A complete diptych with tie-holes and notches visible at both the left and right. The address is written, as is normal, on the reverse of the right-hand side of the leaf.
The writer of the letter is Chrauttius, the recipient Veldedeius or Veldeius (see line 1 note). Chrauttius twice addresses Veldedeius as frater, which is very common in Latin letters and need imply no actual relationship. But the reference in line 6 to parentibus nostris would at first sight suggest that the two were, in fact, brothers. This, however, raises two problems. First, that the term contubernali antiquo in the opening (line 2) would then seem inappropriate. Secondly, the name Veldedeius has a suffix which is non-Germanic and generally regarded as Celticised, whereas there is reason to think that the name Chrauttius is Germanic (see the note to line 1). It is very hard to believe that we are dealing with two brothers one of whom had a Celtic and the other a Germanic name. For both these reasons - and given that the word parens can mean not only "relative" but also "elder" in a more general sense - it is no doubt better to assume that Chrauttius and Veldedeius were not related; see further the note to lines 1-2.
The content of the letter is fairly routine: admonition for not having written for a long time, enquiry about the parentes and the military unit in which a mutual acquaintance is serving, a financial transaction involving a pair of shears supplied by a ueterinarius, and greetings to other friends. The mention of the ueterinarius, Virilis, is of some interest, as is the occurrence of a woman named Thuttena who is referred to as soror.
The spellings in the letter are generally correct, with no sign of changes affecting the Vulgar Latin vowel system or final consonants. Chrauttius admits one noteworthy lexical vulgarism (tot, line 5), and writes largely in epistolary clichés. The probable appearance of a second hand in lines 20-1, which we must assume to be that of Chrauttius, shows that he used a scribe for the main part of the text.
The body of the letter is written in a large, sprawling and rather ugly hand. There is often differentiation between thick and thin strokes, but this is far from creating an elegant effect. Several of the letters occur in different forms, e.g. o can be quite large or a mere blob, and p can be close to the form P or almost indistinguishable from t. b is noteworthy, since the loop is often placed directly underneath the curve, so that the letter comes close to resembling a modern lower-case b. There is occasional use of ligature. Lines 20-1, the closing greeting, are written in a very similar hand, so similar in fact that we cannot be certain that the whole letter was not written in the same hand. The probability is, however, that this greeting was added, as was normal, in a different hand, the hand of the sender of the letter, Chrauttius. This hand, and a similar closure, may be identified in a letter to Cerialis (264) and strongly suggests that Chrauttius was one of his correspondents. There is an interesting ligature in the us of felicissimus, line 20.
In the ed. pr. we commented on the difficulties raised by the presence and interpretation of the word Londini on the back of the right-hand side of the leaf. We are now confident that this is to be understood as the address to which the letter was sent and we assume that Veldeius received it in London and brought it to Vindolanda at some point (cf. pp.43-5, above). Two possible explanations for this may be envisaged. The first is that he was there as part of the entourage of the governor during a visit to the fort. The second is that he belonged to a unit at Vindolanda and was detached for duty with the governor in London, where he received this letter from Chrauttius; on his return to Vindolanda he brought the letter back with him. Some circumstantial support for this hypothesis comes from 154 which records that personnel from the First Cohort of Tungrians, which was no doubt stationed at Vindolanda at that time, were detached for duty in London. We do not know to which unit Chrauttius and Veldedeius belonged and we can see no justification for describing them as "former members of a Batavian unit" (so VRR II, 51).
Chrauttius: we have been unable to find this or a similar name elsewhere; but note the Tungrian named Chartius, Weisgerber (1969), 279 (= AE 1968.412); also Rautio, RIB I 1620, Crotus, RIB I 1525, 1532. Prof. R.E.Keller and Prof. N.Wagner very kindly supplied us with extensive philological information, but were unable to establish a decisive etymology. Prof. Keller notes that "<ch> is the general Latin transliteration of Gmc. /x/ before liquids and nasals" (e.g. Chlotharius, Chnodomarus). LAN 214-6 cites names beginning Chrod-.
Veldeio: here and at line 4 the addressee is named Veldeius, but at line 23 Veldedeius. The name was probably Veldedeius, with Veldeius a syncopated form. This is supported by the fact that the form Veldedii occurs on a leather offcut from Vindolanda (VRR II, 94 no.12), discovered on the floor of a room near to the find-spot of this tablet and identified as belonging to equestrian equipment, which is entirely appropriate to our equisio consularis (see line 24 and note). The name Vilidedius occurs in RIB I 1420, reported as coming from Housesteads; this might be the same name, and even the same person, as that here. It seems likely that this name is Celtic: the suffix -eius is common in Celtic names, note Nammeius at Caesar BG 1.7.3 and see Evans (1967), 369 and the collection of such forms by Glück (1857), 102, note 3, 140. Note also Velbuteius in line 17. Many Celtic names begin Vel- (see AS III 139-55), and there is a place-name Veldidena (Wilten bei Innsbruck), see AS III 142. On the etymology of Vel- see Evans (1967), 272-7, especially 275-6.
