Sextus Pompeius Festus

Sextus Pompeius Festus, usually known simply as Festus, was a Roman grammarian who probably flourished in the later 2nd century AD, perhaps at Narbo (Narbonne) in Gaul.


He made a 20-volume epitome of Verrius Flaccus's voluminous and encyclopedic treatise De Verborum Significatione. Flaccus had been a celebrated grammarian who flourished in the reign of Augustus. Festus gives the etymology as well as the meaning of many words, and his work throws considerable light on the language, mythology and antiquities of ancient Rome. He made a few alterations, and inserted some critical remarks of his own. He also omitted such ancient Latin words as had long been obsolete; these he apparently discussed in a separate work now lost, entitled Priscorum verborum cum exemplis. Even incomplete, Festus' lexicon reflects at second hand the enormous intellectual effort that had been made in the Augustan Age to put together information on the traditions of the Roman world, which was already in a state of flux and change.

Of Flaccus' work only a few fragments remain; of Festus' epitome only one damaged, fragmentary manuscript. The rest is further abridged in a summary made at the close of the 8th century, by Paul the Deacon.

The Festus Lexicon Project has summed up Paul's epitome of Festus' De Verborum Significatu as follows:

The text, even in its present mutilated state, is an important source for scholars of Roman history. It is a treasury of historical, grammatical, legal and antiquarian learning, providing sometimes unique evidence for the culture, language, political, social and religious institutions, deities, laws, lost monuments, and topographical traditions of ancient Italy.[1]


The 11th-century Codex Farnesianus at Naples is the sole surviving manuscript of Festus. It was rediscovered in 1436 at Speyer by the Venetian humanist and bishop Pietro Donato.[2] When he found it, half of the manuscript was already missing, so that it only contains the alphabetized entries, M-V, and that not in perfect condition. It has been scorched by fire and disassembled.

Collating these fragmentary abridgments, and republishing them with translations, is a project being coordinated at University College London, with several objectives: to make this information available in usable form, to stimulate debate on Festus and on the Augustan antiquarian tradition upon which he drew, and to enrich and to renew studies on Roman life, about which Festus provides essential information.



  1. ^ Festus Lexicon Project, Department of History - University College London (archived from the original)
  2. ^ Stinger, Charles L (1998). The Renaissance in Rome. Indiana University Press. p. 64 – via Google Books.


Further reading

  • Acciarino, D. 2016. "The Renaissance Editions of Festus: Fulvio Orsini's Version." Acta Classica 59: 1-22.
  • Cornell, Timothy J. 2014. "Festus." In The Fragments of the Roman Historians. Vol. 1, Introduction. Edited by Timothy J. Cornell, 67–68. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
  • Dahm, Murray K. 1999. "A Hendiadys in the Breviarum of Festus: A Literary Festus?" Prudentia: A Journal Devoted to the Intellectual History of the Ancient World. 31.1: 15-22.
  • Glinister, Fay, and Clare Woods, with John A. North and Michael H. Crawford. 2007. Verrius, Festus, and Paul: Lexicography, Scholarship, and Society. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies of the University of London Supplement 93. London: Institute of Classical Studies.
  • Lamers, Han. 2013. "Creating Room for Doubt: A Reexamination of the editorship of Festus’ “Collectanea” (Rome, 1475)." Philologus 157:374–378.
  • Lindsay, Wallace Martin. 1996. Studies in Early Mediaeval Latin Glossaries. Edited by Michael Lapidge. Variorum Collected Studies Series 467. Aldershot, UK: Variorum.
  • Loew, Elias Avery. 1911. "The Naples MS. of Festus: Its Home and Date." Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift 31:917–918.
  • Marshall, Peter K. 1983. "Sex. Pompeius Festus." In Texts and transmission: A Survey of the Latin Classics. Edited by Leighton D. Reynolds, 162–164. Oxford: Clarendon.
  • North, John. 2008. "Restoring Festus from Paul’s Epitome." Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 48.1–2: 157–170.
  • Schmidt, Peter Lebrecht. 2004. "Festus." In Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. Vol. 5, Equ–Has. Edited by Hubert Cancik and Helmuth Schneider, 407. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill.

