Roman Republic

Roman Pre-History

Cult of Quirinus

Archaic Shrine of Quirinus

Adapted from the page Forum Romanum by the Khan Academy

According to Varro (ca. 45 BC):

  1. “... the ‘Annals’ record that Tatius vowed arae (altars) to [a number of deities, including] Quirinus ...”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 74, translated by Roland Kent, at p. 71).

In an earlier passage, he suggested that:

  1. “The Quirinal Hill was so named because the fanum (shrine) of Quirinus was there; others say that its name is derived from the Quirites, who came with Tatius from Cures to the vicinity of Rome, because they established their camp [on this hill].  ... [In archaic sacred itinerary known as the] sacra Argeorum, ... it is written:

  2. Collis Quirinalis (Quirinal Hill): third [of the 27 Argeorum sacraria], just east of the aedes of Quirinus; ...’”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 51-2, translated by Roland Kent, referenced below, at p. 49).

Festus, in his epitome of the lexicon of the grammarian M. Verrius Flaccus (late 1st century BC or early 1st century AD) similarly placed an ancient shrine of Quirinus on the Quirinal:

  1. Porta Quirinalis is so-called, either because it opened onto the Quirnal Hill, or because it was close to the sacellum of Quirinus”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 303 L, my translation) 

  2. “What is now called the Quirinal Hill was once named ‘Agonus’, before Sabines, mostly coming from Cures, came here after the treaty had been struck between Romulus and Tatius.  From this, the ... name [Quirinal] was chosen (although some think that [the hill was given this name] because a templum of Quirinus was built there”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 304 L, from the translation by Emmanuele Curti (referenced below, at p.90).

Thus, both Varro and Verrius Flaccus located an archaic fanum/ aedes/ sacellum/ templum of Quirinus on the Quirinal.  Dionysius of Halicarnassus (ca. 7 BC) described how the Quirinal and its archaic cult site dedicated to Quirinus came to be so closely associated in Roman tradition with Titus Tatius and the Sabines:

  1. “... immediately enlarged the city by adding to it two other hills, the Quirinal, ... and the Caelian.  ... [Romulus and Tatius] each had his particular place of residence:

  2. Romulus occupied the Palatine, ...[the site of his original settlement, and the adjacent] Caelian ... ; and

  3. Tatius occupied the Capitol, which he had already seized, and the Quirinal”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 50: 1-3).

However, Emmanuele Curti (referenced below, at pp. 88-9) suggested that this location of the archaic shrine on the Quirinal might have been part of the traditions surrounding King Numa that were developed in the early 3rd century BC.  If so, then the area of the Forum containing the ‘sacellum’ later covered by the lapis niger:

  1. “... may have been the only sacred area connected to Quirinus during the archaic [period] ...This discussion, although tentative, would suggest that the first ever temple of Quirinus on the Quirnal was the one from the [early] 3rd century BC [see below]”, (quotation from p. 89).

Two of our surviving sources refer to this archaic shrine (although neither of them described its location):

  1. Livy recorded a meeting of the Senate in the temple of Quirinus in 435 BC: while the Romans were preoccupied with an epidemic [in the city], armies from Veii and Fidenae:

  2. “... crossed the [river] Anio and displayed their standards not far from the Colline gate.  The alarm was as great in Rome as in the country districts.  [One of the consuls, C. Iullius Iullus] disposed his troops on the rampart and the walls, while [the other, L. Verginius Tricostus] convened the Senate in the temple of Quirinus.  They decreed that Q. Servilius [Priscus] should be nominated dictator”, (History of Rome’, 4: 21: 7-10).  

  3. Pliny the Elder recorded that:

  4. “... at the delubrum (shrine) of Quirinus (or, in other words, of Romulus himself) one of the most ancient [shrines] in Rome, there were formerly two myrtle trees that grew for a long period just in front of the temple; one of these was called the patrician tree, the other the plebeian.  For many years, the patrician myrtle was the [more flourishing] tree ... [However, it] began to fail just at the period of the Marsic War [of 90 BC ?], when the power of the Senate was so greatly weakened: and, little by little, this once majestic tree sank into a state of utter exhaustion and sterility”, (‘Natural History’, 15: 36).

Archaic Cult of Quirinus

Denarius (RRC 427/2) issued in Rome by C. Memmius  in 56 BC

Obverse: Quirinus: QVIRINVS C·MEMMI·C·F


The Romans imagined that the cult of Quirinus had been introduced to Rome soon after its foundation: for example, according to the grammarian Nonius Marcellus (4th century AD), in his gloss (172 L) on the theonym Hora (whom he identified as ‘iuventutis dea’ , the goddess of youth), Ennius had written the following line in Book I of his ‘Annals’ (ca. 175 BC):

  1. “... <and you,> Father Quirinus, I beseech, and Hora Quirini”, (based on the translation by Sander Goldberg and Gesine Manuwald, referenced below, at p. 159, fragment 51).

The fact that this passage was in the first book of Ennius’ ‘Annals’ places it in the reign of Romulus at the latest:

  1. Some scholars argue that this fragment indicated that Ennius had identified the deified Romulus with Quirinus. 

  2. However, others (see, for example, Jacklyn Neel, referenced below, at pp. 114-5) argue that it described a prayer that Romulus had addressed to Quirinus, and that the earliest surviving evidence for the identification of Quirinus as the deified Romulus was from Cicero (ca. 45 BC - see below).

It seems that, at least by the late Republic, it was universally accepted that Quirinus had been brought to Rome by the Sabine Titus Tatius, who had ruled Rome jointly with Romulus for a period: the earliest surviving literary evidence for this is from Varro (ca. 45 BC), whose family claimed Sabine origins:

  1. “There is scent of the speech of the Sabines about the altars ... that ... King Tatius, ... dedicated at Rome: for, as the ‘Annales’ record, he vowed altars to Ops, Flora, Vediovis and Saturn, Sun, Moon, Vulcan and Summanus and likewise to Larunda, Terminus, Quirinus, Vertumnus, the Lares, Diana and Lucina”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 74, translated by Roland Kent, at p. 71).

Gary Farney  pointed (referenced below, at p. 273) pointed out that Quirinus is explicitly identified on only a single a Republican coin (RRC 472/2, illustrated above) and that this might indicate that hewas regarded as a Sabine deity from at least  a decade before Varro published the passage quoted above: according to M. Crawford (referenced below, at p,. 451-2), this coin type had been issued by the moneyer C. Memmius in 56 BC:

  1. The goddess Ceres was depicted on the reverse, surrounded by an inscription that commemorated an earlier Memmius who, as the aedile, had been the first person to do something at the ludi Cerealis.  (These games had been established in Rome in the late 3rd century BC, and its is possible that this now-unknown Memmius had been responsible for their introduction.)  

