by: M. Horatius Piscinus
Sabine Origin

Confusion concerning an identity of Quirinus comes from trying to sort out the various layers that were built on top of Him by the Romans. The problem comes along with the question of the origin of Rome itself. We have in Pliny a list of very early participants in the Feriai Latinae who were the populi Albenes. Among the list of thirty tribes are some that are recognizable from different Latin towns - Bola, Corioli, Fidenae, Pedum.1 Notably missing from the list are the major Latin cities of the historical period, among them Rome. Interesting are two names that suggests the inclusion of Latin communities on the Velia (the ridge running northeast from the Palatine to the Esquiline), and from the Caelian2 . In the historical period we have the annual festival of the Septimontium on 11 Dec. which was participated in by the inhabitants of Germalus and Palatium (two summits of the Palatine), the Velia, the Caelian, and three spurs of the Esquiline (Oppius, Cispius, and Fagutal)3. The Septimontium suggests which montes were occupied by Latin villages prior to unification, even prior to unification of the villages on the Palatine. Notable is the exclusion of the inhabitants of the Quirinal and Viminal. In contrast is the Agonalia of 9 Jan., which we know little or nothing about except that it seems to have been connected to the Quirinal (Collis Agonus being a traditional name of the Quirinal, as in its gate, the Portus Agonensis)4. There are other divisions in Roman institutions which oppose the Palatine against the Quirinal, the montes opposed to the colles. The Salii were divided into two groups, the Salii Palatini associated with the Palatine and serving Mars, and the Salii Agonenses (or Salii Collini) associated with the Quirinal and serving Quirinus5. There is also the division of the Luperci between two gens, the Luperci Quinctialis and Luperci Fabiani, the Fabii being closely associated with the Quirinal6. In such ways the contrast in Roman institutions between Quirinus and Mars points to there having originally been two communities, Romulus' Latins on the Palatine and the Sabines under Titus Tatius on the Quirinal. Indeed this is what the legends of Rome record.

While in some ways the Romans maintained the original distinction of the two founding communities, in other ways they emphasized the unity of the city. There is the matter that all Roman citizens were known by the two names Romani and Quirites, from populus Romanus Quiritium or populus Romanus Quirites. These epitaphs were applied to all citizens regardless of their ethnic origin, and it cannot be certain that the term Quirites is related to Quirinus, the Quirinal as the 'Sabine Hill', or whether it was derived from some other source7. By the Late Republic there developed a new connotation for the term, distinguishing the citizenry in their dual capacities as soldiers, milites, and as the peaceful citizens or civilians known as Quirites8. In legend Romulus took auguries for the founding of the city upon the Palatine, and Remus took auguries on the Aventine, the Palatine thus became identified with Romulus and the Latins. Also according to legend the Quirinal is associated with Titus Tatius and the Sabines. The Palatine Latins joined with the Quirinal Sabines to found the city of Rome, what Livy called the geminata urbs (A.U.C. 1.13.4). These two communities formed two of the first three tribes, the Ramnes and Tities, the third tribe being the Luceres of the Caelian, named after the Etruscan Lucumo who had aided Romulus9. Prior to this unification, Varro suggested that the Latin city was known as Septimonium10. We have no records to suggest the names of the Sabine communities. One section of the Quirinal might suggest Agona was the name of one Sabine village, while a second village may have been Cures as Ovid suggests and this name applied to the whole11.

