Read the text and listen to the audio. Pay special attention to the pronunciation and to the expressions in bold.
Archaeologists in London found an ancient Roman stylus – rare because it carries a humorous inscription.
It sounds just like the standard joke you might find on a souvenir today: “I went to Rome and all I got you was this lousy [=cheap] pen.”
But the tongue-in-cheek [=humorous] inscription on a cheap stylus recently found during excavations in the City of London is in fact* about 2,000 years old. It reads:
I have come from the city [of Rome]. I bring you a welcome gift with a sharp point that you may remember me. I ask, if fortune allowed, that I might be able [to give] as generously as the way is long, [and] as my purse is empty,
Or, in the original:
urbe v[e]n[i] munus tibi gratum adf(e)ro
acul[eat]um ut habe[a]s memor[ia]m nostra(m)
rogo si fortuna dar[e]t quo possem
largius ut longa via ceu sacculus est (v)acuus
The message was inscribed on an iron stylus, the kind that the Romans used in order to write on wax [=the material we use to make candles].
Inscribed styluses are exceptionally rare. Archaeologists have found only a handful [=so few that you can hold them in one hand] of examples from across the whole Roman Empire to date [=so far, until today], and this one is the finest [=best, most beautiful] thanks to the length and beauty of the humorous poetry of its inscription.
Michael Marshall, a senior Roman finds specialist [=specialist on Roman objects that archaeologists find], said it was an “absolutely spectacular” and “exceptionally personal” object. “one of the most human objects from Roman London. [..]” adding that “It gives you a real sense of the person who wrote it,” and of “the amount of affection and good humour” they had.
* NOTE: In English, “in fact” often means “contrary to what you might think”.