A Woman’s Party Invitation and a Girl’s Epitaph: Some Documentary Latin

Some more non-elite Latin provided by Brandon Conley.

A birthday invitation, excerpt (Vindolanda, Britain, 1st cent. CE)

Claudia Severa invites her friend Sulpicia Lepidina (wife of the prefect at Vindolanda) to a birthday party. Despite the use of soror, the two women are not believed to be sisters. With part of the document written by Severa herself, this (and the accompanying notes) is believed to be the earliest-known Latin written by a woman.

Side I

Cl(audia) · Seuerá Lepidinae [suae
[sa]l[u]tem
iii Idus Septembr[e]s soror ad diem
sollemnem natalem meum rogó
libenter faciás ut uenias
ad nos iucundiorem mihi

Side II

[diem] interuentú tuo facturá si
…s
Cerial[em t]uum salutá Aelius meus .[
et filiolus salutant …
… sperabo te soror
uale soror anima
mea ita ualeam
karissima et haue
 

(The italicized text was written by Severa herself)

“Claudia Severa to her Lepidina, greetings. On September 11, sister, for my birthday celebration, I ask you sincerely to make sure you come to (join) us, to make the day more fun for me by your arrival…Say hello to your Cerialis. My Aelius and little boy say hello. I await you, sister. Be well, sister, my dearest soul, so I may be well too. Hail.”

A Jewish child at Rome (Rome, c. 400 CE)

A sad text. Also a good one to use in class, it utilizes both Latin and Hebrew, and goes well with a discussion of diversity in the city and empire. It is also one of the latest dated texts in this document.

(H)Ic iacet Gaudi=
osa infantula
qui bissit annoru=
m plus minu(s) tre=
s requiebit in
pacem. שלום

“Here lies the child Gaudiosa, who lived around three years. She will rest in peace. Shalom (in Hebrew)

Tablet 291 leaf 1 (front) - click to launch image zooming viewer

3 thoughts on “A Woman’s Party Invitation and a Girl’s Epitaph: Some Documentary Latin

  1. anthonyhowelljournal

    EPITAPH

    Philocrates had a friendly dog
    And a bright whirligig.
    At five, he died.
    But it had been worth it.

    Inspired by a funerary stone I saw in Sicily, from my book SILENT HIGHWAY, Anvil 2014, second addition with minor changes out soon, now distributed by Carcanet.

  2. Justin Mansfield

    The use of the future for the subjunctive in requiebit is probably Hebraism/Aramaism. Cf. the actual Hebrew expression: ינוח בשלום

  3. Pingback: Women’s History Month, Week 4 – SENTENTIAE ANTIQUAE

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