1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Festus, Sextus Pompeius

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14586761911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 10 — Festus, Sextus Pompeius

FESTUS, SEXTUS POMPEIUS, Roman grammarian, probably flourished in the 2nd century A.D. He made an epitome of the celebrated work De verborum significatu, a valuable treatise alphabetically arranged, written by M. Verrius Flaccus, a freedman and celebrated grammarian who flourished in the reign of Augustus. Festus gives the etymology as well as the meaning of every word; 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 discussed in a separate work now lost, entitled Priscorum verborum cum exemplis. Of Flaccus’s work only a few fragments remain, and of Festus’s epitome only one original copy is in existence. This MS., the Codex Festi Farnesianus at Naples, only contains the second half of the work (M-V) and that not in a perfect condition. It has been published in facsimile by Thewrewk de Ponor (1890). At the close of the 8th century Paulus Diaconus abridged the abridgment. From his work and the solitary copy of the original attempts have been made with the aid of conjecture to reconstruct the treatise of Festus.

Of the early editions the best are those of J. Scaliger (1565) and Fulvius Ursinus (1581); in modern times, those of C. O. Müller (1839, reprinted 1880) and de Ponor (1889); see J. E. Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, vol. i. (1906).