Quirinus was a Sabine god brought to Rome prior to the unification that formed the city of Rome, who is closely identified with and contrasted to Mars. We may best understand their relationship by following W.W. Fowler's advice, "it may be safer to think of the two, not as identical deities, but rather as equivalent cult expressions of the same religious conception in two closely allied communities"12. The same is expressed by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (2.48.2), "The Sabines, and the Romans (Latins) who have learned it from them, give to Enyalios the name Quirinus, without being able to affirm for certain whether he is Mars or some other god who enjoys the same honors as Mars; for some think that both these names are used for one and the same god who presides over martial combats; others, that the names are applied to two different gods of war." Among the earliest institutions of Rome were the religious offices of the three major flamines (Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus). The three flamines do not represent the three functions of society as Dumezil claimed, but more likely represent the chief priest of the Latins in the flamen Martialis, the chief priest of the Sabines in the flamen Quirinalis, and then in the flamen Dialis would be the chief priest of the combined communities13. In other words, these may represent part of the compromise by which the Latin and Sabine communities were brought together. There is a close parallel between the temples of Mars and Quirinus that shows an original distinction between them in two communities, and over time becoming more closely associated in Rome. Before the sacrarium martis in the Regia stood two laurels; while two myrtles stood in front of the Temple of Quirinus on the Quirinal, one called patrician, the other plebeian. The Regia is the oldest building built in the Forum, but Pliny says that myrtle was the first of all trees planted in Rome, and this may relate back to this Sabine sanctuary to Quirinus which predated the unification. The templum built on the original site was of the favum Quirini that was celebrated on 17 Feb. but of an unknown date. A second temple to Quirinus was dedicated on the Quirinal on 29 June 293 BCE by L. Papirius Cursor, probably in fulfillment of a vow by his father the dictator14 in the wake of the Roman victories at Sentinum, 295 BCE and Aquilonia 293 BCE over the Samnites. The Samnites were another Oscan people whose war god was also Quirinus (Curis, Kurrenus). In this period the Romans were already at war with the Etruscans and Umbrians when the Second Samnite War broke out in 298 BCE. The critical years being 296-295 when multiple prorogations were made to field armies to the various fronts. In that same year the magistrates commissioned works of arts and constructions for vows to secure the assistance of Jupiter, Mars, and "the infant founders of the city, under the teats of the she-wolf (Livy 10.23.11-13) ." It was probably in this period then that Romulus became identified with Quirinus. Not until the end of the third century however is there an indication that Romans closely associated Mars with Quirinus. From the Quirinal is found an inscription (C.I.L. i.41=vi.475), "P. Corn. L. f. coso[l] prob[avit] Mar[te sacrom]," dating to 236 BCE when P. Cornelius was consul, and located at the same location is another (C.I.L. i.630=vi.565), "Quirino L. Aimilius L. f. praitor." The later inscription can be dated as 204, 191, or 190 when L. Aemilius was praetor. Rather than assume that the inscriptions indicate the Romans equating Quirinus with Mars, a more plausible explanation is that they were building on the association of Romulus, as Quirinus, to be the son of Mars. Thus the three main gods of the period of unification, represented by the three major flamines were brought into a new familial relationship with Quirinus/Romulus not only being the son of Mars, but also the grandson of Jupiter. This relationship was played upon later among the poets of the principate where Mars hands over protection of Rome to His mother Juno15. It was in the Augustan era when another element was added to the legend of Romulus' assumption into the heavens as Quirinus, by making Proclus Julius witness to the event and including the imperial Julian line in the tale16.

Diverging Dual aspects of Mars and Quirinus

In every period of Roman history Quirinus is always distinguished from Mars. Attempts to equate the two as different names for the same god have only been drawn by modern scholars who have failed to elicit the distinction. Both Mars and Quirinus had originally been concerned with the two aspects in the lives of the farmer/soldiers of their respective communities, Latin and Sabine. Both then played a role in both agriculture and military affairs. Over time Mars became more closely identified with the arts of war and losing some of His agricultural aspects in Rome itself. But Rome was also becoming more urbanized and the agricultural aspects of Mars may have continued in the countryside more than we realize. Cato called upon Mars to defend crops and drive away disease or other calamities that might threaten an estate's crop17. Quirinus did not entirely lose His martial aspect, although it does seem to have changed over time. Where we do find reference to Him is in conjunction with His chief priest, the flamen Quirinalis, involved in primarily agricultural rites.

Georges Dumezil presents an argument that Quirinus represented the Roman gentry in their civilian activities, while Mars represented the gentry while they were serving as soldiers. Something of that nature does seem to be the case where Caesar scornfully calls his soldiers Quirites rather than milites, shaming them to return to their soldierly duties. Such a distinction between Quirites as civilians, distinct from milites may also be behind a formula found in Varro where he quoted from the Commentarii Consulares and the consul addresses his assistant to gather together the Quirites who will form his army. Not until the army is formed is the consul considered to have imperaturus and it is only then that he refers to the gathered men as an army (ad exercitum)18. But the contrast made by Caesar in the instance cited by Dumezil, and the formula quoted by Varro need not be regarded as a reference to Quirinus. In the Late Republic the comitia curiae had not the military basis to its organization or function as when originally composed, and the comitia centuriata did reflect a military nature in that it was used to call up men to serve in the military. The situation Varro gives us would had to occur in the latter, so that Quirites cannot be correlated strictly to the citizenry gathered in the comitia curiata alone, and where as the assembly then becomes an army rather than a comitia, it is not clear that the men lost their status as Quirites by becoming milites. Dumezil makes a stronger case when he quotes Servius Honoratus' commentary on the Aeneid, "When Mars breaks into rage, he is called Gradivus, when he is tranquil, Quirinus. He has two temples in Rome: one, the temple of Quirinus, inside the city, in his character as peaceful guardian; the other on the Appian Way, outside the city, near the gate, in his character as warrior, or Gradivus." Dumezil builds upon the distinction by drawing inferences from other sources, but Servius' distinction is unique and made rather late, in the 4th century CE. Dumezil makes a conclusion that, "Quirinus patronizes merely one of the two modes of behavior which each Roman assumes in turn, and which makes him, according to one's point of view, either a civilian between two calls of duty or a soldier between two leaves." For Dumezil the only martial aspect retained by Quirinus is that He represents the armed "vigilance in tranquillity" of a citizenry and its army still drawn primarily from small land owners. By Caesar's time that era had long passed, and certainly did not revive by Servius' own era.

