Volcatius Sedigitus

Volcātius Sedīgitus[1] (Latin pronunciation: [wɔlˈkaːtɪʊs sɛˈdiːɡɪtʊs]) was the titulus[2] of a Roman literary critic who flourished around 100 b.c.,[3] noted for his ranking of those he considered the best Latin comics.

Nothing is known about Sedigitus beyond that Pliny,[4] who calls him an illustris poeta, states that he got his cognomen because he was born with six fingers on each hand.[2] This rare state, known as polydactyly, is caused by a dominant gene. 'Six digits (fingers or toes)' in Latin is sex digitī (singular digitus.) The Romans did not avoid openly referencing blemishes and personal infirmities in the names they gave to public figures.[5] (See Roman naming conventions.) A literary critic,[6] his origin may have been from outside the Roman Empire or his origins may have been lowly. Volcatius is an adjective[7] referring to the Volcatia gens[8] and to the Volcae, a Celtic people.[9]

From his work Dē Poētīs Aulus Gellius' Noctēs Atticae[10][11][12] preserves 13 iambic senarii in didascaly, in which "Canon", as it has been termed, the principal Latin comics are enumerated in order of merit, from greatest: Caecilius, Plautus, Naevius, Licinius, Atilius, Terence, Turpilius, Trabea, Luscius, Ennius.[1]

Historian Suetonius' work Vita Terentii (Life of Terence) quotes "Vulcacius" as having given a few details about Terence's leaving Rome and consequent disappearing. Viz., Sedigitus said that the playwright was going to Asia, i.e., Pergamum, and was never seen again.[13][14][15]


  1. 1 2 William Smith; Charles Anthon (July 9, 2006). A new classical dictionary of Greek and Roman biography, mythology and geography. 2. Kessinger. p. 794. ISBN 978-1-4286-4561-5. Sedigĭtus, Volcātĭus, from whose work De Poētis A. Gellius (xv., 24) has preserved iambic senarians, in which the principal Latin comics are enumerated in order of merit.
  2. 1 2 Edward Courtney (2003). The fragmentary Latin poets (2 ed.). Oxford. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-19-926579-4.
  3. Gian Biagio Conte; Joseph Solodow; Don P. Fowler; Glen W. Most (1999). Latin Literature: A History (2 ed.). Johns Hopkins University. p. 573. ISBN 978-0-8018-6253-3. around 100 b.c. the critic Volcacius Sedigitus established a canon
  4. nh ii.214.
  5. Samuel Pegge (1818). Anonymiana; or, Ten centuries of observations on various authors and subjects. (2 ed.). London: Nichols, Son, and Bentley. p. 165. Apud "Sigon. de Nom. Rom", p. 365.
  6. "Caecilius, Statius." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008. "Roman comic poet ranked by the literary critic Volcatius Sedigitus at the head of all Roman writers of comedy."
  7. "-tious Definition". Retrieved 2009-10-22.
  8. William Smith (1849). Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. 3. London: Taylor and Walton. p. 1281.
  9. Oskar Bandle; Kurt Braunmuller; Ernst Hakon Jahr; Allan Karker; Hans-Peter Naumann; Ulf Teleman (February 2003). Nordic Languages: An International Handbook of the History of the North Germanic Languages. Mouton de Gruyter. p. 578. ISBN 978-3-11-014876-3. The (Lat.) proper names Volcatius, Volcius, Catuvolcus are plausibly related to Volcae.
  10. xv.24.
  11. "LacusCurtius • Gellius — Noctes Atticae, Liber XV". Retrieved on 2008-11-25. Incorrectly spelled here as "Vulcacius" (see next reference).
  12. Johann Jacob Hofmann (1635—1706). Lexicon Universale. Lugduni Batavorum, 1698. p. 695. (In Latin.)
  13. Vita 5 = fpl fr. 2.
  14. E. J. Kenney; Wendell Vernon Clausen (1982). The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. 2: Latin Literature. Cambridge University. p. 815. ISBN 978-0-521-21043-0.
  15. "Suetonius: Life of Terence". Retrieved 2009-11-08.


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