  2. Gary Farney argued (p. 274) ) that the moneyer Memmius probably belonged to the branch of gens Memmia that had been assigned to the Menenia tribe, and that his choice of Quirinus for the obverse might well have represented a claim that this branch of gens Memmia was of ancient Sabine origin.  

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (ca. 7 BC) placed the dedication of the archaic altar of Quirinus in its ‘historical’ context: after Tatius and Romulus had agreed to share power, they:

  1. “... immediately enlarged the city by adding two other hills to it: the Quirinal ... and the Caelian.  ... [Romulus and Tatius] each had his particular place of residence:

  2. Romulus occupied the Palatine, ... [the site of his original settlement, and the adjacent] Caelian ... ; and

  3. Tatius occupied the Capitol (which he had already seized) and the Quirinal. 

  4. ... They also built shrines and consecrated altars to those gods to whom they had addressed their vows during their battles:

  5. Romulus  to Jupiter Stator near the Porta Mugonia ... ; and

  6. Tatius  to the Sun and Moon, to Saturn and to Rhea [Ops], and, besides these, to Vesta, Vulcan, Diana, Enyalius [Ἐνυάλιος, a Greek god closely associated with Ares, here the equivalent of Quirinus - see below] and to other gods whose names are difficult to be expressed in the Greek language; and in every curia, he dedicated tables to Juno called Quiritis, which remain even to this day”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 50: 1-3).

It is likely that Dionysius relied on Varro for at least some of this material.

Varro on Quirinus

Varro is also our earliest surviving sorce for the presumed etymology for the theonym Quirinus:

  1. “Quirinus is from Quirites”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 73, translated by Roland Kent, referenced below, at p. 71).

He derived Quirites (Roman citizens) from Cures, the Sabine ‘city’ of Titus Tatius:

  1. “The Quirites were named from the Curenses (men of Cures); they came from this place with King Tatius to receive a share in the Roman state”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 6: 68, , translated by Roland Kent, referenced below, at p. 235).

In another passage, Varro explained that:

  1. “The Quirinal Hill was so named because the fanum (shrine) of Quirinus [see below] was there; others say that its name is derived from the Quirites, who came with Tatius from Cures to the vicinity of Rome, because they established their camp [on this hill]”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 51-2, , translated by Roland Kent, referenced below, at p. 49 ).

In other words, in Varro’s opinion, the words Quirite, Quirinus and Quirinal all derived from Cures. 

Dionysius cited Varro in relation to the legendary foundation of Cures:

  1. “Concerning the city of Cures, from which Tatius and his followers came, ... we have received the following account.  When the Aborigines were in possession of In the territory of Reate, a certain high-born maiden of that country went into the temple of Enyalius to dance.  The Sabines and, following them, the Romans, give Enyalius the name of Quirinus, without being able to affirm for certain whether he is Ares (Mars) or some other god who enjoys the same honours as Mars:

  2. some think that both of these names are used for one and the same god, who presides over martial combat; while

  3. others think that the names are applied to two different gods of war.

  4. Be that as it may, this maiden ... ran into the inner sanctuary of the god; after which, being with child by this divinity, as everybody believed, she brought forth a son named Modius Fabidius, who, when he arrived at manhood, had not a human but a divine form and was renowned above all others for his warlike deeds.  And, conceiving a desire to found a city on his own account, he gathered together a great number of people of the neighbourhood and ... built the city called Cures: he gave it this name:

  5. as some say, from the divinity whose son he was reputed to be [i.e. Quirinus]; or,

  6. as others state, from a spear, since the Sabines call spears ‘cures’.

  7. This is the account given by Terentius Varro”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 48: 2-4).

This is the only surviving account of the foundation of Cures, and it is impossible to say how much of it came from Varro’s original account.  It seems to me that Dionysius probably used other sources (or perhaps his own imagination) for:

  1. the passage on the equivalence of the Sabine/ Roman Quirinus and the Greek Enyalius and his relationship to Ares/ Mars; and

  2. the etymology in which the toponym Cures was derived from Quirinus (since, as we have seen, Varro derived Quirinus from Cures). 

Furthermore, Dionysius might not have relied on Varro for the name (Modius Fabidius) of the semi-divine son of Quirinus who founded Cures: Françoise-Hélène Massa-Pairault (referenced below, at para. 58) suggested that this name might point to the gens Fabia, and it is therefore possible that Dionysius took this name from a Fabian source.  On the other hand, Varro might well have recorded that the toponym Cures derived from ‘curis’: indeed, he might have been be the source of the Roman conviction (see below) that the Sabines called their spears ‘cures’.   More generally, the emphatic nature of the last line of the passage above:

  1. “This is the account given by Terentius Varro”

makes it likely that Varro was indeed Dionysius’ source for the ‘bare bones’ of the legend in which Cures was founded by the son of Quirinus and a ‘high-born maiden’ from Reate.  

The most important thing about Varro’s understanding of the god Quirinus is that, as Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 2015, at pp. 127-8) pointed out, he was an ancient Sabine deity who had nothing whatsoever to do with the deified Romulus.  Wiseman accepted (at note 16) that fragments of lost works by Varro might suggest that he had recorded that Romulus had been deified after his death, but argued that, if so:

  1. “... it was evidently under his own name ...”

As he pointed out, Varro referred to the aedes Romuli (temple of Romulus) near the Palatine: 

  1. “The Palatine ... is so-called because the Pallantes came there with Evander ... The Cermalus must have been  joined to it, ... because, it is written [in the sacra Argeorum]:

  2. ‘Germalian: fifth shrine, at the aedes Romuli, ... .’”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 53-4, translated by Roland Kent, at p. 51).

and suggested (at note 17) that this shrine might have been located at the site of the structure on the slopes of the Palatine that became known as the hut of Romulus.


Matthew Robinson (referenced below, at p. 601 and notes 3 and 4) observed that:

  1. “Regarding the Quirinalia, [the ancient sources] tell us very little:

  2. from the extant fasti, we know that [the Quirinalia] was a ‘large letter festival’ and that it fell on the 17th February; [and]

  3. from the literary sources, ... that the day was sacred to Quirinus, and that some unspecified rites to the god were performed ...”

These scant sources are as follows:

  1. In relation to the fasti:

  2. The pre-Julian fasti Antiates maiores record the Quirinalia  on 17th February, and this presumably indicates the dies natalis of the temple that L. Papirius Cursor dedicated on the Quirinal in 293 BC (see below). 

  3. As Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, at p. 140) pointed out, the fasti Caeretani and the fasti Farnesiani both indicate that the Quirinalial was celebrated at this temple ‘in Colle’.

  4. The entry for 17th February in the fasti Praenestini, as annotated by M. Verrius Flaccus (1st century BC/ 1st century AD) can be translated and completed as:

  5. “Quirinalia: To Quirinus on the Quirinal ... [the Sabine name for] a spear is curis . . . [the Sabines call Mars] by the name of Quirinus”.

