Tablet 316

description

Inv.no.85.183.b. 100 x 50 mm. Plate IX. R.E.Birley (1990), fig.12. VRR II, Plate IX.
Part of the left-hand portion of a diptych with two notches in the left-hand edge. The configuration of the text, in which the single trace of the first line stands well to the left of the beginning of line 2 and the latter, in turn, commences to the left of the following 5 lines, indicates that we very probably have the beginning of the letter minus the opening address. It is uncertain whether there is anything missing at the bottom of this column; the whole of col.ii is lost. There are six lines written by a second hand in the left margin at a right-angle, across the grain. The last line in the margin contains a closing greeting and must be presumed to be the end of the letter.
The subject of the letter is the transport of stone; for this activity in the region of Vindolanda see also 314 and cf. P.Mich.VIII 466. The first hand is a rather elegant cursive with squarish letter-forms, which does not use ligature.

translation

'... you ought to decide, my lord, what quantity of wagons you are going to send to carry stone. For the century of Vocontius ... on one day with wagons ... Unless you ask Vocontius to sort out (?) the stone, he will not sort it out. I ask you to write back what you want me to do (?). I pray that you are in good health. '

commentary

Front.1. Only the trace of a descender remains, at the far left. This is likely to be first line of the letter and therefore a name; the trace is compatible with f (e.g. F̣[lauius) but there are obviously other possibilities.

Front.2. carrulorum: cf. 315.2 and note, where it is suggested that the word is carrulum rather than carrulus.

Front.4. Cf. OLD, s.v. deliberare 1b.

Front.6-7. We have considered two ways in which these lines could be restored and understood. The first is to take Ṿoconti as the genitive of the personal name Vocontius (not very common, but for an occurrence at Carlisle see Tomlin (1992), 153, note 60; for Germania Inferior see CIL 13.865and cf. CEL 62 (Vindonissa)) and to restore centụ[ria at the end of the line. If the high hook at the end of line 7 indicates laḅ[, therefore from labor or laboro, the meaning will be that the century of Vocontius has worked or will work with wagons to move stone on one day. Against this is the fact that we would expect a reference to the century of Vocontius to come in the form centuria Voconti (probably with the symbol rather than the word written in full), see Speidel (1984), 107 who points out that this order is universal, but cf. RMR 9.9.f-n.; the reversal of the normal order need not unduly worry us in a letter as opposed to a formal document. The alternative is to take Ṿoconti as referring to the men of a Vocontian unit; the ala (Augusta) Vocontiorum c.r. is attested in Germania Inferior in the Flavian period but was in Britain by AD 122 (see VRR II, 4, Holder (1980), 222). Then we might restore centụ[m at the end of the line and envisage the meaning as "the Voconti with 100 wagons on one day have worked or will work, or by their labour have moved..."; note that it is not possible to read carrulọs. Against this is the text in the margin, lines 1-3, which very strongly suggests that we should there restore the accusative singular Vocontị[um (see note ad loc.) to follow rogas, in which case the reference here must surely be to the same person.

Margin.1-2. The restoration and interpretation of these lines is uncertain and affects the understanding of lines 6-7 above. The main problem is the restoration of Vocontị[ in line 1. Either Vocontị[um or Vocontị[os is possible. If we restore the singular as a personal name we can then restore exp̣[licet in line 2 and explicabi[t/(ur) in line 3 and take these lines to mean "unless you ask Vocontius to sort out the stone, he will not sort it out or it will not be sorted out". If we restore the plural, we would then restore exp̣[licent in line 2 and, necessarily, explicabi[s/-itur in line 3: "unless you ask the Vocontians to sort out the stone, you will not sort it out (i.e. get it sorted out) or it will not be sorted out". For the meaning of explico = "sort out" cf. 343.i.4, 301.i.5. The switch from active to passive is unlikely, however, and with either version we prefer the active. The strongest argument for the first alternative is that we think it much more likely that rogo would be followed by the name of a single person than Vocontios.

Margin.2. There is no doubt that lepidem has been written. This is surely a simple error for lapidem in view of line 5, but it is worth noting that the transliterated Greek word _____ (several meanings, including "metal plate", see LSJ, s.v.) is attested (see TLL VII.2 1173; the normal accusative is lepida but a latinised form is no doubt possible, cf. 346.ii.2).

Margin.3. It is possible to envisage quare or ergo at the end of the line.

Margin.4. There will have been room for mihi at the end of this line.

Margin.5. facere is the obvious restoration.

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