Festivals officiated by the flamen Quirialis

Quirinus was closely associated with Jupiter and Mars. In early cult He was grouped with them much as Cerus was at Iguvium and He was always invoked in prayers alongside them and Janus: ‘Jane, Iupiter, Mars pater, Quirine'. Quirinus is depicted as a bearded god, as shown on a denarius from 56 BCE. On another coin, issued in 126 BCE by N. Fabius Pictor, Quirinus is represented by His flamen Quirinalis Q. Fabius Pictor, who is depicted with helmet, cuirass, spear and shield, and also with a priestly apex. As the praetor of 189 Fabius Pictor had hoped to take up a post as governor of Sardinia. This he was denied to do as he was required to remain in Rome like all other flamines to perform their sacred duties. Pictor being shown in armour does not necessarily suggest that Quirinus was a war-god, but could instead, as Scullard suggests, represent Pictor's claim to a military office. However in 45 BCE the Senate honored Julius Caesar as a war hero and as ‘the unconquered god' by placing a statue of him in the temple of Quirinus, rather than in the Temple of Mars. Although it can be question, the little imagery we have of Quirinus and other associations made to His temple suggests He retained a warlike nature even until the end of the Republic. Where we might gain a better understanding of Quirinus is from looking at the duties of His priestly representative. The flamen Quirinalis ranked third among the three flamines maiores (after Dialis and Martialis). This is consistent with the later association of Quirinus to Romulus, and the relationship between the three gods as grandfather, father, and son. The flamen Quirinalis does not seem to have been involved in any rites concerned with war, even where he may be expected. In serving other deities in addition to Quirinus, these being Consus, Larentina and Robigo, he instead is involved with rites that appear to be connected to agriculture. However, in the time period from which our sources on the duties of the flamen Quirinalis are derived, Quirinus is considered to be the deified Romulus. The flamen Quirinalis takes part in rites as a representative of Romulus, as we shall see below, and as Quirinus specifically as a god of agriculture.

If in fact Mars and Quirinus were two aspects of a god of soldier/farmers, then that would certainly have come out in the festivals dedicated to each, and the roles played by their respective flamines. We should expect to find then that the festivals of Mars reflect the campaigning season of that earlier era, and Quirinus associated more with the agricultural cycle, or that his festivals would have been held in the other half of the year than those of Mars. Throughout the month of March the priests of Mars become active. The Salii Palatini are mentioned performing their dancing rites with ancillae from 1-24 March; on 17 March the Salii Agoneses perform for the Agonia which coincides with Liberalia,19 March for Quinquatrus the Salii Palatini perform in the comitiaium. The Tubilustrium of 23-24 March and again 23-24 May was the purification of the tubae used to assemble the comitia curiata on the following days. The entire month of March becomes a prepatory period for war, one of sacrifices, purifications, and the assembly of the armies. The complement of the Tubilustrium is found in the Armilustrum of 19 Oct. when the arms that had been used in battle were purified. Thus the campaign season might be regarded as marked by these dates, 25 May to 18 Oct. However the campaigning season more likely only extended to harvesting time in August (see below for Consualia), and may have been marked by the Portunalia of 17 Aug. Portunus was originally not a god of ports but a protector of the city gates. We know from Festus that the flamen Portunalis had a special vessel called a persillum, in which he kept an ointment used to coat the arms of Quirinus. This would seem to have been an annual rite, whose date is unknown, and may best be understood as a rite to preserve and protect the arms of the army upon its return to Rome. We can speculate that the role of the flamen Portunalis in such a rite would have been introduced in the time of Servius Tullius (578-534 BCE) when he reformed the comitia curiata into the comitia centuriata, adopted hoplite tactics and erected the city walls.