External links

Caeso (praenomen)

Caeso or Kaeso (Classical Latin: [ˈkae̯soː]) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, usually abbreviated K. Although never a common name, Caeso was regularly used by a number of prominent families, both patrician and plebeian, during the period of the Roman Republic. The feminine form is Caesula (also spelled Cesula, Caesulla, Caesilla, and Caesillia). The name also gave rise to the patronymic gens Caesonia. Kaeso is the older spelling, dating from the period when the letter K was still frequently used before the vowel A in Latin, and before the letters C and G were differentiated.The praenomen Caeso was regularly used by the patrician gentes Fabia and Quinctia during the 1st centuries of the Republic, and also by the plebeian gentes Atilia and Duilia (both of which may originally have been patrician). It is also found in the gentes Acilia, Fabricia, and Latria, and must once have been used by the ancestors of gens Caesonia. Its use gradually declined throughout Republican times, and seems to have fallen out of use around the 1st century AD.


The Caprotinia, or feasts of Juno Caprotina, were ancient Roman festivals which were celebrated on July 7, in favour of the female slaves. During this solemnity they ran about, beating themselves with their fists and with rods. None but women assisted in the sacrifices offered at this feast.Plutarch's Life of Numa and Life of Camillus offer two possible origins for this feast, or the famous Nonae Caprotinae or Poplifugium. Firstly—and, in Plutarch's opinion, most likely—it commemorates the mysterious disappearance of Romulus during a violent thunderstorm that interrupted an assembly in the Palus Caprae ("Goats' Marsh"). Secondly, it commemorates a Roman victory by Camillus over the Latins; according to a minor tradition, a Roman serving maid or slave dressed as a noblewomen and surrendered herself to the Latins as hostage; that night, she climbed a wild fig-tree (caprificus, literally "goat-fig") and gave the Romans a torchlight signal to attack.

De Verborum Significatione

De Verborum Significatione, fully Twenty Books on the Meaning of Words (Latin: De Verborum Significatione Libri XX) and also known as De Verborum Signficatu and The Lexicon of Festus, is an epitome compiled, edited, and annotated by Sextus Pompeius Festus from the encyclopedic works of Verrius Flaccus. Festus's epitome is typically dated to the 2nd century, but the work only survives in a partial 11th-century manuscript and copies of its own separate epitome.

De analogia

De analogia (full title: De analogia libri II ad M. Tullium Ciceronem) were the two books of a grammatical work on the Latin language written by Julius Caesar and dedicated to Cicero. Only a few fragments from this important work have survived. Suetonius mentions that Caesar wrote De analogia while he and his army were crossing the Alps.

Gaius Julius Caesar (name)

Gaius Julius Caesar (Greek: ΓΑΙΟΣ ΙΟΥΛΙΟΣ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ) was a prominent name of the Gens Julia from Roman Republican times, borne by a number of figures, but most notably by the general and dictator Julius Caesar.

Gnaeus (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For a list of prominent Romans with this name, see Gnaeus (disambiguation).Gnaeus (; Classical Latin: [ˈɡnae̯.ʊs]) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was common throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and well into imperial times. The feminine form is Gnaea. The praenomen was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Naevia. The name was regularly abbreviated Cn., based on the archaic spelling, Cnaeus, dating from the period before the letters "C" and "G" were differentiated.For most of Roman history, Gnaeus was one of the ten most common praenomina, being less common than Titus, the sixth most common praenomen, and comparable in frequency to Aulus, Spurius, and Sextus. Although the name was used by a minority of families at Rome, it was favored by a number of prominent gentes, including the Cornelii, Domitii, Manlii, and Servilii. The name gradually became less common in imperial times.

Gnaeus Naevius

Gnaeus Naevius (; c. 270 – c. 201 BC) was a Roman epic poet and dramatist of the Old Latin period. He had a notable literary career at Rome until his satiric comments delivered in comedy angered the Metellus family, one of whom was consul. After a sojourn in prison he recanted and was set free by the tribunes (who had the tribunician power, in essence the power of habeas corpus). After a second offense he was exiled to Tunisia, where he wrote his own epitaph and committed suicide. His comedies were in the genre of Palliata Comoedia, an adaptation of Greek New Comedy. A soldier in the Punic Wars, he was highly patriotic, inventing a new genre called Praetextae Fabulae, an extension of tragedy to Roman national figures or incidents, named after the Toga praetexta worn by high officials. Of his writings there survive only fragments of several poems preserved in the citations of late ancient grammarians (Charisius, Aelius Donatus, Sextus Pompeius Festus, Aulus Gellius, Isidorus Hispalensis, Macrobius, Nonius Marcellus, Priscian, Marcus Terentius Varro).

