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Two Letters from Vindolanda

Author(s): A. K. Bowman, J. D. Thomas and J. N. Adams

Source: Britannia, Vol. 21 (1990), pp. 33-52
Published by: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
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Two Letters from Vindolanda

n this article we offer editions of two texts which were discovered at Vindolanda in the
excavation seasons of 1986 and 1988, respectively.1 Both the letters are complete an
are of exceptional interest from the linguistic point of view, as well as for the
information which they yield on a variety of points of military, social and economic histor


Inv. no. 86/470. PLS. V, VI. (18.9 X 7.0 cm)

Turf filling above Period III

This letter was found in the turf filling above the demolished rem
praetorium (Room IV: see the plan in Britannia xviii (1987), 126), w
demolished c. A.D. IO5. It is written in two columns, parallel with the
of wood which has been scored and folded. Two tie-holes are visible at bo
of the leaf, together with two V-shaped cuts, no doubt for the bindi
(PL. vi) is written on the reverse of the right-hand side of the leaf. This
on the basis of the earlier finds at Vindolanda, we identified as the
(Tab. Vindol., pp. 37-8). Subsequent discoveries have shown that, w
the most common format, there is in fact more variation than we

1 Both letters were included in a selection of texts which were discussed at seminars in
and March 1989; we are grateful to all those who took part in these seminars for their
particularly indebted to Robin Birley for his help in general and in particular for advi
and to Tony Birley for several important suggestions for readings.
2 In the editions which follow Adams is responsible for the extensive linguistic co
Thomas are jointly responsible for the readings and for comments on all other points (
military, etc.). The following works are referred to in abbreviated form:
Adams, Terentianus: J.N. Adams, The Vulgar Latin of the letters of Claudius Ter
72) (Manchester, 1977)
CPL: R. Cavenaile, Corpus Papyrorum Latinarum (Wiesbaden, 1958)
Davies, SRA: R.W. Davies, Service in the Roman Army (D. Breeze and V. Maxfie
Hofmann-Szantyr: J.B. Hofmann and A. Szantyr, Lateinische Syntax und Stilistik
Kiihner-Stegmann: R. Kiihner and C. Stegmann, Ausfiihrliche Grammatik der latein
rev. by A. Thierfelder (Leverkusen, 1955)
Leumann: M. Leumann, Lateinische Laut- und Formenlehre6 (Munich, 1977)
Neue-Wagener: F. Neue and C. Wagener, Formenlehre der lateinischen Sprache3 (L
OLD: Oxford Latin Dictionary
Svennung, Palladius: J. Svennung, Untersuchungen zu Palladius und zur lateinische
(Lund, 1935)
Tab. Vindol.: A.K. Bowman and J.D. Thomas, Vindolanda: the Latin Writing-Tablets Britannia Mono. Ser. no.
4 (London, 1983)
TLL: Thesaurus Linguae Latinae
Vdininen, Inscript. pomp.: V. Vdiininen, Le latin vulgaire des inscriptions pompeiennes (Berlin, 1966).

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The writer of the letter is a certain Chrauttius, the recipient Veld

note to line i). Chrauttius twice addresses Veldedeius as frater, whi
Latin letters and need imply no actual relationship. But the reference in
nostris would at first sight suggest that the two were, in fact, brother
two problems. First, the expression contubernali antiquo in the addr
seem inappropriate. Secondly, the name Veldedeius has a suffix whic
generally regarded as Celticized, whereas there is reason to think th
is Germanic (see the notes to line i). It is very hard to believe that w
brothers, one of whom had a Celtic and the other a Germanic name.
- and given that the word parens can mean not only 'relative' but
general sense - it is no doubt better to assume that Chrauttius an
related; see further the note to lines 1I-2.
The content of the letter is fairly routine: admonition for not hav
time, enquiry about the parentes and the military unit in which a
serving, a financial transaction involving a pair of shears supplied
greetings to other friends. The mention of the ueterinarius, Virilis, is
the occurrence of a woman named Thuttena who is described as soro
The text on the back raises two interesting and connected problems, o
have failed to reach agreement. The first concerns the word londin
of course, a perfectly good locative and the obvious interpretation
written at London and sent to Veldedeius at Vindolanda.3 The
instance, frequently indicate the place at which the letter was writt
this interpretation of our Vindolanda text lies in the location of the wo
right-hand leaf and immediately before the name of the addressee. T
doubt that the letter was folded and it is therefore difficult to see why
taken the trouble to specify that he was writing at London in preci
should expect to find something which would provide information to as
the letter to the person named immediately below (in the letters of Cic
do not form part of the address). To judge from Tab. Vindol.,
Vindolanda scribo,' it was not standard practice at Vindolanda at an
place of writing on the back of a letter. Note too that in the letter
below) the word Vindol occurs on the back, though there is no tr
addressee thereafter. Unfortunately, as the place-name appears in
only, there is no way of knowing whether the writer intended a l
place of writing) or an accusative (to indicate the place to which the
We could, of course, suppose that the two place-names perform di
(Londini) indicating the place of origin, the other (Vindol) the desti
assume a greater measure of consistency, we cannot avoid having a
the Chrauttius letter was sent to London, how did it come to finish up
the other hand, the Octavius letter was written at Vindolanda, it m
for some other destination. How then is it that it was found at Vindola
suppose that its addressee, Candidus, somehow brought it back to V
suppose that it was never sent. If, however, it was merely a draft or a
there is no sign in the text, contrast Tab. Vindol., 37 - there would
author, writing at Vindolanda, to note this fact on the back of a lea

3 This is the view of Adams. Bowman and Thomas are much less sure.

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To return to the letter from Chrauttius: there is a second, r

whereabouts of Veldedeius. He is specifically described as the governor's groom. If,
therefore, he received the letter at Vindolanda, we must presume that the governor was in
the region. While this is no doubt possible, it is more likely that he would be in London. But
if Veldedeius received the letter in London, how did the letter come to finish up in
Vindolanda? A possible explanation is that Veldedeius belonged to a unit at Vindolanda
and was detached for duty with the governor in London, where he received this letter from
Chrauttius. On his return to Vindolanda he brought the letter back with him. Some
circumstantial support for this hypothesis comes from another Vindolanda text, a strength
report of c. A.D. 90, which records that personnel from the first cohort of Tungrians, which
was no doubt stationed at Vindolanda at that time, were detached for duty in London (Inv.
no. 88/841, unpublished).
There is, of course, nothing conclusive in these arguments and it is unsatisfactory to
suppose that Londini is either a mistake or an abbreviation for Londini(um), especially as
the word can be explained linguistically as it stands. In sum, we have so far failed to find a
simple and consistent way of explaining both the linguistic evidence and the presence of
both these tablets at Vindolanda. There must be some hope that further examination of the
as yet unpublished Vindolanda material will help us to find such an explanation. For the
present the question is best left open.
The spellings in the letter are consistently correct, with no sign of changes affecting the
Vulgar Latin vowel system or final consonants. Chrauttius admits one noteworthy lexical
vulgarism (tot, line 5), and writes largely in epistolary cliches. The probable appearance of a
second hand in lines 20-1, which we must assume to be that of Chrauttius (see the next
paragraph), shows that he used a scribe for the main part of the text and makes the
correctness of the spelling understandable.
The body of the letter is written in a large, sprawling and rather ugly hand. There is often
differentiation between thick and thin strokes, but this is far from creating an elegant effect.
Several of the letters occur in different forms, e.g. o can be quite large or a mere blob, and p
can be close to the form P or almost indistinguishable from t. b is noteworthy, since the loop
is often placed directly underneath the curve, so that the letter comes close to resembling a
modern lower-case b. There is occasional use of ligature. Lines 20-1I, the closing greeting,
are written in a very similar hand, so similar in fact that we cannot be certain that the whole
letter was not written in the same hand. The probability is, however, that this greeting was
added, as was normal, in a different hand, the hand of the sender of the letter, Chrauttius.