  6. In relation to the literary sources:

  7. Varro recorded that:

  8. “Quirinalia [is derived] from Quirinus,  because it is a festival of that god”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 6: 13, translated by Roland Kent, referenced below, at pp. 183-5).

  9. Festus, in his epitome of Flaccus’  lexicon, recorded that:

  10. “The Quirinalia falls in February, when rites are performed for Quirinus”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 304L, my translation).

  11. Ovid recorded that 17th February:

  12. “... is dedicated to Quirinus, who  ... was Romulus before ... ”, (‘Fasti’, 2: 475, translated by James Frazer, referenced below, at p. 91).

All we learn from these accounts is that the Quirinalia was celebrated at the temple of Quirinus on the Quirinal and that, by the Augustan period, it was regarded as a festival of the deified Romulus. 

However, an interesting feature of the Quirinalia emerges from an examination of the pattern of festivals at this time of the year: as Howard Scullard (referenced below, at p. 74) pointed out, the Parentalia was the name of:

  1. “A period for appeasing the dead (placandis Manibus) , [which] started at the 6th hour of 13 February and lasted either to the 21st (Feralia) or [to the] 22nd (Caristia or Cara Cognatio). ...  However, only the Feralia on the 21st was a public festival.”

The period  of the Parentalia began immediately after the festival of Fauno in Insula (Faunus on the Tiber Island), and only two public festivals were held in during it:

  1. the Lupercalia (on 15th February); and

  2. the Quirinalia (on 17th February).

As we shall see, it is possible that some or all of these festivals were related.

Flamines Quirinalis

Denarius (RRC 268/1b) issued in Rome by N. Fabius Pictor in 126 BC

Obverse: Roma

Reverse: PICTOR/ N·FABI/ QVIRIN (on shield)

Seated man in armour (probably the flamen Quirinalis Q. Fabius Pictor) holding an apex (priest’s hat} and a spear

Much of what we know about the original cult of Quirinus comes from surviving evidence for the ancient priesthood of the flamines Quirinalis:

  1. According to Livy (ca. 27 BC), early in his reign, Numa Pompilius, traditionally the second king of Rome:

  2. “... turned his attention to the appointment of priests. He himself, however, conducted a great many religious services, especially those which belong to the flamen of Jupiter.  But he thought that, in a warlike state [like Rome], there would be more [future] kings of the type of Romulus rather than of Numa [himself], who would take the field in person.  Therefore, in order to avoid the danger that the sacrificial rites that the king performed would be interrupted, he appointed a Ffamen as perpetual priest to Jupiter and ordered that he should wear a distinctive dress and sit in the royal curule chair. He appointed two additional flamines, one for Mars and the other for Quirinus, and also chose virgins as priestesses to Vesta.”, (‘History of Rome’, 1: 20: 1-3).

  3. According to Festus’ epitome of the lexicon of M. Verrius Flaccus )(1st century BC/ 1st century AD):

  4. “The hierarchy of priests  ... is as follows: the rex [sacrorum] is considered to be the first; then comes the flamen Dialis; after him, the flamen Martialis; in fourth place, the flamen Quirinalis; and in fifth place, the pontifex maximus”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 198 L, my translation).

We also know the names of at least two men who held the post of flamen Quirinalis:

  1. Livy (‘History of Rome’, 37: 51: 1-5) recorded that, in 189 BC, the pontifex maximus prevented the praetor-designate for Sardinia, Q. Fabius Pictor, from leaving for his province because he had been selected as  flamen Quirinalis, and ruled that he should instead hold his praetorship in Rome; and

  2. Cicero, in a speech delivered in the Senate in 56 BC, listed the names of the members of the Collegium Pontificum who had unanimously ruled that his house was ‘absolved from all sanctity’, and these included:

  3. “.. Sextus [Julius] Caesar, flamen Quirinalis ....”, (‘On the Responses of the Haruspices’, 12, translated by Nevile Watts, referenced below, at p. 329).

Michael Crawford (referenced below, at p. 292) suggested that Q. Fabius Pictor, the flamen Quirinalis of 189 BC, was depicted on the obverse of the coin illustrated above, and that the issuer, N. Fabius Pictor, was probably his grandson.  Ernst Badian (referenced below, at p. 58, note 21) argued that the inscription on the shield signified that he was:

  1. “... was attired in the arma Quirini [mentioned by M. Verrius Flaccus].”

In this passage, according to Festus’ epitome of Flaccus’ lexicon:

  1. Persillum vocant sacerdotes rudiculum picatum, quo unguine flamen Portunalis arma Quirini unguet”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 238 L)

  2. Persillum is the name that priests give to the spatula coated with pitch with which the flamen Portunalis smears the arms of Quirinus’ (my translation).

Badian (as above) observed that, by the time of Flaccus,  no-one knew why the the flamen Portunalis had this task:

  1. “It is to be presumed that this was in preparation for their solemn use at the Quirinalia, a festival about which we know nothing.  [If so, this] would suggest that it was one of the ritual duties of the flamen Quirinalis to attire himself with the arma Quirini on that occasion, and that this is what Fabius is doing [on the reverse of the coin].”

Actually, there is no surviving evidence that the flamen Quirinalis took part in the Quirinalia, albeit that it is likely that he did so.  What we do know is that he did participate in at least three other festivals:

  1. the Robigalia (25th April);

  2. the Consualia (21st August); and

  3. the Larentalia (23rd December).

Robigalia (25th April)

According to Pliny the Elder:

  1. “... there were three set periods for gathering in the produce of the earth, and it was in honour of these periods that [the ancients Romans] instituted the festivals known as the Robigalia, the Floralia, and the Vinalia.  Numa established the Robigalia in the 40th year of his reign, and they are still celebrated on [the 25th April], since this is in the period in which mildew is likely to strike”, (‘Natural History’, 18: 69)

The Augustan fasti Praenestini similarly designate the 25th April 25 as the festival of Robigus.  According to James Frazer (referenced below. at p. 421), a note that M. Verrius Flaccus added to these fasti recorded that:

  1. “The festival of Robigus takes place at the 5th milestone on the Claudian Way, lest robigo (mildew) should harm the corn.  A sacrifice is offered and games are held by runners, both men and boys.”

Ovid recorded that:

  1. “... as I was returning from Nomentum to Rome [on the day of the Robigalia], a white-robed crowd blocked the middle of the road.  A flamen [lated identified as the flamen Quirinalis] was on his way to the grove of ancient Robigus to throw the entrails of a dog and the entrails of a sheep into the flames”, (‘Fasti’, 4: 905-8, translated by James Frazer (referenced below, at p. 257).

This seems to point to an aspect of Quirinus that was associated, not with war, but with agricultural productivity.  A similar aspect of Mars is suggested by the following passage by Cato, in which he recorded a prayer that he used to ensure the productivity of his farm:

  1. “Father Mars, I pray and beseech thee that thou be gracious and merciful to me, my house, and my household...and that thou permit my harvests, my grain, my vineyards, and my plantations to flourish and to come to good issue, preserve in health my shepherds and my flocks, and give good health and strength to me, my house, and my household", (‘On Agriculture’, 141: 2-3), translated by William Hooper (referenced below, at pp. 121-3).

