Tablet 257

description 96 x 52 mm.
Part of the beginning of a letter on the left-hand side of a diptych from a person named Valatta, probably a woman (see note to line 1). Two small fragments with writing have become detached and their placement has to be deduced (see notes to lines 1 and 3). There are two tie-holes at the left-hand side. The hand bears some resemblance to that of 311 but is somewhat cruder. The reference to Lepidina in line 5 leaves no doubt that the letter was written to Cerialis. This is the only letter to him which is apparently from a woman. What survives of the content suggests that she was asking for some favour or concession (perhaps compare 322, 344).


Ṿaḷatta [Ceriali] suo n
ṣ[alutem n
rogo domịṇe ṛẹ[ n
teritat[e]m tuam [ n
5 et per Lepidinam quod [
mihi c̣oncẹdas uacat n
]. [ n
. . . . . . . .


'Valatta to her Cerialis, greetings. I ask my lord that you relax your severity (?) and through Lepidina that you grant me what I ask (?) ... '


1. The placing of one of the small fragments supplies the tops of tta and the reading seems secure. We have not been able to find the name in this form but note the female name Vallata in CIL 2.1798 (Baetica), cf. LC 357; we regard Valatta as an alternative spelling of this name.

2. We might equally well have s[uo salutem in this line.

3-4. The reading and interpretation of these lines depends on the placing of the second small fragment at the right of line 3 and on the restoration of the word which ends -teritatem. The small fragment undoubtedly reads ].ere[; if it fits flush to the broken edge, it will have the end of domine followed by re, as our reconstruction suggests. Of the nouns which terminate with -teritas only two seem worth considering in the context, austeritas ("severity") and dexteritas ("readiness to help"). The former would seem to make better sense in a context which refers to making a concession (line 6). As a possible supplement in lines 3-4 we suggest re[mittas aus-]/teritat [ e] m (cf. perhaps Pliny, Ep. 2.5.5), but we can envisage an alternative such as re[ddas or re[feras dex-]/teritat [ e] m tuam. These suggestions imply that some 4 letters have been lost at the ends of lines 4 and but we cannot be sure of this since it depends on the uncertain placing of suo in lines 1-2. To complete line 4 we might have simply mihi; at the end of line peto would give good sense. A wholly different line of approach would be to suppose that the small fragment should be placed slightly further to the right, perhaps giving us rogo domin [ e] per e[am dex-]/teritatem tuam et per Lepidinam etc.

6. The space after concedas is unexpected, cf. 217.ii.1, 291.ii.8, 379.

7. The trace, if it is ink, looks like the top of a centurial sign, but too little remains to propose this as a reading.

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