chrauttius ueldeio su6 fratri

contubernali antiquo pluri-
mam salutem
et rogo te ueldei frater miror
5 quod mihi tot tempus nihil
rescripsti a parentibus nos-
tris si quid audieris aut
quot. m in quo numero
sit et illum a me salutabis
Io [[s]]uerbis meis et uirilem
ueterinarium rogabis
illum ut forficem

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quam mihi promisit pretio

mittas per aliquem de nostris
15 et rogo te frater uirilis
salutes a me thuttenam
sororem uelbuteium
rescribas nobis cum. ..
se habeat (vacat)
20 (m.2?) opto sis felicissimus

Back (m. I) londini

equisioni cos
25 a chrauttio


'Chrauttius to Veldeius his brother and old messmate, very many greetings. And I ask
you, brother Veldeius, - I am surprised that you have written nothing back to me for such a
long time - whether you have heard anything from our elders, or about. . . in which unit he
is; and greet him from me in my words and Virilis the veterinary doctor. Ask him (s
Virilis) whether you may send through one of our friends the pair of shears which h
promised me in exchange for money. And I ask you, brother Virilis, to greet from m
our[?] sister Thuttena and Velbuteius. Write back to us how [?] he is.'

(2 hand?) 'It is my wish that you enjoy the best of fortune. Farewell.'

(Back. Ist hand) 'London. To Veldedeius, groom of the governor, from his brothe


I Chrauttius: we have been unable to find this or a similar name elsewhere; but note the
Tungrian named Chartius, Weisgerber, Rhenania Germano-Celtica, 279 (= AE 1968, 412);
also Rautio, RIB 1620, Crotus, RIB 1525, 1532. We have consulted Professor R.E. Keller
and Professor N. Wagner, who both very kindly supplied us with extensive philological
information, but were unable to establish a decisive etymology. Professor Keller notes that
'<ch> is the general Latin transliteration of Gmc. /x/ before liquids and nasals' (e.g.
Chlotharius, Chnodomarus). This is clearly a question to be left to specialists in Germanic
philology to pursue further if they wish.
Veldeio: here and at 1.4 the addressee is named Veldeius, but at 1.23 Veldedeius. The
name was probably Veldedeius, with Veldeius a syncopated form. This is supported by the
fact that the form Veldedii occurs on a leather offcut from Vindolanda (L.87.-1344),
discovered on the floor of a room near to the find-spot of this tablet and identified as
belonging to equestrian equipment, which is entirely appropriate to our equisio consularis
(see 1.24 and note). The name Vilidedius occurs in RIB 1420, reported as coming from
Housesteads; this might be the same name, and even the same person, as that here. It

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seems likely that this name is Celtic: the suffix -eius

Nammeius at Caes., Gall., 1.7.3 and see the collection of
bei Caius Iulius Caesar vorkommenden keltischen Nam
Note also Velbuteius in 1. 17. Many Celtic names begin
Sprachschatz (Leipzig, 1896-1907), iii, 139ff.), and there
bei Innsbruck), see Holder, III, 142. On the etymology
Personal Names: a Study of some Continental Celtic F
especially 275f.-
The mixture of Celtic and Germanic names in the Tun
attested; thus these names fit well with the known pres
su6: this appears to be the only use of the apex in thi
138, and P.J. Parsons, JRS lxix (1979), 133-4.

1-2 fratri contubernali antiquo: for antiquus of an old

'nemo est mihi te amicus antiquior'; cf. too Lact. Mort.
seems very unlikely that Chrauttius would address a r
arms' (antiquus would be particularly out of place), but
an old comrade with the term of affection frater (for
TLL, VI.I. I256.22ff.; the idea behind the usage is illum
304.6ff. 'ego te non tanquam amicum habio set tanqua
uentrem exiut'). If Veldedeius is not the real brother of
follows that the parentes nostri of 1. 6 cannot be their
addressed as a term of affection to a coeval, so parens coul
respect for someone older (see TLL, X.I.361.73ff. and
ut erat aetas, uel fratrem uel filium uel parentem adfatus
Epist., 1.6.54 '"frater" "pater" adde; / ut cuique est ae

2-3 The form of the address is unusually full. plurima

85/51I, see Britannia xviii (1987), 140.
rogo te, Veldeifrater: for rogo te, frater, which was no d
1.15, rogo te, frater Virilis; cf. Rustius Barbarus, CPL, 3o3
has used the vocative frater along with a name (here and i
address occurs on its own (see, e.g., Rustius Barbar
Presumably the fuller expression, being less hackneyed

4-6 miror . . . rescripsti: this parenthetical clause has

audieris. For parentheses in rogo-constructions in col
. ..Habinna, sic peculium tuum fruniscaris: si quid perp
Terentianus, CPL, 250.17ff., 'oro et rogo te, pater, ne
secundum deos te, ut mittas. . .', and note the example
Tab. Vindol., p. 124.

4-7 rogo te. . . si quid audieris: on the emergence of si

indirect questions see especially C. Bodelot, L'interrog
valeur illocutoire, formes (Paris, 1987), 82ff.; cf. Kuihn

5 tot tempus: tot (sing.) = tantum does not seem to be a

singular use of paucus = 'small' (e.g. Terentianus,
Terentianus, 79), a sense which passed into the Roman
Romanisches etymologisches Wrterbuch3 (Heidelberg, 1935), 6303: e.g. Fr. peu). It is a

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question of a plural ('count') adjective (pauci, tot) acquiring a singular ('mass') u

Various adjectives have a singular 'mass' meaning which contrasts with a plural 'co
meaning (e.g. omnis 'whole' compared with omnes 'all'; in colloquial and later Latin
toti 'all' compared with totus 'whole'). Indeed the acquisition by totus of this plural
colloquial Latin is analogous, though of inverse type, to the acquisition by tot and pa
the singular use seen above. The fact that tot is indeclinable and without any plural m
may have favoured the development of the singular use.

6 rescripsti: the shortening of the second person perfect of such sigmatic format
is widely attested from the earliest period: e.g. Plaut., Asin., 746 conscripsti, 802 sc
For a large collection of examples see Neue-Wagener, III 500ooff.; see also Leum
234, 598.

7 si quid audieris: cf. Cic., Att., 7. I12. I 'quaeso ut scribas . . . si quid . . . audieris'.

8 quot.m: there is a marked thickening of the strokes in the last three letters, but we think it
unlikely that an erasure is intended. What is needed at this point is a personal name to
which illum in 1. 9 can refer. If these letters do indeed conceal a name, we need to explain
why it occurs in the accusative. Possibly it is to be regarded as a type of 'isolated' accusative
(see Hofmann-Szantyr, 29, Svennung, Palladius, 178ff., with extensive bibliography).
Sometimes an unconstrued nominative or accusative acts as a sort of heading (cf., e.g.,
Plaut., Amph., 1ioo9 'Naucratem, quem conuenire uolui, in naui non erat' (at the start of a
scene)), though usually such an accusative can be explained as due to ellipse, attraction,
conflation or the like (see Hofmann-Szantyr, loc. cit.). Here an accusative might have been
caused by anticipation of salutabis.

8f. in quo numero sit: presumably numerus in the military sense 'any unit, or part thereof'
(see M.P. Speidel, Epigraphica Anatolica vi (1985), 77 with n.17, and the passages cited
there; also idem, Roman Army Studies I (Amsterdam, 1984), 98f., and Davies, SRA, 17, 'in
numero referri' etc.).

9 illum: Chrauttius uses ille twice where is would have been possible (cf. 1. 12); he does not
use is in the letter. On the frequency of ille as compared with is in Petronius' Cena
Trimalchionis and the letters of Terentianus see Adams, Terentianus, 44.

