Earlier this week, our associate Athanaricus had posted a rather novel paper by another which proposed to explain the Roman theonym of Quirinus via recourse to our old friend, the Proto-Indo-European Perkwunos – that is to say, a potential linkage between this cryptic Roman deific and the Striker/Thunderer.
Now, I am not in a position to assay the linguistics advanced within said paper, because it is not my specialized field; although it did seem a bit peculiar. One data-point advanced in favour of the theory, however, was the occurrence of a Hercules Quirinus – which, upon the face of it, would appear to confirm exactly that: namely, the notion of this Quirinus being, well, the Striker/Thunderer, as Hercules (is).
Except not so fast.
Indo-European epithets and theonyms do not quite work that way.
In various cases, epithets are not unique to a single deity but are shared amongst Them in a given Pantheon. This is especially the case when they connote some physical site where multiple Gods may be worshipped, or a concept which has resonancy for multiple Deities and accompanying Divine Portfolio inclusions.
For example, I think it is Larissaeus that is an epithet of both Zeus and Apollo … due to the situation of temples to Both in the arx Larissa in the city of Argos. A similar form of the name occurs as an epithet for Athena due to Her having a Temple located near the river Larissus. Oh, and there’s also a Nymph of the name Larissa that is linked to the former area, as well. In other words – attempting to suggest that all four of these figures are, implicitly, the same deific (or, perhaps we may say, running off the same archaic PIE deific complex), upon the basis of this toponymical related epithet, would lead to questionable identifications. Notwithstanding, of course, that two or three of the four have reasonable arguments to be made for Sky Father resonancy in various manners.
Another example, and indeed it is my general go-to upon these matters – concerns Surya. Which, dependent upon context, either means the Sky Father (as Sun), the Son of the Sky Father (that is the Sun), the Eye of the Sky Father (again, the Sun), a Daughter of Surya, or a way of phrasing things in the context of one of the Riddle Hymns which potentially refers to Yama and the Realm of the Afterlife, etc. etc. etc.
The better way to approach epithets such as these, I suspect, is to look at what is being connoted – rather than Whom. What essential quality is there which mandates a distinguishment, a ‘refinement’ from the ‘baseline’ form of the Deific and Their Theonym? What are we trying to communicate here?
In short, and in this case specifically – what is it that the concept or the quality of ‘Quirinus’ was actually supposed to represent in the Roman mytho-political imagination.
And that’s where things get a bit complex, because our most usual tools for analysis – especially as to the ‘deepa’ meaning – throw up a few somewhat differing and potentially linguistically or contextually questionable results.
The main thread should, of course, take its lead from Latin Quiris, Quirites … which we can say represents terms aligned to “Citizenship”.
Now, it gets interesting at that point, because in theory it’s got an element for ‘civic’ rather than ‘military’ belonging to it … as in, it is the Roman Citizen not as a soldier, but as a ‘fellow man’ [and indeed, there is a not entirely impossible Proto-Italic derivation that would make it effectively ‘Fellow Man’ directly – ‘Kom Wiros’] ; although personally, I would perhaps be looking at ‘Koryos’ [i.e. PIE for ‘warband, army’], especially given the folk-etymology of some prominency at the time for it coming from a Sabine word, Cures, meaning “Spear”. Spear-Man as an ethnonym is something we see even today with “German” (and, come to think of it, the supposition of ‘Janus Quirinus’ as ‘Janus the Spear-Wielding’ … would go rather well with my as-yet unpublished suppositions of the Two-Faced God in relation to Shiva-Rudra [i.e. ShulaPani], and other such Sky Father deific expressions… especially if I go by the potential PIE underpinning for ‘Janus’ making Him a ‘wanderer’, a ‘traveller’ … )
How is this relevant for us? Well, if Quirinus is the ‘Citizen’, the ‘Roman’ it therefore makes considerable sense …. that we find the Classical attestation amidst Plutarch for Quirinus as being Romulus in deific form.
Just as Man is .. well, Mankind – the Kindred of Man(n)u(s) – so too is the Roman Citizen, both a descendant of in the direct sense (at least earlier) as well as a kinsman in a more … mytho-political sense (i.e. the bonds of covenant) to the progenitor of Rome.
