Tablet 292

description

Inv.no.85.042.a-c. (a) 190 x 31 mm. (b) 193 x 36 mm. (c) 96 x 32 mm. Plates XX, XXI, VRR II, Plate XI.
This letter and that of Octavius to Candidus (343) are the only examples in which more than one diptych survives (cf. 282). The layout and organisation of the text of Severa's letter is even more curious and idiosyncratic than that of Octavius. The first double leaf (a) contains the beginning of the letter. This, like the other leaves, is probably complete at the foot and both margins but is incomplete at the top. It is unique in that the text of the letter, instead of being written in the usual two columns, is written in one very broad column across the whole width of the double leaf, a format to which we can quote no parallel elsewhere in the collection; and enough survives of the opening for us to be confident that this was written in the same format. In addition, while it is usual for the first line of the letter proper to commence further to the left than the following lines, the extent to which line 2 is set out to the left in comparison with lines 3-4 is remarkable. On the second double leaf (b), which must have been placed below (a) when the letter was completed and folded, the scribe has reverted to the two-column format. Here, too, there must be one or two lines missing at the beginning of each column. Despite the fact that the main text of the letter continues on another leaf (c), the closing greeting, comparable to that in 291 and also clearly written by Severa in her own hand (cf. also 293), is on the back of the right-hand half of (b). This may well be because the back of (c) was occupied by the address. Of the third leaf (c), only the right-hand half survives. We must assume, therefore, that we have lost whatever was on the left-hand side and a line or two from the top of the leaf. The last line on (c) suggests that nothing is lost between it and Severa's closure on the back of the right-hand half of (b); this is the only certain example in the tablets of a closure written on the back of a leaf (but cf. 303, 305). The back of (c) contains, as we would expect, the address to Lepidina. All the leaves contain remains of notches and tie-holes in the usual places.
The text is personal and intimate in tone. Severa has asked her husband Brocchus for permission to visit Lepidina. He has apparently agreed and Severa intends to make the visit, perhaps saying that there are essential matters which she does not want to deal with by correspondence (see a.i.4 note). She speaks of her intention to remain or lodge at a place called Briga (see c.v.2, note), before sending greetings to Cerialis. Unlike the birthday invitation (291), this letter gives a clear indication of the regularity of correspondence between Severa and Lepidina.
The hand in which this letter is written is one of at least three which appear in letters emanating from the household of Brocchus and Severa. This hand is also found in 246 (the opening of a letter from Brocchus), probably 245, and perhaps 403, 404 and 406. It is a rather elegant, squarish hand which shows occasional use of ligature and apex (a.i.3, 4, b.ii.4). Noteworthy are the long i, two forms of l (e.g. c.v.3) and u written as a shallow curve (c.v.2, cf. b.ii.4).

translation

' ... greetings. Just as I had spoken with you, sister, and promised that I would ask Brocchus and would come to you, I asked him and he gave me the following reply, that it was always readily (?) permitted to me, together with .... to come to you in whatever way I can. For there are certain essential things which .... you will receive my letters by which you will know what I am going to do .... I was ... and will remain at Briga. Greet your Cerialis from me. (Back) Farewell my sister, my dearest and most longed-for soul. To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa, wife of Brocchus (?). '

commentary

i.1. ṣạḷụṭẹṃ: this is written at the right-hand end of the line and we assume that a preceding lost line contained the beginning of the letter, Claudia Seuera Lepidinae suae, written across the whole width of the double leaf (Claudia is abbreviated in 291.i.1, written by a different hand).

i.2. ẹgo: go is certain; before it we should probably simply read and take the other marks as offset. For another letter beginning with ego see 265.3. We would not rule out as an alternative reading ẹṛgo; its position at the beginning of a sentence is quite normal, cf. P.Mich.VIII 469.17 (= CEL 144); at the beginning of a letter it suggests response to, or resumption of, something discussed in an earlier letter (OLD, s.v. 5). locuta fueram: see Adams (1994). There is a mark over locuta which is not ink.

i.3. at te: also in ii.3, cf. P.Mich.VIII 472.4, 17 (= CEL 147), Adams (1977), 25-9.

