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TVII Tablet: 294
Search Result: 1
Title: Letter to Lepidina concerning illness (?)
Category: Correspondence of Lepidina

Commentary:

Part of a diptych containing the left-hand column of a letter to Lepidina. It is complete at the top and almost complete at the left, but there may be some lines lost at the foot. There are probably some 6-8 letters missing at the right, an estimate based on the restoration of suae in line 1 and s[alutem in line 2. We assume that the letter continued in another column on the lost right-hand portion of the diptych. The occurrence of salua in line 3 makes it certain that Lepidina's correspondent is a woman. Her name is difficult to read but it cannot be Claudia Severa; see further line 1 note. The surviving part of the letter does not enable us to be certain about the subject-matter. If line 6 has a reference to a fever or a cognate word (see note), it may be that the writer is promising to bring Lepidina some drugs or remedies (for concerns about health in Cerialis' household see 227). This hand is an interesting one, using two forms of l, a very upright and narrow e, an elaborate curve at the top of b and a flat u.

Text:

n 1 ].a...na Lepidin[ae suae
2 s[alutem
n 3 ita sim salua domi[na
n n 4 ut ego duas an.[
n n 5             feram tibi alter[am
n n 6 alteram febric.[
7 et ideo me tibi e[
8 sed quatenus m.[
9 . . . . . . .

Translation:

" ... Paterna (?) to her Lepidina, greetings. So help me God, my lady [and sister?], I shall bring (?) you two remedies (?), the one for ..., the other for fever (?) and therefore ... myself to you ... but insofar as ..."

Notes:

1          There is a clear a in the middle of the line which we take to be the end of the name of the sender (we think the traces between this and Lepidin[ae are not ink). Before this there are traces of some 5-6 letters and in the lacuna at the left not more than two or three letters can have been lost. As there appears to be a medial point after the first letter, we have considered the possiblity that there was an abbreviated gentilicium, perhaps C]l · (= Cla(udia), cf. 291.i.1) or F]l · (= F]l(auia)). If this is correct, the only two instances of abbreviation of a gentilicium in the tablets concern women. In what follows, the first surviving letter looks most like p or c, the second is very probably a (though r may also be possible). Two or three uncertain letters follow before what looks most like na, which we take to be the ending of the name. We think it is possible, though difficult, to read the name as Paterna.

3          ita sim salua: a comparable phrase, ita sim felix, is attested in Propertius 1.7.3 and Suetonius, Tib. 21.4; cf. also Cicero, Att. 16.13a.1, ne sim saluus si aliter scribo ac sentio, and Terence, Phormio 807, ita me seruet Iuppiter ut proprior illi quam ego sum nemost. This last example is also a parallel for a wish introduced by ita followed by ut (see OLD, s.v. ita 17). Since we appear to need nothing more at the end of line 3 to complete the sense, the solution may be to supply soror.

4-6          The restoration and interpretation of this passage depends on three cruces: the words at the end of line 4, the beginning of line 5 and the end of line 6. The suggestions which follow can only be tentative.

4          an.[: the final trace is faint and exiguous, but the letter preceding must be either n or m and the former is preferable. A feminine noun is required and if our suggestions for lines 5 and 6 are on the right lines, something with a medical connotation would be appropriate. Thus, perhaps, ant[idotos (a feminine form), meaning remedy (TLL II 168-9). Alternatively, if am.[ is to be read, amp[ullas (for the medical use see TLL I 2018.64).

5          Of the reading feram only r is certain, though e before it is probable; the initial letter must be f or s. A first person verb is needed and the start of this line seems the most probable place for it. The traces after r could be almost anything. We tentatively suggest reading either seram (presumably the end of an epistolary pluperfect) or feram; in either case it could be the end of a compound verb, depending on the length of the supplement in line 4. The reading of tibi assumes that the mark between the first and second letters is either dirt or a smudge.
alter[am: the foot of the exaggerated descender of r can be seen at the end of line 6.

6          febric.[: the penultimate letter could be p (there is no other c in the text for comparison); following that we have the descender of r in the previous line running through the next letter which might be i, a or u. If we read u, we can restore febricu[lae, giving the sense suggested in the translation. Alternatively we could have part of the verb febricito, though we do not see how it would construe. We have considered the possibility that we have a name here, but we have not found one which begins Febri-. antidotus is normally followed by ad or aduersus plus the name of the disease, but it is found with the genitive amoris in Augustine, Medit. 7. Another possibility would be to supply anc[illas in line 4 with febri ca[rentes, meaning "I will bring two servant-girls, one for you and the other for X, free from fever" (for febri careo cf. Cicero, Fam. 16.15.1); or we might begin a new sentence with febri (though one misses a connecting word) reading, e.g., febri ca[reo; febri pr[ostrata sum is a less likely reading.


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