To the surname of Quirinus bestowed on Romulus, some give the meaning of Mars
, others that of Citizen
because the citizens were called Quirites; but others say that the ancients called the spear-head
(or the whole spear)
‘quiris,’ and gave the epithet Quiritis to the Juno whose statue leans upon a spear, and the name Mars to a spear consecrated in the Regia, and a spear as a prize to those who performed great exploits in war; and that Romulus was therefore called Quirinus as a martial
, or spear-wielding
However that may be, a temple in his honour is built on the hill called Quirinalis after him, and the day on which he vanished is called People's Flight, and Capratine Nones, because they go out of the city and sacrifice at the Goat's Marsh; and
‘capra’ is their word for she-goat.
And as they go forth to the sacrifice, they shout out many local names, like Marcus, Lucius, and Caius, in imitation of the way in which, on the day when Romulus disappeared, they called upon one another in fear and confusion.
Some, however, say that this imitation is not one of flight, but of haste and eagerness, and explain it as referring to the following occasion. After the Gauls had captured Rome and been driven out by Camillus, and when the city was still too weak to recover itself readily, an expedition was made against it by many of the Latins, under the command of Livius Postumius. This general stationed his army not far from Rome, and sent a herald with the message that the Latins wished to renew their ancient relationship and affinity with the Romans, by fresh intermarriages between the two peoples.
If, therefore, the Romans would send them a goodly number of virgins and their widows, they should have peace and friendship, such as they had formerly made with the Sabines on the like terms. On hearing this message, the Romans hesitated between going to war, which they feared, and the surrender of their women, which they thought no more desirable than to have them captured. But while they were in this perplexity, a serving-maid called Philotis (or, as some say, Tutola) advised them to do neither, but by the use of a stratagem to escape alike the war and the giving of hostages.
Now the stratagem was this, that they should send to the enemy Philotis herself, and with her other comely serving-maids arrayed like free-born women; then in the night Philotis was to display a signal-fire, at which the Romans were to come in arms and deal with their enemies while asleep. This was done, with the approval of the Latins, and Philotis displayed the signal-fire from a certain wild fig-tree, screening it behind with coverlets and draperies, so that its light was unseen by the enemy, but visible to the Romans.
When, accordingly, they beheld it, they sallied forth at once in great haste, and because of their haste calling upon one another many times at the gates. They fell upon their enemies when they least expected it and mastered them, and now celebrate this festival in memory of their victory. And the Nones on which it falls are called Capratine from the wild fig-tree
, the Roman name for which is
‘caprificus,’ and they feast the women outside the city in booths made of fig-tree boughs. Then the serving-maids run about in companies and play, after which they strike and throw stones at one another, in token that on that earlier day they assisted the Romans and shared with them in their battle.1
These details are accepted by many historians, but their calling out one another's names in the day time, and their marching out to the Goat's Marsh as for sacrifice, seem to be more consonant with the former story, unless, to be sure, both actions happened to take place on the same day in different periods. Romulus is said to have been fifty-four years of age, and in the thirty-eighth year of his reign when he disappeared from among men.