This tablet contains the end of a letter addressed to Cerialis. There is an apparent notch in the left-hand edge and the corners seems to be cut off. We think these features are accidental since, if they were not, we should have to regard the letter as being written either on a half leaf or on the left-hand side of a diptych (the right-hand side being blank); in the former case the notch for a binding cord would be otiose, in the latter we would expect the address to be on the back of the missing half. The hand which wrote line 1 is an interesting and distinctive one, with no close parallel elsewhere in the tablets. It is upright, rather bold and gives a somewhat stiff impression. Unfortunately only one line survives and of this we cannot always be confident of the reading, especially as some of the letters tend to be undifferentiated. In the second hand, which has added the greeting in lines 2-3, the forms of e at the end of each line (see FIG. 11.11, Vol. 1., Ch. 4) and the n preceding it in line 2 (see FIG. 11.23) are noteworthy.
1. inmatura or in matura would seem to be correct; for immaturus followed by ad see OLD s.v.1b. Before it the reading is very uncertain: the first stroke is a curve, perhaps part of a large c, then possibly i or e with what looks like p following, though t is possible; io looks almost certain. Of the various possibilities a noun ending -citio, with which inmatura could agree, is perhaps the most promising, though not the easiest reading palaeographically. After ad the reading appears to be meta, though e is made quite unlike any other e in the tablets, with perhaps two letters before a final a. It would be just possible to read metalla, which would presumably be a reference to British mines or minerals.
2. We are confident of uale, so this line must begin a closing greeting. Since ne is certain at the end, we are driven by common sense and the parallels (No. 21.12-3, No. 30.9-10) to read domine, though it must be admitted that this is not an easy reading. If it is correct, we presumably have ualeas before it, even though what can be seen after ualea does not really resemble s.
3. We are confident of fra, so frater must be correct even though r is difficult. The traces of the next letter suit k (but not c) and r is certain, so we are confident that karissime was intended (final e is certain). However, the traces between kar and e are perhaps better represented by the reading karisime (for the spelling cf. No. 45); if we read ss we have to suppose that me is ligatured like mi in domine in No. 21.13.
Back. Of ceriali only the last three letters are certain and we have naturally considered, in view of Nos. 34-6, whether the reading geniali is possible. There is a trace at the foot of the first letter which might suit g better than c, but we think the third letter is much more easily read as r. Beneath this, there may be traces of the tops of letters from another line (presumably Cerialis’s title, cf. No. 23.13(263)).