QUIRINUS, the Sabine name of the god Mars, probably an adjective meaning "wielder of the spear" (Quiris, cf. Janus Quirinus). Other suggested etymologies are: (i) from the Sabine town Cures; (2) from curia, i.e. he was the god of the Roman state as represented by the thirty curies. A. B. Cook (Class. Rev. xviii., p. 368) explains Quirinus as the oak-god (quercus), and Quirites as the men of the oaken spear. From early times he was worshipped at Rome on the Quirinal hill, whither, according to tradition, a body of Sabines under Titus Tatius had migrated from Cures and taken up their abode. In the religious system of Numa, Quirinus and Mars were both recognized as divine beings, distinct but of similar attributes and functions; thus, like Mars, Quirinus was at once a god of war and a nature god, the protector of fields and flocks. Subsequently, at the end of the republic, Quirinus became identified with the deified Romulus, son of Mars. One of the greater flamens was attached to the service of Quirinus, a second college of Salii founded in his honour, and a festival "Quirinalia" celebrated on the 17th of February, the day of the supposed translation of Romulus to heaven. Old Roman formula of prayer mention a Hora Quirini, his female cult associate, afterwards identified with Hersilia, the wife of Romulus.
The name was also borne by the following saints: (1) a Roman tribune who suffered martyrdom under Hadrian; (2) a bishop of Siscia in Pannonia; (3) the patron of the Tegernsee in Bavaria, beheaded in Rome in 269 and invoked by those suffering from gout. The petroleum (Quirinus-oil) found in the neighbourhood of the lake takes its name from him.
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