Tablet 660


(a) + 94.1606. 89 x 54 mm.
(b) 89 x 35 mm.
(c) 29 x 18 mm.
Plate 20.
Archaeological data. Location: LXXIV. Period: 4.
Under these inventory numbers several fragments survive, all written in the same hand and no doubt all part of the same letter. The other side of fragment (b), the largest fragment, is blank; on the other sides of fragments (a) and (c) we have an account (589), written in a hand which is probably different from that of the letter, see 589 introduction. Fragment (b) is incomplete at top and bottom but complete at both sides. It preserves four complete lines of writing and must belong to a right-hand column: there is a tie-hole between r and e of amore (line 2) and a v-shaped notch to the right. Fragment (a) is formed from no fewer than seven fragments. We are certain that those forming the left- and right-hand sections are correctly placed and have no real doubt that the two sections align as we have indicated. There is a gap between them, but the reading in 589.a.ii.4, viiii Ḳ(alendas) Mar(tias), proves that this gap was tiny in 660.b.4, even though this leaves us with an unsolved problem: see the discussion in the note. Fragment (a) probably reserves part of the bottom edge and is complete at the right. It must be from the left-hand column of the letter, since on the back we have the right-hand column of the account together with the ends of lines from the left-hand column (see 589, fragment (a)). It would be natural to suppose that 660 (b) was from the right-hand column of the same diptych but this is impossible: if that were so, the other side would have to have writing from the left-hand column of the account (see above) but in fact it is blank. We suppose, therefore, that it is from the right-hand column of a different diptych and that the letter was written on more than one diptych (as, e.g., 292). Fragment (c) is broken on all four sides and cannot be placed with confidence in relation to the other fragments; perhaps it came from the lost left-hand column of the diptych to which (b) belonged.
The hand of the letter is quite elegant; it employs cursive letter-forms but there are no examples of ligature. It is very similar to the hand of 292, but is probably not the work of the same writer. The most natural assumption is that the letter was a draft or copy kept by the writer, which was later discarded and used for the account on the back. But there are of course other possible explanations and there is no way of telling for certain which side was written first.
It is regrettable that such a small amount survives, as the language suggests the content would have been of more than routine interest. We think it very likely that is was a letter of commendation, with elaborate praise of the moral qualities of the person being recommended. Another example of this type is 250, but 660 clearly comes from a higher social and professional level. For bibliography on such letters see 250, introduction. Some of the language is reminiscent of that of Pliny's Letters, e.g. 7.22. It is possible that the subject of the letter was being recommended for a military tribunate, see the note to b.3.


n a:
. . . . . . . .
te diligam ne..[
. . . . . . . . n
legatus ṭrịb[....]m ṣed n
tamquam ị.[.].tro li- n
5]. collegam am- n
]ṃ existimo
. . . . . . . .
uiri boni accedit eṭịạm libera-
n n studiorum amore n
profectus morum denique n
5 tẹ[m]peramentum et cu- n
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
]ṇḍịs ani.[ n


' (b) of a good man there is added also moral progress through love of liberal pursuits, and finally moderation and '


a. We are confident that the three fragments which make up the right-hand section have been correctly joined; in addition to the physical evidence, the descender visible above m in collegam is very suitable for the tail of r from the line above. We are also certain that this section is to be aligned in such a way that its first two surviving lines formed the right-hand end of lines 3-4 in left-hand section. This suits the account 589 at the corresponding point, a.ii.3-4.

a.2. After ne probably , though is also possible.

a.3. ṭrịb[: has a very pronounced serif but we do not see what other letter could have been intended. Of the various possible supplements, we are particularly attracted by ṭrịb[unatu]m, if there is sufficient room. Note that Pliny asked the governor of Britain (the legatus) to award a tribunatus to a friend (Ep. 3.8; cf. 7.22).

a.4. The slight gap after tam might suggest that the writer regarded it as a separate word from quam, but if we are right in supposing that the previous line ended with sed, we need to take tamquam as a single word. After quam there is a long straight vertical, probably part of a tall i; ịṇ[ is possible, suggesting a noun ending -tro to follow, with a new word beginning li-; but we cannot suggest a suitable supplement. The trace before tro is indecisive.

a.5. am: syllabic division ought to mean that the next line began with a consonant. We suggest am|[plissimu]ṃ.

b.2. The sense may have been, as Rea suggests, "To the components of the good man there is also added ...", or there may have been a heavy stop after boni.

b.2-3. In Pliny, Ep. 7.22 (referred to in the introduction) we have the phrase amat studia (cf. A.R.Birley (2002), 156 and n.42; he quotes a slightly different text which can now be improved).

b.4. profectus morum: we have found no example of this combination in TLL under either profectus or mos. profectus is used in the same sentence as liberalia studia in Seneca, Dial. 2.17.3, qui studiis liberalibus et sapientiae cultu ad aliquem profectum peruenerit. There appears to be interpunct after profectus but as it does not occur elsewhere in this letter we have not recorded it in the text.

b.5. cu[: word division is against cu[ltus (cf. the passage from Seneca just cited). Perhaps cu[ra or possibly cu[piditas , cupido (presumably in a good sense). The photograph suggests that cḷạ- could be read (e.g. cla|ritas, cla|ritudo), but on the scan cu is a much better reading.

c.2. aniṃ[ is possible.

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