Disclaimer: this is a tentative translation, undertaken at speed and intended as a guide to the content of the breviary. I have aimed to be literal not elegant. For example, I have adopted the late Roman usage of referring to countries which the Romans divided up into provinces in the plural (the Spains, the Mauritanias). Festus’ brevity led him to make some embarrassing mistakes, but not all the mistakes are his by any means. I have not had time to think carefully about all the textual problems. The existing editions do not offer a very translatable text, and it would be misleading to offer something smoother. Addendum 2 May 2021: I have altered the translation of the first sentence, as I have long accepted M.D. Reeve's demonstration that the authentic opening words are De breviario rerum gestarum populi Romani, which have wrongly been taken as part of the title. I also removed the gloss 'Constantinople' at 9.4, found only in part of the manuscript tradition. For my subsequent article on Festus, see here.
1.1. That a briefing be prepared from the Breviarium of the deeds of the Roman people was Your Clemency's advice; I shall gladly obey the advice, as one who lacks the capacity to elaborate expansively; and following the practice of accountants, who express huge sums with abbreviated figures, I shall outline and not elaborate history. 2. So receive a work such as is totted up more briefly than words briefly spoken: so that you seem, glorious prince, not so much to read of the years and age [n.1] of the republic and the deeds of past time, as to count them.
2.1. From the foundation of the city, then, up to the rise of Your Perpetuities, by which the rule of brothers became Rome’s lot with happier outcome, there are counted 1117 years. So under the kings are counted 243 years, under the consuls 467 years, under the emperors 407 years. 2. There reigned at Rome for 243 years kings seven in number. Romulus reigned 37 years, the senators, five days each, for one year, Numa Pompilius reigned 43 years; Tullus Hostilius reigned 32 years, Ancus Martius reigned 24 years; Priscus Tarquinius reigned 38 years; Servius Tullius reigned 44 years; Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was driven from the kingship in the 24th year. 3. The consuls from Brutus and Publicola down to Pansa and Hirtius were 916 [or 917?] in number, except those who by some chance were substitutes for the same year, over 467 years. For in nine year there were not consuls at Rome; in two years under the decemvirs, in three years under the military tribunes, and Rome was without magistrates for four years. 4. The emperors from Octavian Caesar Augustus down to Jovian were 43 in number over 407 years.
3.1. To what extent Rome advanced under these three types of empire (that is, royal, consular, imperial) I shall briefly make known. Under the seven kings over 342 years, the Roman Empire did not advance further than Portus and Ostia, within the eighteenth milestone from the gates of the city of Rome, still small as she was and founded by shepherds, while neighbouring cities pressed around. 2. Under the consuls, among whom there were also occasionally dictators, over a total period of 467 years Italy up to beyond the Po was occupied, Africa was subdued, the Spains were added, the Gauls and Britains were made tributary. Out of Illyricum, the Histrians, Libyrnians and Dalmatians were tamed; the crossing to Achaea was made; the Macedonians were subdued; war was waged on the Dardanians, Moesians and Thracians, and as far as the Danube was attained. 3. In Asia the Romans first set their feet when Antiochus was expelled, when Mithridates was vanquished Pontus, his kingdom, was occupied; lesser Armenia, which the same man had held, was taken with arms; a Roman army reached into Mesopotamia; a treaty was entered with the Parthians; war was made on the Carduenians and Saracens and Arabs; all Judaea was vanquished; Cilicia, the Syrias came into the power of the Roman people; the kings of Egypt had been made federates. 4. Under the emperors over 407 years, when many emperors ruled and the republic’s Fortune was variable, there were added to the Roman world the Maritime Alps, the Cottian Alps, the Rhaetias, Noricums, [n.2] Pannonias and Moesias and the whole shore of the Danube was turned into provinces. [n.3] All of Pontus, Armenia minor, the whole of Oriens with Mesopotamia, Assyria, Arabia and Egypt passed beneath the laws of the Roman Empire.
4.1. And the order in which the Roman state acquired the individual provinces is shown below. Sicily was made the first of the provinces. It was obtained by Marcellus the consul, when Hiero king of the Sicilians was vanquished. It was then ruled by Praetors, afterwards was entrusted to praesides: now it’s governed by consulares. 2. Sardinia and Corsica Metellus conquered; he triumphed over the Sardinians – the Sardinians often restarted the war. The government of these provinces had been joined, afterwards they had their own praetors, now they’re individually ruled by praesides. 3. Roman arms moved across to Africa for the defence of the Sicilians. Three times Africa returned to war; at the last, when Carthage had been destroyed by Africanus Scipio, it was made a province, and now is under proconsuls. 4. Numidia used to be held by friendly kings, but against Jugurtha war was declared, because he’d killed Adherbal and Hiempsal, the sons of King Micipsa; and when he had been ground down by Metellus, and captured by Marius, Numidia came within the power of the Roman people. 5. The Mauritanias were obtained by Bocchus. But when all Africa had been subdued, King Juba ruled the Mauri, and having been conquered in the course of civil war by Augustus Caesar he chose by his own wish to kill himself. 6. So the Mauritanias began to be ours and throughout all Africa six provinces were made: Africa herself, where Carthage is, is proconsular, Numidia is consular, Byzacium is consular, Tripolis and the two Mauritanias (i.e. Sitifensis and Caesariensis) are under praesides.