The main festival of Quirinus is the Quirinalia, held on 17 Feb. This could be significant in that February did mark the end of the traditional calendar, and March the beginning, and thereby signify the transition of the season of Quirinus over to the season of Mars. The Quirinalia is associated with the curiae, in as much as those who had failed to make sacrifices to Iuno Curitis (Juno Quiritis, armed with a spear) during the movable feast of Fornacalia, a festival pro curiis, had to make sacrifices on Quirinalia. As such the Quirinalia is referred to as the stultorum feriae, or festival of fools. For this date in the Fasti Ovid tells only of the myth of Romulus' apotheosis and his appearance to Proclus Julius, where in his Metamorphoses it is Iris, sent by Juno to Romulus' wife Hersilia19. Of the rites held on the Quirinalia we know nothing. However, two days earlier on 15 Feb. was held the Lupercalia which involved the running of the Luperci around the Palatine. The Quirinal had its own collegium of Luperci Fabii, distinct from the Luperici Quinctii of the Palatine20. Since festivals were almost always placed on odd numbered days to ensure good fortune, some two day festivals separated by an even numbered day for that very reason, it is possible that the Quirinalia once involved a running of Luperci as well. There is nothing in the records to indicate such had ever occurred. It may be that the role of Luperici for the Quirinalia was overlooked or taken for granted by our sources, or that the practice had fallen out of use by the Late Republic. If there was not some comparable running of the Luperici, then it is difficult to account for the Quirinal having had its own collegium of Luperci.


The flamen Quirinalis is encountered by Ovid on the Robigalia, 25 April, leading a procession all dressed in white to the sacred grove of Robigo, thought to be at the fifth mile along the Via Claudia21. There he is to offer the viscera (exta) of a dog and sheep. The dog and sheep were first sacrificed inside the city in the morning, then carried along with the flamen Quirialis to the grove. The flamen carries a frankincense box (turis acerra) and a pure sacrificial vessel for pouring a libation (meri patera), a linen napkin at his right hand (Villis mantele solutis)22. The flamen Quirinalis then prays to Robigo not to harm Ceres' grain. Included in the prayer:

And destroy what is destructive first.
It is better to devour swords and lethal spears.
They have no use; the world practices peace.
Now let the hoe, hard fork, and arcing plough shimmer;
They are the wealth of fields. Let neglect rust arms;
And let any attempt to unsheathe the sword
Feel the iron clogged from long disuse23.

Here the flamen Quirinalis can be seen involved not so much in an agricultural rite, but one of defending crops. A very similar rite is offered by Cato (De Agricultura 141) in a lustratio of an estate where Mars is called upon to ward off disease and foul weather that might threaten the produce of the land. Thus both Mars and Quirinus retain an implied martial aspect of defending the land, more than working the land.


The flamen Quirinalis is next found officiating at the Consualia on 21 Aug. together with the Vestal Virgins. This festival was supposedly instituted first by Romulus, thus the involvement of flamen Quirinalis. The Vestal Virgins were closely associated with the flamen Quirinalis24. Just as he represented Romulus, Numa established the Vestal Virgins as priestesses to Vesta, in the same way that the mother of Romulus, Rhea Silvia, had served. Among other public festivals in which they participated was the Lupercalia, linking Quirinus into that festival, as a son of Mars by Rhea Silvia. Consus' altar lay underground beneath a stone in the valley of the Circus at the foot of the Palatine, His image surrounded by His indigimenta of agriculture: Seia (sown seeds), Segetia (or Segesta, or Messia, the green grain crops ripening above ground), and Tutilina (harvested and stored grain)25. It was uncovered at this festival as newly harvested grain was being stored in such underground chambers. Already above it was mentioned how the flamen Portunalis coated the spears of Quirinus with oil, possibly days earlier at the Portunalia, possibly at the Consualia, but likely in this latter part of August. The arma Quirini for this ceremony were probably held by the flamen Quirinalis in the ceremony. Just as the flamen Quirialis prays for peace at the Robigalia, at the Consualia he represents the peaceful soldiery, the army returned in time to harvest and store grain.