Consualia (21st August and 15th December)

The pre-Julian fasti Antiates maiores record two annual festivals of Consus, on 21st August and 15th December, and the fasti Vallenses records that the first of these was celebrated at the temple of Consus on the Aventine.   M. Verrius Flaccus, as epitomised by Festus, recorded representations of the toga picta in the temples of Vertumnus and of Consus on the Aventine:

  1. “... in one, M. Fulvius Flaccus and in the other [L] Papirius Cursor are shown celebrating a triumph”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 228 L, my translation). 

Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, at p. 24) argued that, since Flaccus almost certainly built the temple of Vertumnus after his triumph over Volsinii (the site of the pan-Etruscan sanctuary of Vortumnus) in 264 BC, we might reasonably assume that:

  1. “ ...  the temple of Consus was built by L. Papirius Cursor (cos. 293 and 272) ... during his second consulship; ... during his first, he had dedicated the temple of Quirinus ...”

I return below to the apparent link between this L. Papirius Cursor and the Republican temples of Quirinus and Consus.

The Christian writer Tertullian (ca. 200 AD) is our only surviving source who associated the  flamen Quirinalis with the Consualia

  1. “...  the games called Consualia ... [were] originally were celebrated in honour of Neptune because he is also called Consus, ... [He is], they say, the god of counsel, by which they mean the particular counsel that Romulus should capture the Sabine girls to be wives for his soldiers.  ...  There is still an underground altar dedicated to ...  Consus at the first turning-point in the Circus, with this inscription:

  2. ‘Mighty are: Consus in counsel; Mars in war;   in [corrupt word].’

  3. Sacrifice is offered on it by:

  4. the sacerdotes publici on the 7th of July; and

  5. the flamen Quirinalis and the virgines (presumably the Vestal Virgins) on the 21st of August”, (‘De Spectaculis’, 5, search on ‘Consualia’).

Daniele Miano (referenced below, at p. 20) observed that the ritual the altar of Consus on 7th July is otherwise unattested, and that Tertullian might have been mistaken here.  More importantly, he argued  that the only difference between the rituals of 21st August and those of 15th December about which we can be relatively certain is that the flamen Quirinalis and Vestals officiated on 21st August, and the ‘rex’ (sic) officiated on 15th December.  However, there is no surviving evidence for the participation of the flamen Quirinalis and Vestals in the celebration on the Aventine: Tertullian only recorded that they officiated at the altar of Consus in the Circus during the associated games. 

A surviving fragment of the work of Fabius Pictor, cited by Plutarch, allows us to date the association between the Consualia of 21st August and the rape of the Sabine women to at least the late 3rd century BC:

  1. “In the 4th month after the foundation [of Rome], as Fabius writes, the seizure of the  women was ventured”, (‘Life of Romulus’, 14: 1, translated by Edward Bispham and Timothy Cornell, in T. J. Cornell (editor), referenced below, at Vol. II, p. 75).

As Bispham and Cornell pointed out (at Vol. III, pp.23-4), Fabius apparently assumed that Romulus had founded the Consualia on the occasion of the abduction of the Sabine women, in the year of the foundation of the city: he thus arrived at the 4 month gap on the basis of the fact that the Consualia was celebrated on 21st August while the Parilia, which commemorate the foundation of the city, was celebrated on 21st April.  Livy described the ‘historical’ context in which the games at the Circus were established:

  1. “Romulus ... made elaborate preparations for the celebration of games in honour of Neptuno equestri (Equestrian Neptune), which he called the Consualia.  He ordered that public notice of the spectacle should be given amongst the adjoining cities, and  ... expectations were raised to the highest pitch.   [This resulted in] a great gathering; people were eager to see the new City, and all its nearest neighbours (the people of Caenina, Antemnae, and Crustumerium) were there.  The whole Sabine population came with their wives and families”, (‘History 0f Rome’, 1: 9: 6-8).

Plutarch gave more information about Romulus’ strategy:

  1. “First, a report was spread abroad ... that [Romulus] had discovered an altar of a certain god hidden underground.  They called this god Consus, and he was:

  2. either a god of counsel (for ‘consilium’ is still their word for counsel, and they call their chief magistrates consuls, that is to say, counsellors); or

  3. an equestrian Neptune.

  4. This altar, which is in the Circus Maximus, is invisible except at the chariot races, when it is uncovered.   ... When this altar was discovered, Romulus appointed by proclamation a splendid sacrifice upon it, with games and a spectacle open to all people”, (‘Life of Romulus’, 14: 3-4).

He then went on to describe the abduction of the women, which took place:

  1. “... on the 18th day (sic) of the month that was once called Sextilis, (but is now called August), on which day the festival of the Consualia is celebrated”, (‘Life of Romulus’, 14: 5).

Larentalia (23rd December)

The festival of Larentia is recorded on 23rd December in the fasti Antiates maiore, the fasti Maffeiani the fasti Ostienses and the fasti Praenestini: in the last of these, M. Verrius Flaccus (1st century BC/ 1st century AD) added the following information:

  1. [Fer]iae Iovi Accae Larentin[ae Parentalia fiunt] (The festival of <Parentalia> for Jupiter and Acca Larentina (sic): 

  2. Some say that she was [the wet nurse] of Remus and Romulus.

  3. Others [say] that [she was] a prostitute, the mistress of Hercules. 

  4. Public offerings are made to her because she made the Roman people the heirs of a large amount of money, which had been bequeathed to her by the will of Tarutilus, her lover.”

This festival is of interest in the current context because, as we shall see, Aulus Gellius (2nd century AD) identified at least one of the priests who officiated at it as the flamen Quirinalis.

The passage by Flaccus above refers to two separate traditions relating to Acca Larentia.  Fortunately, Macrobius (ca. 400 AD) gave a relatively full account of both traditions, in which he cited his sources:

  1. “The [23rd December] is the holy day of Jupiter called the Larentinalia 9sic), about which (since it’s fun telling tales) I can offer this range of views:

  2. [Some]say that, in the reign of Ancus, the temple warden of Hercules was enjoying his holiday leisure and challenged the god to a game of dice (he would handle the dice for both of them), adding the stipulation that the loser would meet the cost of a meal and a prostitute.  So, when Hercules won, the warden locked up Acca Larentia, the most notorious prostitute of the day, in the temple with a meal; the next day she put about the rumour that, after sleeping with her, the god told her, as a kind of tip, that she should not fail to benefit from the first opportunity that presented itself when she returned home.  And so it happened that, soon after leaving the temple, she was propositioned by Carutius, who had been taken by her beauty.  She did as he desired and married him.  Then, after his death, she inherited all his possessions and, when she died, she named the Roman people her heir.  For that reason Ancus buried her in the Velabrum, the most frequented spot in the city, and established a solemn sacrifice to her in which a flamen makes an offering to her Di Manes (ancestors): the festival is consecrated to Jupiter, because the ancients believed that he bestows souls and receives them back after death.  Cato [ca. 150 BC] says that Larentia became wealthy from her prostitution and  after she passed away, left the Roman people the ager Turax, ager Semurius, ager Lintirius and ager Solonius and that, for this reason, she was deemed worthy of a splendid tomb and the honour of annual offerings at the Parentalia.