9f. illum a me salutabis uerbis meis: the idiom a me salutabis also occurs at Inv. no.
85/loo+ io8 (unpublished) 'salutabis a me Diligentem' (cf. later in this letter, 11. 15f. rogo
... salutes a me Thuttenam). Salutabis displays the colloquial use of the future expressing a
command (Hofmann-Szantyr, 311; cf. the more usual saluta at e.g. Terentianus, CPL,
250.33, 251.48ff., Rustius Barbarus, CPL, 303.19, 305. 6). Later in the letter (1.ii) note
rogabis illum ut.
Verbis meis (usually with the possessive before the noun) is idiomatic = 'from me, in my
name'; Chrauttius has pleonastically combined two equivalent idioms, a me salutabis and
meis uerbis salutabis. For the expression 'greet someone meis / nostris uerbis', see Cic.,
Fam., 7.29.2 'Tironemque meum saluta nostris uerbis'; cf. also Att., 6.8.5 'Cicero tibi
plurimam salutem dicit, tu dices utriusque nostrum uerbis et Piliae tuae et filiae'. For meis
uerbis with different verbs cf. Cic., Att., 5.11.7 'tu uelim Piliam meis uerbis consolere',
Fam., 5.11.2 'ut ei meis uerbis diceret', Fam. 15.8, 'uxori tuae luniae . . .meis uerbis eris

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Io The writer appears to have written the initial u over an s, p

began to write salutabis a second time.

Iof. In view of forficem in the following line it is clear that Viril

shears, but the word order is slightly unusual. We have assumed th
is added as an afterthought, as a second object of salutabis in 1. 9,
refer to Virilis.
The word ueterinarius is attested in another tablet from Vindolanda (Inv. no. 88/944,
unpublished, 'ab Alione ueterinario'). It was later (in the fourth century) rivalled and
perhaps replaced by mulomedicus (see K-.D. Fischer, Medizinhistorisches Journal xvi
(1981), 217; also R.E. Walker in J.M.C. Toynbee, Animals in Roman Life and Art
(London, 1973), 313).
Virilis was presumably a military ueterinarius. The description ueterinarius (or medicus
ueterinarius, for which see CIL v, 2183, VI, 37194 = ILS, 9071, x, 5719) is found elsewhere
of veterinarians serving with the army: cf. CIL III, 11215 'L. Cli[ter]nius L. lib[ertus]
ueterinarius le[gionis . . . '], vi, 37194 '[dis m]anib. [A]llio Quartion[i] medico coh. I pr.
ueterinario'; also Tarruntenus Paternus, ap. Dig., 50.6.7 'quibusdam aliquam uacationem
munerum grauiorum condicio tribuit, ut sunt mensores, optio ualetudinarii, medici, capsarii
et artifices et qui fossam faciunt, ueterinarii. . .' (on military ueterinarii and other technical
specialists as immunes see G. Webster, The Roman Imperial Army3 (London, 1985),
II8ff.). Cf. also IGRR I, 1373. On the veterinary service in the Roman army, see Davies,
SRA, 212, 214, and Chap. x in general.
Veterinarius was not, however, an exclusively military term (cf. Col., 6.8.1, 7.5-14,
II I . I 2). A ueterinarius was one who dealt with (bestiae) ueterinae. Bestia ueterina seems to
have indicated an animal of the genus equinum (notably in Pliny the Elder, e.g. Nat. Hist.,
11.265, and the Mulomedicina Chironis, e.g. 948), though the origin of the adjective is
obscure (see most recently C. Kircher-Durand, Les noms en -nus, -na, -num du latin
classique (Nice, 1982), 250), and its usage deserves a new discussion. If a ueterinarius was
basically a horse-doctor, he would no doubt have treated other domestic animals as well. Of
the three examples of ueterinarius (masc.) in Columella, one (II.I.12) is in an uninforma-
tive context, another occurs in the context of diseases of oxen (6.8.i), and the third in
reference to diseases of sheep (7.5.-14). So at 7.3.16 Columella says that the owner of a
flock of sheep should have knowledge of ueterinaria medicina so that he can cope with
the problems of lambing. A military ueterinarius will have dealt largely with the equine

12 forficem: see the note by Adams on pp. 267-71, below.

13 promisit: the reading of the end of this word is doubtful since we cannot be certain how
many of the traces are really ink; a possible alternative reading is promissit; if this is correct,
for the double s see Britannia xviii (1987), 141-2.
pretio is an ablative (of price) used idiomatically. The instrumental function of this type
of ablative is most transparent when it occurs in conjunction with verbs of buying, = 'buy by
means of money', e.g. Plaut., Pseud., 169 'utpiscium quidquid ibistpretio praestinem', Cic.,
Rosc., 133 'quam tanto pretio nuper mercatus est' (see the examples at Kiihner-Stegmann, I
389). In this type of expression the ablative readily takes on the force 'in exchange for', and
may thus be used with a variety of verbs with which its instrumental function is not as
obvious. Here translate (literally) 'which he promised me in exchange for money'. Cf. e.g.
Virg., Aen., 4.21If. 'femina, quae nostris errans in finibus urbem / exiguam pretio posuit' (of
a woman who founded a city 'in exchange for money').

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14 mittas per aliquem: for this idiom in letters see, e.g., Inv. no.
(1987), 140), Terentianus, CPL, 250.19, 251.5, 8, Rustius Bar

15 frater Virilis: the word order here should be contrasted with that in 1. 4. In third person
reference the term of affection frater (so too soror) is regularly placed after the name (see in
this letter 11. I, I16f., and 25f., also Rustius Barbarus, CPL, 303.1 'Pompeio fratri', and
304.1). But in the vocative frater is sometimes placed before the name as here; cf. Fronto
Epist., p. 188.7 (ed. M. van den Hout, 1988) 'fecisti, frater Contucci. . .', Calp., Ecl., 1.8
'hoc potius, frater Corydon, nemus, antra petamus / ista patris Fauni'. This is the marked
word order, suited to affectionate address. The unmarked order is, however, also found in
vocative expressions (e.g. Min. Fel., Oct., 3.1 'Marce frater').
rogo te frater Virilis: in lines I if. Chrauttius asks Veldedeius to convey a message to
Virilis. Here he apparently imagines himself as addressing Virilis directly. The switch into
direct address of someone who is not the addressee of the letter is striking and
unannounced, but it raises no great difficulty, particularly since Chrauttius has asked that
the greeting to Virilis should be uerbis meis. Cf. Apul., Met., 3.12, where Lucius addresses
the absent Byrrhena directly when sending a message to her through a slave.

15f. rogo. . . salutes: for rogo + subjunctive see Inv. no. 85/57.4f. (= Britannia xviii (1987),
138) rogo . . . facias; cf. Petron., 49.6 'rogamus mittas'. Further examples in KiIhner-
Stegmann, II 229.

16. thuttenam: a probable though by no means certain reading: the second t is particularly
uncertain and the initial letter could just possibly be c or even p.

17 sororem: for the affectionate term soror see Inv. no. 85/57.3, I I, 12 (= Britannia xviii
(1987), 138). The occurrence of a woman in this military context is noteworthy (cf. the
Thuttenam sororem Velbuteium: an example of asyndeton bimembre, which is somewhat
unexpected. Velbuteius is presumably a Celtic name (see above, 1. I notes on Vel- and

18 cumr...
over a piece
the letters of m
c and thearetablet has been
reasonably reversed
certain in the
and there photograph;
appears to be a uwhen thisthem;
between is turned
the traces in the rest of the line are unclear. We have suggested in the translation the way in
which we should like to understand these words. The obvious word to appear at this point is
quomodo but this cannot be read. We have considered the spellings cuomodo and comodo,
but we do not find either of these a convincing reading.

