Tablet 326

description 230 x 30 mm. Plate XVIII.
A diptych which is complete only at the right and left edges. It contains part of a letter which we find very difficult to elucidate. The first line of the left-hand portion, which is clearly not the opening, begins further to the left than the subsequent lines and may well be the beginning of the message proper. There is some use of interpunct.


. . . . . . . .
[. 18 .] ṇ... ul. ị. [ n
c (larissim-) · uir- · de.... ụs · enim illis · Ve-
n furis · maḷ. rịsp̣[ n
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
[. 11 .] dịcuṇ .... uaṣ rogo n
sicut here coepisṭị ịnquiras
ịn q[u]ạ .. traces [
. . . . . . . .


i.1-3. The reading c · u · is quite clear and we can see no other way of resolving this than as some case of clarissimus uir; the clear medial point between c and u rules out the possibility of reading it as the number cv (105). If this is right it ought to be preceded by a name (cf. 225.14-5); it might refer to a governor (it is impossible to read Marcelli) but could refer to someone else of senatorial status, e.g. a legionary legate. The traces at the end of line 1, which overruns the fold, are difficult to interpret; ul are certain but we cannot suggest a cognomen which is compatible with the traces. What follows is very obscure. There seems no possibility of doubting the reading enim illis Verecundi furis, and, since there are several references in the tablets to at least two people called Verecundus (154.2-3, 210-12, 127.7), it seems almost certain that the word here is also to be taken as a personal name. furis might equally be the genitive of fur or the second person of the verb furo, though neither word looks attractive. The reading of the six to eight letters before enim is unclear. The first two letters can hardly be anything other than de; the next letter looks most like m, but there is a slightly oblique stroke over it such as is used elsewhere to mark an abbreviation (see also above, p.57). We do not see what possible abbreviation can have come at this point. The next letter is most like s but e is possible if all trace of the horizontal stroke has been lost. This is followed by either one or two letters before the last letter which is certainly s. If we have a single letter it must be n; if two letters, the second must be u. The stroke before this curves in a way which hardly suits i or the start of n in this hand, though neither reading can be excluded; also possible is t if the cross-bar is no longer visible. We have considered no less than four possibilities. (1) deṇṣịus: this could make sense with the meaning "more frequently" or the like, but it is very hard to read the third letter as n. (2) de ịp̣ṣịus: the second half of the supposed m could indeed be read as p, but it is hard to read i preceding this. Nor do we see how to make sense of this; de would have to go with illis and ipsius presumably with Verecundi; but the word-order surely makes this impossible. (3) deṃẹṇs: the difficulty in reading en before final s has been indicated above and the word hardly makes good sense. It would presumably have to be taken with furis, understood as the verb, with the meaning "you are furiously angry with those (men(?)) of Verecundus". One argument against all the above suggestions is that they involve ignoring the apparent stroke over the third letter. It is hard to see what this can be, though it might possibly be the top of c if this example is made somewhat differently from the one earlier in the line. We have therefore also considered (4) dec̣ṛẹṭus, but again it is not easy to turn the apparent m into cr (a descender from the line above complicates the reading). This would have to mean something like "appointed to (do something in respect of) those (men(?)) of Verecundus"; it would perhaps look more attractive if we took furis as a slip for fueris (cf. locuta fueram in 292.a.i.2), but we are naturally reluctant to suggest a scribal error in such a broken context. A possible alternative reading for the end of line 3 is maṭẹrịs (though t and e are not easy), but it is still hard to see how it can be construed so as to agree with illis.

ii.1. dịcunṭ is possible, but not dịcuṇṭụṛ. What follows looks like q̣uas and may be paralleled by a similar construction with rogo in 314.4-6, although it is not clear how inquiras could have a direct object in the accusative ("please, just as you started doing yesterday, make enquiries ...").

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