The Larentalia entailed a parentatio, or funerary rites for the parents or relatives of the participants. On 23 Dec. sacrifices were made to Larentina at her "tomb" on the Velabrum. Larenta or Larentina is often identified with Larunda mentioned by Varro, and also is considered to be identical with Acca Larentia. One of the myths about Acca Larentia was that she was the wife of the shepherd who found and raised Romulus and Remus, serving as their wet nurse. Another myth has her as a courtesan who became wealthy after spending a night in the sanctuary of Hercules, willing her fortune to the Roman people. The connection between the two myths may be that one name applied to a courtesan was lupa, or she-wolf, alluding to the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. The presence of the flamen Quirinalis officiating at the Larentalia is then one of representing Romulus performing the rites of a dutiful son to his adoptive mother26.

In another form she is Lara, also called Muta by Ovid, Mania, and Mana Genita. She is the Mother of the Manes, who had their own festival at the Lemuria, 9, 11, 13, May. Ovid explains the Lemuria by telling of Acca Larentia having a vision of the shade of Remus; Romulus responding when told of her dream by instituting the "Remuria" to honor his brother27. Between the days of the Lemuria, on 12 May, was one of the rare occasions when a festival was held on an even numbered day, in this case the Ludi Martis. This may lend a little more to the story concerning the parents of Romulus and Remus as the God of War lays with the Mother of the Manes. In her form as Mana Genita black puppies were offered in sacrifice, just as had been at the Lupercalia in honor of Mars, and by the flamen Quirinalis at Robigalia. At one time She was offered young boys, possibly representing Romulus and Remus28, and in the later period she was offered poppies, garlic and woollen dolls (maniae) which were hung over doorways for protection. On 15 May was held a ceremony where the Vestal Virgins participated in throwing puppets (argei, "shining ones") into the Tibur from the Pons Sublicius. These were said to represent old men who were in an earlier era made sacrifice (sexagenaris de ponte)29. Part of the story of Romulus and Remus was that they were set into a casket along with Rhea Silvia and tossed into the Tibur by her evil uncle Amulius. They were rescued by the river god Tibur, who then married Rhea Silvia. In this rite the Vestal Virgins again adopt the roll of Larentia, returning substitute offerings to Tibur in place of Romulus and Remus. There are other occasions when puppets were made as an offerings, said to be in place of human sacrifices from an earlier period. One in particular that may also relate to Romulus and Remus were the oscilla hung in trees at the Feriae Latinae that was held at Alba Longa in April30. In many different ways then we see how the flamen Quirialis as Romulus and the Vestal Virgins as Rhea Silvia relate back to an earlier period when human sacrifices were considered to have been offered to Larentia as the Mana Genita. It is only by the identification of Quirinus as the deified Romulus that such connections can be made, yet nothing can be made to connect Quirinus directly with the cult of the Mana Genita and the sacrifices made to Her.


Quirinus began at Rome as both a god of war and as a protector of agriculture among the Sabines. In that time the populace was mainly small land holders, farmers, who in times of danger would be assembled to form an army of defense. When Romulus and Titus Tatius joined their communities together there was little distinction between Quirinus and Mars, and later Romans made some effort to reconcile the two. Posing Quirinus as a deified Romulus provided a means of explaining the relationship between Mars and Quirinus, always maintaining a distinct identity from one another. The distinction grew in time as the situation in Rome developed. Mars, the God of War, the furious, the one who advances forward as Gradivus, became more of a god of aggressive warfare, while Quirinus retained His aspect as a god of defensive warfare. The name of Roman citizens as Quirites probably did not originate from Quirinus Himself. There is really nothing to suggest that Quirites implies "the people of Quirinus." But it does go back to this earlier time of a community of farmers who would leave their fields and pick up spears (cures) to defend the city. The term Quirites never implied that the citizens of Rome were passive civilians, but rather that they remained in vigilant defense of their independence, even in times of peace. That connotation, "vigilance in tranquility," is brought out by Georges Dumezil for Quirinus, although the reason he poses for it, that Quirinus as a Sabine god represents a third function in society, contradicts everything we know about Roman society. Dumezil tried to make use of a quote from Augustus (Res Gestae 13) where he refers to the closing of the doors to the Temple of Janus, symbolizing peace. Augustus calls the god of that temple Janus Quirinus, which Dumezil posed as an assimilation of Quirinus to Janus, implying that Quirinus was a god of tranquility. But rather than an assimilation of Janus with Quirinus, Augustus might easily have been saying "Janus of the Quirites," a god in time of peace, "the fruit of victories," won by the Roman people. This is what Ovid so much as says, in a passage used by Dumezil (Fasti 1. 253-54), where Janus says, "I had naught to do with war: guardian was I of peace and doorways." Just prior to making that statement, Janus describes the earlier Golden Age before "The crimes of man had not yet banished Justice...shame controlled the people in place of fear or force; no one toiled to give justice to the just." But in the later violent times that came, it was Quirinus, the God of War, who was needed to defend the just.

