The following piece of verse was written for and recited at the entertainment at the end of the 2004 ARLT Summer School. It purports to be a letter discovered (among all the others) at Vindolanda, and refers to the famous party invitation discovered written on a wooden writing tablet at that fort. It also draws on insights into the life of women on Hadrian's Wall contained in a lecture by Lindsay Allason-
Sulpicia Lepidea to Helena, with greetings
How I recall your house in Rome, and all our chats and meetings,
Your lovely garden too which seems a thousand miles away
And all the fun we had one warm, bright winter's day.
I remember specially fish-
And hope that all went well with your improved new heating system.
You'd like Britannia as much as I do I am sure,
It's got lots of rocks and bogs and what the locals call a "moor".
And fells and fogs and becks and dales and crags and gills and such.
I'd tell you more in detail, but I don't get out too much.
The ground is soft and yielding, but we lose a lot of shoes,
And throw the other one away as they just come in twos.
The locals here are quite distinctive, if a little scary.
I saw some Picts the other day and they were blue and hairy.
You see all sorts of other people in and round the fort,
Though we don't socialise with them as much as perhaps we ought.
There's Sards and Celts and Calvarines and great big chaps from Gaul
But sadly, they don't seem to know the Latin tongue at all,
And neither do the Libyans, the Egyptians or the rest,
Except the dozen commonest obscenities at best.
But it's all local colour, and we're really awfully glad
To be sent up here now after the dreadful trip we had.
First the lepers, then the pirates, then the shipwreck and the rocks
But what good luck I hadn't packed my nicest Summer frocks.
I haven't got a garden, though the gorse is very pretty
And food's not quite as varied as one might have in the city.
The chef is wonderful and does such clever things with beans
So savoury, one quite forgets the smell from the latrines.
The shopping isn't excellent, but craftsmen are arriving
And in a decade, two perhaps, the place could well be thriving.
But I am happy here at Cerialis' left hand
Though he gets very busy and of course I understand
If he takes language lessons from the niece of Veretrix
He needs to interact with both Britons and Picts.
He says it's quite relaxing and he does love a nice talk
And he's glad I'm not one of those who watch him like a hawk.
The money that he gave her was so she could see the styles
Of the ladies' hair in Rome -
He's troubled with irregular verbs, which I can well believe,
So they're going off to practise hard when he next gets some leave.
The sacrifices that man makes for Rome! While I remember
I've got an invitation for the 11th September.
A party for the Prefect's wife, an old and valued mate
An outing! It's my first one here, and I can hardly wait.
It's not that home's not pleasant, its familiar smoke and smells
It's cosy and we're lucky to have room for nothing else.
So just as well our furniture went down back in the Seine
And we're saved all the trouble of unpacking it again.
We're preparing for a raid, though, so I'd better finish now,
So I can see the raiders who have come to steal our cows.
Though who'd go rustling in this rain I cannot comprehend.
Goodbye for now. Wish you were here. Sulpicia, your friend.
Composed by Nick Gleeson
Recited by Rachel Thomas
Planning for promotion
Gifted and talented students
Set Texts for A/AS
Brush up your Latin
Classical Civilisation A/AS
Modern Greek -
Roman Life topics GCSE
Cambridge Latin Course
Latin prose composition A2
Prep School Latin