Tablet 265

description 96 x 50 mm. Plate XIX.
The top portion of the left-hand side of a diptych containing the beginning of a letter to Cerialis. The top left-hand corner, where the name of the sender will have been, is missing; three small scraps, each containing parts of letters, probably come from this part of the leaf but cannot be accurately positioned. The writer informs Cerialis that, in accordance with the latter's wish, he has marked the dies Kalendarum (New Year's Day) by a sacrifice. 261 contains a New Year's greeting from Hostilius Flavianus to Cerialis but there is no reason to connect 265 with Flavianus and the hand of 261 is certainly different. A notable palaeographical feature is that the writer several times marks the letter a with an apex, without regard to the quantity of the vowel (see above, pp.57-61). There is also a high apex-like mark over the m of salutem in line 2, on which see above, p.57.



'... to his Cerialis, greetings. Just as you wished, brother, I have consecrated the day of the Kalends by a sacrifice ... '


1. Not enough remains to hazard a guess at the identity of the author of the letter (frater in line 3 suggests a status similar to that of Cerialis).

3-4. diem Kálendarum: this is frequently used without the name of the month, to refer to New Year's Day. For its general significance see Rea (1988) and P.Oxy.LV 3812.5-6 note, CPR VIII 52.6-8 note, Pliny, NH 28.22 quoted in 261, introduction; and for the military significance, Fink, Hoey and Snyder (1940), 50-1.

5. dedi-: the reading deos, quoted by A.R.Birley (1991a), 18, looks possible at first sight but we do not think it can be read and are at a loss to see how it would make sense grammatically. Nor does the 1st person singular of the perfect tense of dare seem promising. We think it much more probable that we should supply some part of dedico, probably dedi [ caui] . It should be noted that the ligatures of edi are remarkable and also that there is a stroke after i which looks like a hyphen; but we have seen no other example of this in the tablets and believe the use of hyphens at line-ends to be a much later development. If this reading is correct, diem must be the object of the verb, although die would give better sense ("I dedicated (something) by sacrifice on New Year's Day"); despite the loss of half of the final m, which has overrun the fold, the reading is inescapable. Perhaps the meaning is that Cerialis' correspondent has consecrated the day to some deity. Compare Augustine, de civ. dei 7.7, duos menses ... dedicatos ... ianuarium iano februarium termino, Cassiodorus, in psalm. praef. 10c, ipsi nobis primam diei horam dedicant, Ausonius, Ep. 21.25, Octobres olim genitus Maro dedicat idus.

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