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TVII Tablet: 302
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter concerning foodstuffs to the slave (?) of Verecundus
Category: Miscellaneous correspondence

Commentary:

Part of what was presumably the right-hand portion of a diptych. On the front are five lines of a letter written along the grain and, at a right-angle in the left margin, parts of four more lines; these must have been written between the columns, as in 311 (contrast 316 where the notches in the left-hand edge show that the marginal writing must have been at the left of col.i). There is no sign of a closure, but it could have been written (if brief) in the left margin or below the lines which are along the grain, if something has been lost from the bottom of the leaf. On the back is the end of an address which suggests that the recipient was probably a slave of Verecundus (no doubt the prefect of 210-2). The content of the letter, the acquisition of foodstuffs, is appropriate to a domestic slave in the praetorium. Not enough of the address on the back survives to give us any clue to the identity of the author but the negotiations about relatively perishable foodstuffs suggest that he cannot have been very far away. The way in which the letter is set out is slightly odd. The beginning of the surviving part is written as a list, like that in 309 except that the numbers are written out rather than represented by digits. Thereafter, although the text still reads as a list with glosses, three lines are written continuously and the latter two are indented. There may be something missing at the bottom of the leaf. The hand is very like that of 498 and could well be the work of the same person.

Text:


. . . . . . . . . .
n 1 fabae frensae m(odios) duos
n 2 pullos uiginti
n 3 mala si potes formonsa inueni-
n 4 re centum oua centum aut
n 5 ducenta si ibi · aequo emantur
. . . . . . . . . .
L.Margin
n n 1 ]rio mulsi si ebr.[
n n 2 ]mus (sextarios) viii muriae .[
n n 3 ].s modium oliuae [
n 4 ].no [[..m]]
Back
. . . .
n 1 traces
n 2 Verecundi
n 3 traces?

Translation:

"... bruised beans, two modii, chickens, twenty, a hundred apples, if you can find nice ones, a hundred or two hundred eggs, if they are for sale there at a fair price. ... 8 sextarii of fish-sauce ... a modius of olives ... (Back) To ... slave (?) of Verecundus."

Notes:

1          fabae frensae: only the bottoms of letters of fabae survive but we are in no doubt about the reading. For the collective use see 192.3. For frensus as an alternative form of fre(s)sus see TLL VI.1 1286 and for fabae fressae lines 68ff.; cf. formonsa in line 3. TLL shows that faba fre(s)sa is a well-known expression, found at Ed. Diocl. 1.9, 10 and several times in CGL (where the spelling frensa is found in the mss. at II 69.3, 314.1, V 60.28).
m(odios): m is very faint but can certainly be read. There is no trace of a superscript dash. It is slightly odd that the number is written in full as duos rather than digits (so too uiginti in line 2), especially given the layout of the text. It looks less odd in lines 3-5 and (e.g.) 255.ii.9-10 where the text is continuous.

2          pullos: for chicken and other domestic fowl in the military diet see Davies (1989), 195-6, Dannell and Wild (1987), 68, and for Vindolanda, Hodgson (1976), 25-6 and (1977), VRR III, 113.

3          mala: only the bottoms of the last two letters survive but we are confident of the reading. Apples are not mentioned elsewhere in the Vindolanda tablets (for fruit in the military diet see Davies (1989), 198). si has almost completely disappeared but the reading is surely inescapable. That the adjective formonsa is appropriate to apples is suggested by its use with poma (TLL VI.1 1112.57); for the form see Adams (1994). formosa is used of pondera by Rustius Barbarus in O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 1.11 = CEL 73.

4          oua: cf. 193.5 and note.

5          There is a clear interpunct after ibi.
aequo emantur: we have not found an example of the use of aequo on its own with the verb emo, and pretio must be understood, unless it followed the verb; cf. perhaps aequo perferet, 215.ii.6 and note. For the phrase aequo pretio see Digest 30.66 and cf. aequis pretiis in Digest 47.11.6 pr., Livy 7.21.8.

L.Margin 1-4          Our understanding of these lines is hampered by the fact that we do not know how long they were.

L.Margin 1          The reference to mulsi, a drink made from honey and wine, suggests that the word following might well be ebrius or a cognate. If there is a word division at the edge of the leaf, ebri- would be preferable and there may be a faint trace of i. Apart from the possible reading of a titulus pictus on the neck of an amphora from Masada (Doc.Masada 821) we have found no explicit reference to mulsum in the military context (not mentioned by Davies (1989), 187-206), but honey is attested at Vindolanda in 192.7.

L.Margin 2          ]mus is presumably the end of a verb, possibly emere.

L.Margin 3          oliuae: for the collective singular cf. line 1, fabae. For olives in Britain see Britannia 21 (1990), 369-70 no.24.

Back 1          Only exiguous traces of the bottoms of letters.

Back 2          If the recipient was a slave of Verecundus, seruo might have followed Verecundi, but it is not essential, see 301.back 8-9.

Back 3          There may be traces at the bottom left corner where one might expect the name of the sender of the letter.


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