  3. In Book 1 of his ‘Histories’, [Licinius Macer (early 1st century BC )] establishes that Acca Larentia, the wife of Faustulus, was the nurse of Romulus and Remus, and that, during Romulus’ reign, [presumably after Faustulus’ death], she was married off to a rich Etruscan named Carutius.  [When he died], she inherited his estate and later left it to Romulus, whom she had raised and who out of filial devotion established her festival and the offerings at the Parentalia (‘Saturnalia’, 1: 11-17, translated by Robert Kaster, referenced below, at pp. 105-7).

Although Macrobius cited only Licinius Macer in relation to the tradition that, at some point in her colourful life, Acca Larentia became the wife of Faustulus and wet nurse of Romulus and Remus, Aulus Gellius cited Licinius Macer’s contemporary in a similar context.  Furthermore, it is possible that we can trace this tradition back to Ennius’ ‘Annales’ (ca. 175 BC): according to the ‘Origo Gentis Romanae’, the work of a now-anonymous author of the 4th century AD, a swineherd called Faustulus discovered the abandoned baby twins Romulus and Remus on the bank of the Tiber, where a she-wolf was suckling them, and:

  1. “... gave them to Acca Larentia, his wife, for raising, as <Ennius> writes in Book I and Caesar writes in Book II”, (‘Origo Gentis Romanae’, 20: 3) 

The reading of ‘Ennius’ in the surviving manuscripts is uncertain, but (for example):

  1. Christopher Smith (referenced below, at p. 103 and p. 119) accepted it; and

  2. Sander Goldberg and Gesine Manuwald (referenced below, at p. 115) included this fragment as T7 in the new Loeb edition of the surviving fragments from Ennius’ ‘Annals’.


  1. “Acca Larentia was a public prostitute (corpus in vulgus dabat) and had earned a great deal of money by that trade:

  2. According to [the] ‘History’ of [Valerius Antias (1st century BC)], ...  she made King Romulus heir to her property, [presumably because she had been his wet nurse].

  3. According to some others, [she left her property to] the Roman people.  Because of that favour, the flamen Quirinalis offered public sacrifice to her, [presumably because he represented the Roman people], and a day was consecrated to her memory in the Calendar”, (‘Attic Nights’, 7: 5-9).

Timothy Cornell (in T. J. Cornell (editor), referenced below, at Vol. III, p. 74) argued that:

  1. [the tradition in which she was the mistress of Hercules] can probably be traced back as far as a passage by Cato (ca. 150 BC) cited by Macrobius (5th century AD):

  2. “Cato says that Larentia, made wealthy by her meretricious profession, left the Turacian, Semurian, Lintirian and Solinian Fields to the Roman people after her death; and, for that reason, she was rewarded with a magnificent tomb and the honour of an annual funerary cult”, (‘Saturnalia’, 1: 10: 16, translated by Timothy Cornell, in T. J. Cornell (editor), referenced below, at Vol. II, p. 169); and

  3. [the tradition that she was the wet nurse of Romulus and Remus] can be traced back as two writers of the early 1st century BC: Valerius Antias (cited by Aulus Gellius, above) and Licinius Macer, cited by Macrobius:

  4. “In the 1st book of his ‘Histories’, Macer gives reason to believe that Acca Larentia, the wife of Faustulus, was the wet nurse of Romulus and Remus, and that, during Romulus’ reign, she was married to a rich Etruscan called Carutius and provided for by inheriting from him.  Afterwards, she left this inheritance to Romulus, whom she had brought up, and he instituted the Parentalia and a day of holiday as a mark of respect”, (‘Saturnalia’, 1: 10: 17, translated by Timothy Cornell, in T. J. Cornell (editor), referenced below, at Vol. II, p. 169).

A passage by Varro (ca. 45 BC) recorded that the Larentalia was held at the tomb of Acca Larentia in the Velabrum:

  1. “The Festival of Larentia, which certain writers call the Larentalia, was named from Acca Larentia, to whom sacerdotes nostri (our priests) officially perform parentant[e] (ancestor-worship) 6 days after the Saturnalia [i.e., 17th December], on a [day that is therefore called] dies Parent<ali>um Accas Larentinas (the day of the <Parentalia> of Acca Larentia).  This sacrifice is made in the Velabrum, where it ends in the Via Nova, as certain authorities say, at the tomb of Acca, because the priests make offering near there to the departed spirits of the slaves”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 6: 23-4, translated by Roland Kent, referenced below, at p. 197).

Interestingly, Varro made no reference to the flamen Quirinalis in the context of the Larentalia at the Velabrum.  Furthermore, in a letter to M. Junius Brutus of July 43 BC, Cicero referred to the participation of pontifices on this occasion:

  1. “... that most joyful day of D. Brutus’ liberation [of the city of Mutina from the rebel Mark Antony, which had taken place in the previous March], which happened also to be his birthday . I proposed [in the Senate] that Brutus’ name should be entered in the Calendar beside that day, following the precedent of our ancestors, who paid that compliment to a woman, Larentia, at whose altar in the Velabrum you pontifices [note: M. Junius Brutus was a pontifex] offer sacrifice.  In trying to confer that on Brutus, I wished the Calendar to contain a permanent record of a most welcome victory” (‘Letters to Brutus’, 23, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, at p. 277).

Thus, Ariadne Staples (referenced below, at p. 66) concluded that the flamen Quirinalis was only one of the state priests who officiated at the Larentalia.

In two of the passages above, I flagged that there was some uncertainty relating to the word ‘Parentelia’:

  1. this word is assumed for an uncertain word at the start of Flaccus’ note in the fasti Praenestini; and

  2. as Daniel Nečas Hraste and Krešimir Vuković (referenced below, at p. 332) pointed out, the word ‘Parentalia’ in the passage of Varro in not completely secure.

As noted above, the Romans celebrated a festival known as the Parentalia , which began on the 13th February and lasted till the 21st or 22nd: however, as Ariadne Staples (referenced below, at p. 66) pointed out:

  1. “The [Parentalia of Acca Larentia on 23rd December] ... was a public ritual performed by state priests, while the Parentalia [on 17th February] was a private family ceremony.”

