top portion of the left-hand side of a diptych containing the beginning of a
letter to Cerialis. The top left-hand corner, where the name of the sender will
have been, is missing; three small scraps, each containing parts of letters,
probably come from this part of the leaf but cannot be accurately positioned.
The writer informs Cerialis that, in accordance with the latter's wish, he has
marked the dies Kalendarum (New Year's Day) by a sacrifice. 261 contains
a New Year's greeting from Hostilius Flavianus to Cerialis but there is no
reason to connect 265 with Flavianus and the hand of 261 is
certainly different. A notable palaeographical feature is that the writer
several times marks the letter a with an apex,
without regard to the quantity of the vowel (see above, pp.57-61). There is
also a high apex-like mark over the m of salutem in line
2, on which see above, p.57.
Not enough remains to hazard a guess at the identity of the author of the
letter (frater in line 3 suggests a status similar to that
diem Kálendarum: this is
frequently used without the name of the month, to refer to New Year's Day. For
its general significance see Rea (1988) and P.Oxy.LV
3812.5-6 note, CPR VIII 52.6-8 note, Pliny, NH 28.22
quoted in 261, introduction; and for the military significance, Fink,
Hoey and Snyder (1940), 50-1.
dedi-: the reading deos, quoted
by A.R.Birley (1990a), 18, looks possible at first sight but we do not think it
can be read and are at a loss to see how it would make sense grammatically. Nor
does the 1st person singular of the perfect tense of dare seem promising.
We think it much more probable that we should supply some part of dedico, probably
dedi[caui]. It should be noted that the ligatures of edi are
remarkable and also that there is a stroke after i which
looks like a hyphen; but we have seen no other example of this in the tablets
and believe the use of hyphens at line-ends to be a much later development. If
this reading is correct, diem must be the object
of the verb, although die would give better sense ("I dedicated
(something) by sacrifice on New Year's Day"); despite the loss of half of
the final m, which has overrun the fold, the reading is inescapable.
Perhaps the meaning is that Cerialis' correspondent has consecrated the day to
some deity. Compare Augustine, de civ. dei 7.7, duos menses
... dedicatos ... ianuarium iano februarium termino, Cassiodorus, in
psalm. praef. 10c, ipsi nobis primam diei horam dedicant,
Ausonius, Ep. 21.25, Octobres olim genitus Maro dedicat idus.