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Tablet 310

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Vindolanda Inventory No. 86.470

Introduction

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).

i
n n 1 Chrauttius Veldeio suó fratri
n n 2 contubernali antiquo pluri-
n 3 mam salutem
n 4 et rogo te Veldei frater miror
n n 5 quod mihi tot tempus nihil
n n n 6 rescripsti a parentibus nos-
7 tris si quid audieris aut
n n 8 Quot.m in quo numero
n n 9 sit et illum a me salutabis
n n 10 [[s]]uerbis meis et Virilem
n 11 ueterinarium rogabis
n 12 illum ut forficem
ii
n 13 quam mihi promissit pretio
n 14 mittas per aliquem de nostris
n 15 et rogo te frater Virilis
n 16 salutes a me Thuttenam
n 17 sororem Velbuteium
n 18 rescribas nobis cum...
19 se habeat uacat
n 20 m2? opt<o> sis felicissimus
n 21 uale
Back
22 m1Londini
23 Veldedeio
24 equisioni co(n)s(ularis)
25 a Chrauttio
26 fratre

Notes

"Chrauttius to Veldeius his brother and old messmate, very many greetings. And I ask you, brother Veldeius - I am surprised that you have written nothing back to me for such a long time - whether you have heard anything from our elders, or about ... in which unit he is; and greet him from me in my words and Virilis the veterinary doctor. Ask him (sc. Virilis) whether you may send through one of our friends the pair of shears which he promised me in exchange for money. And I ask you, brother Virilis, to greet from me our sister Thuttena. Write back to us how Velbuteius is (?). (2nd hand?) It is my wish that you enjoy the best of fortune. Farewell. (Back, 1st hand) (Deliver) at London. To Veldedeius, groom of the governor, from his brother Chrauttius."