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Tablet 295

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TVI Publication No. 30

Vindolanda Inventory No. 90


A complete letter from Oppius Niger, who must surely be a unit commander, to Priscinus. Niger appears to be telling Priscinus that he (Niger) had sent on their way from Bremetennacum (Ribchester) the two soldiers of the First Cohort of Tungrians, whom Priscinus had despatched with letters to the governor. Since the ed. pr. we have accumulated further evidence which necessitates discussion of individuals in the tablets with the cognomen Niger. The following texts are relevant: (1) the present letter from Oppius Niger to Priscinus; (2) 249, the beginning only of a letter from Oppius Niger to Cerialis; (3) 248, a letter from Niger (no gentilicium given) and Brocchus to Cerialis; (4) 465, the beginning only of a letter from Valerius Niger to an unidentified addressee. It is immediately evident that we must surely have the same Oppius Niger in (1) and (2), writing to two different people at Vindolanda, one certainly and the other probably a prefect, perhaps at different periods. Our interpretation of 295 suggests that Oppius Niger was himself stationed at Bremetennacum when he wrote it; that need not necessarily imply that he was at Bremetennacum when he wrote 249. Is Niger of 248 the same Oppius Niger? The evidence of the hands in 248 and 295 is crucial, though the main texts of both were written by scribes rather than their authors. If we were confident that the same scribe was at work in both that would be a strong argument in favour of identity. In fact, although the hands look superficially similar we cannot convince ourselves that they are the same, for there are some important technical differences (see the introduction to the ed. pr.). Nor is there any conclusive evidence in the second hands, in 295 that of Niger and in 248 that of either Niger or Brocchus. On balance it seems to us probable that Niger of 248 is not Oppius Niger of 295 and 249. It should be noted that, even if he were, we should not draw any conclusion about his location (nor, as a consequence, about that of his co-author Brocchus, presumably Aelius Brocchus, on which see 292.c.v.2 note). Niger of 248 may, then, be identical with Valerius Niger of 465 (both letters are attributed to Period 3) but we know nothing more about him.

n 1 Oppius Niger Priscino [suo
2 s[alutem
n n 3 Crispum et .e[ c.8 ]s ex coh(orte)
n 4 · i · Tungrorum quos cum
5 epistulis ad consularem n(ostrum)
6 miseras a Bremetennaco
n 7 ].[..].[.]..[ c.3
n 8 .[.].[.] Kal(endis) F[eb]r[
n 9 m2 uale domine
10 frater
n 1 traces of 2 lines


"Oppius Niger to his Priscinus, greetings. Crispus and ... from the 1st cohort of Tungrians, whom you had sent with letters to our governor, [I have straightaway sent on (?)] from Bremetennacum to ... on 1 February. (2nd hand) Farewell, my lord and brother."