The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.



Catonis; De Plauti Calculis; De Jure Sacro el Augurali, and others ; but altogether omitted those words which had fallen into disuse (intermortua et sepulta\ intending to make these the subject of a separate volume Priscorum Verborum cum Exem-plis (see s. v. porriciam). Finally, towards the end of the eighth century, Paul, son of Warnefrid, better known as Paulus Diaconus, from having offi­ciated as a deacon of the church at Aquileia, abridged the abridgment of Festus, dedicating his production to Charlemagne, after that prince had dethroned Desiderius, the last king of the Lom­bards, whom Paul had served as chancellor.

The original work of Verrius Flaccus has alto­gether perished with the exception of one or two inconsiderable fragments. Of the abstract by Fes­tus one imperfect MS. only has come down to us. It was brought, we are told, from Illyria, and fell into the hands of Pomponius Laetus, a c'elebrated scholar of the fifteenth century, who for some rea­son now unknown kept possession of a few leaves when he transferred the remainder to a certain Manilius Rallus, in whose hands they were seen in 1485 by Politian, who copied the whole together with the pages retained by Pomponius Laetus. This MS. of Rallus found its way eventually into the Farnese library at Parma, whence it was con­veyed, in 1736, to Naples, where it still exists. The portion which remained in the custody of Laetus was repeatedly transcribed, but it is known that the archetype was lost before 1581, when Ursinus published his edition. The original codex written upon parchment, probably in the eleventh or twelfth century, appears to have consisted, when entire, of 128 leaves, or 256 pages, each page con­taining two columns ; but at the period when it was first examined by the learned, fifty-eight leaves at the beginning were wanting, comprehending all the letters before M; three gaps, extending in all to ten leaves, occurred in different places, and the last leaf had been torn off, so that only fifty-nine leaves were left, of which eighteen were separated from the rest by Laetus and have disappeared, while forty-one are still found in the Farnese MS. In addition to the deficiencies described above, and to the ravages made by dirt, damp, and vermin, the volume had suffered severely from fire, so that while in each page the inside column was in toler­able preservation, only a few words of the outside column were legible, and in some instances the whole were destroyed. These blanks have been ingeniously filled up by Scaliger and Ursinus, partly from conjecture and partly from the correspond­ing paragraphs of Paulus, whose performance ap­pears in a complete form in many MSS. This epitomizer, however, notwithstanding his boast that he had passed over what was superfluous and illustrated what was obscure, was evidently ill qualified for his task ; for whenever we have an op­portunity of comparing him with Festus we per­ceive that he omitted much that was important, that he slavishly copied clerical blunders, and that when any expression appeared perplexing to his imperfect scholarship he quietly dropped it alto­gether. He added a little, but very little, of his own, as, for example, the allusion to his namesake, the apostle (s. v. barbari), and a few observations under secus^sacrima^ signare^posimerium^porcas^ &c.

It is evident from what has been said that the book, as commonly exhibited, consists of four dis­tinct parts:—•


1. The Fragments of Festus contained in the Farnese MS. now deposited in the Royal library at Naples.

2. The fragments of Festus retained by Pom.' ponius Laetus, the archetype of which, although lost before the end of the sixteenth century, had previously been frequently transcribed.

These two sets of fragments, as far as they go, are probably a tolerably correct though meagre repre­sentation of the commentaries of Verrius Flaccus.

3. The epitome of Paulus Diaconus, consisting of inaccurate excerpts from Festus, a mere shadow of a shade, but even these imperfect outlines are very precious.

4. The interpolations of Scaliger and Ursinus^ foisted in for the purpose of filling up the blanks in the outside columns of the MS. of Festus. These are of course almost worthless, since they must be regarded merely as specimens of ingenuity.

Although it is manifest how much the four parts differ from each other in value, yet all are in most editions mixed up into one discordant whole, so that it is impossible, without much labour and research, to analyse the mass and resolve it into its elements. Hence we not unfrequently find in the essays of even distinguished scholars quotations professedly from Festus, which upon examination turn out to be the barbarous blunders of Paulus, or even simply the lucubrations of Ursinus. We have now, however, been happily relieved from all such embarrassments by the labours of Miiller, whose admirable edition is described more parti­cularly below.

The principle upon which the words are classi­fied is at first sight by no means obvious or intel­ligible. The arrangement is so far alphabetical that all words commencing with the same letter are placed together. But the words ranked under each letter are, as it were, divided into two parts. In the first part the words are grouped, according not only to the initial, but also to the second and even the third and fourth letters ; the groups, however, succeed each other not as in an ordinary dictionary but irregularly. Thus we find at the beginning of R, not the words in Ra, but those in Ru> next those in Ro, next those in Rum9 next those in JKk, next those in Re and Ri mixed, next those in 7?a, and again Re and Ri mixed. In the second part regard is paid to the initial letter alone without reference to those which follow, it, but the words placed together have in most instances some bond of connection. Thus in the second part of P we find the series PalatualiS) Portenta^ Postularia, Pestifera, Peremp-talia,) Pullus, all of which belong to sacred rites, and especially to auspices. Again, Propius Sobrino. Possessio^ Praefecturae, Parret, Postum, Palrocinia, Posticam lineam^ terms relating to civil law ; Pomp-tina, Papiria, Pupinnia, Pupillia, names of tribes, and so on. The same word is frequently explained both in the first and in the second part, and some­times the two explanations are at variance ; thus, Reus, Ritus, JKustica Vinalia^ occur in both the first and second parts of R, while the remarks on Obsi-dium, Obsidionem, in the first part of 0 are incon­sistent with what is said upon the same words in the second part. The same word is never repeated twice in the first part, but this sometimes happens in the second, when it falls to be interpreted under two heads, as in the case of Praebia. The first part in some letters is headed by a few words altogether out of their order, which seem placed ui a conspi-

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of