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Volume One (TVI) material for tablet 324 (TVI tablet number 42)

Commentary:

References: Birley, Vindolanda, pl. XIII (wrongly described as 'no. 29'); Bowman-Thomas, Historia 24 (1975), p.474

Two fragments of a diptych containing parts of two columns of a letter in a bold and interesting hand. Unfortunately not enough of the content survives to enable us to reconstruct the sense of the letter, nor are we able to assign it to any of the identifiable archives. The key to its assignation must lie in the writing on the back of the right-hand portion; but this is so lacunose and faded that we have been able to make little sense of it. Apart from the letter-forms, the tablet is of interest for the fact that it has two tie-holes and one notch in each margin (see Vol. 1., Ch. 2) and contains what must be a reference to Vindolanda (line 3). The hand is of considerable interest and has no close parallel in the tablets (except perhaps No. 45 (341)). The most remarkable letter-form is p with a loop at the top (line 3); r appears in a form which clearly shows the derivation of the cursive form from the capital; note also the stunted forms of e, b and l, i with a noticeable foot and a made in three rather than two strokes (especially in the exaggerated example in felicissima, line 6). It is perhaps fair to say that this has a more archaic look than most scripts in the collection.

 

Notes:

1. qui[ is possible, but we have preferred que[ because elsewhere in this hand i has a considerable foot.

2. res is perhaps more likely to be a second person singular verbal ending than the noun, but there are obviously many possibilities.

3. The restoration of uin[dolandam seems inescapable; for the absence of a preposition see Vol. 1., Ch. 5. This would make the line rather long, but if the leaf were as broad as No. 39 (299) there would be no difficulty in accommodating it. This will then be the second occurrence of the place-name in the tablets (see No. 37.24-5 and note (225)).

4. Since b and l are short letters in this hand, we think either less plausible than r for the first letter; o is probable for the second, and the third could equally well be c, g or s.

5-8. The sense of this passage might tentatively be restored somewhat as follows: ]opto / ut utar]is felicissima / fortu]na et nos amare / te cre]das.

9. The writing is on the back of the right-hand portion, as is normal, and appears to be by the same hand as the text on the front. pr would fit the first traces in the line; if it were taken as pr(aefecto) we would then expect the name of the addressee to have stood in a previous line and the name of the unit to have followed. But the traces following cannot be read as the name of either of the military units attested in the tablets (cohors viii Batauorum and cohors i Tungrorum).

10. The traces of letters written with an upward slant (cf. Nos. 39 (299), 45 (341)) may perhaps be the name of the sender of the letter, e. g. ab Erinna. We are not sure what to make of the implication here that the letter was sent by a woman but, of course, it might still have been written by a man. The masculine name Cinna has the appropriate termination but this cannot be read here.