suó: this appears to be the only use of the apex in this letter; see above, pp.57-61.
fratri contubernali antiquo: for antiquus of an old acquaintance see Cicero Fam. 11.27.2, nemo est mihi te amicus antiquior; cf. too Lactantius, Mort. 20.3, ueteris contubernii amicum. It seems very unlikely that Chrauttius would address a real brother as his "old comrade-in-arms" (antiquus would be particularly out of place), but highly likely that he would address an old comrade with the term of affection frater (for frater as an "appellatio blanda" see TLL VI.1 1256.22; the idea behind the usage is illuminated by O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 2.6-9 = CEL 74, ego te non tanquam amicum habio set tanqua fratrem gemellum qui de unum uentrem exiut). If Veldeius is not the real brother of Chrauttius (cf. the introduction), it follows that the parentes nostri of line 6 cannot be their real parents. Just as frater could be addressed as a term of affection to a coeval, so parens could be used as a term of affection or respect for someone older (see TLL X.1 361.73 and HA, Did.Iul. 4.1, unumquemque, ut erat aetas, uel fratrem uel filium uel parentem adfatus blandissime est; cf. Horace, Epist., 1.6.54, "frater" "pater" adde; / ut cuique est aetas, ita quemque facetus adopta).
The form of the address is unusually full. plurimam salutem is paralleled in 309.i.1-2 and 311.i.1-2.
et rogo te Veldei frater: for rogo te frater, which was no doubt a cliché of private letters, see line 15, rogo te frater Virilis; cf. O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 1.10 = CEL 73. Twice in the letter the writer has used the vocative frater along with a name (here and in line 15). Usually frater as a term of address occurs on its own (see, e.g. O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 1.10, 2.19, 4.2 = CEL 73, 74, 76). Presumably the fuller expression, being less hackneyed, was more affective.
miror...rescripsti: this parenthetical clause has interrupted rogo te ... si quid audieris. For parentheses in rogo-constructions in colloquial texts cf. Petronius Sat. 75.3, P.Mich.VIII 467.17ff. = CEL 141, and note the examples of interposed si-clauses quoted at Tab.Vindol.I, p. 124.
tot tempus: tot (sing.) = tantum does not seem to be attested. For an analogy compare the singular use of paucus = "small" (e.g. P.Mich.VIII 471.10, 13, 31 = CEL 146; cf. Adams (1977), 79), a sense which passed into the Romance languages (Meyer-Lübke (1935), 6303: e.g. Fr. peu). It is a question of a plural ("count") adjective (pauci, tot) acquiring a singular ("mass") usage. Various adjectives have a singular "mass" meaning which contrasts with a plural "count" meaning (e.g. omnis "whole" compared with omnes "all"; in colloquial and later Latin note toti "all" compared with totus "whole"; for omnis in this sense see 185.29).
rescripsti: for a large collection of examples of such haplology (on which see Leumann (1977), 234) see Neue and Wagener (1892-1905), III 500-06.
Quot.m: there is a marked thickening of the strokes in the last three letters, but we think it unlikely that an erasure is intended. What is needed at this point is a personal name to which illum in line 9 can refer (for the accusative case see the note in the ed. pr.). See perhaps Qutos (= Qu(in)tos or Qu(ie)tos?) in Marichal (1988), no.28.14 and cf. Evans (1967), 465.
in quo numero sit: presumably numerus in the military sense "any unit, or part thereof" (see Speidel (1984), 119-21, Davies (1989), 17, "in numero referri" etc.). The word also occurs in 344.ii.12 in this sense.
illum a me salutabis [[s]]uerbis meis: the idiom a me salutabis also occurs at 311.ii.3-4, salutabis a me Diligentem (cf. rogo ... salutes a me Thuttenam in lines 15-6 of the present text); see also 509. salutabis displays the colloquial use of the future expressing a command (Hofmann and Szantyr (1965), 311; cf. the more usual saluta in e.g. 353.ii.1, cf. P.Mich.VIII 467.33 = CEL 141, 468.48ff. = CEL 142, O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 1.19 = CEL 73, 3.16 = CEL 75).
[[s]]uerbis: the writer appears to have written the initial u over an s, perhaps because he mistakenly began to write salutabis a second time. For the expression "greet someone meis/nostris uerbis", see also 353.ii.1, 509, Tomlin (1992), 151, note 55 and Cicero, Fam. 7.29.2, Tironemque meum saluta nostris uerbis; for meis uerbis with different verbs cf. Cicero, Att. 5.11.7, Fam. 5.11.2, 15.8.