Except this does not quite account for that aforementioned distinction between ‘Quiris’ as ‘[Peacetime] Citizen’, and the fact that Quirinus is an epithet also applied to the God presiding over not only Peace, but its antithesis – that being Janus as aforementioned.
My personal supposition is that Quiris had become a rather specific derivative from the previous, broader meaning. That is to say, the Romans had taken a term which had previously been broader in its scope and ambit to refer to the Roman – and made a specialized form to refer to him when he was not at war. If ‘Koryos’ was indeed the root for Quiris and Quirinus, then that would suggest that the Romans fundamentally had seen themselves as a people under arms and marshalled, regimented as their natural state. One might make interesting comparison with Tacitus’ description of a certain tribe of the Germanics being the “Harii”, given that this ethnonym in Proto-Germanic effectively just means ‘Raiding Party’ (and leaving aside the distinct possibility that some miscommunication had ensued and that it was … not an ethnonym at all but rather just somebody asking a Germanic “who/what are you?” and the Germanic in question replying with “a Warrior/Raider”, and it going from there).
However it has been congealed, ‘Quirinus’ as ‘Roman’ seems plausible. A God – or perhaps more aptly, a ‘Quality’, an ‘Essence’ – of ‘The Romans’.
There is some support for this theory to be found amidst the comparanda of the Romans’ Latin phraseology to that of the Iguvine Tablets’ presentation of the beliefs of the Umbrian Grabovii. There, we find the identified cognate for Quirinus to be Vofionus. The etymology is, again, somewhat open to interrogation; although one proposal has sought to suggest PIE ‘Leudh’ / ‘Hlewdh’, meaning ‘People’ or ‘Growth’ [and therefore leading to supposition for the theonym meaning ‘Grower of the People’, or ‘Strengthener of the People’]. This has, understandably, been connected to the figure of Toutatis among the Celts – with this deriving from PIE ‘Tewteh’, a term referring to a ‘People’, and which may itself come from PIE ‘Tewh’ to refer to ‘strength’, ‘swelling (up)’, ‘crowding [together’]. As a point of perhaps comparative interest, the Hittite ‘Tuzzis’, which refers to an army or its encampment, is potentially similarly derived.
My personal supposition is that partially what is meant, represented, and intended by Quirinus is quite similar to what is understood by Aryaman in the Vedic theology – ‘Aryaman’ having a theonym that is virtually self-explanatory.
Although because it is often misinterpreted – ‘Arya’ in a Vedic context is not really an ethnonym, any more than ‘Geir’ would be an ethnonym for the Germanic . It is a specific term to connote an interpersonal relationship – or, rather, what makes just such an interpersonal relationship possible. It means somebody who is ‘proper’, because they ‘know the ways’ and thus can observe the customs of the tribe, the people. I term it an “ethonym” as it connotes belonging to an ethos rather than merely just an ethnos. It would be possible to be born to a tribe ethnically of the Aryas, and yet not be Arya precisely because one had no knowledge of how to be so in the first instance. So – Aryaman, therefore, presides over exactly that. The proper, the proprietary, the Way. And not merely the Milky Way which is His Path [c.f Odin / Irmin in likewise position celestially / astrocartographically]. It is precisely that quality, precisely that participation therein, which makes an Indo-European Man part of his ethnos : his allegiance and adherence to the Ethos, his tangible embodiment of his loka-lized precepts of Cosmic Law.
Now, to bring this back to Quirinus – it is therefore unsurprising that we should find Quirinus said to have a Consort, Hora. Hora, as we have discussed elsewhere, has a meaning-field which has also given rise to our modern ‘Hour’, is from the same root as ‘Year’, and can definitely refer to ‘the proper time to do things’, in the sense that we must place ourselves within the paradigmatic framework of Natural Law in our conduct and our dispositions. However, there are also an array of other quite important qualities associated with the Greek group of the Horae – including Dike [‘Justice’/’Righteousness’], Irene [‘Peace’], and Eunomia [‘Good Order/Laws’]. These are stated as Children of Themis [‘Divine Law’] by Zeus, although I have suspected that it is more a case of ’emanations’ – in the sense that specific qualities of the Goddess that is Law, were understood instead by the Greeks to be descendants thereof. Certainly, via the Classical interpretation of Scythian Indo-European myth, we have some intriguing support for the application of ‘Hora’ to refer to the Consort of the Sky Father – in Serpentine form, no less.