20 optq: the final o is hardly visible, but it seems to have run into the following s, where
there is a blob of ink at the point where the two strokes meet. Alternatively we must
suppose an error and read opt(o).
For opto + subjunctive see Kiihner-Stegmann, II 229 (cf. note to 15f. above). For
variations on this formula see Tab. Vindol., 22.I4ff. 'op[to] te felicissim[um] bene ualere,
uale frater', 38.11 'o]pto felicissimus uiuas', CIL III, 141658.6 'opto felicissimi bene ualeatis'
(see TLL, IX 2.83I.I12ff.), Terentianus, CPL, 251.64f. 'bene ualere te opto multis annis
felicissime'. For sis felix see TLL, VI i .444.24ff.-

21 On the photograph two small fragments of the tablet have been reversed. The ink visible
on the front belongs to fratre on the back (1.26).

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22 londini: see the introduction.

23-24 These lines are written in larger letters than those preceding and following, but
not a capital script and in fact does not differ except in size from the cursive script used in
the rest of the letter.
24 equisioni: more usually equiso (e.g. Varro, Men., I1i8, Valerius Maximus, Apuleius:
TLL, V 2.726.39ff.). Equisio is found mainly in glosses but see also CIL il, 13370 (=
equiso: TLL, V 2.726.33). The suffix -io, which is common, in part probably derived from a
re-analysis of forms such as pelli-o, where the i strictly belongs to the root (see Vaininen,
Inscript. pomp., 96). Other such -o / -io doublets are found, e.g. furo /furio, both of which
survived in the Romance languages: see Meyer-Liibke, Romanisches etymologisches
Worterbuch, 3603; see too TLL, VI I.1629.I15ff.

26 fratre: see note to 1. 21.


Inv. no. 88/946. PLS. VII, VIII. (18.2 X 7-9 cm, 17.9 X 7.9 cm)

Turf filling above Period IV

Of all the letters discovered at Vindolanda, this is by far the longest and cer
most interesting. It was found in the turf filling above the demolishe
fabrica, which probably belongs to Period IV (i.e. approximately A.D. IO
the floor of Period V.
It consists of two complete leaves of wood (PLS. VII, VIII) which have been scored an
folded in the usual manner. Each of the leaves has notches and tie-holes in the left- and
right-hand margins. Both the leaves are much defaced by offsets, indicating that the ink was
still wet when the leaves were folded. This also makes it apparent that the two leaves were
folded independently. There is no proper address on the reverse, merely the abbreviated
word uindol written diagonally across the top corner on the back of the right-hand side of
the second leaf. This would only be visible if the second leaf were placed beneath the first
after they had been folded. The most natural assumption is that uindol indicates the
destination of the letter. However, this cannot be regarded as certain; see above, pp. 34-5.
The lack of a full address presumably implies that the letter was to be delivered by someone
who was personally known to the recipient, or that the letter was to form part of a batch of
letters, all of which were being sent to Vindolanda.
The letter is written in the familiar two-column format, but with one striking oddity: the
letter begins on the right-hand side of the first leaf and continues with col.ii on the left-hand
side; col.iii is on the right of the second leaf and col.iv on the left. The normal pattern is
thus completely reversed. The most obvious explanation for this is that the writer was
left-handed and adopted this device in order to be able to read what he had written in the
first and third columns as he continued in the second and fourth. Since the closing section
(11.42-5) is written by the same hand as the rest of the text, we must assume that Octavius
wrote the letter himself.
The script has numerous cursive tendencies, including occasional ligatures and distortions
of the letter forms. Individual letters are often crudely made, notably h, m and n. o is made
in two halves and the right-hand half is at times curved in the 'wrong' direction so as to
make a ligature with the following letter (see, e.g., coria in 11. 31 and 33). The impression

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one forms, however, is that the somewhat clumsy appearance of

the writer's incompetence than to his desire to write quickly. In ge
easy script to read, and it is frequently made much more diffic
offsets mentioned above.
There are a great many points of linguistic interest, details of which may be found in the
notes. The style is colloquial (note 11.14f. rogo + imperative, 16f. scribe + subj., 19 ill
32f. desiderabat + subj.), with occasional vulgarisms (ne, 5, karrum, 17, quem, 4o: see
notes ad locc.), and phonetically inspired misspellings. One of these vulgarisms (quem f
quam, if the text has been interpreted correctly) can be paralleled in another recent
discovered document of early date (a legal contract of A.D. 39 from Murecine, in the hand of
a certain C. Novius Eunus). This usage has hitherto been regarded as a late phenomen
(fourth-century); it is interesting to note that both early examples are perpetrated i
business contexts. Octavius uses a variety of financial idioms (see on 11. 4, 12, 23, 32f., 3
and a few technical terms (excussorium; also excutio and perexcutio). This is presumably
sort of unpretentious Latinity we should expect in a business letter.
The letter is entirely concerned with business and financial matters relating to the s
and delivery of sinew (neruus), cereals (spicae and bracis), and hides (coria). It may be
briefly summarised as follows. Octavius says that he will sort out the payment for i
pounds of sinew. He has bought almost 500ooo modii of cereal but he needs some money from
Candidus because he has paid a deposit of about 3oo denarii and will be embarrassed if
does not get it. He wants to be sent some hides from Cataractonium and a waggon. H
wants Candidus to talk to Tertius about a sum of 8V2 denarii which Tertius has receive
from one Fatalis but has not credited to Octavius. He has filled an order for 170 hides.
has i i i? modii of threshed bracis but he wants to buy some grain and asks for money
friend of Frontius has been to see him and asked for hides, promising to come and coll
them; but he did not turn up. This is followed by a sentence which we find puzzling (s
comments in the notes to 11.38-41), before the letter ends with the normal closing greetings
The whole letter is replete with signs of entrepreneurial initiative. The sums of mon
and goods involved are very considerable: Candidus is asked for 5oo denarii and Octav
has laid out 300oo (a year's pay for a miles gregarius in this period). The conclusion must
that Octavius and Candidus are involved in the supply of goods in the military context o
large scale. 500ooo modii of cereal and hides numbering in the hundreds can hardly b
intended for any other market. Octavius presumably purchased the cereal from local
sources. The hides will have come from the military sector since it is surely unlikely th
tanneries operating on this scale can have existed elsewhere. The reference to the prese
of hides at Cataractonium is of considerable interest and fits very well with the archaeologi-
cal evidence for a large tannery there in the period between Agricola and c. A.D. 120 (J
Wacher in R.M. Butler (ed.), Soldier and Civilian in Roman Yorkshire (1971), 170). The
reference to credit arrangements with a certain Tertius, albeit for a small sum, is also
interest. In general it is of considerable importance to have evidence for the operation o
cash economy on such a scale and for sophisticated financial dealings in this region at t
time. Many of the less extensive and detailed texts from Vindolanda support this picture but
no single example illustrates it with such clarity and coherence. On this topic in general
L. Wierschowski, Heer und Wirtschaft, das r6mische Heer der Prinzipatszeit als
Wirtschaftfaktor (Bonn, 1984), esp. I25ff.
It is frustrating that we cannot be certain of the identity of either Octavius or Candidus.
Nor do we have any indication of Octavius' whereabouts. Both names are, of course, ve
common. Octavius has not so far turned up in any other texts from Vindolanda. Candi
occurs in several other texts, but the name is so common that we cannot simply assume
identity. Thus Inv. 88/748 (unpublished) is a letter sent to candido genialis. We take this to

