Tablet 311

description + 88.108. 220 x 87 mm. Plates XXIV, XXV,
Three joining fragments of a diptych containing a letter from Sollemnis to Paris with an address on the back. The left-hand portion is complete and probably contains remains of two notches in the left-hand edge; the right is missing a line at the top and probably one or two lines at the foot. It is noteworthy that there are three lines of writing, probably by a second hand, at a right-angle to the main text in the margin between the columns; the first two of these lines are on the right-hand portion, the last on the left.
The text of the letter is of some interest for its style and latinity but its substance is not very informative. Sollemnis complains that Paris has not written to him, sends greetings to three friends and asks for a list of names. The address connects Paris with the cohors iii Batauorum, part or all of which may therefore have been at Vindolanda in Period 3 (see above, p.24); this is one of only two pieces of evidence for the existence of this unit (cf. 263.ii.5 and note). It is difficult to be certain of the nature of that connection, however, because parts of the address are difficult to read. It is possible that Paris was a slave of the commander or another officer of the unit and this would make it likely that Sollemnis was also a slave (cf. 301). The Greek name of the addressee, as well as the names in lines ii.3-5, might seem to support this (see note to line i.1). However, the evidence for Batavians in the imperial guard shows that Greek names are not at all unusual in that Batavian context (see Bellen (1981), but this particular name is not attested.
The main hand is a very competent and interesting, squarish cursive which spaces the words carefully and uses few ligatures. Interpunct appears only once (i.5) although the state of preservation of the writing, particularly in col.ii, might well not allow us to see it, were it there. It is noteworthy that the writer four times uses an apex mark over the final letter of a 1st person singular verb (i.5, 8, 9, ii.5); cf. above, pp.57-61. The form of e is noteworthy as is u in ualere (line 3); note in particular d in Paridi which ends with the curve normally diagnostic of b in ORC (also in Diligentem, ii.3).


'Sollemnis to Paris his brother, very many greetings. I want you to know that I am in very good health, as I hope you are in turn, you neglectful man, who have sent me not even one letter. But I think that I am behaving in a more considerate fashion in writing to you ... to you, brother, ... my messmate. Greet from me Diligens and Cogitatus and Corinthus and I ask that you send me the names ... Farewell, dearest brother (?). (Back) To Paris ... of the 3rd Cohort of Batavians, from Sollemnis ... '


i.1. For Sollemnis in a Batavian context see AE 1952.146 (Bellen (1981), no. 13). The name Paris is fairly uncommon in this region. It occurs in Germania Superior as the name of a slave (CIL 13.6423, cf. 13.11015, Aquitania).

i.1-2. fratri plurimam salutẹ[m: fratri is not common in the Vindolanda texts at the start of letters (an example in 310.i.1 and cf. 214.3-4; in both these texts plurimam is also used, see also 309.i.1), but is often found elsewhere, see e.g. CEL 73-80, 157. The omission of suo is unparalleled at Vindolanda but it occurs elsewhere, e.g. CEL 72, 73 (fratri is used in the latter).

i.3. ut scias: for the freestanding ut introducing a wish ("know that ...") see Adams (1994). recte ualere: see OLD, s.v. recte 9.

i.4. The sense must be "I hope you are well too"; on this use of facere see Adams (1994).

i.5-6. inpientissime: for this formation see Adams (1994) and cf. RIB I 1829, pien [ tis] sime et [ des] id[eratissime.

i.6. ne: this usage for ne ... quidem also occurs at 343.i.(see note and cf. Quintilian 1.5.39, Petronius, Sat. 47.5, OLD, s.v. ne 7).

ii.1. Despite the loss of the tops of letters, the reading of tibi frater is certain. In the line before it one might imagine something like gratias agam and following it si salutes; there would not be room for a name, however, and it seems awkward to suppose that Diligens is the name of the contubernalis with the two other names added as an afterthought. Alternatively, we might imagine something like commendo tibi, frater [ name] , with a new sentence beginning in line 3.

ii.2. contubernalem: this term may have a military connotation but it can also be used in a general sense in a servile context, cf. Seneca, Ep. 47.1, and note that TLL IV 791 cites conseruus as a synonym. Cf. back and note.

ii.3. salutabis: for the colloquial use of the future expressing a command see 310.i.9-and note.

ii.3-5. The name Diligens is uncommon in the area covered by NPEL (only one example cited, a tribune in Britain, RIB I 1237); LC 259 cites 9 examples and 2 freedmen/slaves. For Corinthus in an Ubian context see AE 1952.14(= Bellen (1981), no.12). Cogitatus is more common (3 occurrences in Gallia Belgica according to NPEL).

Margin. The closure appears to be written by a second hand in three short lines. We suggest restoring uale] mị / fra]ṭer / karissi]mẹ, cf. 242.ii.2-3 note, 247.2-3, 288.4-5

Back.1. The tops of the letters are lost, more seriously at the left than the right. The beginning of the letter guarantees that the name Paris must appear and P̣ạṛịḍị can be read at the left (note that d has an unusual curve, cf. introduction). If this is correct, it should be noted that there is no gentilicium. Thereafter we have remains of some ten letters and room for up to three more on the fragment which has been broken off. We think it possible that Paris was a slave of someone belonging to the Third Cohort of Batavians (see note to line 5, below and cf. 301.back) and it may be that we should look for the name of his owner in this line. Alternatively, immediately following the name it may be possible to read ụḷục̣ịọ, as a locative place-name (cf. 174.4 and note), as suggested in VRR II, 37; this would then indicate the place to which the letter was sent (see above, pp.43-5). For a place-name immediately following the name of the addressee see Britannia 19 (1988), 496, no.32 (cf. above, p.44, note 24), and perhaps RIB 2443.11. The difficulty with this is that what follows ought to be a rank, or description of the position of the recipient which continues in line 2, and it is hard to imagine the place-name coming between the name of the recipient and his description. A possible alternative is suggested by ChLA III 200, a slave-sale which has the notation actum Seleuciae Pieriae in castris in hibernis uexillationi clas(sis) pr(aetoriae) and P.Diog.1, actum castris hib(ernis) coh(ortis) s(upra) s(criptae) contra Apollonospoli Magna Thebaidis; c̣ạṣ[tris would make sense in our text, but the difficulty of the reading must be emphasised (s is particularly hard). If this were correct, it would weaken the case for the presence of the Third Cohort at Vindolanda. We have no other suggestion as to how the traces at the end of the line might be read; they do not suggest any familiar military title.

Back.2. ]ọrtis: it is extremely odd that there is no sign of coh before this, but the explanation can only be that the surface is more badly abraded here than elsewhere.

Back.4. For the ablative ending cf. Tab.Vindol.I, p.74.

Back.5. Traces of several letters, of which the last is certainly o. (con)s]ẹṛụo would make sense but we doubt whether it can be read; see notes to i.1 and ii.2.

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