Juno Februata

A festival said to be of Juno Februata or Juno Februa, though it does not appear in Ovid's Fasti, was described by Alban Butler, famous as the author of Butler's Lives of Saints, who presented an aspect of the Roman Lupercalia as a festival of a "Juno Februata", under the heading of February 14:

"To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honour of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets, given on this day."Jack Oruch, who noted Butler's inventive confusion, noted that it was embellished by Francis Douce, in Illustrations of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Manners, new ed. London, 1839, p 470, who took such a festival for the Lupercalia, which was celebrated, he asserted,

"during a great art of the month of February.... in honour of Pan and Juno... On this occasion, amidst a variety of ceremonies, the names of young women were put into a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed." Douce repeated Butler's description of the attempt to substitute saint's names, and concluded that "as the festival of the Lupercalia had commenced about the middle of February, [the Christians] appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's day for celebrating the new feast; because it occurred nearly at the same time"The connection thus begun has been uncritically repeated to the modern day: but see Valentine's Day and Saint Valentine.

The epithet or divine cognomen of Juno Purified and Purifying, Juno Februata, Februlis, Februta or Februalis is noted in William Smith, (1870) 1898. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology with a reference to Sextus Pompeius Festus Februarius, to Ovid's poem on the Roman festivals, Fasti, ii.441, which however refers to Juno Lucina in the context of restoring the fertility of Roman women and to Arnobius' sarcastic fourth-century attack on pagan customs, Adversus Nationes The adjective februata is unusual and highly specific, unlike broader, more familiar Latin terms: Ovid was at pains to elucidate februa in Fasti. "The narrowness of meaning in febrare, no synonym of purgare or even of lustrare suggests borrowing, an importation which never had a place in the popular language," Joshua Whatmough remarked, and he noted that Varro considered it Sabine in origin.

Manius (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For a list of prominent Romans with this name, see Manius.Manius (; Latin pronunciation: [ˈmaːnɪ.ʊs]) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and well into imperial times. The feminine form is Mania. The name was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gentes Manlia and Manilia. Manius was originally abbreviated with an archaic five-stroke "M" (in Unicode U+A7FF ꟿ ), which was not otherwise used in Latin. In place of this letter, the praenomen came to be abbreviated M'.Although regularly used by certain gentes, such as the Acilii, Aemilii, Aquilii, Papirii, Sergii, and Valerii, Manius was not used by the majority of families, and was never particularly common. Between ten and twelve other praenomina were used more frequently. It became less common during the period of the Roman Empire, eventually falling out of use.


In Roman religion, Meditrinalia was a now obscure festival celebrated on October 11 in honor of the new vintage, which was offered as libations to the gods for the first time each year. The festival may have been so called from medendo, because the Romans then began to drink new wine, which they mixed with old and which served them instead of physic.Little information about the Meditrinalia survived from early Roman religion, although the tradition itself did. It was known to be somehow connected to Jupiter and to have been an important ceremony in early agricultural Rome, but beyond that, only speculation exists.

Meditrina was a Roman goddess who seems to have been a late Roman invention to account for the origin of Meditrinalia. The earliest account of associating the Meditrinalia with such a goddess was by 2nd century grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus, on the basis of which she is asserted by modern sources to be the Roman goddess of health, longevity and wine, with an etymological meaning of "healer" suggested by some.

Nenia Dea

Nenia Dea (Engl.: Goddess Nenia; rarely Naenia) was an ancient funeral deity of Rome, who had a sanctuary outside of the Porta Viminalis. The cult of the Nenia is doubtlessly a very old one, but according to Georg Wissowa the location of Nenia's shrine (sacellum) outside of the center of early Rome indicates that she didn't belong to the earliest circle of Roman deities. In a different interpretation her shrine was located outside of the old city walls, because it had been custom for all gods connected to death or dying.

Pompeius (disambiguation)

Pompeius may refer to:

Many ancient Romans; see Pompeius

Characters in fictional works set in ancient Rome, including:Quintus Valerius Pompey

Gnaeus Pompey Magnus (character of Rome)Sextus Pompeius Festus, the grammarian usually known as Festus

Pompeius of Pavia (d. 290), Bishop of Pavia and saint

Pompeius (butterfly), a genus of butterfly in the grass skipper family

Pompey, Meurthe-et-Moselle, a town in France

The nickname of the city of Portsmouth in Hampshire, England, and the nickname of its principal football club, Portsmouth F.C.

