The following summary of an article entitled "Lararium--Household
Religion" by Peter Connor in Jean-Paul Descoeudres' Pompeii Revisted
(Meditarch) was summarized by Tony Clague and Cutris Bach, students enrolled in
Prof. Tom Sienkewicz' Ancient Societies class at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois,
in 1997. If you have any questions or comments, you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In ancient Pompeii, the lararium was the shrine of the household gods. It got its name from the lares, of Gods, that were believed to protect the household. In Pompeii, the home was considered the most sacred place on Earth, so the lares were very important. When there was a ceremony in honor of the lare, it was conducted by the head of the household. Most of the lares were shown in pairs as youthful people engaged in dance. The lararia were divided into three main types. The first was a simple niche in the wall that provided a resting place for the figurines. The second was an aedicula, which was a three dimensional miniature temple that sat on a podium. The final type of lararium was bordered by two black lines that ran around the base of the lararium. The essential spirit of the head of the house was the genius. It was also worshipped in the lararium. The house was protected by the lares and the family was protected by the genius. Many times, there was a pair of snakes painted under the lararium. They stood for gentle and benevolent bringers of peace and prosperity. In the ancient times, a Romans entire day was governed by religion as they prayed to household Gods and ancestors at the lararium.
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