The assimilation of Romulus to Quirinus retained this identity of a god of vigilant defense, who was needed at times to restore justice when violent men still roamed over the land. In his youth Romulus, together with Remus, had led a band of men who restored his grandfather to his Alban throne, unjustly deposed by Amulius. Then as king of the Latins on the Palatine, Romulus was a war leader. Afterwards, jointly ruling with Titus Tatius, the presence of Romulus safeguarded the new city of Rome, its vigilant and armed populace led by an experienced soldier king. This connotation was retained in the Republic where the ideal citizen was not only a farmer and a soldier during times of danger, but also actively participated in the comitia as judges who safeguarded justice, and who would on occasion be called to serve as magistrates to lead not only the civil state and the army but also perform religious duties, out of a sense of civic duty. Contrary to everything Dumezil posed, Quirinus did not represent an earlier division of Roman society into three functions, but just the opposite. He embodies the ideal citizens actively participating in all functions of society. The Quirites are not "the people of Quirinus," so much as Quirinus is "the god of the Quirites."

Quirinus was retained into the imperial period in this aspect as a defender of farmlands, although in a less military sense as before. This is best seen in the Robigalia where Quirinus, represented by His flamen, is called upon to defend the crops against natural dangers. At the Consualia He again appears, not as the god who preserves the harvest as does Consus, but more in the role of defending Consus' stored grain. Thus, although he appears to us today to have become more of a god of agriculture, He still remained in His basic role of a vigilant defender. His connection to what are basically agricultural festivals is through His identification with Romulus. Romulus the veteran soldier, returned from many battles, settling down with Hersilia to enjoy the fruits of his military labors on his secured farmland. This was the promise offered soldiers in the late Republic. The Gracchi, Marius, and the early Caesars, tried to secure the distribution of land to the veterans of foreign wars. The political and social upheavals of the late Republic revolve around this issue of land for veterans, not of redistribution of land to the poor. The latifunda system of landownership was a denial of Quirinus and the Quirites. In the end it was the promise posed by such men as Julius Caesar to secure land for his veterans that gave him power. The emperors who followed only retained power over the aristocracy by the loyalty of their army. The civil wars that arose, the armies declaring their commanders rival emperors, was again based in this notion that returning veterans would be returning to their farms.

