Tablet 239

description 154 x 41 mm. Plate XVIII.
Two joining fragments containing the beginning of a draft or copy of a letter from Flavius Cerialis to a person only traces of whose name survive. It is probably written by the same hand as 234, however, and may also be to September (see note to line 1). The back of the smaller fragment has traces of writing, apparently including m with a superscript dash (= m(odius)), which may suggest that this side was used for an account before or after the copy of the letter was written (cf. 233, 299). The writer appears to have used an apex over a in Flauius. There are three small scraps which probably do not belong with this text (see 402).


Fláuius Cerialịṣ . [..] . [...] ṛị sụó n
.ẹṇ..unculam domine n
. . . . . . . .


1. Traces of two letters of the end of the name of the addressee survive, of which the first is probably r, judging by the length of the descender; the descender of the first letter of the name may be from s, in which case S[ep]t[emb]ri suggests itself. On the small fragment the shape of the apex over o of suo compares well with that in Fl‡uius.

3. .en..unculam: at the left there is a long horizontal bar which must belong to the first letter in the line and it can hardly be read as anything but t. The fourth and fifth letters are best read as si although we cannot exclude ct. This suggests tensiunculam (pensiunculam, a rare word meaning "a small payment" seems to be excluded). We cannot explain this satisfactorily. tensa is a type of wagon (see OLD, s.v.) but this does not seem to be a legitimate formation of a diminutive. We note that the word tensio is used by Hyginus, Gromat., init. with papilionum for pitching tents and we wonder whether we might have a diminutive indicating a pitched tent; for the derivation of a concrete meaning from an abstract noun perhaps compare coriatio in 343.iv.40 and note. The word tensio is also well-attested in medical senses (OLD, s.v.) and that could be the meaning here (cf. perhaps 294.6).

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