Omire tedertis

AttestedOmire tedertis at position 25 in the Ravenna Cosmography

Where:  At or near Dorchester Dorset, around SY689898.  The names on either side in the Cosmography, Alauna silva and Lindinis, are not 100% certainly located, but the layout of Roman roads and the absence of any other name in the Cosmography to fit such an important place as Dorchester leave little doubt.  There is no obvious reason to think of any other nearby place, such as the fort at Waddon Hill.  The most likely site is near Frampton, where a Roman villa with fine mosaics at SY615953 was at the head of a lake formed by damming of the river Frome to feed an aqueduct delivering water to Dorchester.

Name origin:  There is no easy explanation for this name as written, and it needs to be emended in some way.  Richmond & Crawford commented on the “unity of the word”, but their photos of the manuscripts show a clear space between the two elements.  In handwriting, tedertis is very similar to cedentis, from the present participle of Latin cedo ‘to move, withdraw, depart’.  Plautus even applied cedo to water.  The Omire part is close to the Greek name Homer (which meant ‘hostage’) and might make sense as Latin for ‘Oh, amazingly’ (perhaps because some Roman map-maker was gobsmacked when the second legion moved from Dorchester to Exeter, apparently without constructing a fort).  Neither idea really explains Omire, but Latin umor ‘liquid’ does offer a plausible answer.  The infinitive of its parent verb umeo/humeo would be umere ‘to make wet’.  There is an equivalent exchange of HU and O in the two names Hunno in the Notitia and Onno in the Cosmography.

Notes:  Possibly the most remarkable feature of Roman Dorchester was its aqueduct, which snaked its way around the contours for some 9.5 km into the city, for which Umoris cedentis ‘coming hither of liquid’ would be a respectable Latin description, within scribal-error and grammatical range of this name.  Note also ομαλοσ ‘level’ (related to a whole class of words that begin in English with homo- ‘same’), which would make sense for an aqueduct and might have prompted a change from U to O.  Thanks to Peter Laurie for prompting an update of this analysis.

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Last edited 13 April 2020     To main Menu