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TVII Tablet: 309
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter from Metto to Advectus concerning parts for carts and other wooden items
Category: Miscellaneous correspondence

Commentary:

The tablet survives in a number of fragments and the placing of some of the smaller of these is somewhat uncertain. The text is complete except that the beginnings of lines at the start of col.ii are lost. Though couched in the form of a letter, it is in fact no more than an inventory of goods despatched. Most of these are wooden items - components of carts etc., which are being sent to the recipient in relatively large numbers (compare Ed. Diocl. 15). It seems likely that both the sender and the recipient were civilians working for the military rather than soldiers, and the transport of such manufactured wooden objects to a military post is of considerable interest (cf. 185.20-1). For additional comments on possible evidence for civilian trading activity at Vindolanda see 180, introduction. The hand responsible for the body of the letter is rather inelegant, whereas the second hand, that of the author himself, has some style to it. There are faint traces of an address on the back.

Text:

i
n 1 Metto Aduecto plurimam suo
2 salutem
n 3 missi tibi materias per Saconem
n 4 modiolan(umero) xxxiiii
n 5 axses carrariosn(umero) xxxiix
n 6 inibi axsis tornatusn(umero) [i
n 7 radian(umero) ccc
n n 8 axses ad lectumn(umero) xxvi
n n 9 sessionesn(umero) viii
n n 10 bruscas[n(umero)] ii
n n 11 plutean(umero) xx[
n n 12
ii
n n 13 ].n(umero) xxix
n 14 ]..ilian(umero) vi
15 ] missi tibi pelliculas caprinas n(umero) vi
16 uacat
17 [opto] bene ualeas frater
Back
n 1 traces of 2 lines

Translation:

"Metto (?) to his Advectus (?) very many greetings. I have sent you wooden materials through the agency of Saco: hubs, number, 34 axles for carts, number, 38 therein an axle turned on the lathe, number, 1 spokes, number, 300 planks (?) for a bed, number, 26 seats, number, 8 (?) knots (?), number, 2 (?) boards (?), number, 20+ ..., number, 29 benches (?), number, 6 I have sent you goat-skins, number, 6 (2nd hand) I pray that you are in good health, brother."

Notes:

1          Metto: the name seems to be without parallel, though Mettus is not uncommon. Either of the dotted letters could be read differently (e.g. Melco), but we cannot suggest a known name which suits what is written.
Aduecto: [Ad]uectus occurs once in Nash-Williams (1950), no.215 and this seems the most plausible reading here; Aduesto is easier palaeographically, but we know of no example of this name.    
plurimam suo salutem: the order is strange; plurimam salutem also occurs in 310.i.2-3, 311.i.1-2 and probably 214.4-5 (where salutem is lost), but there the words are in the expected order.

3          missi: cf. 255.i.6-8 note and see Adams' comment in the ed. pr. (note ad loc.). He points out that the spelling missi, which is poorly attested, must largely have disappeared by the beginning of the second century AD and is not found in the letters of Claudius Terentianus. There are several other examples at Vindolanda see 268.ii.2, 299.i.3, 314.2, 318.4, 268.ii.2, 344.ii.19.
materias: this is here used in its basic meaning of timber (as used for building, etc.); cf. materiem, 215.ii.4 and note. The layout of the letter, with a repeated missi tibi in line 14, strongly suggests that all the items listed below, down to line 13, are made of timber, as opposed to the hides in line 14.
per Saconem: we suppose this to be the name of the agent through whom the goods are being despatched (cf. perhaps 252.ii.1-2). Once again we know of no example of the name in this spelling, although Sacco occurs (see NPEL); sacco is also attested as a common noun ("sack"), see OLD, s.v., but the context suggests this is not what we have here.

4          modiola: modiolus is well attested as the nave or hub of a wheel, e.g. Ed. Diocl. 15.3. The neuter is not attested in the classical period, but is given in RMLW s.v., and TLL VIII 1239.39-40 cites Constant. Porph., Caer. aul. Byz. 1,91m p.414, 17, ________ _______.

