Tablet 642

description 224 x 58 mm. Plate 15.
Archaeological data. Location: LXXIV/W. Period: 4?.
It is probable that a complete diptych survives, but the whole of the left-hand column is so badly abraded that very little can be read; there are also numerous dark marks which may or may not be ink. Sufficient remains of this column to show that it is the start of a letter. Parts of the right-hand column are also much abraded. This column contains the conclusion of the letter, preceded by remarks which apparently concern shingles (no doubt for roofs). It is quite possible that both sender and recipient were civilian contractors. The recipient's gentilicium was almost certainly Gabinius and his cognomen perhaps Aprio; the sender's name may have been Bellicus, see the notes to the back.
The hand is distinctive, especially the peculiar form of l (ii.2 and 3), m and s; also the cross-bar of t can slant downwards. The writing slopes to the right and there is some evidence of word division and occasional use of ligature. The address on the back of the right-hand column is written in the same hand as the body of the letter. Two tie-holes and two v-shaped notches are to be seen at both left and right of the tablet.


Be....ụṣ traces suo n
].. dubio ....ẹ. ṣicut prob[ n
lines 4-7 traces only n
...ṇum benef....... n
G̣abinio Ạ..ịoni n
a Be.l..ọ n


' (Col.ii) I shall gladly do. As to the one hundred shingles which I have at Romanius', if you have no need of them, transport them en route when your wagons come from time to time, on which see that you oversee your boys lest in any way . Greet Ingenua and and . Farewell. (Back) To Gabinius from Bellicus(?). '


i.1. The names of the sender and recipient are more clearly preserved on the back, where see the notes.

i.3. The traces before dubio are indecisive; if we read si]ṇẹ, this line may have projected further to the left than line 1. After dubio the traces are minimal but would not exclude the reading f̣ṛạṭẹṛ; then ṣicut followed by some part of probo or some case of probus.

i.4-7. In these lines the occasional letter can be distinguished (especially in 7), but no complete word can be read.

i.8. benef is clear, which naturally leads one to wonder whether some case of beneficium or beneficiarius can be read. The letter after benef appears to be l (though not made like l in ii.2-3); if it can be taken as i (cf. ii.4 note), the reading benefịc̣ịạṛịụṃ is possible though far from certain. A name ending -enum or -inum could have preceded. There may be traces of a further line below this but the marks seem more likely to be dirt or offset.

ii.1. This is likely to have been the first line of this column but it is mostly too abraded to permit any reading with confidence. cẹṃ looks reasonably secure, suggesting the end of a word. If the apparent in the middle of the line can be read as i (cf. i.8 note and ii.4 note), ịṇụịcẹṃ may be possible. If a new word begins with in- and the dotted letters have all been read correctly, we suggest ịṇp̣ẹraụeṛịṣ (for imp-; indeed, imp- is not impossible in this hand), which would make good sense in a subordinate clause to faciam. Another possibility is ịṇṣṭraụeṛịṣ (or -eras), but we cannot suggest how this would suit the context.

ii.2. ḷibenti looks superficially like uidenti, because of the apparent ligature (probably illusory) of l to the i following and the heavy serif at the top left of the short l (there is a similar serif in the h of habeo in line 4). We are confident of the reading, especially as libenti animo is a common expression, see TLL VII.2 1327. faciam: in the translation we have taken this as future indicative, but it could of course be present subjunctive. We have also assumed a heavy stop after faciam rather than taking it as governing scaṇdeḷḷas in 3.

ii.3. scaṇdeḷlas: n may have been corrected. l (bis) is made just as in libenti in 2 and there is no serious doubt about the reading. No such word is attested and we assume it is intended for scandulas = "shingles"; cf. tabula/tabella, catulus/catellus. A.R.Birley (2002), 69 states that "one room [at Vindolanda] contained a pile of over 100 oak roofing shingles".

