Quintina and Quirinus


Quintina is the feminine form of Quintinus, a Latin cognomen derived from Quintus, which means “fifth.” Traditionally, it was given to a fifth-born child, or a child born in the fifth month. I have a character named Quintina, and I’ve always pronounced it Kwahn-TEEN-ah instead of KWIN-teen-ah. I absolutely love birth-order names, like Una, Tertia, Quadressa, Quintina, Quintillia, Quintessa, Quintavia, Septima, Octavia, and Decima, particularly if they’re used on a child born in that order.

The Shepherd Faustulus Bringing Romulus and Remus to His Wife, by Nicolas Mignard

Quirinus, an alternate name for Romulus, is mentioned in Canto VIII of Paradiso, as an example of someone who doesn’t take after his father at all, so much so he claimed Mars (Ares) as his sire. Together with his twin brother Remus, he founded Rome. Later on, Quirinus/Romulus was elevated to deity status, and some sources are confused as to whether the Roman god Quirinus is or isn’t one and the same as Romulus.

There are many versions of the twins’ origins, ancestry, and childhood, but all versions of the myth have a servant who can’t bring himself to murder the babies, and instead puts them in a basket on the banks of the Tiber River. The river floods and carries the twins downstream, unhurt. Tiberinus, a river god, made the basket catch in the roots of a fig tree, and a wolf named Lupa discovers them and serves as their wetnurse. Picus, a woodpecker, feeds them.

The twins grew up as shepherds following their discovery by Faustulus, who took them to his hut and raised them with his wife Acca Larentia. The rest is history.

Quirinus is a Latin name possibly derived from the Sabine word quiris (spear). My favorite form of the name is Quirino (Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish). The German form is Quirin, the Dutch form is Quirijn, and the French form is Corin.

Quirinus came to stand for the Divine personification of the Roman people.


4 thoughts on “Quintina and Quirinus

  1. I love names – have loads of name dictionaries, including French and Irish ones. Choosing my children’s names was tricky! My husband wanted to call our daughter Emily, but I knew this was coming up to being a popular name and didn’t want that, so found a French name that was similar, but still made her distinctive. My son is called Jem after Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  2. Pingback: A to Z Reflections 2016 | Onomastics Outside the Box

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