Tablet 647

description 97 x 51 mm.
Archaeological data. Location: N. Period: 4.
The upper part of the left-hand portion of a diptych, containing the salutation and the first four lines of a letter to Optatus. Written in a small, neat hand. The diagonal strokes of a and n are sometimes prolonged markedly at the left; p (line 6) has a noticeable foot. The letter is apparently concerned with a legal contract involving a horse (or horses). The occurrence of the rare word caducarius is noteworthy. The back may have abraded ink traces, although an address would not be expected on the back of a left-hand column.


' to Optatus his lord, greetings. Just as you had written, I requested - as did Flavius licus - the caducary debt(?). We have(?) a note of hand concerning the horse(s) You had scrutinised(?) '


1. Op̣ṭato: we are confident of the reading. 646 is also a letter addressed to Optatus, a maltster, perhaps the same man: see 646.i.1 note. domino: dominus occurs very frequently in the Vindolanda letters, but it is almost always in the vocative and there is only one other certain example of its use in a salutation, 614; there may be a second example in 555 = Tab.Vindol.I 88. Cf. also 628, where Cerialis is addressed as regi. ṣ[u]ọ: the traces are very slight and may not be ink; but there is no sign of suo in the next line.

3. ṣcribseraṣ: for the spelling cf. 339.4, 664.3. The trace of the last letter is slight, but m would be too broad for the space; t is possible but ṣcribseraṣ seems more likely to make sense than ṣcribseraṭ.

3ff. rog̣aui et is certain; we cannot read rog̣aui ut. After the name following we apparently have three words all ending -um. We do not see how these can all have belonged to the same clause and so have supposed a new sentence began with chirografum (cf. the translation). If this is right, the words preceding presumably mean "I - and Flavius ... too - requested", despite the singular verb rogaui.

4. ...ḷicuṣ: the first letter of the cognomen is tall, perhaps a long i. Ịṭạḷicuṣ is possible; not Publicus. An Italicus may occur in 694.ii.3.

4-5. [..]..ṭum caducarium: in its rare occurrences in the legal sources caducarius is usually applied to an heir who is in the receipt of bona caduca (see TLL III s.v.). Here it presumably agrees with the word preceding, which probably ends -ịṭum. Before this the tablet is broken but what seems to be the top of a letter survives; this fits well for the top of b, pointing to de]ḅịṭum (there may be a trace of the top of e also). debitum may occur along with chirographum in 648.ii. It does not seem possible to read ḅ[o]ṇum.

5. chir[o]g̣ṛ[afu]m seems inevitable, although the traces hardly suit g̣ṛ (the lacuna is too small for -g̣ṛ[aphu]m). The word is also found in 645.margin, 640.ii.1 and perhaps in 648.ii.5 and 715.a.3.

5-6. We must of course restore cabal[lo (or cabal[la, cabal[lis), more probably at the end of 5 rather than at the start of 6 (line 5 would in that case have extended further than lines 2 and 3, but this is by no means impossible). There would then be room for, e.g., ded]ịmụs at the start of 6. For the use do with chirographum cf. Seneca, Controversiae 6.1 (bis) and TLL III 1010. Alternatively, as Rea suggests, we might read cabal[lis | ex]ịmịịs. On the whole, however, we think the trace before m more likely to belong to e rather than i and so suggest hab]ẹmụs. On caballus in the tablets (also attested in 632) see Adams (1995a), 124, (2003), §7.

6. sp̣ec.[..].ras: no doubt sp̣ecṭ[au]ẹras, although t is not easy. If so, and if hab]ẹmụs is right (see above), this will have begun a new sentence. But if we read ex]ịmịịs, spectaueras will have governed chirographum: "you had inspected the bond concerning the horses". The broken letters following would suit ḥẹ[ and a reference to an inheritance would fit the context very well.

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