one of the most ancient patrician gentes at Rome, traced its origin to a time long previous to the foundation of the city.
The legend related that when Hercules came into Italy he was hospitably received on the spot, where Rome was afterwards built, by the Potitii and the Pinarii, two of the most distinguished families in the country.
The hero, in return, taught them the way in which he was to be worshipped; but as the Pinarii were not at hand when the sacrificial banquet was ready, and did not come till the entrails of the victim were eaten, Hercules, in anger, determined that the Pinarii should in all future time be excluded from partaking of the entrails of the victims, and that in all matters relating to his worship they should be inferior to the Potitii.
These two families continued to be the hereditary priests of Hercules till the censorship of App. Claudius (B. C. 312), who purchased from the Potitii the knowledge of the sacred rites, and entrusted them to public slaves, as is related elsewhere. [POTITIA GENS.] The Pinarii did not share in the guilt of communicating the sacred knowledge, and therefore did not receive the same punishment as the Potitii, but continued in existence to the latest times. (Dionys. A. R. 1.40
; Serv. ad Virg. Aen.
8.268; Festus, p. 237, ed. Müller ; Macrob. Saturn.
3.6; Liv. 1.7
; Hartung, Die Religion der Römer,
vol. ii. p. 30.)
It has been remarked, with justice, that the worship of Hercules by the Potitii and Pinarii was a sacrum gentilitium
belonging to these gentes, and that in the time of App. Claudius these sacra private
were made sacra publica.
(Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. p. 88; Göttling, Gesch. der Röm. Stuatsverf.
The Pinarii are mentioned in the kingly period [PINARIA, No. 1; PINARIUS, No. 1], and were elevated to the consulship soon after the commencement of the republic.
The first member of the gens, who obtained this dignity, was P. Pinarius Mamercinus Rufus in B. C. 489.
At this early time, MAMERCINUS is the name of the only family that is mentioned : at a subsequent period, we find families of the name of NATTA, POSCA, RUSCA, and SCARPUS, but no members of them obtained the consulship. On coins, Natta
are the only cognomens that occur.
The few Pinarii, who occur without a surname, are given below.