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mean 'Candidus, slave of Genialis' (there is a reference in

we should like to add this text to the known archive o
officer at Vindolanda (see Tab. Vindol., 34-6), but these
period than the present letter. A much more likely candidat
of that name mentioned in two unpublished accounts (In
proximity to this letter. One of the accounts (Inv. 88/943
and Firmus, whom Octavius greets in 11. 42 and 43 of
makes it clear that they have been responsible for orderi
the case of Firmus to legionaries. Spectatus and Firmus
and the same is likely to be true of Candidus. As to Oc
whether he was a civilian entrepreneur and merchant, or
organizing supplies for the Vindolanda unit; in which ca
the unit himself or someone with a broader responsibility f
Davies, SRA, 52f., 200oof.). D. Breeze has recently comm
Britain for the presence and activity of a civilian mercan
from the presence of the army (see Studies in Scottish
(1984), 32-68, esp. 58-9). It may be that our letter is sup
that the same is true of Inv. 85/51, published in Britann
certainly cannot prove this hypothesis.
As to the general economic context, the reference to Ca
north-eastern rather than north-western England (no do
as a military/economic centre). This is an area which
exploited for arable farming: see P.A.G. Clack, 'The Nor
Military Zone' in D. Miles (ed.), The Romano-British
(1982), 377-402; note the reference to threshing-floors i
How far the villas were developed by C. A.D. 120 is doubtful
and there is evidence for some vici (Piercebridge, Co
intermediaries between villa and fort. See the useful rem
different without knowing it: the role and development
King (eds.), Military and Civilian in Roman Britain BAR

octauius candido fratri suo

a marino nerui pondo centum
explicabo e quo tu de hac
5 re scripseras ne mentionem
mihi fecit aliquotiens tibi
scripseram spicas me emisse
prope m(odios) quinque milia prop-
ter quod (denarii) mihi necessari sunt
I O nisi mittis mi aliquit (denariorum)


minime quingentos futurum

est ut quod
(denarios) arre
circa dedi perdam.
trecentos et erubes-
cam ita rogo quam primum aliquit

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15 (denariorum) mi mitte coria que scribis

esse cataractonio scribe
dentur mi et karrum de quo
scribis et quit sit cum eo karro
mi scribe iam illec cepissem
20 nissi ilumenta non curaui uexsare
dum uiae male sunt uide cum tertio
de (denariis) viiis quos a fatale accepit
non illos mi (vacat) accepto tulit


scito mae explesse [[exple]] coria

25 clxx et bracis excussi habeo
m(odios) cxi {cxi} fac (denarios) mi mittas ut poss-
im spicam habere in excusso-
rio iam autem si quit habui
perexcussi contuber-
30 nalis fronti amici hic fuerat
desiderabat coria ei ad-
signarem et ita (denarios) datur-
{ur}us erat dixi ei coria in-
tra k(alendas) martias daturum idibus


35 ianuariis constituerat se uentur-

um nec interuenit nec curauit
accipere cum haberet coria si

pecuniam d.aret
nium iulium audiodabam
4o re pro coriatione quem hic
comparauit (denarios) quinos

saluta spectatum im...

rium firmum
epistulas a gleucone accepi
45 uale

Back: uindol


'Octavius to his brother Candidus, greetings. The hundred pounds of sinew from Marinu
- I will settle up. From the time when you wrote to me about this matter, he has not eve
mentioned it to me. I have several times written to you that I have bought about five
thousand modii of ears of grain, on account of which I need cash. Unless you send me som
cash, at least five hundred denarii, the result will be that I shall lose what I have laid out as a
deposit, about three hundred denarii, and I shall be embarrassed. So, I ask you, send me
some cash as soon as possible. The hides which you write are at Cataractonium - write tha

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they be given to me and the waggon about which yo

that waggon. I would have already collected them ex
animals while the roads are bad. See with Tertius ab
from Fatalis. He has not credited them to my accou
hides and I have i i I (?) modii of threshed bracis. Ma
that I may have ears of grain on the threshing-flo
threshing all that I have. A messmate of our friend
me to allocate (?) him hides and that being so, was r
give him the hides by the Kalends of March. He dec
January. He did not turn up nor did he take any tro
If he had given the cash, I would have given him them
sale at a high price the leather ware (?) which he bou
Spectatus and . . . and Firmus. I have received le


i For Octavius and Candidus see the discussion in the introduction.

3 a marino: the name is well attested, but has not so far appeared elsewhere in the
Vindolanda texts. We have considered and rejected the possibility of reading a name
nerui: presumably genitive singular, the use of the word indicating 'animal tendon etc
used as material' (OLD s.v.2): cf. Vitr. I.I.8 'per quae tenduntur suculis et uectibus e neruo
torti funes'; Tac., Ann., 2.14.3 'non loricam Germano, non galeam, ne scuta quidem ferro
neruouefirmata'. One hundred pounds of this material seems a considerable quantity but
is not out of keeping with the quantities of other commodities mentioned in this letter.

4 explicabo: a problematical usage, but explico had a well-established financial use (TLL.
V.2.I731.17ff.), of sorting out, settling a debt, financial obligation or difficulty, whic
would fit the context here. The letter is full of financial terminology (cf. 11. 12, 24, 39ff
perhaps 3 1-2). In this sense explico is used absolutely, or with a sum of money as object,
with a variety of words as object, indicating the debt, burden, account, etc. It is common in
Cicero's letters to Atticus (io times): e.g. Att., 5.5.2 'sed ante quam proficiscare, utique
explicatum sit illud HS XX et DCCC'; I12.24.3 'Cispiana explicabis itemque Preciana
('please sort out the Cispius business and the Precius business likewise', Shackleton Bailey
I2.31.2 'si enim Faberianum uenderem, explicare uel repraesentatione non dubitarem de
Silianis' ('I should not hesitate to settle for Silius' place, even on a cash-down basis', SB)
13.29.1 'si Faberius nobis nomen illud explicat' ('if Faberius settles that debt he owes me',
SB); cf. B.Alex., 34.2 'Domitius, non tantum ad explicandos sumptus rei militaris cu
pecuniam necessariam esse iudicaret' (of 'meeting' expenses); Suet., Dom., I12.1I 'neque e
setius in explicandis oneribus haereret' (of 'settling' financial burdens); Dig., 42.I.3I 'si qu
debitores, quia non possint explicare pecuniam, differant solutionem' (of 'paying up',
'raising' money). Cf. Att.13.29.2., 15-17.1, 15.20.4 (twice), i6.i.5, 16.3.5. There is a good
deal of flexibility to this usage. The object of the verb need not define the debt in stric
financial terms, but may merely express the general 'burden' or 'business' to be 'sorted ou
financially (note Att.,I2.24.3 above).
e quo: sc. tempore, 'from the time when'. Augustan and later: Hofmann-Szantyr, 267, TLL
V.2. I090.65ff.

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The end of the line after hac has been left blank because of the tie-hole; similarly
and 31. Lines 16, 19, 40 and 42 are indented at the start for the same reason.
5 scripseras: epistolary pluperfect, cf. 1. 7, scripseram, 1. 31, fuerat, 1. 35, constituerat.
ne: = ne . . . quidem, a vulgarism mentioned by Quintilian (1.5-39, 'ne hoc fecit'
classifies it as detractio. First attested at Petron., 47.4 (see M.S. Smith, Petronii Arbitri C
Trimalchionis (Oxford, 1975), ad loc.), and also found in another Vindolanda text,
85/Ioo+io8 (unpublished) 'homo inpientissime qui mihi ne unam epistulam misisti'.
further Hofmann-Szantyr, 447f.
mentiQnem: the reading is inevitable, although the on is somewhat difficult; o is m
three, rather straight strokes, left open at the bottom and ligatured to n, which makes
letter combination look rather like cul; but no such word exists.
6 mihi fecit: the positioning of object pronouns (direct and indirect) in the letter is of s
interest. In eleven places the pronoun is next to the verb (cf.6-7, tibi scripseram, Io,
mi, 15, mi mitte, 17, dentur mi, 19, mi scribe, illec cepissem, 27, mi mittas, 31-2
adsignarem, 33, dixi ei, 38, dabam ei). The only example of separation is a special ca
non illos mi accepto tulit), because accepto tulit is virtually an indivisible unit. Simil
No.I there are six cases of juxtaposition (4, rogo te, 11-12, rogabis illum, 13, mihipr
15, rogo te, 18, rescribas nobis, 19, se habeat) against two of separation (5-6, mih
rescripsti, 9, illum. . . salutabis). In other colloquial texts of this period juxtaposition
the norm. In the letters of Claudius Terentianus juxtaposition outnumbers separati
73:8 (Adams, Terentianus, 69), and there are further cases of juxtaposition in pub
Vindolanda texts (see Tab. Vindol., p. 74, Section D for examples). For statistics fr
variety of other texts, see H. Ramsden, Weak-Pronoun Position in the Early Rom
Languages (Manchester, 1963), 30.
The positioning of object pronouns in colloquial Latin contrasts with that in lit
Latin, where separation continues to be common, partly because of the lingering eff
Wackernagel's law, and partly because the literary language made greater use of w
order variation to convey emphasis and for stylistic reasons. In the first book of P
Epistulae, for example, which is roughly contemporary with the Vindolanda mat
separation outnumbers juxtaposition by about 57:43. With 1. 14 of the present lett
rogo quam primum aliquit (denariorum) mi mitte, contrast e.g. Pliny, Epis
'flagitabas, ut tibi aliquid ex scriptis meis mitterem'; and with lines 18f., quit sit cum eo
mi scribe, cf. Pliny, Epist., I1.22.12 'quid uelis agere inuicem nobis, sed laetioribus e

