Sextus Pompey Festus

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Sextus Pompeius Festus was a Roman lexicographer and grammarian. He probably came from southern Gaul and probably lived in the second half of the 2nd century.

Festus' incomplete, twenty-volume work De verborum significatu ( On the meaning of words ) is an edited version of the dictionary of the same name by the famous Augustan grammarist Marcus Verrius Flaccus . This work by Festus is an important source for the Roman language, mythology and antiquity because it informs about the etymology and meanings of numerous Latin words. He only occasionally threw in his own critical remarks and did not include those words that were already considered out of date in his day. He presumably put these together in another, not preserved work Priscorum verborum cum exemplis .

While only a few fragments of the work of Verrius Flaccus have survived, there is a single - albeit badly damaged - manuscript from the work of Festus, the Codex Farnesianus in Naples from the 11th century (Biblioteca Nazionale IV.A.3). Only the letters M – V (volumes 12–20) have survived from this manuscript, which was rediscovered during the early Renaissance and was partially burned. There is also a complete excerpt from the work of Festus made by Paulus Diaconus at the end of the 8th century, as well as medieval glossaries that go back to Festus.


  • Wallace Martin Lindsay (Ed.): Sexti Pompei Festi De verborum significatu quae supersunt cum Pauli epitome. Teubner, Leipzig 1913. Reprint Olms, Hildesheim 1965.