Tablet 258

description 86 x 33 mm. Plate XVII.
The lower part of what must have been the right-hand portion of a diptych, containing the end of a letter to Cerialis. Only the last few words of the message and the closure survive. The address on the back suggests that the letter is from a centurion with the cognomen Imber (see note to lines 8-9). We cannot accept the suggestion that this letter might be from Caecilius September (A.R.Birley (1991b), 98, note 53). 252.ii.3 must be September's autograph and the eccentric and crude hand of 258.4-5, which must also be the author's autograph, is quite different. The letter might possibly concern the construction or provision of a bridge (see note to line 2).


. . . . . . . .
].. [
..m ut p̣on. ẹ. [ ... ] . n
praestarem uacat
opto bene ualere n
5 te domine uale n
F̣ḷạuiọ C̣ẹṛịạḷị n
praef(ecto) · n
a F̣. ṛ.... ḅre n
........ ne n


'... so that I might provide you with a bridge (?). I pray that you are in good health, my lord. Farewell. (Back) To Flavius Cerialis, prefect, from ..., centurion (?). '


2. iam is a possible reading at the beginning of the line. After ut it would be possible to read con.e. but we know of no suitable noun which begins thus to go with praestarem. We tentatively suggest pontem, taking praestarem in line 3 in the sense of "furnish", "provide" (OLD, s.v.8A). There is a trace at the right which could well be part of i; this suggests the reading [ tib] i.

4-5. This closure is written in a very difficult and idiosyncratic hand. ualere is possible only with an odd form of u with a stroke going down at the right and a with a sharp oblique stroke at the right, but it is made identically in line 5. The position of te is unexpected.

6. Only the feet of letters survive and the reading of Ceriali is not wholly certain.

7. Unusually, the abbreviation of praef(ecto) seems to be marked by a medial dot after f. The apparent oblique stroke is not ink.

8-9. We think it unlikely that the correct reading is a Septembre (see introduction) and despite the uncertainty of the reading in line 9 we are fairly sure that the author cannot be another prefect. The first letter of the name seems to be f and it is possible that we have a gentilicium, perhaps followed by Imbre. If this is correct there seems not to be room for Flauio. Perhaps Furio, a name which is reasonably common in the western provinces (see NPEL). only the last two letters are relatively clear but the preceding traces are not compatible with decurione; we therefore suggest that centurione should be read.

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