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LEMURES 100.00%
Ghosts. (See LARVAe.)
LARVAE 100.00%
In Roman belief the Larvae, in contrast to the Lares (the good spirits of the departed), were the souls of dead people who could find no rest, either owing to their own guilt, or from having met with some indignity, such as a violent death. They were supposed to wander abroad in the form of dreadful spectres, skeletons, etc., and especially to strike the living with madness. Similar sipectres of the night are the Lemures. To expel them from the house, peculiar expiatory rites were held on three days of the year, the 9th, 11th, and 13th of May, the Lemuria, when all the temples were closed, and marriages avoided.
Certain special days were so called among the Romans which, owing to religious scruples, were deemed unsuitable for particular undertakings, especially for beginning them. On such days only what was absolutely necessary was done. So far as they are unsuited for sacred, political, legal, or military undertakings, they belong to the dies nefasti. (See FASTI.) As regards private affairs, these days were of different kinds. Some were of ill omen for journeys, others for weddings. In the latter case the day previous was also avoided, so that the first day of married life should not be a day of unhappy omen. Among such days were those consecrated to the dead and to the gods of the nether world, as the Parentalia and the Feralia, and days when the mundus, i.e. the world below, stood open (See MANES); the Lemuria (See LARVAe); also days sacred to Vesta, days on which the Sam passed through the city, or those which were deemed unlucky owing to their historical associations (atri dies, "black days "), such as the anniversary of the battle on the Allia (July 18th); also all days immediately after the calends, nones, and ides, on account of the repeated defeats and disasters experienced by the Romans on those days.
LARES 10.41%
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.).
According to the belief current among the Greeks, the world of the dead, or the spacious abode of Hades, with its wide doors, was in the dark depths of the earth. In the Odyssey, its entrance and outer court are on the western side of the river Oceanus, in the ground sacred to Persephone, with its grove of barren willows and poplars. Here is the abode of the Cimmerians, veiled in darkness and cloud where the sun never shines. The soil of this court, and indeed of the lower world in general, is a meadow of asphodel, an unattractive weed of dreary aspect usually planted on graves. The actual abode of the subterranean powers is Erebos, or the impenetrable darkness. In later times entrances to the lower world were imagined in other places where there were cavernous hollows which looked as if they led into the bowels of the earth. Such places were Hermione and the promontory of Taenarum in the Peloponnese, Heraclea on the Euxine, and Cumae in Italy, where the mythical Cimmerli were also localized. The lower world of Homer is intersected by great rivers, the Styx, the Acheron (river of woe), Cocytus (river of cries), a branch of the Styx, Phlegethon and Pyriphlegethon (rivers of fire). The last two unite and join the waters; of the Acheron. In the post-Homeric legend, these rivers are represented as surrounding the infernal regions, and another river appears with them, that of Lethe, or oblivion. In the waters of Lethe the souls of the dead drink forgetfulness of their earthly existence. The lower world once conceived as separated from the upper by these rivers, the idea of a ferryman arose. This was Charon, the son of Erebos and of Nyx, a gloomy, sullen old man, who takes the souls in his boat across Acheron into the realm of shadows. The souls are brought down from the upper world by Hermes, and pay the ferryman an obolos, which was put for this purpose into the mouths of the dead. Charon has the right to refuse a passage to souls whose bodies have not been duly buried. In Homer it is the spirits themselves who refuse to receive any one to whom funeral honours have not been paid. At the gate lies the dog Cerberus, son of Typhaon and Echidna. He is a terrible monster with three heads, and mane and tail of snakes. He is friendly to the spirits who enter, but if anyone tries to got out he seizes him and holds him fast. The ghosts of the dead were in ancient times conceived as incorporeal images of their former selves, without mind or consciousness. In the Odyssey the seer Tiresias is the only one who has retained his consciousness and judgment, and this as an exceptional gift of Persephone. But they have the power of drinking the blood of animals, and having done so they recover their consciousness and power of speech. The soul therefore is not conceived as entirely annihilated. The ghosts retain the outer form of their body, and follow, but instinctively only, what was their favourite pursuit in life. Orion in Homer is still a hunter, Minos sits in judgment as when alive. Perhaps the punishments inflicted in Homer on Tityus, Tantalus, and Sisyphus (for Ixion, the Danaides, Peirithous, and others belong to a later story) should be regarded in this light. The penalties inflicted on them in the upper world may be merely transferred by Homer to their ghostly existence. For the idea of a sensible punishment is not consistent with that of an unconscious continuance in being. It must be remembered, at the same time, that Homer several times mentions that the Erinyes punish perjurers after death. We are forced then to conclude that the ancient belief is, in this instance, found side by side with the later and generally received idea, that the dead, even without drinking blood, preserved their consciousness and power of speech. Connected with it is the notion that the have the power of influencing men's life on earth in various ways. The most ancient belief knows nothing of future rewards of the righteous, or indeed of any complete separation between the just and the unjust, or of a judgment to make the necessary awards. The judges of the dead are in the later legend Minos, Rhadamanthys, Aecus, and Triptlemus. It was a later age, too, which transferred Elysium and Tartarus to the lower world, Elysium as the abode of the blessed, and Tartarus as that of the damned. In the earlier belief these regions had nothing to do with the realm of Hades (See HADES). The name Tartarus was in later times often applied to the whole of the lower world. The ghosts of those who had lived a life of average merit were imagined as wandering on the asphodel meadow. In general it must be said that the ancient ideas of a future life were always subject to considerable changes, owing to the influence of the doctrines taught in the mysteries, and the representations of poets, philosophers, sculptors, and painters (see POLYGNOTUS). The general tendency was to multiply the terrors of Hades, especially at the gates, and in Tartarus. (For the deities cf the lower world see HADES, PERSEPHONE, and ERINYES.) The Greek beliefs on the subject found their way to Rome through the instrumentality of the poets, especially Vergil. But they did not entirely supplant the national traditions. (See ORCUS, MANIA, MANES, LARES, and LARVAe. )
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