Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A story of Lares, the ancient deities for houses´ protection

Household Lares from the House of the Vettius Brothers in Pompeii. From

In modern times, the word ¨Lar¨ is taken as a synonymous of ¨house¨. but this is the definition:
Lares (sing. Lar) – or archaically, Lases – were ancient Roman protective deities. Their origin is uncertain; they may have been guardians of the house, fields, boundaries or fruitfulness, unnamed hero-ancestors, or an amalgam of these. By the late Republican era they were venerated in the form of small statues of a standardised form, usually paired.
Lares were thought to observe and influence all that happened within the boundaries of their location or function. The statues of domestic Lares were placed at table during family meals; their presence, cult and blessing seem to have been required at all important family functions. Some ancient (and some modern) scholarship therefore categorises them as household gods. (from
There is a nice old story that I´ve read at Sacred and would like to share in my blog, ¨lassio¨ is the ancient form of ¨lar¨ and ¨lasii¨ is the plural:
Lasa or Guardian Spirit. From sacred

"There was once a great lord who was very rich, and he had a son who was a great prodigal--che sciupeva tutto il danaro. His father said to him, 'My son, I cannot live long, therefore I beg you to always behave well. Do not go on gambling, as you are wont to do, and waste all your patrimony. While I live I can take care of you, but I fear for you after my death.' After a little time the father died. And in a few days the son brought all to an end. Nothing remained but the palace, which he sold. But those who occupied it could not dwell there in peace, because at midnight there was heard a great clanking of chains and all the bells ringing. And they saw black figures like smoke passing about, and flames of fire. And they heard a voice saying:--

"Sono il Lasio,
In compagnia
Di tanti Lasii,
E non avrete mai
Bene, fino che
Non prenderete
Questo palazzo
A mio figlio.' 1

("'I am the Lasio,
And there are with me
Many more Lasii.
No good shall come to you
Till you restore
This place to my son!')

"So they gave back the palace to the heir. But he too was greatly terrified with the apparitions, and there came to him a voice which said:--

"'Sono il Lasio
Di tutti Lasii,
Son' tuo padre,
Che vengo adesso
In tuo soccorso
Purche tu m'ubbedisca,
Smetti il giuoco,
Altrimenti non avro
Mai pace--e tu
Ti troverai ancora
In miseria estrema;
Ma se tu m'ubbedisca,
Io vivro in pace,
E sarai tanto ricco
Da non finire
Il tuo patrimonio;
Anche divertendo te
E faccendo molto bene,
Ma prometté mi
Di non piu giuocare.'

("'I am the Lasio
Of all the Lasii.
I am thy father
Come to thy succour;
If thou'lt obey me,
Cease gaming for ever,
Or thou shalt never
Know peace . . . and thou
Wilt again find thyself
Stink deep in misery;
But if thou obey'st me,
I shall have peace again,
And thou shalt be wealthy
Far beyond measure,
Living in pleasure;
Only this promise me,
Never to play again.')

"Then the son answered:--

"'Padre perdonatemi!
Non giuochero pin.'

("'Father, forgive me;
I will ne'er play again.')

"Then the father replied:--

"'Rompi quante trave
Che son' nel palazzo
E piene di danaro,
Le trovarei,
Cosi starei benme,
Ed io staro in pace,
Nelle require
E mettermi. Amen!'"

("'Break down the beams
Which are in the palace
They are full of money,
As you will find.
Then I shall be quiet
In the rest of the dead.
There I go. Amen!"')

NOTE: break down the beams means to demolish the ceiling.

Roman mosaic at the house of Herculano, showing Lares, near Nápoles, Italy. From

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