a draft or file copy
of a letter from Cerialis to Brocchus (B) and, at the right, written across the
grain from top to bottom of the leaf, three lines of a list of foodstuffs (A).
We think it most probable that (A) was written first and that the leaf, having
been rotated through 90°, was then used for the draft of the letter without
erasing the primary text. No doubt we have the end of the draft letter since
there is a considerable space between the last line and the bottom of the leaf
and we would not expect to find Cerialis' closing greeting. At least one line
at the foot of the left-hand column must be lost, however, as is confirmed by
the trace of one letter at the bottom edge; furthermore the items in (A) extend
to the edge of the leaf and suggest the loss of part of the tablet which may
have contained cash sums relating to the food items.
as seems likely, the two texts were written by the same hand, the list of
foodstuffs suggests that the scribe may have been a member of Cerialis'
household staff (perhaps a slave) rather than a member of the military unit.
The hand may be the same as that in 235 and 240; there is
some use of ligature. Some examples of o are noteworthy,
being made much like a small c; note in particular the first o in Broccho.
asks Brocchus to send him some plagae (see note to line
B.4) and, perhaps, to repair something (either the plagae or
something else depending on what was in the missing part of the text).
alicas: the reading is not
certain, especially as it is impossible to be sure which ink traces belong to
the list and which to the draft letter. The easiest reading of the last 4
letters is -uias but we know of no suitable word with this
ending. If lines 2 and 3 are correctly read we expect a foodstuff and alicas would
seem to fit the traces; for alica see 193.4 note.
However, if more of the traces at the left belong to this word (and not to the
end of the letter), the reading may be lactucas
callum: this is rind or
crackling, usually of the pig, which Apicius, 7.1.5 associates with ungellae (see note
to line 3). However, the same problem faces us as in the preceding line and an
alternative reading which we cannot rule out is alium
ungellas: these are pigs'
trotters, see Apicius 4.5.2 and cf. André (1981), 137, note 43. Pigs
were certainly kept as livestock (180.27, 183.4) and
supplied meat (191.6, 186.21), cf. VRR III, 113.
For the position of suo salutem see 234.i.2, 243.2, 248.i.2, 261.2.
plagas: of the numerous meanings of plaga recorded in OLD only plaga2, 3 and 4a
("counterpane" and "hunting-net") need be considered here.
The text itself offers no basis on which to choose between these possibilities,
but it is perhaps more likely that officers would be corresponding about
hunting-nets than domestic soft-furnishings. For a similar preoccupation see O.Wâdi
Fawâkhir 14.3-8 and, in this region of Britain, RIB I 1041
(Stanhope), I 1905 (Birdoswald); see RIB I 1005-6 (Cumberland
quarries, a crude drawing of a stag) and the relief from Housesteads showing a
stag confronted by a hunting-net (Bruce (1875), no.243 and cf. no.271
(Vindolanda)); in general see Davies (1989), 191-3, Hodgson (1976), 22, (1977),
Dannell and Wild (1987), 68. In P.Abinn. 6.11-12 (mid-fourth
century) the writer notes that hunting-nets are stored in the fort at Dionysias
"with the standards" and asks the officer Abinnaeus to send him some
in order to deal with gazelles which are destroying crops. Furthermore, as VRR II, 38 notes,
the dedication by Aelius Brocchus to Diana (CIL 3.4360) perhaps
suggests a predilection for hunting. The only circumstantial evidence in favour
of supposing that we are dealing with counterpanes is the possibility that some
of the clothing supplied to Vindolanda came from Brocchus (196.15 note, 207.4 note).
Nothing is visible after fortissime, which may have been
preceded by quam ("as strongly as possible").
frusta exercias: see Adams (1994).
There may be an interpunct after frusta, but since it would
be the only example in this text it is perhaps better to regard it as
unintentional. In the word which follows exe is certain as is as at the
end of the line. The letter following exe has a long descender
and must be q or r; r is difficult because
we cannot see the head of the letter, but we have rejected q because
it seems impossible to read the following letter as u or to
supply a word which would make sense in the context. If our reading exercias is
correct, there is more space between r and c than
might be expected; the explanation of this may be that the list (A) had already
been written. The traces are compatible with our reading of ci, though
they hardly compel it. We suggest that this verb is to be taken as an
alternative spelling of exsarcias, see TLL V.2,
1827. Frusta can then be understood as broken or torn sections; the
word is used of torn pieces of clothing (Nepotianus 1.19, cum frustis