Although there must be some uncertainty about both of these completions, it seems to me that Staples’ observation in relation to Varro’s putative ‘Parentalia of Acca Larentia’ offers considerable support for both of them.  Furthermore, Plutarch seems to have been aware of the fact that offerings were made to the dead in both February and December:

  1. “Why is it that while the other Romans make libations and offerings to the dead in the month of February, Cicero [see below ] has recorded that Decimus Brutus [cos 138 BC]used to do so in the month of December?”, (‘Roman Questions’, 34, translated by Frank Cole Babbitt, referenced below, at pp. 57-9).

Plutarch offered four unlikely answers: Cicero was probably correct :

  1. “... I believe that [Decius Brutus] used December as the last month of the year, as the ancients had used February’, (‘On the Laws’, 2.54, translated by Clinton Keyes, referenced below, at p. 439).

Plutarch was also aware that the festival in December was called the Larentalia, albeit that he thought (for an unknown reason) that Acca Larentia was honoured in April:

  1. “And why do [the Romans]  thus honour Larentia who was at one time a courtesan?  They record that there was another Larentia, Acca the nurse of Romulus, whom they honour in April.  But they say that the surname of the courtesan Larentia was Fabula. ...[W]hen she herself when she herself died, she left her property to the State; and for that reason she has these honours”, (‘Roman Questions’, 35, translated by Frank Cole Babbitt, referenced below, at pp. 59-63).

Plutarch also recorded these two Larentalia  in his ‘Life of Romulus’:

  1. “... some say that the name of the [wet nurse of Romulus and Remus], by its ambiguity, deflected the story into the realm of the fabulous.  For the Latins use the word ‘lupae’, for both she-wolves  and women of loose character, and such a woman was Acca Larentia, the wife of Faustulus, the foster-father of the infants.: ... the Romans sacrifice .. to her and, in the month of April, the priest of Ares [the flamen Martialis] pours libations in her honour and the festival is called Larentalia”, (‘Life of Romulus’, 4: 3)

  2. “[The Romans] also honour another Larentia, for the following reason. ... [She was given to Hercules in his temple and then, on his instructions, become the lover of a man called] Tarrutius.  This man took Larentia to his bed and loved her well and, at his death, left her heir to many and fair possessions, most of which she bequeathed to the people.  And it is said that, when she was now famous and regarded as the beloved of a god, she disappeared at the spot where the other Larentia also lies buried.  This spot is now called Velabrum, ...”, (‘Life of Romulus’, 5: 1-5)

  3. .

Festus, 106L

Plut. Rom. 1.4.4f.;

Ovid, F. 3.55;

Ovid, F. 2.599f. Mania:

Livy, 1.4.7 (on which see Ogilvie, 

Forsythe (p. 137)

because of Quirinus’s association with Romulus and his flamen’s involvement in the Consualia and Larentalia, these two festivals were explained with reference to Romulus’s life: the former was associated with the rape of the Sabine women, and the latter was supposedly established by Romulus to honour his dead foster mother, Acca Larentia.

Archaic Triad of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, 1998, at p. 489) observed that:

  1. “There is some evidence that, [in the archaic period], Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus formed a triad of deities whose position was later usurped by the more familiar Capitoline triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.” 

The starting point for this hypothesis is a passage by Varro in which he referred to the Capitolium Vetus on the Quirinal:

  1. “The [steep street] that ascends [the Quirinal] close by the Temple of Flora is [called] Capitolium Vetus] because [it leads to] a sacellum of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva that is older than the temple [to these deities] on the Capitol”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 158, based on the translation by Roland Kent, referenced below, at p. 149).

The fact that the Capitolitium Vetus was on the Quirinal suggests the possibility that, in the Regal period, it had been dedicated to the three deities who had their own flamines at that time: Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus.  Oakley (as above) referred to a number of occasions on which the three deities appear together in our surviving sources:

  1. According to Livy, in the devotio of P. Decius Mus at the Battle of Veseris (340 BC), Decius begged for victory from:

  2. “... Janus, Jupiter, Mars pater, Quirinus, Bellona, Lares, divi Novensiles, di Indigites ... [and] di Manes ...”, (‘History of Rome’, 8: 9: 6),

  3. before devoting himself and the enemy army to the di Manes and to Tellus.

  4. According to Polybius, when striking their first treaties with Carthage, the Romans:

  5. “... following an old custom, [swore] by Jupiter Lapis [when striking their first treaty in 509 BC]: and in the case of [the second treaty, in 279 BC], by  Ares  (Mars) and Enyalius (Quirinus)”, (‘Histories’, 3: 25: 6).

  6. According to Plutarch:

  7. “... it is said that Numa Pompilius, in his commentaries, makes mention of three kinds of ‘opima’,  prescribing that ...the first kind ... should be dedicated to Jupiter Feretrius, the second to Mars, and the third to Quirinus”, (‘Life of Marcellus’, 8: 5).

  8. According to Servius, in his commentary on Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’:

  9. salios qui sunt in tutela Iouis Martis Quirini”, (ad Aen.’, 8: 663);

  10. “The [Salian priests] were ‘in charge of’ Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus”, (my translation).

  11. Quintilian indicated the antiquity of the Salian rites when he referred to:

  12. “ ... the hymns of the Salii, which their own priests now hardly understand”, (‘Institutio Oratoria’, 1: 6: 39-41,translated by Donald Russell, at pp. 181-3).

Support for the existence of this archaic triad might be found in a passage in which Livy imagined Camillus’ speech after the Gallic sack of Rome, in which he argued against the proposition that the Romans should move to Veii: Livy’s Camillus asked rhetorically:

  1. “Where else ... but in the Capitol can the couch of Jupiter be prepared on the day of his feast?  What need is there for me to speak about the perpetual fire of Vesta ... ? And you, Mars Gradivus and you Father Quirinus: what need is there for me to speak of your sacred shields?  Is it your wish, [Romans], that all these holy things, which are coeval with Rome itself, if not of even greater antiquity, should be abandoned and left on unhallowed soil?”, (‘History of Rome’, 5: 52: 7).

This collective testimony suggests that scholars from Polybius in the 2nd century BC to Servius in the 4th century AD were aware of archaic rituals and traditions in which the gods who had their own flamines, Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus, formed a triad that might have been a precursor of the Republican triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

If Badian’s hypothesis is correct, then, in 126 BC, Quirinus was regarded as a god of war.  We have seen above that Livy (‘History of Rome’, 5: 52: 7) referred to the sacred shields of Mars Gradivus and Quirinus among the holy things that were perhaps older that Rome itself.  Furthermore, Dionysius (Roman Antiquities’, 2: 50: 3) expressed ‘Quirinus’, to whom, according to Varro, Tatius had dedicated an altar, as Ἐνυάλιος (Enyalius), the son of Ares (Roman Mars): since he can hardly have imagined that Tatius had dedicated an altar to Romulus/ Quirinus, son of Mars while Romulus was still alive, this passage might also allude to a pre-Romulean cult of Quirinus associated in some way with Mars.

