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Quirites was the earliest name of the citizens of Ancient Rome. The term's etymology is disputed. It may be derived from the Sabine word for "spear"[1] or may originate in the Sabine capitol of Cures, after the Sabine people were assimilated early in Roman history.[2]

Combined in the phrase populus Romanus quirites (or quiritium) it denoted the individual citizen as contrasted with the community. Hence ius quiritium in Roman law is full Roman citizenship. Subsequently the term lost the military associations due to the original conception of the people as a body of warriors, and was applied (sometimes in a deprecatory sense, cf. Tac. Ann. ~. 42) to the Romans in domestic affairs, Romani being reserved for foreign affairs.[3]

In identifying this name as the possible source of the word cry, the Oxford English Dictionary cites Varro.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "For a spear is decreed sacred to Juno, and most of her statues are supported by a spear, and she is surnamed Quiritis, and a spear of old was called quiris, wherefore they surname Mars Quirinus." (Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 87.
  2. ^ Livy, History of Rome I 13.20; [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/ovid/ovid.fasti2.shtml Ovid, Fasti II 479–480
  3. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ "cry". Oxford English Dictionary.