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TVII Tablet: 263
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter from Vitalis decurion to Cerialis
Category: Correspondence of Cerialis


The right-hand portion of a diptych containing the end of a letter to Cerialis. A re-reading of the text on the back indicates that the letter was from a decurion named Vitalis. Other changes from the ed. pr. are signalled in the notes, but particular attention should be drawn to the new readings of the numerals associated with the Batavian cohorts (line ii.5 and line 2 on the back).


1 Ceriali su]o
2 3? lines lost
3 ].
4 ]si
5 ]m
. . . . . . . . .
n 1 c[ c.9 ].e tuó com-
n 2 m[ c.6 ].[.]..[.]et epistu-
n 3 las .[..].s · quas acceperas
4 ab Equestre centurione
n 5 coh(ortis) · iii · Batauorum .[.].i
n 6 ad te pr(idie) K(alendas) Ma.... .nos
7 ..e.[.]bene .[ c.4 ]amus
n 8 m2? dominam [ c.5 ]..[.].al.
n 9 ta o.............
n 10 uitali[..].............
1 m1 Flauio Ceriali
n 2 praef(ecto) coh(ortis) viiii Bat(auorum)
n 3 a Vitale decurione
n 4 a...[


" ... to his Cerialis ... ... and those letters which you (?) had received from Equester, centurion of the 3rd Cohort of Batavians, I sent (?) to you on 30 April (?) ... (2nd hand?) ... my mistress (?) ...(Back, 1st hand) To Flavius Cerialis, prefect of the 9th Cohort of Batavians, from Vitalis, decurion ..."


i 6          ]si: we originally thought that these letters belonged to line ii.6 and completed the verb misi which began in ii.5. It now seems more likely, given that they stand to the left of the beginnings of lines in col.ii, that they belong to a line in col.i which overran the fold.

ii 1          tuó: we previously read the last letter as e made in two semicircular strokes, but we are now confident that it should be read as o with an apex mark (see above, pp.57-61), even though there is no other apex preserved in this text.

ii 2          The spacing of the descenders visible before et is not decisive enough for us to calculate the number of missing letters here. We would not wish to rule out the reading com-/m[endaue]ras et.

ii 3          epistu/las might perhaps be followed by i[ll]as or m[e]as (or even d[u]as), depending on the reading of the verb at the end of the line. The interpunct before quas appears to be deliberate although it is the only clear example in the text, except with the numeral in line 5 and the abbreviations in line 6. We are still uncertain whether to read acceperam or acceperas (either is palaeographically possible). If the latter, the writer would have to be understood as making a point about the date on which he had sent the letters which Cerialis had received; m[e]as would, of course, only make sense with acceperas.

ii 5          In the ed. pr. we prefered viii to iii as the reading of the numeral but now that evidence for the Third Cohort of Batavians has appeared in 311.back 2 we are quite sure that this is to be read here. The number, which is surmounted by a saucer-shaped mark, is preceded and followed by medial points. The first could indicate the abbreviation of coh(ortis) but such medial points appear in MSS to indicate that a number follows; this also seems to be the case in 295.4 and is therefore likely here.

CEL 91.5-6 reads [re]mi-/si but since we now take si to belong to a line in col.i, we prefer to read m[i]si in line 5 which would fill the space available.

ii 6          ad te: ad te now seems a more defensible reading despite the fact that there is no sign of a vertical.

It is quite likely that there are medial points after pr and k to indicate abbreviation; if there is a point before pr it must be interpunct.

ma.....: maias with a short word following (e.g. et) seems to suit the traces but martias cannot be excluded.

ii 8          The hand appears to change at this point, in which case the last three lines must constitute the closure of the letter. We did not attempt to read these in the ed. pr. but we now think that we can read dominam and at least a few other letters. This line may well therefore begin with a reference to Cerialis' wife in the accusative (or the writer's wife, domina m[ea, but perhaps less likely coming from a decurion, see note to back 3). At the end of the line we might have salu, followed by ta at the beginning of the following line, but dominam [tuam] a m[e] salu-/ta is not at all easy.

ii 9          The third letter in the line is clearly o, which could be the beginning of opto.

ii 10          This line is still a complete mystery. It might begin with the word uitalis, either in the dative or nominative case, but the reading is really very uncertain and is somewhat awkward in view of our new reading of the address on the back (line 3). If it is correct we would have to suppose either that it is the adjective uitalis or that the writer, Vitalis the decurion, is referring to himself in the nominative or to some other person also named Vitalis (the name is common and occurs in 181.8 as the name of a balniator).

back 2          Palaeographically, the reading of the numeral as viii is easier, but in view of the additional evidence now available it must be read as viiii (see 151.2 note). It is surmounted by a mark like that over the numeral in line ii.5 (see note).

back 3          The accumulated evidence for the pattern of addresses on the backs of the leaves, which was not available to us when the ed. pr. was written, makes it certain that we have a followed by the name of the sender. The reading of the name is not problematical. In the title, the abraded letters uri must have been rather crushed, but we see no other plausible reading.

back 4          a...[: we cannot elucidate this. The possible trace after the break looks like a high horizontal stroke. The letter before the break looks like g but the top stroke is probably dirt rather than ink. Therefore aut.[ or adt.[ or aue.[? If we have the name of a second writer we would expect et; if the place from which the letter comes, we have no parallel in the tablets. We cannot see how to read it as the identity of the sender's unit. We have considered whether it might be the date of receipt (i.e. acc(eptum) followed by a date, cf. RMR 89 = CEL 191), but we cannot see how to read it as such and, more significantly, the hand does not seem to change at this point.

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