7 spicas: the reading is not quite certain - i is not easy and p is very oddly written if correctly
read; nevertheless the word must be accounted very probable in the context. Normally it
means ears of corn, which we assume to be meant here, but it can refer to other cereals (see
OLD s.v.). Does he use this rather than frumentum because he is buying it unthreshed (cf.

8 prQpe: the reading of op is far from certain because the leaf is badly defaced by offsets at
this point; indeed of the word as a whole only the final e is beyond question.
5000 modii is a very large quantity of grain. It is unfortunate that there is no indication as
to where Octavius got it from, but the quantity and the financial transaction suggest that
army supply was not a straightforward matter of requisitioning annona.

9 necessari: = necessarii. A standard contraction in the colloquial language: cf. the

numerous contracted nominative plurals in Pompeian inscriptions collected by Vdinanen,
Inscript. pomp., 39. Similarly in this letter, mi outnumbers mihi by 6:2 (11. IO, 15, 17, 19, 23,

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27: 6, 9). For further examples in the Vindolanda mat

gladis in Inv. 85/32 (Britannia xviii (1987), 135-7, no.4

ioff. nisi mittis mi aliquit. . . futurum est ut. . .: mitt

both palaeographical and linguistic reasons we have pr
might have been expected, but in fact conditionals of t
the protasis and future in the apodosis) are not uncom
present stresses the need for immediate action to avert
and warnings: e.g. Cic., Verr., 4.85 'moriere uirgis, nisi
'rapientur. . . nisi cauetis', Nep., 15.4.3 'nisi id confesti
(see Kiihner-Stegmann, I 146, also II 392).

12 quod arre dedi perdam: for the monophthongisation of

and probably 21, male (see note ad loc.). These are the
to have turned up at Vindolanda.
The terminology is financial. For arram perdo see Sca
and for arra associated with do see Gaius, Inst., 3.1
quamuis nondum pretium numeratum sit, ac ne arra
nomine datur. .
13f. erubescam: no doubt idiomatic (if to be understood as financial embarrassment), but w
have found no precise parallel.
14f. ita rogo. . . mi mitte: for rogo + imperative see Petron., 67.1 'sed narra mihi, Gai, rog
75-3 'rogo .. . in faciem meam inspue', Mart., 2.14. 18 'ad cenam Selium tu, rogo, taure
(for further examples in Martial see Adams, Antichthon xviii (1984), 61, n.70), Terent
CPL, 252.17 '[m]erca minore pretium, rogo'. This is colloquial syntax, with the dire
construction (the imperative) used instead of subordination. In a letter of Rustius Bar
(CPL, 3o3. Ioff.) subordination gives way to the direct construction within one and the sam
sentence: 'rogo tefrater utfacias mi in m[e]os usos pondera quanformosa, et scribe mi
Rogo, whether introducing a command or a question, direct or indirect, bec
markedly common in colloquial Latin of the early Empire (e.g. Petronius, Mar
Terentianus, Rustius Barbarus: see further J.B. Hofmann, Lateinische Umgangsspr
(Heidelberg, 1951), 129f., Adams, Antichthon xviii (1984), 6of.), having largely rep
various words which had once been in everyday use (oro, quaeso, obsecro). It is
equivalent to English 'please'. For rogo in published Vindolanda material see Tab. Vi
22.5 'rogo ergo domine si quod a te petierit [ut u] ei . . subscribere', 34.1 'rogo, si
utile mihi credid[eris], aut mittas aut reserues', Inv. no.85/57 (= Britannia xviii (1987)
'rogo libenter facias ut uenias'. For examples in the letter of Chrauttius see above.

14f. aliquit (denariorum) mi mitte: here mi precedes mitte, which is the last word o
sentence. Contrast I.I0o, where mi follows mittis but is not left standing as the last word
the clause. On the tendency for dative pronouns, in juxtaposition with the verb, t
enclosed by two stressed elements see Tab. Vindol., p. 74, Sect. D.

15 With coria we not only begin a new sentence but move on to a new subject altoge
For que = quae see above, on 1.12.

16 Cataractonio: a locatival use of the ablative singular in a second declension name

phenomenon which is mainly Augustan and later (see Tab. Vindol., pp. 72f. on anot
example, Luguualio, found at Vindolanda).
For Catterick as a centre for leather-processing see the introduction.

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i6f. scribe dentur mi: cf. Cic., Fam., 16.4.2 'scripsi ad Curium quod dixisses daret',
Gall., 5.46.4 'scribit Labieno, si rei publicae commodo facere posset, cum legione ad
Neruiorum ueniat'. This type of paratactic sentence, whereby the plain (jussive) subju
without ut follows the governing verb, continued to be fairly common through th
Republic and into the early Empire (for a large collection of examples see Ki
Stegmann, II 227ff.; cf. Hofmann-Szantyr, 530); it may have had a colloquial flavou
another example see 11.32f. desiderabat coria ei adsignarem.

16-18 scribe dentur mi et karrum de quo scribis: if the meaning is 'write that they shou
given to me, and that the carrus about which you write (should be given to me)', k
could be the neuter by-form of the usual carrus (see B.Hisp., 6.2 'carra complu
retraxit'). Alternatively, if it is masculine accusative, the construction would be a constru
ad sensum, with the accusative determined by the underlying idea that someone s
'give' the carrus to Octavius.

18 quit: cf. aliquit (ll.Io and 14), siquit (1.29). The tendency for final d to become vo
before voiceless consonants, and conversely for final t to be voiced before vowels
voiced consonants, caused writers to be unsure of the correct spelling in words ending in
and -t. This writer writes t in -quit, but d in quod (11.9 and 12).

19 illec = illaec, neuter plural. On the form illic (illaec etc.) see TLL, s.v. and A
Terentianus, 45 (common in early Latin; in colloquial use later). For examples of the
plural illaec see Neue-Wagener, II 429.
cepissem.: petissem would be equally acceptable as a reading. In view of the writer's
accipere for 'get' (1. 37) cepissem is perhaps slightly preferable.