Proculus (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For the 3rd-century usurper, see Proculus. For any of several saints named Proculus, see Saint Proculus (disambiguation).Proculus is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was most common during the early centuries of the Roman Republic. It gave rise to the patronymic gentes Proculeia and Procilia, and later became a common cognomen, or surname. The feminine form is Procula. The name was not regularly abbreviated.Proculus was an uncommon name, but was occasionally used by both patrician and plebeian families. Those known to have used it included the Betutii, Geganii, Julii, Sertorii, and Verginii; and naturally Proculus must once have been used by the ancestors of the gentes Proculeia and Procilia. Other families which later used the name as a cognomen may originally have used it as a praenomen. The scholar Varro described Proculus as an archaic praenomen, which was no longer in general use by the first century BC. As a cognomen, however, Proculus was still common, and it became even more so during imperial times.

Publius (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For a list of individuals with this name, see Publius (disambiguation).Publius is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and was very common at all periods of Roman history. It gave rise to the patronymic gens Publilia, and perhaps also gens Publicia. The feminine form is Publia. The name was regularly abbreviated P.Throughout Roman history, Publius was one of the most frequently-used praenomina, typically occupying fourth or fifth place, behind Lucius, Gaius, and Marcus, and occurring with about the same frequency as Quintus. The feminine form, Publia, was also quite common, and is found in numerous inscriptions as late as the 3rd century, and perhaps beyond.

Sertor (praenomen)

Sertor is a Latin praenomen, or personal name. It was never common, and is not known to have been used by any prominent families at Rome. It gave rise to the patronymic gens Sertoria. The feminine form was probably Sertora. The name was not regularly abbreviated, but is sometimes found as Sert.The praenomen Sertor was used by the plebeian gentes Mimesia, Varisidia, Vedia, and perhaps Resia, and must once have been used by the ancestors of gens Sertoria, whose most distinguished member was the Roman general Quintus Sertorius. The name was familiar to the scholar Marcus Terentius Varro, who described it as an antique praenomen, no longer in general use by the 1st century BC. As with other praenomina, it may have been more common, and survived longer, in the countryside; at least one example from Umbria dates to Varro's time or later.

Servius (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For the sixth king of Rome, see Servius Tullius. For the jurist, see Servius Sulpicius Rufus. For the grammarian, see Servius Maurus Honoratus.Servius (Classical Latin: [ˈsɛɾwɪ.ʊs]) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used throughout the period of the Roman Republic, and well into imperial times. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Servilia. The feminine form is Servia. The name was regularly abbreviated Ser.Servius was never one of the most common praenomina; about ten other names were used more frequently. Most families did not use it, although it was a favorite of the Cornelii and the Sulpicii, two of the greatest patrician houses at Rome. The name gradually became less common towards the end of the Republic, but was still used in imperial times.

Sextus Pompeius (disambiguation)

Sextus Pompeius may refer to:

Sextus Pompeius Magnus Pius, or Sextus Pompey, (67–35 BC), Roman general

Sextus Pompeius Festus (fl. 2nd century AD), Roman grammarian

Sextus Pompeius, paternal uncle of the triumvir Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey"), and other relatives of the same name

Spurius (praenomen)

This page is about the Latin praenomen. For a list of prominent individuals with this name, see Spurius (disambiguation).Spurius (Latin pronunciation: [ˈspʊɾɪ.ʊs]) is a Latin praenomen, or personal name, which was used primarily during the period of the Roman Republic, and which fell into disuse in imperial times. It was used by both patrician and plebeian families, and gave rise to the patronymic gens Spurilia. The feminine form is Spuria. The name was originally abbreviated S., as it was the most common praenomen beginning with that letter; but, as it grew less common, it was sometimes abbreviated Sp.For most of the Roman Republic, Spurius was about the ninth most-common praenomen. Although used by a minority of families, it was favored by many, including the gentes Carvilia, Cassia, Furia, Nautia, Papiria, Postumia, Servilia, and Veturia. It was most common during the early centuries of the Republic, and gradually declined in popularity until it all but disappeared during the 1st century AD.

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