In the Late Republic and during the Empire, Quirinus was not well understood by most of the Roman literati. The poets were not able to see the god behind the face of Romulus. Roman society had changed, its form of government had changed, and a god who embodied the ideals of a republic was no longer relevant to a society ruled by dictators and emperors. The empire of the latter part of the Republic was built by conquest, and thus Mars Gradivus became the predominant war god. Only the soldiers who fought in those wars retained the spirit of Quirinus. By the time the empire had need of a god of defensive war, most of Roman society no longer provided the kind of citizenry required to be Quirites. In Britannia the situation was different. Abandoned by Roman legions, the citizens of Britannia were once again called upon to form their own military forces in defense of their farmlands during times of danger. Militia's were formed in other parts of the Empire, but used more as auxiliary troops to standing armies and led by professional soldiers. In Britannia, even after the feudal system was brought to its shores, there still remained a tradition of an armed gentry defending its land and its rights. Quirinus remained in Britannia long after he was forgotten elsewhere in the former provinces, and it was there that the ideals of a republic and a citizenry willing to defend it was kept alive. From there the spirit of Quirinus travelled to the Americas, to Asia, to Africa, and rekindled His memory in Europe, finally returning Him to His humble origins. Quirinus today still represents a war god, one of vigilant and collective defense among a free citizenry living under a republic.
  1. Pliny, N.H. III.69. Pallottino, M., 'Le origini di Roma', Arch. Class.12, 1960, 1-12. Pallottino, M., Origini e storia primitiva di Roma, Milan 1993, 120-32. Cornell, T. J., The Beginnings of Rome, N.Y., 1995, 73-74.
  2. Tacitus, Annals IV.65.1: the Querquetulani, or the people of mons Querquetulanus, which Tacitus mentions as the original name for the Caelian.
  3. Festus pp.474-6 L; p.458 quoting L. Antistius Labeo: "Septimontio, ut ait Antistius Labeo, hisce montibus feriae. Palatio, cui sacrificium quod fit Palatuar dicitur. Veliae, cui item sacrificium, Fagutali, Suburbae, Cermalo, Oppio, Caelio monti, Cispio monti." Fowler, W.W., The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic: an introduction to the study of the religion of the Romans, London, 1899, p.266. Fowler discounts the Caelian and accepts the Suburbia, but see: Cornell, T.J., Beginnings, p. 416, n. 93.
  4. Ovid, Fasti, I. 325. Varro, L.L. 6.12: "Agonales (dies) per quos rex in regia arietem immolat." Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 281.
  5. Fowler, Roman Festivals, p.41. Dumezil, Georges, Archaic Roman Religion, vol. I, trans. P. Krapp, Chicago, 1970, pp. 274-277. Cornell, Beginnings, p.75. Pallottino, Origini, 155-60. H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic, 1981, pp. 19, 78.
  6. Livy 5.46.2. Pallottino, Origini, 155-60. Cornell, Beginnings, p.75.
  7. Varro, L.L. 5.73 has Quirinus a Quiritibus. Ovid, Fasti 2. 475-480 distinguishes three possible reasons for the identity of Romulus as Quirinus which distinguishes the Roman citizens as Quirites from the Sabine Quirinal that he refers to as Cures. He also mentions that the ancient Sabine name for spear is curis, which would account for the identity of the Samnite war god by that name, but may also be the origin of Quirites as armed citizens, related to the organization of the citizenry into the curiae. Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 322, "(Romulus as Quirinus) may have been suggested by use of the name Quirites; but neither do we know when or why that name came to signify the Roman people in their civic capacity, and the etymology of these words and their relation to each other is still entirely baffles research." Scullard was not so cautious however (Festivals, p.78), and in contrast offered that the name Quirites is derived from co-viri-no, ‘the god of the assembly of men', connecting it with Quirites. Scullard discounted (p. 78 n. 83) the derivations mentioned by Ovid at Fasti 2.477ff) from the Sabine town of Cures or from the Sabine word curis, a spear. He does not mention the same derivatives made by Varro. The views of both Scullard and Fowler are based entirely on a later connotation that Romans used for Quirites, and therefore have no real bearing on the origin of the term. Although the term Quirites and the name Quirinus probably derive from the same term, curis, meaning spear, there is really no reason to assume that the two are directly related to one another.
  8. Dumezil, Archaic Roman Religion, pp. 259-262
  9. Cornell, Beginnings, p.114-117; 134. Dumezil, Archaic Roman Religion, p. 256.
  10. Varro, L.L. v.41: 'Ubi nunc est Roma, erat olim Septimontium; nominatum ab tot montibus, quos postea urbs muris comprehendit."
  11. Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 281, Collis Agonus, citing also the location of the Porta Agonensis, and Varro, L.L. 6.14 for Salii agonenses. For Cures: Ovid, Fasti 480; Dumezil, Archaic Roman Religion, p.251. Cures was also the name of the capital city of the Samnites during the Social War. Following the Social War, when the Samnites gained Roman citizenship, it was said of the two myrtle trees in front of the sanctuary of Quirinus that the one called patrician withered, and the other called plebeian flourished (Scullard, Festivals, p. 78). Prior to the war the Tribunes Plebis had supported giving Roman citizenship to the Samnites and other Italic tribes, the patrician opposition to their plan had led to the war.
  12. Fowler, Roman Festivals, p.322.