20 nissi: this spelling is also found in the Bath curse tablets (see B. Cunliffe, The Tem
Sulis Minerva at Bath, vol.II (1988), with the notes of R.S.O. Tomlin on 32.7 and 65.I
the first century A.D. double s was simplified after a long vowel or diphthong (Quint., 1
caussa > causa). In popular Latin there was a complementary tendency for s to be do
after a short vowel. Possuit is common in inscriptions (see F. Sommer, Handbuch
lateinischen Laut- und Formenlehre4 I, revised by R. Pfister (Heidelberg, 1977), 156
Baehrens, Sprachlicher Kommentar zur vulgiirlateinischen Appendix Probi (Halle,
76). The form bassilica, which is found at CIL iv, 1779 twice (see VdiIininen, Inscr
pomp., 6o, on this and a few other comparable spellings), is criticized by the App
Probi (199).-
iumenta non curaui uexsare: curo is sporadically construed with the infinitive (as
distinct from ut) from Cato onwards (TLL, IV 1499.43ff., Hofmann-Szantyr, 346), with
the colloquial language no doubt favouring the infinitive. Later in the letter (ll.36f.)
cf. nec curauit accipere. In both places the dependent infinitive follows the governing
verb, as at ll.27f. ut possim spicam habere. Postposition of the infinitive was probably the
norm in colloquial Latin by this time. Cf. Tab. Vindol., 21.7f. 'conueniat hoc pro te
iucundam22.7 [ut ueleis
experiri'. There. .are
. einosubscribere', 37.22ff.
examples of the 'utorder
reverse beneficio
in thetuo militiam
material [po]ssim
so far
Vexo was idiomatic of a horse or other quadruped hurting itself in the course of work or a
journey: Schol.Iuu., 8.148 'sufflamen uinculum ferreum, quod inter radios mittitur, dum
cliuum descendere coeperit raeda, ne celerius rotae sequantur et animalia uexent', Pelago-
nius, 216.2 'cum equi uexauerint [sc. lumbos], similis a te cura ac diligentia praebeatur' (cf.
ibid. 'equi plerumque lumbos nimio pondere laedunt' . . .), 233 'si a rota uexauerit (= se

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uexauerit)', Mulomedicina Chironis, 671 'aperies locum

(cf. ibid. 'quodcunque iumentum in latus ad aliquam re

21 dum uiae male sunt: male is unlikely to be the adverb: the usual complement of male est is
a dative (of a thing or person affected), expressed or understood (TLL, VIII 237.7ff., OLD
s.v. male Ib, Hofmann-Szantyr, 171). Via mala was no doubt idiomatic for a 'bad road': cf.
Hor., Sat. 1.5.96 'uia peior ad usque / Bari moenia piscosi', Apul., Met. 9.9 'rursum ad uiam
prodeunt, uia tota quam nocte confeceramus longe peiorem' (see TLL, VIII 215.53f.). Male
is a misspelling for malae (on this see above, I.12n.).

2If. uide. . . de: for this idiom ('see about') cf. Cic., Att., 11.24.2 'uide, quaeso, etiam nunc
de testamento', 12.6.1 'de Caelio uide, quaeso', 15.8.2 'de te, quaeso, etiam atque etiam uide'.
For further examples, mainly from Terence and Cicero, see J.L. North, NT Studies 29
(1983), 264-5, suggesting that 18tyv EQgL in the N.T. may be a Latinism.
tertio: a possible alternative reading is certio.

23 non illos mi accepto tulit: between mi and accepto the writer has left a blank space of 3
cm, presumably because the piece now missing from the bottom of the tablet was already
missing when the letter was written.
The expression is a variant of the classical financial formula aliquid mihi acceptum
(re)ferre (for which see TLL, I 314.13ff., OLD s.v. fero 24b). Aliquid mihi accepto ferre
turns up for the first time in the early imperial period: see Stat., Silv., 2 prol. 'honorem eius
tibi laturus accepto est' ('the honour he obtains from it he will credit to you'), Tert., Apol.,
13.8 'accepto ferent dei uestri' ('your gods will give you credit for it': J.E.B. Mayor,
Q.Septimi Florentis Tertulliani Apologeticus, with translation by A. Souter (Cambridge,
1917), with note ad loc.), and TLL, I 321.82ff. Accepto is the substantivized participle
acceptum = 'thing received', pecunia accepta (so TLL, I 321.82ff., O. Hey, ALL Io (1898),
128). The case can only be predicative dative.

24 scito mae explesse: the reading of the first two words is far from certain, but the sense
produced is exactly that required. For spellings showing ae for e see R.G.G. Coleman,
TPhS 1971, 186-90, esp. 189, citing a case of sae = se (CIL IIn, 8412). For scito me in letters
cf. Cic., Fam. 2.15.1 'qua re scito me sperare . . .', Rustius Barbarus, CPL, 3o3.14f. 'scito
enim me.'

25 bracis: the second example of this Celtic word which has turned up at Vindolanda (c
Tab. Vindol., 5.16). A kind of cereal (see Tab. Vindol., p. 96; also Plin., Nat.Hist., 18.62
but of 'genre inconnu' (J. Andr6, Les noms de plantes dans la Rome antique (Paris, 198
excussi: excutio (lit. 'shake, strike (something) out of (something else)') could be used of
threshing, cf. TLL, V 2.1309. 32-6: see esp. Col., 2.10.14 'nam semina excussa in area
iacebunt, superque ea paulatim eodem modo reliqui fasciculi excutientur', quoted by K.D.
White, Agricultural Implements of the Roman World (Cambridge, 1967), 32, who trans-
lates, following the Loeb, 'for the seeds that have been beaten out will lie on the floor, and
the other bundles will be threshed out on top of them, little by little, in the same manner'.
The method of threshing here is described by Columella in the preceding section. He is
dealing with beans: a moderate number of bundles (fasciculi) is placed at one end of the
threshing floor; three or four men then push them along with their feet, beating them
(contundere) with sticks or forks. Excutio is applied to a different method of threshing at

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Varro, Rust., 1.52.I 'e spicis in area excuti grana.' In this case yo
threshing-sledge (tribulum) over frumentum, which by its pressure separa
the ear (note 'discutit e spica grana'). Obviously excutio was not a tech
particular method of threshing, but was a general term for the separa
crop from the rest by shaking, striking or the application of pressure.
Excutio survives in some areas in the Romance languages in the sens
escodre: see W. von Wartburg, Franzasisches etymologisches Worterbu
Meyer-Liibke, Romanisches etymologisches WOrterbuch, 2998).

26 We are fairly confident about the reading of the numeral, although

unexpected (the dittography in 11. 32-3 is much more easily explicabl
fac . . . mi mittas: fac + subjunctive is common in the colloquia
epistolography from early Latin onwards (see Hofmann-Szantyr
examples see G. Lodge, Lexicon Plautinum (Leipzig, 1924-33), I 597
2.14.1 'fac uenias' (cf. 4.4a.2 twice, 9.7B.3, 9.9.4, etc.), CPL, 256.5 'f
Enn., frg. var. 39).

26f. possim: the word is inescapable in the context but the ending is diffi
suppose the writer put im at the beginning of 1. 28, both the letters are o
word division cf. uentur/um in 11. 35-6). The alternative is to take the tra
27, which goes through the o at the end of the line below, as ink (and
possi/m; but such a word division would be bizarre.
27 spicam: at 1. 7 the plural was used but here the writer prefers the
Botanical terms are frequently used in the collective singular (e.g. fab
plural examples see TLL, VI 1.2.52ff.). For a large collection of ex
including spica) see Svennung, Palladius, 169f.; cf. Hofmann-Szantyr,
Rust., 1.52.1 'e spicis in area excuti grana' with ibid., discutit e spica g

27f. in excussorio: the adjective excussorius is used (with cribrum un

Nat. Hist., 18.1io8, and excussorium may be attested in a gloss with a s
here (CGL, III.207.58 xxoTeFUs ossi excussorium; for excisorium?). It
the word with threshing in this passage which is particularly interesting.
excussorium 'threshing flail' in some dialects (of Rheto-Romance and
Meyer-Liibke, Romanisches etymologisches W6rterbuch, 2997, and W
sches etymologisches Worterbuch III, 286f. The meaning 'threshing ma
to fit here, given the nature of Roman threshing implements (flails, s
see White, Agricultural Implements of the Roman World, 152-6): sp
described as 'in' such an implement. It is possible that excussorium i
area, indicating the place where the act excutiendi takes place. For n
-sorium denoting rooms, places for specialized activities, cf. dormit
gustatorium. etc. (see Leumann, 301). This is the first attestation of
context of threshing.