Etymology of Quirinus

Ancient etymology of Quirinus, as summariesed by Annie Burman (referenced below, Figure 2, at p. 97)

Quirinus from Curis/ Quiris

Annie Burman (referenced below, at p. 97) presented this interesting diagram summarising the etymologies that Roman and Greek scholars of the late Republic and early Empire proposed for the theonym Quirinus.  As the plethora of arrows directed towards theonym indicates, most of these scholars derived it (although not necessarily exclusively) from curis/quiris, which was thought to have been the Sabine word for spear (with quiris as the old form of curis).  Thus, for example:

  1. Verrius Flaccus, as epitomised by Paul the Deacon:

  2. “Curis is ‘spear’ in Sabine.  Therefore [the deified] Romulus is called Quirinus because he carried a spear”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 43 L, translated by Burman at p. 96, note 489).

  3. Ovid:

  4. “[Some say that, after his death, Romulus was called Quirinus] because the ancient Sabines called a spear curis, and that, by his weapon, the warlike god won his place among the stars”, (‘Fasti’, 2: 475-8, translated by Burman at p. 96, note 490).

  5. Plutarch:

  6. “... other says that [Quirinus was so-called because] the ancients called the spear-head (or the whole spear) quiris”, (‘Life of Romulus’, 29: 1, translated by Burman at p. 98, note 499).

  7. Servius:

  8. “Therefore [the deified] Romulus is also called Quirinus, [some say] because he used a spear, which is called curis in the language of the Sabine”, (‘ad Aen.’, 1: 292, translated by Burman at p. 96, note 492).

  9. Macrobius:

  10. “[We give Janus the epithet] Quirinus as a god of war, from curis, the Sabine word for ‘spear’”, (‘Saturnalia’, 1: 9: 15-6 translated by Burman at p. 96, note 494).

However, this etymology is less secure than its popularity might suggest, since, as we shall see:

  1. Verrius Flaccus, Ovid, Plutarch and Servius all related this etymology to the ‘fact’ that the spear-carrying Romulus had been deified as Quirinus; and

  2. as we shall see, the first three of these sources all put it forward as one of a number of possible etymologies. 

Furthermore, as Annie Burman pointed out:

  1. all attempts to find convincing etymologies for the word ‘curis’ itself have been unsuccessful (see  p. 102); and

  2. there are no surviving attestations to its being used in its own right, rather than as a gloss on other words (see p. 103).

Thus, all the arrows associated with curis/quiris in the diagram point away from it (mostly to Quirinus, but also to the Sabine ‘city’  of Cures or to the deities Janus Quirinus or Juno Curitis).  Burman therefore suggested that the allegedly Sabine curis/quiris might well have been invented as part of (Roman) aetiological mythology or learned discussion. 

M. Verrius Flaccus (1st century BC/ 1st century AD)

Paul the Deacon, in his epitome of the lexicon of M. Verrius Flaccus, recorded that:

  1. Curis is ‘spear’ in Sabine. Therefore Romulus is called Quirinus, because he carried a spear; and Romans are called Quirites after Quirinus.  Some think that he is named after Cures, which was a particularly wealthy city of the Sabines”, (‘De verborum significatione’, 198 L, translated by Annie Burman, referenced below, at p. 93).

I have already referred to the first etymology in this passage, which seems to have represented Flaccus’ own opinion, in the section dealing with the derivation of the theonym Quirinus from curis.  As we shall see, the second etymology (in which Quirinus derived form Cures) represented the view of Varro.

Ovid (ca. 8 AD)

Ovid recorded that 17th February was the day of the Quirinalia (above), which:

  1. “... is dedicated to Quirinus, who is so-called (he was Romulus before), perhaps:

  2. because the ancient Sabines called a spear curis and, by his weapon the warlike god [Romulus] won his place among the stars; or

  3. because the Quirites, [both Latin and Sabine], gave their own name to their king [Quirinus]; or

  4. because he united [the Sabines of] Cures to Rome”, (‘Fasti’, 2: 475-80, translated by James Frazer, referenced below, at p. 91). 

Although Ovid followed the traditional ‘Sabine’ etymologies here, he is explicit that he is referring all of them to the deified Romulus:

I referred to the first of his etymologies above: here, Ovid followed Flaccus’ derivation, in which the name Quirinus was derived from curis, because the now deified Romulus had carried a spear.  However, in the alternatives that Ovid offered in the rest of the passage, he followed Varro in deriving Quirinus from Quirites and (ultimately) from Cures.

Plutarch (late 1st century AD)

According to Plutarch, various explanations were given for the name Quirinus:

  1. “... which was bestowed on Romulus [after his apotheosis]:

  2. some say that it signifies Ἐνυάλιον (Enyalius);

  3. others that of citizen, because the citizens were called Quirites; while

  4. yet others claim that the ancients called the tip of a spear (or the whole spear) ‘quiris’ and that they gave:

  5. the epithet Quiritis to Juno whose statue leans upon a spear;

  6. the name Ἄρεα (Ares, Roman Mars) to a spear, consecrated in the Regia [see below]; and

  7. a spear as a prize to those who performed great exploits in war.

  8. [The Romans] maintain that Romulus was therefore called Quirinus, as a martial or spear-wielding, god.

  9. However that may be, a temple in his honour is built on the hill called Quirinalis (‘Life of Romulus’, 29: 1-2).

In other words, Plutarch gave three possible explanations:

  1. his first reflected Dionysius’ claim that Quirinus was  the ancient Sabine equivalent of Enyalius (discussed further below);

  2. his second reflected Varro’s claim that Quirinus was derived from Quirites; and

  3. his third reflected Flaccus’ claim that Romulus was called Quirinus because he carried a spear, the Sabine word for which was ‘curis’.

Plutarch’s reference to the spear in the Regia is interesting: both Arnobius (‘Against the Heathen’, 6: 11) and Clement of Alexandria (‘Exhortation to the Greeks’, 4: 46) recorded that Varro had recorded in a now-lost work that Mars had been represented by a spear in ancient Rome.  It seems that this spear was later replaced by a statue: in his commentary on Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’, Servius noted that:

  1. “At the start of any war, the man responsible for its conduct entered the Sacrarium Martis (Shrine of Mars [in the Regia] and would first shake the divine shields and then the spear of the god's statue, saying: ‘Mars Vigila’ (Mars, awaken)”, (ad Aen.’, 8: 3), translated by Peter Archer, ‘Rome Alive’, at 52.5).

Nature of Archaic Quirinus

Quirinus and Mars

According to Servius, in his commentary on Virgils ‘Aeneid’:

  1. Mars enim cum saevit Gradivus dicitur, cum tranquillus est Quirinus. denique in urbe duo eius templa sunt:

  2. unum Quirini intra urbem, quasi custodis et tranquilli;

  3. aliud in Appia via extra urbem prope portam, quasi bellatoris, id est Gradivi”, (‘ad Aen’, 1: 292)

  4. “When Mars rages, he is called Gradivus: when he is tranquil, he is called Quirinus. He has two temples in Rome:

  5. one within the city, to Quirinus, as guardian of peace; and

one on via Appia, outside of the city, near the gate, to Gradivus as warrior”, (my translation).

