Tablet 227

description (a) 85 x 27 mm. (b) 85 x 30 mm. Plate XV.
These two fragments contain a draft by the hand identified as that of Cerialis. It is evident from the physical characteristics of the wood that they belong together, probably to half of a diptych, but they do not join. If the hand really is that of Cerialis (see 225, introduction), the reference to Cerialis mei in b.2 presents problems of interpretation. The easiest solution is to suppose that Flavius Cerialis is writing about his son who is also called Cerialis. If the reference is to the prefect himself, the letter must be from Lepidina and so we must either have the hand of an amanuensis or, more probably, we must suppose that Cerialis drafted the letter for his wife. There is not enough surviving text to give much clue to the content. The substitution of ualetudinem for natalem in b.2 is odd and it looks as though it may be part of an excuse; that is, the writer cannot do something because of the birthday of Cerialis or, on second thoughts, his state of health. This is not easy; in particular it is difficult to see how to supply the negative which would be required with licuerit. The celebration of birthdays plays a significant part in the social life of the inhabitants of the praetorium in the frontier region (see 291).


a.1. The erased name is written at the top left of the fragment, as if this were the beginning of a letter, but the remainder of the surface, to the right and below, is blank.

b.2. ualetudinem must be an interlinear addition and hence a substitute for the erased natalem. There is a trace to the left which could be read as r but this must belong to the preceding line, at the end of which we might restore propter to precede ualetudinem.

b.3. If there is a break in the sense after licuerit, what follows may mean something like "for I want you to be clear about my intentions", supplying meo (cf. OLD, s.v. liqueo 3b).

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