ii.4. The reading after habeo is not certain. There would be no difficulty in reading ṭenes, but we cannot then suggest a suitable wording beginning ro- to follow (even if we could read rotam, this would leave the letters following without explanation). We have also considered tene pro, but it is very hard to read the letter before ro as anything other than s in this hand. The end of the line must be -ḷum or -ịum. At first glance ḷum looks more probable, but if so, l is made differently from the way it is made in the lines preceding. There may be a similar way of writing i in i.8 and ii.1 (see notes there). There is also an unexpected hook at the foot of the first downstroke of m. However, since ro is certain and is almost equally so, we have some confidence in the correctness of the reading. The name Romanius has not hitherto appeared in the tablets, but is well attested. The expression would presumably refer to his house or workshop.

ii.5-6. For the rare verb perportare see TLL X.1 s.v. It is attested by some MSS at Livy 28.46.14, hence the entry in LS. Cf. Appendix, 477.

ii.6. obiter: the meaning in this context is not clear. See the discussion in Adams (2003), §7. ụbe: it seems impossible to read ubi ; for the spelling ube cf. OLD s.v. We have suggested the translation "when" rather than "where" since we should have expected "to where" or "from where" with perporta ... ueniunt. carra: for the neuter see 649.6 note. sụbịnde: the reading is reasonably secure.

ii.7-8. praẹṣiḍe is not quite certain: the first e is now split across a break and s is made rather differently from elsewhere. p̣uẹṛis thereafter is very probable. The lexica recognise praesideo used of guarding agri (for example), and we have wondered whether the clause could mean "guard them [the shingles] with your boys". But if so pueris would have to be understood as instrumental ablative, which is odd even though the reference is likely to be to slaves. We therefore prefer to take quibus as referring to the wagons, a suggestion which we owe to Adams. The idea may be to keep an eye on the slaves to prevent any misdemeanours on their part.

ii.8. After quid the second letter is probably a but nothing else can be read with confidence. l after a is probable, followed by two doubtful letters before perhaps ḍẹṭụ or ṇṭụ. If either of these is right, r presumably followed though the trace (if any) is minimal. laedantur cannot be read. We have considered calcentur ("lest they get trampled on") and patiantur, though this is hardly a suitable word for inanimate objects such as shingles; neither is really convincing.

ii.9. Ịng̣enuaṃ: it is hard to read g but the name looks inevitable. An Ingenua occurs in 643.back 3. If she is the same woman, this would support the suggestion in the introduction to 643 that 643 may have been a draft. The next name may begin Ạụ- or Ṭụ- but we cannot hazard a guess as to how to read the exiguous traces following.

ii.10. We need another name after eṭ with two letters at the start to precede rra; c̣ạ, p̣ạ or ṭạ looks possible. A name Tarracius is attested but the traces after rra are too damaged to allow any reading with confidence. uaḷe has been written (perhaps in a different hand) in the bottom right corner and the tablet may have been blank for some 2 cms before this. For the final greeting consisting of no more than uale cf. 641.7-8 note. Back

Back.1. Apparent traces above this line are probably dirt rather than ink; if ink they must be from the name of the place to which the letter was being sent. abinio is a good reading; at the start is difficult but the name as a whole must be accounted very probable. The cognomen is much less certain. We are fairly confident that it ended -ịoni. It appears to have been preceded by a letter with both an ascender and a descender, i.e. f or s; but we cannot suggest a suitable name (Rufioni cannot be read). If the apparent ascender is dirt and not ink, we could read ṛioni; perhaps Ạp̣ṛioni. There are traces at the appropriate point in i.1 but they are much too uncertain to be of any real help. Indeed, they are not inconsistent with Gabinio (ab in particular looks quite likely); for the use of the gentilicium at the start of a letter cf. 213.

Back.2. The name of the sender, written, as usual, on a slant. There may be a line below this but the traces are probably not ink. The name needs to be considered along with what remains on the front (i.1). On the back ab is clear, which could represent ab + name or a B-. At the start of the letter on the front be is certain, probably with nothing lost before it, so that the two together suggest a name Be-. On the back a Beḷl is certainly possible but it is unclear how many letters followed; perhaps read a Beḷlịc̣ọ (a Beḷlịc̣ịọ may also be possible). The very faint traces on the front after be would not rule out the reading Bellicus there (Bellicius is less likely). Cf. also 608.1 and note. In 661.6 we may have the name Bellis, but this is not possible in the present text.

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