i.4. mihi <i>tạ corḍe: we have been unable to find a way of resolving the difficulties in this line without supposing a scribal error due to haplography. The reading of mihitạ is virtually certain (there is no serious doubt about ). Following that cor is clear and, after a doubtful letter, esem is equally clear; as the broken letter thereafter suits p very well, we think semp̣[er is certain. The doubtful letter after cor could be t, but we cannot suggest what corte would mean (unless it were to be understood as being for corde; the scribe does write at te in lines a.i.3 and b.ii.3 but this use of t for d is much less surprising). We think corḍe defensible as a reading; for d written with a very small bow cf quaedam in b.ii.4. Since tacorde makes no sense and ita fits very well, we can only suppose that this was what was intended and that the second i has been omitted. For corde perhaps see Virgil, Aen. 6.675, si fert ita corde uoluntas, Plautus, Capt. 420, uideas corde amare inter se, and cf. TLL IV 9which seems to suggest that it could mean ex animo. li]c̣ịtum un: only the top of the letter which we have read as c is visible but it compares well with the example in actura (b.iii.4) and the word fits the context very well. We imagine that the following line (b.ii.1) began with cum plus name or description or both (e.g. cum Candido seruo, or perhaps joining a military party, cum militibus/centurionibus cohortis). An alternative way of reconstructing the sense of what follows is to suppose that li]c̣ịtum is the end of a sentence and that in the subsequent sentence Severa is saying "therefore I shall try to visit you, in company with X, by whatever means I can". It seems less likely that un is nominative (to which the apex is no objection cf. necessari, b.ii.4), meaning "alone". In what follows she could be saying either that there is some essential business which she needs to discuss with Lepidina face-to-face rather than by correspondence or that there is some essential business which prevents Brocchus from accompanying her.

ii.3. at te: see a.i.3 note.

ii.4. There is a mark on the right-hand half of the leaf, after the gap, which cannot be the top of e in this hand; it can hardly be the top of c or s either (which in any case make no sense here). Unless it is just an offset, which looks improbable, it is an apex. For an apex over a diphthong see CEL 72.7, 81.11. Alternatively, there might perhaps be enough space to accommodate qua[e ].

iii.1. Perhaps a gerundive (e.g. agenda sunt) to end the sentence, then a new sentence beginning, for example, per frat]/rem or per familia]/rem.

iii.2. ṃẹaṣ: this seems to us the likeliest reading although only a is clear; neither a me nor duas can be read.

iii.4. sim actura: for the future-exponent see Adams (1977), 49. There might be an apex over the a at the end of actura, though this may be just offset.

v.2. Col.iv will have been written on the left-hand half of this diptych and is wholly lost. We must therefore reckon with the loss at this point of 4-lines in col.iv before the first line of col.v (of which only exiguous traces remain). .ṛạ: there is a mark, like an apex, over the r but we think this is probably not ink. In view of ṃansụṛạ following we expect another future participle here; although we could just possibly read ụra the word division is unlikely. For Briga cf. 190.c.38-9 and note, domịni Brigae ṃạṇ [ se-] /runt; it is obviously the name of a place in the vicinity of Vindolanda. It remains uncertain whether Briga was the home base of Brocchus and Severa; the fact that Severa explicitly states her intention to remain there might suggest that Lepidina would not necessarily expect her to be there. It should also be noted that ṃansụṛạ might mean "intending to stop off at" or "intending to lodge at" (OLD, s.v.2a) and, if this were the case, it would imply that Briga was not her home base.

v.3. Cf. 291.ii.9, where a me is omitted.

bBack. It is very unclear on the photograph which marks are ink and which are not and this makes the readings particularly difficult.

bBack.1. The first visible letter is certainly e and the spacing permits [ ual] e (cf. 291.ii.12, 293.1). The next letter is almost certainly m and the line clearly ends ror; we therefore expect mea soror, but it is very hard to read this.

bBack.2-3. ḳạrissima: the reading of the first two letters is most uncertain. et aṇịṃạ / ma: we expect et anima mea or et mea anima, but find it impossible to read either. We give what we think is the least problematical reading but would stress that it is very hard to read the dotted letters. For the possessive adjective in this form see Adams (1994). For the use of anima in the closure see 291.ii.12 with the note, cf. 293.1 note. For desideratissima see CIL 6.21974.6-8, coniugi carissim [ ae] animae desideran [ tissi] mae (cf. TLL VI.1 710).

bBack.4. The traces might belong to [ ua] ḷẹ.

cBack.2. As in 291.back 16, coniugi is omitted. It is noteworthy that the last three letters of Ḷẹpidịnae are written in ordinary cursive, whilst the first six letters in the previous line are in the spindly script associated with addresses. There may be traces further to the right; if so, presumably from praef(ecto) coh(ortis).

cBack.3. a Seueṛạ: only the tops of the last two letters survive. Thereafter there is a trace of the top of an ascender which is compatible with b and it is difficult to imagine that we could have anything other than Ḅ[rocchi.

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