LARES

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LARES (familiares) were the domestic and family tutelary gods among the Romans. They were images of wood, stone and metal, and generally stood upon the hearth in a kind of shrine {larariwn). The higher classes had them also in their bedchambers or private lararia (domestic chapels). On important occasions, a young pig, a lamb, or a calf, was sacrificed to them. From these domestic lares must be distinguished those which were publicly worshipped by the whole state, by a city or class of men. Silvanus was the general lar of the peasants, and Mars of the soldiery. The public lares were twin sons of Mercury and the nymph Lara. At Rome, in the beginning of May, a festival was solemnized in honor of them, and of the reigning emperor, who was considered a public lar, (See Penates.)