5.1. The Spaniards we first helped against the Africans through Scipio. We acquired the Lusitanians when they made war again in Spain, thanks to Decimus Brutus, and we reached as far as the sea of Ocean at Cadiz. Afterwards Sylla was sent against the restless Spaniards and defeated them. 2. The Celtiberians in Spain often restarted hostilities, but the younger Scipio was sent and they were subdued with the sack of Numantia. Almost all the Spains, as a result of the war with Sertorius, were taken under jurisdiction through Metellus and Pompeius. Afterwards, his command having been prorogued for five years, they were tamed by Pompeius. At the last, also the Cantabrians and Astures, who were relying on the mountains for resistance, were destroyed by Octavian Caesar Augustus. 3. And throughout all the Spains there are now six provinces: Tarraconensis, Carthaginensis, Lusitania, Gallaecia, Baetica; across the strait too there is a province of the Spains on African soil, which is called Tingitana Mauritania. Of these Baetica and Lusitania are consular, the rest are under praesides.
6.1. With the Gauls the Roman people had the gravest wars. The Gauls even used to occupy that part of Italy, in which Milan is now, as far as the river Rubicon; they were confident in their strength to such an extent that they made for Rome herself in war; after the slaughter of Roman armies they entered the walls of the city; they besieged the Capitolium, to whose citadel six hundred most noble senators had fled; these ransomed themselves from the siege with a thousand pounds of gold. Afterwards as the Gauls returned in victory, Camillus, who was in exile, defeated them with a host he had raised in the countryside; he took back the gold and the statues which the Gauls had captured. 2. With the Gauls many consuls, praetors and dictators engaged with various results. Marius expelled the Gauls from Italy, and having surmounted the Alps he fought successfully against them. With ten legions, which had three thousand Italian soldiers each, Gaius Caesar over nine years subdued the Gauls from the Alps up to the Rhine, engaged with the barbarians across the Rhine, crossed into Britain, in the tenth year made the Gauls and the Britains tributary. 3. There are in Gaul, Aquitaine, and the Britains eighteen provinces: the Maritime Alps, the province of Vienne, Narbonensis, Novempopulana, the two Aquitaines, the Graian Alps, Maxima Sequanorum, two Germanies, two Belgiums, two Ludgunenses; in Britain, Maxima Caesariensis, Flavia Caesariensis, first Britain, second Britain.
7.1. We attacked Illyricum gradually from the sea-coast. The consul Laevinus first entered the Adriatic and Ionian Sea and took the cities on the shore. Crete was made a province by the proconsul Metellus, who was called Creticus. 2. When the Greeks fled into our protection we reached Achaia. The Athenians sought our help against Philip, king of the Macedonians. Achaia was long free under our friendships; at the last, when the emissaries of the Romans had been violated at Corinth, through the proconsul Lucius Mummius Corinth was captured and all Achaia was taken. The Epirotes, who at one time had even presumed with King Pyrrhus to cross to Italy, were vanquished and the Thessalians, together with the regions of the Achivi and Macedonians joined us. 3. Macedonia three times took up arms again, under Philip, under Perses, under Pseudophilip. Flamininus defeated Philip, Paulus Perses, Metellus Pseudophilip, and by their triumphs Macedonia was annexed to the Roman people. 4. The Illyrians, who helped the Macedonians, we conquered on the same occasion through the praetor Lucius Anicius, and accepted their surrender together with Gentius their king. The proconsul Curio subdued the Dardanians and Moesiaci, and became the first Roman commander to reach as far as the Danube. 5. Under Julius Octavianus Caesar Augustus a path was made across the Julian Alps. When all the Alpine peoples were conquered, the provinces of the Noricums joined. When Batho king of the Pannonians had been subdued, the Pannonias came under our sway. When the Amantini had been laid low between the Savus and Dravus, the Savian region and the country of the Second Pannonians were taken.
8.1. The Marcomanni and the Quadi were driven from the country of Valeria, between the Danube and the Dravus, and a boundary between the Romans and barbarians was set up, running from Augsburg through Noricum, the Pannonias and Moesia. 2. Trajan conquered the Dacians under King Decebalus and made Dacia across the Danube on the land of Barbaria a province, which had a circumference of ten thousand miles, but it was lost under the emperor Gallienus, and through Aurelian, the Romans were removed thence and two Dacias were created in the regions of Moesia and Dardania. 3. Illyricus [n.4] has 18 provinces: two of the Noricums, two of the Pannonias, Valeria, Savia, Dalmatia, Moesia, two of the Dacias, Dardania
, and in the Macedonian diocese there are seven provinces: Macedonia, Thessaly, Achaia, two Epiruses, Praevalis, Crete.