According to Varro: 

  1. “... the ‘Annals’ record that Tatius vowed arae (altars) to Ops, Flora, Vediovis and Saturn, Sun, Moon, Vulcan and Summanus, and likewise to Larunda, Terminus, Quirinus, Vertumnus, the Lares, Diana and Lucina”, (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 74, translated by Roland Kent, at p. 71).

Dionysius produced a shorter list: Romulus and Tatius:

  1. “... built shrines also and consecrated altars to those gods to whom they had addressed their vows during their battles:

  2. Romulus to Jupiter Stator, near the Porta Mugonia, as it is called, which leads to the Palatine hill from the Sacred Way, because this god had heard his vows and had caused his army to stop in its flight and to renew the battle; and

  3. Tatius to Helios (Sun), Selene (Moon), Cronos (Saturn) Rhea (Ops), Hestia (Vesta), Hephaestus (Vulcan), Artemis (Diana), Enyalius (Quirinus), and to other gods whose names are difficult to be expressed in the Greek language; ...”, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 50: 3).

Like other Greek authors (including Polybius, and Plutarch), Dionysius associated Roman Quirinus with νυάλιος (Enyalius), the son of Ares (Roman Mars).

A passage by Dionysius of Halicarnassus suggests that this archaic Quirinus was, like Mars, a god of war:

  1. “The sixth division of[King Numa’s] religious institutions was devoted to those that the Romans call Salii, whom Numa himself appointed out of the patricians, choosing twelve young men of the most graceful appearance.   These are the [original] Salii, whose holy things are deposited on the Palatine hill, and who are called the (Salii) Palatini; for the (Salii) Agonales, called by some called the Salii Collini, the repository of whose holy things is on the Quirinal hill, were appointed after Numa's time by King [Tullus] Hostilius, in pursuance of a vow he had made in the war against the Sabines. All these Salii are a kind of dancers and singers of hymns in praise of the gods of war, (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 70: 1).

Michael Lipka (referenced below, at pp. 59-60) pointed out that the Salii Palatini and Salii Collini would have been devoted  (respectively) to Mars and Quirinus.

  1. According to St Augustine, who probably relied for the underlying facts on a now-lost work by Varro (perhaps his ‘Antiquitates Rerum Humanarum et Divinarum’), the Romans:

  2. “... have esteemed [Romulus] more highly than many gods because they can call him their own, although their secret doctrine can only allow him the rank of a demigod [see below].  They allotted a flamen to him: that is to say, a priest of a class so highly esteemed in their religion: ... Flamines were appointed for only three of their gods: the flamen Dialis for Jupiter, the flamen Martialis for Mars, and the flamen Quirinalis for Romulus (for, when ... his fellow citizens had given Romulus a seat among the gods, they gave him this new name, Quirinus). ... They have assigned the same priesthood to serve him as to serve Jove; and they gave Mars (the reputed father of Romulus) the same honour for Romulus' sake, rather than to honour Mars”, (City of God’, 2: 15).

Read more:

M. Crawford, “Roman Republican Coinage”, (2019) Cambridge

S. M. Goldberg and G. Manuwald (translators), “Ennius: Fragmentary Republican Latin, Volume I: Ennius, Testimonia. Epic Fragments”, (2018) Cambridge MA

A. C. Burman, “De Lingua Sabina: A Reappraisal of the Sabine Glosses”, (2017) thesis of King’s College, Cambridge

D. Miano, “The Goddess Ops in Archaic Rome”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, 58:1 (2015) 98-127

D. Nečas Hraste and K. Vuković, “Virgins and Prostitutes in Roman Mythology”, Latomus, 74:2 (2015) 313-38

J. Neel, “Legendary Rivals: Collegiality and Ambition in the Tales of Early Rome”, (2015) Leiden and Boston

T. P. Wiseman, "Rome on the Balance: Varro and the Foundation Legend”, in:

  1. D. J. Butterfield (editor), “Varro Varius: The Polymath of the Roman World”, (2015) Cambridge, at pp. 93-122

T. J. Cornell (editor), “The Fragments of the Roman Historians”, (2013) Oxford

A. Staples, “From Good Goddess to Vestal Virgins: Sex and Category in Roman Religion”, (2013)  London and New York

R. A. Kaster, “Macrobius: Saturnalia, Volume I; Books 1-2”, (2011) Cambridge MA

F.-H. Massa-Pairault, “Romulus et Remus: Réexamen du Miroir de l’Antiquarium Communal”, Mélanges de l'École Française de Rome: Antiquité, 123:2 (2011) 505-25

G. Farney, “Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome” (2010) Cambridge

M. Lipka, “Roman Gods: A Conceptual Approach”, (2009) Leiden and Boston

C. J. Smith, “The Origo Gentis Romanae: Facts and Fictions”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, 48 (2005) 97-136

M. Robinson, “Festivals, Fools and the Fasti: The Quirinalia and the Feriae Stultorum (Ovid, Fast. II 475-532)”, Aevum Antiquum N.S.3 (2003),  609-621

D. R. Shackleton Bailey (translator), “Cicero: Letters to Quintus and Brutus; Letter Fragments;  Letter to Octavian.; Invectives; Handbook of Electioneering”, (2002) Cambridge MA

E. Curti, “From Concordia to the Quirinal. Notes on Religion and Politics in Mid Republican/Hellenistic Rome”, in:

  1. E. Bispham and C. Smith (Eds), “Religion in Archaic and Republican Rome and Italy: Evidence and Experience”, (2000) Edinburgh. at pp. 77-91

S. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X:Volume II: Books VII-VIII”, (1998) Oxford

A. Ziolkowski, “The Temples of Mid-Republican Rome”, (1992) London 

H. H. Scullard, “Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic”, (1981) London

R. Kent (translator), “Varro: On the Latin Language, Volume I: Books 5-7”, (1938) Cambridge MA

F. C. Babbitt (translator), “Plutarch: Moralia, Volume IV: Roman Questions; Greek Questions; Greek and Roman Parallel Stories; On the Fortune of the Romans; On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander; Were the Athenians More Famous in War or in Wisdom?”, (1936) Cambridge MA

W. Hooper (translator), “Cato, Varro. On Agriculture”, (1934) Cambridge MA

J. Frazer (translator), “Ovid: Fasti”, (1931) Cambridge MA

C. W. Keyes (translator), “Cicero: On the Republic; On the Laws”, (1928) Cambridge MA

N. H. Watts (translator), “Cicero: Pro Archia; Post Reditum in Senatu; Post Reditum ad Quirites; De Domo Sua; De Haruspicum Responsis; Pro Plancio”, (1923) Cambridge MA

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