The notion of the Sky Father deific being in a matrimonial relationship with a Goddess that is Cosmic Order’s in-universe expression is quite familiar to us from the Vedic sphere – Vak & Aditi, in specia spring to mind. It is also well-known to us, albeit more obliquely, via the Nordic texts – where we find mentions for Frigg being unparalleled in Her connexion to Orlog [‘Supernal Law’] and Skadi acting as a Black/Shadowy and Serpentine-associated Enforcer of same. Both are Wife of Odin. Skadi, in particular, has a most celebrated role as the great sanctioner against a certain figure who undermined the sacral bonds of community and made himself an ‘outlaw’.
In terms of the Vedic sphere – it may be of interest to look at RV VII 66. This features Aditi, the Radiant Queen of the Heavens, and Wife of the Sky Father – as She “Whose Statute Is Inviolate” ; but also, reference to a Triad of deific facings: Varuna , Mitra , and Aryaman in that order. There is more which plays upon my mind on that specific front, but for now it is enough to note the Hymnal’s significant emphasis :
“10 Many are they who strengthen Law, Sun-eyed, with Agni for their tongue,
They who direct the three great gatherings with their thoughts, yea, all things with surpassing might.
11 They who have stablished year and month and then the day, night, sacrifice and holy verse,
Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman, the Kings, have won dominion which none else may gain.
12 So at the rising of the Sun we think of you with hymns to-day,
Even as Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman deserve: ye are the charioteers of Law.
13 True to Law, born in Law the strengtheners of Law, terrible, haters of the false,
In their felicity which gives the best defence may we men and our princes dwell.”
It is not hard to see the conceptual relationship between ‘bringing [the] People together’ in the linguistics we have aforementioned across several IE cultures, and what is contained in lines 10 and 13. It is equally straightforward to see how ‘Hora’ pertains to line 11. And how Law underpins and makes into an actual viable community, the ‘enclosure’ within which the persons of the Nation “dwell”.
Phrased succinctly and directly: I consider it quite strongly likely that Quirinus is not merely ‘Romanness’, but is a Facing of the Sky Father Himself. This would fit with my earlier briefly articulated supposition viz. Janus, with the comparative evidence around Varuna and Aryaman in just such a role; and, as it happens, the slightly speculative linkaging of Quirinus to agriculture and vegetative growth due to the presiding role of the Flamen Quirinalis over the agrarian-associated Consualia observance. As we have covered elsewhere, there is quite a prominent role for the Sky Father as He Who Makes The Rains Run On Time – and, it would seem, He Makes The Grains Run On Time likewise as well.
This raises an obvious problem for the identification of Romulus with Quirinus, and Romulus’ Wife Hersilia with Hora. These were genuine beliefs amidst an array of Romans, although I would suspect that they were somewhat later innovations. Linkages of the essential qualities connoted by ‘Quirinus’ and ‘Hora’ to the founding Father and His Wife of Rome; Romulus as an ‘expression’ or an ’emanation’ or an ‘avatar’ of Quirinus with ‘Mythic Resonancy’ in retrospective analytical effect as seen especially via the enactions of Hersilia ‘bringing together’ Roman and Sabine into one people; or perhaps even something as simple as a patronymic being taken for a direct theonymic in the manner of somebody conflating Vivasvat with Vaivasvata Manyu by accident or design.
There is more which could – and most certainly should – be said upon all of these matters. But for now, it is (almost) enough.
One point remains, however, as yet unaddressed. Namely – just what it is which is supposedly meant by ‘Hercules Quirinus’.
Hercules Quirinus, I would suggest, would mean “Hercules the Roman” , the specifically Roman Hercules [in contrast, not least, to various other invocations of Hercules that may be more ‘foreign’ – and more linked or even overtly keyed to foreign, non-Roman peoples … including our friends, the Germanics, when it was remembered that Herakles = Thor; Hercules Magusanus, for example]; and the Hercules that would, as with any other Roman [that is to say, any other Quirites] serve the Roman State. Indeed, be one of an array of active expressions of said State ; a Son of Jupiter , just as the Roman State likewise was Divine.