Writing-tablet with a letter from Severus to Candidus

Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century AD
Vindolanda Roman fort (modern Chesterholm), Northumberland

A letter from one slave to another about preparations for the Saturnalia festival

The household of an officer in the Roman army included slaves, who appear both in the correspondence and documents found at Vindolanda. On the back of this letter from Severus to Candidus, referring to some payment for the Saturnalia festival, Candidus is described as a slave of Genialis, and there is no doubt that Severus was also a slave. The Saturnalia, a festival in December, was particularly significant to slaves; it was the one day of the year on which they were formally allowed to change places with their owners.


'Severus to his Candidus, greetings. Regarding the ... for the Saturnalia, I ask you, brother, to see to them at a price of 4 or six asses and radishes to the value of not less than 1/2 denarius. Farewell, brother.'

Back: 'To Candidus, slave of Genialis the prefect, from Severus, slave of ...'

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More information


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


Length: 182.000 mm

Museum number

P&EE 1988 10-5 237



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