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LARES
Form: i.e. lords
The Latin name for the good spirits of the departed, who even after death continue to be active in bringing blessing on their posterity. The origin of the worship of the Lares is traced to the fact that the Romans buried their dead in their own houses, until it was forbidden by the laws of the Twelve Tables. Every house had individually a lar familiaris, who was the " lord " tutelary spirit of the family; his chief care was to prevent its dying out. His image, habited in a toga, stood between the two Penates, in the lararium or shrine of the Lares, beside the household hearth, which in early days was in the atrium; the group as a whole was also commonly called either the Lares or the Penates. The ancient Roman and his children saluted it daily with a morning prayer and an offering from the table; for, after the chief meal was over, a portion of it was laid on the fire on the hearth. When the hearth and the Lares were not in the eating-room, the offering was placed on a special table before the shrine. Regular sacrifices were offered on the calends, nones, and ides of every month and at all important family festivities, such as the birthday of the father of the family, the assumption by a son of the toga virilis, the marriage of a child, or at the reception of a bride, or the return of any member of the family after a long absence. On such occasions the Lares were covered with garlands and cakes and honey; wine and incense, and animals, especially swine, were offered up. Out of doors the Lares were also honoured as tutelary divinities, and in the chapels at the cross-ways (compita) there were always two lares compitales or vicorum (one for each of the intersecting roads) which were honoured by a popular festival (Compitalia) held four times a year (cp. cut). Augustus added to the Lares the Genius Augusti, and commanded two regular feasts to be held in honour of these divinities, in the months of May and August. Further, there were Lares belonging to the whole city (lares proestites). They were invoked with the mother of the Lares, also called Lara, Larunda, or Mania (q.v.), and had an ancient altar and temple to themselves in Rome. The Lares were invoked as protectors on a journey, in the country, in war, and, on the sea. In contrast to these good spirits we have the Larvae (q.v.).

Pictures and Media
ALTAR OF LARES COMPITALES. (Pompeii.)
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