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TVII Tablet: 234
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter from Cerialis to September
Category: Correspondence of Cerialis


Six fragments of a diptych containing a draft of a letter in two columns from Flavius Cerialis to September, presumably Caecilius September of 252-3 (cf. A.R.Birley (1991), 98-9). The space after the last line in the right-hand column probably indicates that we have the end of the message proper, to which Cerialis would have added a closure in the fair copy. The left-hand column is broader than the right and overruns the fold. The hand is probably the same as that of 239. The text appears to contain an interesting example of a phonetic error probably caused by dictation (see note to line ii.2); if so, this is the only clear evidence in the tablets for the use of dictation, which we suppose was common. If the content of the second column relates directly to what is in the first (which depends on how many lines are lost), Cerialis may be saying that tomorrow in accordance with September's wish he intends to buy, or to send the money for, some items in order to help them endure the stormy weather. The precaution is appropriate to October, the month in which Cerialis is writing.


1 Flauius Cerialis Septembri
2 suo salutem
3 quod uis domine cras
4 id est iii Nonas Oc[t]ó-
5 bres merc.. pa..[
. . . . . . . . .
6 qui feramus tem-
7 pestates [[et hiem]] etiam si
8 molestae sint


"Flavius Cerialis to his September, greetings. Tomorrow, which is 5 October, as you wish my lord, I will provide some goods (?) ... by means of which (?) we may endure the storms even if they are troublesome."


i 1          September: for Caecilius September see 252 introduction and line 1 note.

i 2          For the mark after salutem see above, p.57.

i 3          For the sense in which we take quod uis, see perhaps Petronius, Sat. 137.9, quod uis nummis praesentibus opta, et ueniet.

i 4          iii: abrasion and dirt make the numeral very difficult to discern. We suggest what we think is the most probable reading.

Oc[t]ó-: the ending -bres in line 5 requires one of the last four months of the year and only October and December are palaeographically plausible. The first letter shows no sign of the hasta of d and is much better read as o; the descender which can be seen must belong to the r of cras in line 3.

i 5          merc..: the reading of the first four letters is secure and a reference to the purchase of some item is appropriate. Although mercar is possible, it is very difficult to read i after this; other possibilities are mercem (the final m of mercem is not easy but it compares quite well with the last letter of salutem in line 2), mercaret or mercare (but the non-deponent form is very rare, see TLL VIII 799.46).  

pa..[: the reading of pa presents no difficulty and thereafter we have the tops of two letters either of which might be read as a or r. We suggest the restoration mercem para[bo and the interpretation that Cerialis is intending to supply September with some goods or with some money (if mercem is to be taken in the sense of mercedem, see LS, s.v., TLL VIII, 852) so that he can purchase something and send it back to Cerialis (for exchange between these two officers see 252). For the verb paro cf. perhaps the metaphorical use of merces ... parata in Lucan, Phars. 7.303.

ii 1          We probably have the instrumental use of qui here, see Adams (1994).

feramus: despite the abrasion of the writing, this reading is probable and allows space for the reading of tem in the very indistinct traces at the end of the line; palaeographically this can only be regarded as a guess but the beginning of line 2 allows no other plausible reading.

ii 2          pestates: the first letter in the line is clearly p. The reading of tempestates is supported by the erasure [[et hiem]] which indicates that the scribe began to write et hiemes. TLL VI 2774.12-20 notes that grammarians and glossaries equate hiems and tempestas and gives the meaning uentus fortis (s.v.IA); the only citation with the words used together is Rufinus, Hist.mon.epil. 7, p.462a. The supralinear substitution of etiam strongly suggests that this was a phonetic dictation error (for which see Milne and Skeat (1938), 52, 55, and cf. Turner (1987), p.17).

ii 3          For molestus used in relation to weather see e.g. Cicero, Att. 5.12.1.

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