Writing-tablet with a letter inviting Sulpicia Lepidina, the commander's wife, to a birthday party

Roman Britain, about AD 97-103
Vindolanda Roman fort (modern Chesterholm), Northumberland

One of the earliest known examples of writing in Latin by a woman

Translation:

'Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present (?). Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him (?) their greetings. (2nd hand) I shall expect you sister. Farewell, sister my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail.

Back: (1st hand) 'To Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Cerialis, from Severa'.

Sulpicia Lepidina was the wife of Flavius Cerealis, prefect of the Ninth Cohort of Batavians. This birthday invitation is one of two letters she received from Claudia Severa, wife of Aelius Brocchus. The scribe who wrote the greater part of this letter is the same person who wrote the letter from Niger and Brocchus to Flavius Cerealis. The handwriting of Severa herself (the 2nd hand) is less elegant, but it is one of the earliest known examples of writing in Latin by a woman.

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Writing-tablet with a letter inviting Sulpicia Lepidina, the commander's wife, to a birthday party

Wooden writing-tablet from Vindolanda

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More information

Bibliography

T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

A.K. Bowman, Life and letters on the Roman (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Length: 22.300 cm

Museum number

P&EE 1986 10-1 64

BCB88434

Location

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