Tuesday, July 04, 2017


The Word Lararium

Mary Beard, Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (London: Profile Books, 2008), p. 295:
Shrines and altars were set up at many crossroads, and one of the most distinctive and easily recognisable features of Pompeian houses is shrines that we now call by the Latin word lararium, shrine of the Lares or household gods (though the term was not used in Latin itself until centuries after the destruction of Pompeii).
There is no entry for lararium in the Oxford Latin Dictionary (which covers Latin only up to 200 A.D.). Alexander Souter, A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1949), s.v., p. 227, cites only "LAMPR. Alex. 29.2, 31.4, 5" (likewise Lewis & Short, and also Gaffiot). The following list was compiled with the help of Federica Giacobello, "Lararium (mondo romano)," in Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum, Vol. IV (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005), pp. 262-264 (at 262), and Maddalena Bassani, Sacraria. Ambienti e piccoli edifici per il culto domestico in area vesuviana (Rome: Quasar, 2008), pp. 61-62.

Historia Augusta 4.3.5 (Life of Marcus Aurelius; tr. David Magie):
On his teachers in general, moreover, he conferred great honours, for he even kept golden statues of them in his chapel, and made it a custom to show respect for their tombs by personal visits and by offerings of sacrifices and flowers.

tantum autem honoris magistris suis detulit ut imagines eorum aureas in larario haberet ac sepulchra eorum aditu hostiis floribus semper honoraret.
Id. 18.29.2 (Life of Severus Alexander):
His manner of living was as follows: First of all, if it were permissible, that is to say, if he had not lain with his wife, in the early morning hours he would worship in the sanctuary of his Lares, in which he kept statues of the deified emperors—of whom, however, only the best had been selected—and also of certain holy souls, among them Apollonius, and, according to a contemporary writer, Christ, Abraham, Orpheus, and others of this same character and, besides, the portraits of his ancestors.

usus vivendi eidem hic fuit: primum, si facultas esset, id est si non cum uxore cubuisset, matutinis horis in larario suo, in quo et divos principes sed optimos electos et animas sanctiores, in quis Apollonium et, quantum scriptor suorum temporum dicit, Christum, Abraham et Orpheum et huiuscemodi ceteros habebat ac maiorum effigies, rem divinam faciebat.
Id. 18.31.4-5 (Life of Severus Alexander):
He used to call Vergil the Plato of poets and he kept his portrait, together with a likeness of Cicero, in his second sanctuary of the Lares, where he also had portraits of Achilles and the great heroes.

But Alexander the Great he enshrined in his greater sanctuary along with the most righteous men and the deified emperors.

Vergilium autem Platonem poetarum vocabat eiusque imaginem cum Ciceronis simulacro in secundo larario habuit, ubi et Achillis et magnorum virorum.

Alexandrum vero Magnum inter optimos et divos in larario maiore consecravit.
Id. 27.17.4 (Life of Tacitus):
All the gods in their private chapel fell down, overthrown either by an earthquake or by some mischance.

in larario di omnes seu terrae motu seu casu aliquo conciderunt.
Of course any information in the Historia Augusta must be taken with a grain of salt, but I'm only concerned here with occurrences of the word lararium.

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum IX 2125 (Vitulano, 236 B.C.; recto/verso added by me):
Q(uintus) Satrius Secundus SID[---]ISIM[---]
e[t] signum scul(p)tum lara[rio
Imp(eratori) Maximi-
no et Africa-
no co(n)s(ulibus) Silvano
Lusiano sellam
R EVS[---]
See Peter F. Dorcey, The Cult of Silvanus: A Study in Roman Folk Religion (Leiden E.J. Brill, 1992), p. 36, n. 14:
A sella sintoniacis vowed to Silvanus seems to refer to a special seat reserved for the player of the syntonum, a type of castanet, who possibly played during rites (CIL IX 2125).
According to Bassani, op. cit., p. 62:
L'epigrafe è iscritta su una rupe sotto un rilievo in pietra calcarea in cui, entro una cornice delineata da colonnine e da un frontone, è raffigurato al centro Silvanus con falcetta nella destra e ramoscello (di cipresso?) nella sinistra; sulla destra è scolpito un cane e sulla sinistra un'ara con sopra tre pomi.
I looked for a picture of the relief but couldn't find one.

"Grammatici Incerti Glossae ad Vergil. Aen. XII Pertinentes ex Barthii Adversar. XXXIII, 13," in Servii Grammatici Qui Feruntur in Vergilii Carmina Commentarii, Vol. III, Fasc. II: Appendix Serviana Ceteros Praeter Servium et Scholia Bernensia Vergilii Commentatores Continens, ed. Hermann Hagen (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1902), pp. 523-524 (at 524, on Aeneid 12.199):
DIRI SACRARIA DITIS. Inferorum dicit secreta, quae nominari non possunt, et 'sacrarium' est locus, ubi praecluduntur, quae nolumus proferre, ut in templis, et 'donaría', ubi dona reconduntur, et 'lararia', ubi Lares Penates habitant. SACRARIA DITIS quia nihil excipit.
Thanks very much to Ian Jackson for sending me relevant pages from Bassani's book.

John William Waterhouse, The Household Gods

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