Tag Archive | romans

L is for Lares and Penates Pagan Blog Post

Try Googling an image for Lares and Penates and you will get one picture over and over again from Pompeii and it isn’t even correct because it’s painting, Why? Because Lares and Penates were each family’s gods and every family had their own.

Oddly enough, because modern paganism considers it a requirement, very few cultures had altars at home. There just wasn’t room in most culture’s houses. The Romans did have them. Each family would have had a devotional space containing their family’s ancestor representatives. Even the poorest would have had some set, even slaves were allowed to keep theirs. These were usually small wax dolls of the people that were their family’s ancestors. Think of a space rather like the nativity set that some people put up in their house at Christmas and you would not be far off what a set of Lares and Penates would have looked like. Some well off people even had traveling sets of bronze in wooden boxes. They were personal to an individual family. There are no surviving sets until some very late bronze ones.

They were invited to meals and placed at the table. They were offered food and beverage and anything that fell to the floor was theirs. They looked after and protected the family and were supposed to provide guidance in times of trouble. They also attended all the family’s special events like weddings or citizenship ceremonies. When someone moved up in class or had coming of age ceremonies like a child giving up is bulla or receiving his toga. (Boy children received an amulet called a bulla nine days after birth and wore them until they became citizens {Romans had classes of citizen ship defined by the type of ring they wore starting with a ring of iron} or came of age. Girls wore lunulae until their marriage.)

One would have found the ritual tools used by the paterfamilias in ceremonies with the family, things such as a libation bowl, incense burner, incense and knife. The paterfamilias was the family priest and would have been responsible for doing the ceremonies and performing the proper libations.

As well as being household deities, there were Lares and Penates that were guardians of every city and town. Sometimes of roads and crossroads too. Lares were the more formal deities and the Penates were less formal and more tied to Vesta’s worship.

We have a set of Playmobil figures from their magical people set for our Lares and Penates on top of the entertainment center.

Sorry, I haven’t got any citations from where the info came from except to say it’s from my Latin mimeographed study notes and things I found in the library back when I studied for competition. I should copy those poor mimeographed papers. They’re fading away. For you youngun’s, memeographs are what we had before copy machines and if you were lucky you got to crank away at one for the teacher and inhale that lovely fluid that turned the paper into purple writing.

Subjects I will be boring you wih in the future

I thought I would start sharing some of the things I learned in taking many years of Latin and Ancient History. Most of my childhood, I wanted to be an Archeologist/Anthropologist. This was after I found out Marine Biologists had to be good swimmers and after failing beginning swimming 7 times due to an inability to float this did not seem to be a wise career choice so at 10, I switched obsessions to Ancient History. I was aided and abetted in this obsession in very strange ways growing up. The weirdest being that I had been put in the hardest and highest math class under the mistaken apprehension on the part of my guidance counselors that I was just not working up to my potential not that I was spectacularly bad at math. I had a math teacher that sat you in the order of the grade you received on the last test. I got tired of sitting in the last seat in back so I embarked in a very short life of crime and forged my dad’s signature on a mid term grade notice. Really dumb move in a school where everyone knows your dad because he used to teach in the school next door and everyone knew his handwriting.

Witness me being called into the Guidance Counselor’s office and confronted with the evidence. I admitted it and told the counselor why and exactly what I thought of being tortured in this fashion. So he agreed to change me into an easier math class and I agreed to quit my life of crime on one condition. I wanted to take Latin when I started 9th grade. He agreed and didn’t tell my parents either. So I figured it was a win all around. Why he allowed me to do that I have no idea but he did and I got my Latin when the time came and a class in Ancient History from the same very beloved teacher who I will always adore.

Anyway this upped my game considerably because Mrs De Grassi also taught us bits of Greek language and the Russian Alphabet just for the fun of it. Yes, I was that big a geek. (still am) Latin and History were the only two subjects I never worried about my grades in ever. Latin also came with a travel bonus. It was the only language that you got at least a short trip somewhere in California to compete in Junior Classical League conventions and if you won an award my high school Latin teacher, once we moved into her class gave us “A’s” for winning which was good because I was a lazy translator when we read some things like Cicero. Caesar’s commentaries were better but Cicero was just a conservative old stick in the mud that now a days would be a contributor on Fox News. I will always love “Winnie Ille Pu”. I ended up with a 1st in the state of California and two 2nds and a 3rd in Roman History and Daily Life and a 2nd in the state in writing Latin Poetry. And unless you are a pagan those are basically irrelevant modern skills. The only year I lost at Roman History was the year the nuns who made up the tests thought they would trip our school up and lose the Sweepstakes. They only tripped my up because they added the much hated Byzantines into the tests. I studied them the next year, so it only worked once and we won the Sweepstakes anyway even if I lost that year.

I read everything I could get my hands on about Egypt, ancient Rome and the Celts, not so much on Greece because I didn’t like the way they treated their women. Their dogs had more freedom. Didn’t like the Byzantine era at all or much of the history of the Holy Lands either because the more I read, the more I got disenchanted with Christianity and any of the other cults of that era, especially after I figured out the real story of the massacre of Jericho. That did it for me. The whole,” my god says we can steal your land and kill all the men, women and children” because he says so and finding out even later that it was because they worshipped a goddess made it even clearer.

So over the years I’ve absorbed an incredible lot of information. I thought periodically I’d share some of the stuff I’ve learned over the years.

I never became an archeologist because a woman archeologist from UCLA, came to speak with us back in the “70’s told me to forget about it unless my daddy was rich. Dad being a Glendale school teacher in the 2nd lowest paying district in the state was a bit of a reality check. I will always wonder if the woman who came to speak to our class was Maria Gimbutas because she did have an accent and was at UCLA at the time but I guess I will never know.

That didn’t stop my fierce interest and even now when I’m feeling lazy in reading, ancient history is my drug of choice in murder mysteries that take place in ancient times like those by Lynda Robinson, Lynn Haney, Lindsay Davis, Peter Treymayne (AKA Peter Beresford Ellis) and Steven Saylor. I think Lindsay Davis is my favourite though.

Anyway, ready or not, here some of it comes later today.