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Quirinus, an obscure Roman god


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Quirinus is a supposedly important Roman god about whom we know very little. Various sources suggest a connection with Mars, Romulus, or the Sabines. He appears on two Roman Republican coin types explicitly labeled with his name, but neither gives us much of a hint as to how he should be regarded.


C. Memmius C.f.  56 BC. Crawford 427/2.
18 mm. 3.77 grams.
Head of Quirinus right with long beard. QVIRINVS down the left, C. MEMMI C F down the right
MEMMIVS AED CERIALIA PREIMVS FECIT (counterclockwise from 11:00) around seated figure of Ceres holding a torch and ears of grain, with a snake before.
The reverse refers to a distant relative, an Aedile, being the first to celebrate the Ludi Cereales, sometime before 211 BC.

One story, with flimsy support, relates Quinius to Romulus. It says Romulus who founded Rome disappeared in mysterious circumstances. One Roman said that he saw Romulus ascending to heaven and Romulus told the Roman he was henceforth to be known as “Quirinus.”  Crawford finds it “self-evident to me that that the type is irrelevant to the assimilation of Quirinus and Romulus.”

Apparently, we actually know very little about Quirinus. He may have been a Sabine war god, assimilated to Mars. Crawford says, “The type may reflect “the moneyer’s claim to possess a Sabine origo.”

Here is the second type which mentions Quininus.


Crawford 268/1, 124 BC.  (Date revised since Crawford who dated it to 126 BC. See Yarrow, "Coins of the Roman Republic to 49 BC".)
N. Fabius Pictor, possibly the grandson of a priest of Quirinus.
17 mm. 3.80 grams
Helmeted head of Roma right
Seated figure of Quirinus, labeled as such on a shield (QVI/RIN), holding an apex (priestly hat) and spear. PICTOR down the left. ROMA in exergue. N FABI up the right. 

There is a lot we don't know about ancient Roman times, including the role of Quirinus. Show us anything related, or maybe some other obscure Republican type. 



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