penates

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penates

(pənā`tēz), in Roman religion, household gods, primarily guardians of the storeroom. Theirs was the chief cult of every Roman household, especially in early times. They were worshiped in connection with the lareslares
, in Roman religion, guardian spirits. According to some they were ghosts of the dead, destructive spirits who frequented crossroads and had to be propitiated. Others say that the lares were farm deities, worshiped as fertility powers of the earth.
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 and, as guardians of the hearth, with Vesta. Every household was said to possess images of the penates, to whom offerings were made before each meal. Penates were also public gods, protectors of the community and state.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Penates

 

in Roman mythology, gods who protected hearth and home, and later, the entire Roman people. Each family usually had two penates, whose images were placed around the hearth. A high priest in charge of the state cult of the penates brought them sacrificial offerings in the temple of Vesta.

Metaphorically, penates are the hearth and home, hence the expression “to return to one’s penates.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.