28 autem: seems to be close to enim in meaning. On autem = enim (m

see Hofmann-Szantyr, 490f.
si quit habui: the perfect is epistolary, see Kiuhner-Stegmann, I 157

29 perexcussi: a possible alternative reading is ter excussi, which is suppor

writer has left between the r and the e, but which is, we think, on o
attractive reading. This is by far the earliest occurrence of perexcutio. P.

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has been kind enough to supply us with the following

Lex Burg., I I.1, Lex Sal. Merov., 29.11, 'aber erst in d
sense is 'v6llig abschlagen'. The formation is of a stra
stresses the completion of the process ('I have finished th
be clearly seen in passages where a simplex is imm
compound in per-: e.g. Plaut., Pseud., 31 'lege uel tabel

31f. desiderabat coria ei adsignarem: on the paratactic s

desidero ut + subjunctive see TLL, V 1.708.4ff. (e.g. Cic., ad Brut.,, but no
example of desidero + subj. is quoted there or by Kiihner-Stegmann, cited above on 11. 16f.
ei = sibi. This usage is not as uncommon as might be thought, even in classical prose (see
e.g. A. Ernout and F. Thomas, Syntaxe latine2 (Paris, 1953), 184ff., and esp. 185f. for
Ciceronian examples in final clauses with a subjunctive verb; cf. Kiihner-Stegmann, I
36 interuenit: this seems to mean '(did not) turn up', though it usually refers to an
unexpected or chance arrival, e.g. Ter., Phorm., 91 'interea, dum sedemus illi, interuenit /
adulescens quidam lacrumans'; cf. TLL, VIII .2299.73ff.

37f. si pecuniam dcaret, dabem ei: the imperfect subjunctive may be used in the protasis and
apodosis of conditional sentences as a 'past potential': e.g. Cic., Att., 2.21.4 'Apelles si
Venerem aut Protogenes si Ialysum illum suum caeno oblitum uideret magnum, credo,
acciperet dolorem', 'I suppose that if Apelles had seen his Venus or Protogenes his Ialysus
daubed with filth, he would have felt a pang. . .' (Shackleton Bailey) (see Ernout-Thomas,
378, Kiihner-Stegmann, II 396f., S.A. Handford, The Latin Subjunctive, its usage and
development from Plautus to Tacitus (London, 1947), 125). Sometimes the imperfect
indicative replaces the subjunctive in the apodosis (as here): e.g. Caes., Ciu., 1.82.5 'si
proelium committeretur, propinquitas castrorum celerem . . . receptum dabat' (see the
passages collected by Kiihner-Stegmann, II 397f.).

38f. Frontinium lulium: a new sentence must begin at this point. For the order cognomen,
nomen, which is not uncommon at this period, see, e.g., R. Syme, Historia vii (1958), 172,
174. For Frontinius as a cognomen see I. Kajanto, The Latin Cognomina (Helsinki, 1965),

38-41. This sentence is baffling. procoriatione is a major crux and it is by no means the only
There is an active liceo and a deponent liceor. The active has two main uses: (a) = 'to be
for sale' (TLL, VII 2.1357.61ff.), e.g. Cic., Att. 12.23.3 'de Drusi hortis, quanti licuisse tu
scribis, id ego quoque audieram'; with the genitive of value quanti here, contrast the
ablative of price at Sen., Contr., 1.7.3 'magno licet' (magno here (1.39) must be this same
usage); (b) with a personal subject = 'have for sale', with accusative of the thing offered for
sale (TLL, VII 2.1357.71), e.g. Plin., Nat., 35.88 'quanti liceret (pictor) opera effecta'. The
deponent means 'bid for' (at auction) (TLL, VII 2.1357.81ff.), e.g. Sen., Contr., 1.2.4 'in
auctione nemo uoluit liceri'. Octavius has presumably used the first verb (rather than the
deponent in an active form). If comparauit means 'bought', as seems likely (for this
common sense see TLL, III 2011.26ff., OLD s.v. 3b; cf. e.g. Sp. comprar), there must be a
contrast expressed between buying at a certain price and selling, offering for sale, at a
different (higher) price. If so, the meaning of magno licere pro (assuming that pro is the
preposition) would be something like 'is asking a high price for'. It is a difficulty that liceo is

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not attested with a pro-expression as complement, but on the oth

frequent, and one cannot be certain about its range of uses.
coriatione would then have to be explained as the ablative o
presumably have to be understood as an abstract verbal noun
concrete meaning, a commonplace semantic development. Some s
might be made: that coriatio (which would be a derivative of corio
making of leather' (abstract) and then acquired the concrete sen
The quem which follows introduces a further problem. On the a
coriatione it would have to be taken as a masculine relative form used for the feminine. It
used to be thought that this usage was late (see, e.g., E. L6fstedt, Philologischer
Kommentar zur Peregrinatio Aetheriae (Uppsala, 191I), 132). However, there is now an
example in one of the tablets from Murecine, dated to A.D. 39 (TP 18.2.8.f.), where C.
Novius Eunus writes 'quem suma iuratus promissi me... redturum'. Here quem suma =
quam summam; the latter expression occurs in the more correct version of the document
(TP 18.5.7). The masculine form was eventually to replace the feminine entirely (cf. Fr.
qui, masc. and fem.).
The expression comparauit (denarios) quinos seems to contain an accusative of price
('which he bought for five denarii apiece'), a construction which occurs at Petron., 43.4
'uendidit enim uinum, quantum ipse uoluit', and perhaps in Terentianus (CPL, 252.17, with
Adams, Terentianus, 4off.; where further bibliography is cited). It is odd that the
distributive quinos is used in association with the singular relative quem, though the
antecedent may have a collective sense, and the relative clause would then contain a sort of
constructio ad sensum. In any case distributives were by this time used for cardinals
(Hofmann-Szantyr, 212, with literature).
We offer the above explanation of these lines with some diffidence. It is far from
satisfactory to have to bring into existence a new verbal noun with concrete meaning at this
date (based moreover on a verb corio(r) previously unattested before the medieval period)
a new use of licere, and an early example of quem = quam. The reading of the lines seems
more or less certain, but it is possible that a different word-division might throw new light
on the passage. We have considered the possibility of taking cori in coriatione as a genitive,
but no obvious noun can be extracted from the following letters on which cori might

the im..rium.:
at the end ofno doubt
1. 42. another proper name, but we have not as yet succeeded in reading
45 uale: probably this is all that was written in this line, the apparent traces of ink at the
right being merely offset.

46 uindol: unlike the majority of letters found at Vindolanda this letter does not contain a
proper address. All we have on the back of one of the two tablets is uindol, apparently
written in the same hand as the letter on the front.

Christ Church, Oxford (A.K.B.)

University of Durham (J.D.T.)
University of Manchester (J.N.A.)

This paper is published with the aid of a grant from the Council for British Archaeology.

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470 sheet I


470 sheet 2


(Photo: Newcastle University. Copyright reserved)

Vindolanda Text no. i, inv. no. 86/470, Sheets i and 2 (front): Letter from Chrauttius to Veldedeius. Each sheet is
7 cm wide. (p. 33)

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470 sheet 2 R*

i!i~ iii!:iii'i:i:::ii i :ili:ii::i::ii 'ii% !7:''":::"i:'i!::" ! iii ! !

::::::-i'i ?:::: i

'y 4

N r 2'

(Photo: Newcastle Unive

Vindolanda Text no. I, inv. no. 86/470, rev
sheet is 7 cm wide. (p. 33)

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:iii:,iiiiI NAl

Col. II Col. I

Vindolanda Tex

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Col. IV Col. III

Vindolanda Text

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