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Tablet 291

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Vindolanda Inventory No. 85.057


This diptych contains a letter to Sulpicia Lepidina from Claudia Severa, wife of Aelius Brocchus, sending Lepidina a warm invitation to visit her for her (Severa's) birthday (on the celebration of birthdays by private individuals see RE VII, 1142-4) and appending greetings to Cerialis from herself and greetings from her husband. The elegant script in which this letter is written is also probably to be recognised in 243, 244 and 248. The letters are slim, with marked ascenders and descenders, and very little use of ligature. There is occasional use of the apex mark for which see pp.57-61, above. In the present text the use is not always in long quantities. It is quite certain that the author is Severa herself, adding a brief message and the closing greeting in her own hand as she also does in 292 and 293. Almost certainly, therefore, these are the earliest known examples of writing in Latin by a woman.

n 1 Cl(audia) · Seuerá Lepidinae [suae
n 2 [sa]l[u]tem
n 3 iii Idus Septembr[e]s soror ad diem
n 4 sollemnem natalem meum rogó
5             libenter faciás ut uenias
6 ad nos iucundiorem mihi
n n 7 [diem] interuentú tuo facturá si
n 8 [.].[c.3]s uacat
n 9 Cerial[em t]uum salutá Aelius meus .[
n 10           et filiolus salutant uacat
n 11 m2uacat sperabo te soror
12 uale soror anima
n 13 mea ita ualeam
n 14 karissima et haue
n n 15 m1       Sulpiciae Lepidinae
n n 16 Cerialis
n n 17 a S[e]uera


"Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present (?). Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him (?) their greetings. (2nd hand) I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail. (Back, 1st hand) To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa."