Tablet 233

description 176 x 34 mm. Plate XVI. VRR II, Plate X.
A diptych, complete at the top, left and right, containing a draft or file copy of a letter from Cerialis to Brocchus (B) and, at the right, written across the grain from top to bottom of the leaf, three lines of a list of foodstuffs (A). We think it most probable that (A) was written first and that the leaf, having been rotated through 90, was then used for the draft of the letter without erasing the primary text. No doubt we have the end of the draft letter since there is a considerable space between the last line and the bottom of the leaf and we would not expect to find Cerialis' closing greeting. At least one line at the foot of the left-hand column must be lost, however, as is confirmed by the trace of one letter at the bottom edge; furthermore the items in (A) extend to the edge of the leaf and suggest the loss of part of the tablet which may have contained cash sums relating to the food items.
If, as seems likely, the two texts were written by the same hand, the list of foodstuffs suggests that the scribe may have been a member of Cerialis' household staff (perhaps a slave) rather than a member of the military unit. The hand may be the same as that in 235 and 240; there is some use of ligature. Some examples of o are noteworthy, being made much like a small c; note in particular the first o in Broccho.
Cerialis asks Brocchus to send him some plagae (see note to line B.4) and, perhaps, to repair something (either the plagae or something else depending on what was in the missing part of the text).


fortissime uacat n
frusta exeṛc̣ịas n


'(A) gruel ...
pork-crackling ...
trotters ...
(B) Flavius Cerialis to his Brocchus, greetings. If you love me, brother, I ask that you send me some hunting-nets (?) ... you should repair (?) the pieces very strongly." '


A.1. alicas: the reading is not certain, especially as it is impossible to be sure which ink traces belong to the list and which to the draft letter. The easiest reading of the last 4 letters is -uias but we know of no suitable word with this ending. If lines 2 and 3 are correctly read we expect a foodstuff and alicas would seem to fit the traces; for alica see 193.4 note. However, if more of the traces at the left belong to this word (and not to the end of the letter), the reading may be lactucas (lettuces).

A.2. callum: this is rind or crackling, usually of the pig, which Apicius, 7.1.5 associates with ungellae (see note to line 3). However, the same problem faces us as in the preceding line and an alternative reading which we cannot rule out is alium ("garlic").

A.3. ungellas: these are pigs' trotters, see Apicius 4.5.2 and cf. André (1981), 137, note 43. Pigs were certainly kept as livestock (180.27, 183.4) and supplied meat (191.6, 186.21), cf. VRR III, 113 .

B.i.2. For the position of suo salutem see 234.i.2, 243.2, 248.i.2, 261.2.

B.i.4. plagas: of the numerous meanings of plaga recorded in OLD only plaga2, 3 and 4a ("counterpane" and "hunting-net") need be considered here. The text itself offers no basis on which to choose between these possibilities, but it is perhaps more likely that officers would be corresponding about hunting-nets than domestic soft-furnishings. For a similar preoccupation see O.W‰di Faw‰khir 14.3-8 and, in this region of Britain, RIB I 1041 (Stanhope), I 1905 (Birdoswald); see RIB I 1005-6 (Cumberland quarries, a crude drawing of a stag) and the relief from Housesteads showing a stag confronted by a hunting-net (Bruce (1875), no.243 and cf. no.271 (Vindolanda)); in general see Davies (1989), 191-3, Hodgson (1976), 22, (1977), Dannell and Wild (1987), 68. In P.Abinn. 6.11-12 (mid-fourth century) the writer notes that hunting-nets are stored in the fort at Dionysias "with the standards" and asks the officer Abinnaeus to send him some in order to deal with gazelles which are destroying crops. Furthermore, as VRR II, 38 notes, the dedication by Aelius Brocchus to Diana (CIL 3.4360) perhaps suggests a predilection for hunting. The only circumstantial evidence in favour of supposing that we are dealing with counterpanes is the possibility that some of the clothing supplied to Vindolanda came from Brocchus (196.15 note, 207.4 note).

B.ii.1. Nothing is visible after fortissime, which may have been preceded by quam ("as strongly as possible").

B.ii.2. frusta exercias: see Adams (1994). There may be an interpunct after frusta, but since it would be the only example in this text it is perhaps better to regard it as unintentional. In the word which follows exe is certain as is as at the end of the line. The letter following exe has a long descender and must be q or r; r is difficult because we cannot see the head of the letter, but we have rejected q because it seems impossible to read the following letter as u or to supply a word which would make sense in the context. If our reading exercias is correct, there is more space between r and c than might be expected; the explanation of this may be that the list (A) had already been written. The traces are compatible with our reading of ci, though they hardly compel it. We suggest that this verb is to be taken as an alternative spelling of exsarcias, see TLL V.2, 1827. Frusta can then be understood as broken or torn sections; the word is used of torn pieces of clothing (Nepotianus 1.19, cum frustis tunicae).

Download EpiDoc version using the CC license Creative Commons License and EpiDoc Schema v.5