In view of forficem in line 12 it is clear that Virilis must be the source of the shears, but it is difficult to elucidate the syntax. We have assumed that et Virilem ueterinarium is added as an afterthought, as a second object of salutabis in line 9, and that illum in line 12 must refer to Virilis. The word ueterinarius is attested in 181.7, ab Alione ueterinario, cf. O.Flor.15. Virilis and Alio were presumably military ueterinarii. The description ueterinarius (or medicus ueterinarius, for which see CIL 5.2183, 6.37194) is found elsewhere of veterinarians serving with the army: see CIL 3.11215, 6.37194, cf. IGRR I.1373, Digest 50.6.7. On the veterinary service in the Roman army, see Davies (1989), 209-36 esp. 212, 214. ueterinarius was not, however, an exclusively military term (cf. Columella 6.8.1, 7.5.14, 11.1.12); see Adams (1992b). A military ueterinarius will have dealt largely with the equine animals, see Dixon and Southern (1992), 23-9.
forficem: see Adams (1990b).
promisit, ed. pr.: the reading of the end of this word is doubtful since we cannot be certain how many of the traces are really ink; we now prefer the alternative reading promissit (for the geminate s see 255.i.6-8 note, 309.i.3 note).
pretio: this is an ablative (of price) used idiomatically (see ed. pr., note ad loc.).
mittas per aliquem: for this idiom in letters see, e.g., 309.i.3, P.Mich.VIII 467.19 = CEL 141, 468.5, 8 = CEL 142, O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 1.4, 7f. = CEL 73, 2.12 = CEL 74, O.Bu Njem 76.4-5, 77.3, 79.3-4, cf. Cugusi (1983), 278-9.
frater Virilis: the word order here should be contrasted with that in line 4. In third person reference the term of affection frater (so too soror) is regularly placed after the name (see lines 1, 16-7, and 25-6, O.Wâdi Fawâkhir 1.1 = CEL 73, 2.1 = CEL 74). But in the vocative frater is sometimes placed before the name as here; cf. Fronto, ad Amicos, 2.4.1 (Teubner ed., p.188), Calpurnius Siculus, Ecl. 1.8. This is the marked word order, suited to affectionate address.
rogo te frater Virilis: in lines 11-2 Chrauttius asks Veldedeius to convey a message to Virilis. Here he apparently imagines himself as addressing Virilis directly. The switch into direct address of someone who is not the addressee of the letter is striking and unannounced, but it raises no great difficulty, particularly since Chrauttius has asked that the greeting to Virilis should be uerbis meis. Cf. Apuleius, Met. 3.12, where Lucius addresses the absent Byrrhena directly when sending a message to her through a slave.
rogo ... salutes: for rogo (plus) subjunctive see 291.i.4-5, 311.ii.5-6 and 314.4-5, cf. Petronius, Sat. 49.6; further examples in Kühner and Stegmann (1955), II 229.
Thuttenam: a probable though by no means certain reading: the second t is particularly uncertain and the initial letter could just possibly be c or even p.
sororem: for the affectionate term soror see 291.i.3, ii.11, 12, 292.a.i.2, 293.2. The occurrence of a woman in this military context is noteworthy (cf. 181.14-5 note). Velbuteius is presumably a Celtic name (see above, line 1 note). In the ed. pr. we took this to be governed by salutes in line 16 but we now think it more likely that this is an accusative of the type we have in lines 8 and 10 (so CEL); on this see Adams' notes in the ed. pr., ad locc.
cum...: the letters c and m are reasonably certain and there appears to be a u between them; the traces in the rest of the line are unclear. We have suggested in the translation the way in which we should like to understand these words. The obvious word to appear at this point is quomodo but this cannot be read. We have considered the spellings cuomodo and comodo (cf. Tab.Sulis 4.2, com[o](do)), but we do not find either of these a convincing reading.
opto, ed. pr.: we now prefer to read opt<o> rather than suppose that the final o ran into the following s, where there is a blob of ink at the point at which the two strokes meet. For epistolary closing formulae see Cugusi (1983), 47-64, CEL I, pp.20-5. For sis felix. see TLL VI.1 444.24. For the formula employed here 264 has the only exact parallel, opto domine sis felicissimus quo es dignissimus; this is probably written by the same hand as the closure in the present letter, which suggests that Chrauttius was responsible for both.
The small fragments which were reversed in the plates accompanying the ed.pr. are now correctly placed in Plates XXVIII and XXIX.
22. Londini: see the introduction and above, pp.43-5. RIB II 2443.7 (= Richmond (1953), 206-8. No.3.8 = CEL 87) has Londinio on the back, which Cugusi (CEL, note ad loc.) takes to mean that it was written at London; since the tablet was found in London this does not seem likely.
These lines are written in larger letters than those preceding and following, but it is not a capital script and in fact does not differ except in size from the cursive script used in the rest of the letter, cf. 352.back.
equisioni: more usually equiso, see TLL V.2 726.39. Equisio is found mainly in glosses but see also CIL 3.13370 (= equiso: TLL V.2 726.33) where the equisiones were attached to legio II Adiutrix. Dixon and Southern (1992), 157 suggest that the equisio may be more than just the governor's personal groom.
fratre: see note to line ii.21.