lares

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lares

(lâr`ēz), 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. The most common myth, however, identifies them as household gods, beneficent spirits of ancestors, worshiped in close connection with the penatespenates
, 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 lares and, as guardians of the hearth, with Vesta.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lares

 

in the religion of ancient Rome, protector-deities who were venerated in every private dwelling. Their images were usually kept in a small closet near the hearth or in a special small room. It was believed that the lares were present at family meals and all family affairs.

There were also lares who were venerated as the protectors of roads; their images were placed at crossroads. The holiday of Larentalia (December 23) was celebrated in honor of these lares.

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