  13. Cornell, Beginnings, pp. 77-79. Dumezil's theories of the religio romana reflecting Roman society having been divided into three component parts, after an Indo-European model of the three functions of society, were soundly refuted beginning with A. Momigliano, who said, "his evidence is weak...his theories unnecessary...The fundamental fact of Roman society remains that warriors, producers, and priests were not separate elements of the citizenship." See A. Momigliano, Terzo contributo, 581-3; Ottavo contributa, 135-59. Also see the other works by Arnaldo Momigliano, Massimo Pallottino, Alexandre Grandazzi, and A. Carandini. The argument against Dumezil is continued in Religions of Rome, Mary Beard et al, Cambridge, 1998.
  14. Livy. 10.46.7. Pliny N.H. 15.120. Ovid, Metamorphoses XIV, Juno sends Iris to greet Romulus' Sabine wife, Hersilia, who will become deified as Horta Quirini, "Come walk with me a mile to that green hill - Quirinus Hill that has (before the sanctuary of Quirinus) those lovely trees above the temple of the king of Rome (Regia)." Fowler, Roman Festivals, p.323. Cornell, Beginnings, 94, 239-41, 386-7. Dumezil, Archaic Roman Religion, p.251. H.H. Scullard, Festivals, p.78: Quirinus had an archaic shrine on the Quirinal, but his temple was not vowed until 325 BCE and not dedicated until 293 BCE: it was built perhaps near, rather than on, the site of the shrine. Scullard’s note 85 regarding the temples themselves, dates of dedication and restoration. Note 86: The precise site of the temple is uncertain; inscriptions suggest that it was on the north side of the Alta Semita near the east part of the gardens. Its appearance, as restored by Augustus, is described by Vitruvius (3.2.7) and depicted on a 2nd-century relief found beside the baths of Diocletian
  15. Virgil, Aeneid, 292: Remo cum fratre Quirinus. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14. 805-28: "Mars...raised his head to Jove and said, 'O Father...your noble grandson - I speak of Romulus..." Ovid repeats these words in the Fasti 2. 487, quoting from Ennius' Annals 54. Ovid, Fasti, 6. 51-54: Juno says, " I love no nation more. Here should be my cult, the shrine with my Jove. Mavors (Mars) himself has said to me, 'I entrust these walls to you: You will be mighty in the city of your grandson."
  16. Livy, A.U.C. 1.16.7; Ovid, Fasti, 2.497-510.
  17. M. Porcius Cato, De Agricultura, 83; 141.
  18. Dumezil, Archaic Roman Religion, pp.259-266; Suetonius, De vita Caesarum, Jul. 70; Varro, L.L. 6.88. For Quirites applied to Roman citizens as peaceful citizens also see Tacitus Annals 1. 42; Lucan, V. 358.
  19. Ovid: Fasti, 2.475-532; Metamorphoses, 14. 805-28.
  20. Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. 318-320; 322-324. Scullard, Festivals, p.78.
  21. Ovid, Fasti, 4. 905-7. There is some doubt to the location of the grove indicated in this passage. Ovid says he is returning to Rome from Nomentum, so one would not expect him to be returning from the northwest. However Ovid may have meant instead that he was returning to his garden which was at the junction of the Via Claudia and Via Flamina near the Milvian Bridge. The Sacred Grove of Robigus is known to have been along the Via Claudia. But Ovid has used a feminine form of Robigo and could mean another grove. Columella and Augustine agreed with Ovid that the goddess Robigo was worshipped on Robigalia, while Varro (L.L. 6.16) and Verius Flaccus (CIL 1:236, 316) use the male form Robigus. Also see below, n. 22.
  22. Ovid, Fasti, 908; 933-4. Ovid says the sacrifice made was a dog; Columella has the sacrum canarium as a suckling puppy (Rustica 10. 343-3). But this sacrifice was made at the Porta Catularia when the Dog Star Sirius was rising, which Ovid says at 4. 904. However the rising of Sirius would have been setting at this time of year, rising only in early August. Pliny mentions instead an augurium canarium being made in late spring before the ears of grain emerged from their husks (N.H. 18. 14). A dog was also sacrificed at the Lupercalia, along with goats, and a feast was then held. Ovid's mention of only the exta being brought to the grove indicates the dog meat was included in the sacrificial meal, as would be normal with any sacrifice.
  23. Ovid, Fasti, 4. 924-30
  24. Livy, A.U.C. 5. 40, 7 and 8.
  25. Dumezil, A.R.R., pp. 267-8.
  26. Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. 275-6; Dumezil, A.R.R., 268-9.
  27. Ovid, Fasti, 5. 453-80.
  28. There are several versions of the Romulus and Remus myth. One has Remus killed by Romulus, another has Romulus' foreman, Celer, kill Remus. There is one version however that has Remus willingly offered as a sacrifice to sanctify the pomerium. For this reason it was proscribed to bury any dead within the pomerium. There is one exception to this now known. When Tullius Servius extended the pomerium by building new city walls, four victims were sacrificed and laid beneath the old pomerium wall in propitiation. These were found near the Arch of Nerva by A. Carandini in the summer of 2000. Their sacrifice was commemorated at the time Augustus rededicated the city, by burying four miniature pillars. The pillars were discover in the 1860's, bearing inscriptions that identified one of the victims with Remus. In the passage given by Ovid reference is made to the version that has Remus killed by Celer, but the appearance of Remus covered in blood to Acca Larentia may recall the other version of his sacrifice.
  29. Cicero, Pro Roscio Amerino, 35. Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp 111-20.
  30. Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 96.
Ab mano M. Horatii
Kalendae Quintilis 2754 AUC
© 2001-2017 Societas Via Romana