From my diary

A little while ago I mentioned the lexicon of Sextus Pompeius Festus, a rather battered survival of Latin literature, probably from the 2nd century AD.  I also referred to the Festus Lexicon Project, which had set out to try to produce a reliable text and a translation.  The status of this was uncertain, so I wrote to Fay Glinister and asked.  Today an email arrived back, in which she said:

The Festus Lexicon Project continues to edit the Latin text and translate it into English, but it is a slow process, owing to the great complexity and fragmentary nature of the text. … We plan to publish online and in print, but are some years off yet.

The French text online (Savagner) is very outdated, and based on a version of the Latin that is in some ways more the result of Renaissance and early modern tinkering than the original text of Festus. It is is nevertheless helpful in the absence of any other comprehensive modern translation of this very interesting work.

It is very good news to know that this is still in progress, as well as a comment on the edition with French translation that may be found at

I also heard back from Francesca Schironi, who wrote that excellent book To mega biblion on the ending-marks of books of Homer in papyrus rolls in antiquity.  I enquired how one might locate papyri with such meta-textual elements.  She kindly replied:

To find this type of data, one should search for  key words (e.g end-titles, titles, colophons, etc.) in the Leuven Database of ancient books (a database with literary papyri: For non-papyrologists all the sigla and editions of papyri might be a bit confusing, though.

I must take the time to do this.  There is gold out there, I’m sure.  A first attempt this evening drew blank, however.


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