Tablet 616

description 93 x 35 mm. Plate 10.
Archaeological data. Location: SG (bonfire site). Period: 3.
There is writing on both sides in the same hand. On both the written column is complete at the left; on Side A the column is also complete, or nearly so, at the right and it may well be the same on Side B. Either side in fact could easily be the left-hand column of a diptych and there is no clear indication of which side was written first. A noteworthy feature is that the writing slopes upwards on Side A and downwards on Side B with relation to the grain. This suggests that the tablet was cut obliquely to the grain of the wood and that the top as preserved may well be the original top edge. The tablet is certainly incomplete at the foot.
The hand is distinctive, particularly u, the second stroke of which often descends well below the line. There are several ligatures and occasionally wide spaces between words. It is probable that it is another example of the hand we have identified as that of Cerialis himself (see 615, introduction), though written with a thinner pen. This is certain if our tentative suggestion for A.1 is correct. Much of the writing is badly abraded on both sides. See also the introduction to 617.
Side A is clearly part of a letter or instruction. Side B is unclear and we have been unable to suggest any connected sense. It may also be part of a letter or instruction (possibly the same as Side A), but it may be a list of items.


]ạḷ[ ]..ḅẹrṭọ[..].er[] n
omnẹs ḍilịgenter curate ụṭ
si qui am[i]ci uenerịnṭ beṇẹ
ṛẹ[c]ịp̣iạnṭur p̣r.[.].errẹ n
. . . . . . . .
pullos duos [..].ẹr[...]... n
ọptimạ .[..] ṃembrạ ... n
uin ḍ[...]....ṃ[..] mạioreṣ n
.ạenulam [.]r..enam n
5 traces n
. . . . . . . .


'(A) all of you take good care to see that if any friends come they are suitably entertained '


A.1. ḅẹrṭọ: this or ḅẹrịọ is a good reading. At the right, after ẹr, there is room for five or six letters but no trace survives. We have considered the possibility that we have the start of a letter, since the next line protrudes to the left with respect to the lines following as is common for the first line proper of a letter. But, although there would be room for suo/suis at the end of line 1, there is nowhere where salutem could have stood. We wonder whether what we have is an instruction from Cerialis to members of his household, in effect his freedman and slaves. [Ceri]ạḷ[is] ḷịḅẹrṭo ṣer[uis suis would fit the reading as we have succeeded in recovering it, and in such an instruction we do not consider the absence of Flavius or of et between liberto and seruis as a problem (there would be room to supply et but no trace remains; suis too may have been omitted). But this suggestion is only tentative and we can quote no parallel in the rest of the Vindolanda material. We have also considered the possibility that in a memorandum of this kind Cerialis may have omitted his name altogether (cf. 225) and begun with the name of his libertus.

A.4. ṛẹ[c]ịp̣iạnṭur: only the tops of the letters before nṭur survive, but they are consistent with this reading. After it p̣rạ[e]ṭer looks possible as does p̣rọ[p]ṭer, the former being the easier reading but the latter giving the better sense.

B.1. The traces after duos are minimal. If, as is likely, there was a space after it, we might read c̣ẹr or, less probably, p̣ẹr. ceruinam may be possible (not ceruesam); for its use without an accompanying noun to mean "deer meat" see Tab.Vindol.I 5.10 note. It may occur along with membra (see the next line) in 196.back.

B.2. ọptimạ looks reasonably clear; then probably s. Nothing may have written after this before ṃembrạ. 196 and 198 have references to membra in lists of items. We have considered membranas, but the traces do not really suit this. If optimas is right, it must qualify a noun in the preceding line.

B.3. After uin the next letter is either d or o. We have tried to read Vindolandam, especially as ạṃ is possible, but spacing seems to require at least one letter more than this. uino would no doubt be a reference to wine. There is room for two letters before maiores, but nothing may have been written. mạioreṣ is a more probable reading than mạioreṃ. The latter might suggest a personal name, with reference to some goods being brought to Vindolanda by Maior (a Maior is attested in 645); but we do not find it possible to read per before this word.

B.4. .ạenulam: we have naturally tried to read p̣ạenulam (attested in 196), but to do so we must assume that the top stroke of p has either abraded away altogether or was never written. The obvious reading is ḷạenulam, which would presumably be a hitherto unattested diminutive of laena. rụ.enam seems to be the best reading, with the doubtful letter most like t or c. We have no suggestion to offer unless a letter has been completely abraded away before it; if so, we note that there is a word arutaena meaning a ladle (see OLD).

B.5. Several ascenders from this line are visible.

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