5          axses carrarios: cf. axes carrarios, 185.20. Apart from the Vindolanda references, the word carrarius is apparently only found once in the classical period, in RMR 58.ii.6, where it is a noun meaning "a man who makes wagons". As an adjective it is cited in RMLW in the phrase uia carraria. Ed. Diocl. 15.30 has the expression ______ __________. For axses see Adams (1994).
xxxiix: xxxxiix, ed. pr. Cf. 182.i.4. The form of the numeral is reasonably well attested, e.g. xxiix is used of a man's age in RIB I 673. For a discussion of the subtractive system of numeration see Marichal (1988), 41-7.

6          axsis tornatus: cf. Ed. Diocl. 15.1a where the Greek entry is paralleled by the Latin axis tornatus. The mark which we originally read as the digit i now seems to us not to be ink, but in view of the singular noun no other number is possible.

7          radia: as with modiola the word in a masculine form occurs with the meaning required here, "spokes" (e.g. Ed. Diocl. 15.5). For the neuter we may compare the entry certides (= cercides) radia in CGL III 195.53.
ccc: ccc[, ed. pr. We now think it likely that nothing is lost at the right.

8-13          It may be that in these lines we have some items intended for furniture-making, rather than the components of vehicles.

8          axses ad lectum: this entry is a puzzle as we cannot imagine why axles should be needed for a couch or bed. It hardly seems likely that it is used to indicate a vehicle or carriage in which one could sleep, i.e. a dormitorium (see Ed. Diocl. 15.35 and Lauffer's note ad loc.). It does not seem possible to take lectum to mean "litter" nor have we found any evidence for couches or beds with wheels, see Richter (1966), 105-10, Ransom (1905). The latter does not cite the word axis in her appendix of technical terms (109-12). Since axis can mean "board" or "plank", see OLD, s.v. axis 2 and Fordyce's note to Catullus 17.3, we should perhaps so understand it here, even though it must be used in the meaning "axles" in lines 5-6. We note that some Roman couches have cross-pieces between the feet (Richter (1966), fig.530, 532) but it would be odd to call these axes.
xxvi: xxv[, ed. pr.

9          sessiones: also listed among items needed for building carts in Ed. Diocl. 15.7. viii: [.]viii, ed.pr. One of the detached fragments can justifiably be placed so as to supply the right-hand part of v and the remaining digits of the numeral and there is probably nothing lost.

10          bruscas: for the knot on the maple producing figured wood used in furniture manufacture see Pliny, NH 16.68, and cf. the entry in CGL IV 594.31: brustum [sic] materiae genus. In Pliny, NH 16.68 bruscum is mentioned along with molluscum; of bruscum Pliny remarks e brusco fiunt et mensae. TLL II 2211.78 cites CGL III 571.44 for a masculine bruscus. The form brusca meaning "brushwood" is found in the medieval period (RMLW, s.v.) but that can hardly be the meaning here.

11          clu.e [, ed.pr. We now think that the reading plutea, which we considered in the ed. pr. as offering good sense, is possible. The main problem is that it is very difficult to see a at the end, but it may be that a trace survives. It can simply mean "board" (see OLD, s.v.3), but in view of lectum in line 8, we note that it may mean the end-rest or back of a bed or couch (see Ransom (1905), 109, 111, notes 16a, 17, citing CGL II 152.39, Propertius 4.8.68, Martial, 3.91.10, Suetonius, Cal. 26).

12          The first surviving trace might be s.

13          ]..ilia: in Bowman and Thomas (1986), 123 we tentatively suggested strigilia, but the word is attested only in the feminine form strigilis, "scraper" (of which several examples have been found at Vindolanda). It now seems possible that the traces immediately after the break, which look like a clear g at first sight, might be read as ed, suggesting s]edilia ("chairs", "benches"), although it is not clear how these would differ from sessiones (line 9). If g is the correct reading, the only possible word we have found is tegilia ("coverings" once dubiously in Apuleius, Met. 9.12), but these do not fit into a list of wooden items.

14          The leaf is broken at the left and it is possible that et may be lost.
pelliculas caprinas. The same expression occurs in Pliny, NH 30.99. After this line the uacat would accommodate four lines, not one as stated in the ed. pr.

Back 1          There are traces of a line in large letters which must be the name of the addressee, and of a second sloping up from left to right, which must be the name and description of the sender. No letters are legible, however.


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