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The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the GardenReligion at the Roman Street Corner$
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Harriet I. Flower

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691175003

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691175003.001.0001

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Lar(es)/Genius and Juno/Snake(s)

Lar(es)/Genius and Juno/Snake(s)

(p.1) I Lar(es)/Genius and Juno/Snake(s)
The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden

Harriet I. Flower

Princeton University Press

This chapter is organized into nine interrelated sections. Since the evidence about the lares is so fragmented and disparate, each ancient text or image is examined in its own right. It clears the ground for the discussion by first addressing the debate in the antiquarian sources about the basic nature of lares. It argues against the interpretation of lares as spirits of the deceased and in favor of seeing them as benevolent deities of place and of travel. Moving on from the theoretical classification of these distinctly academic texts, it looks at both literary and epigraphic evidence from the archaic Arval hymn onward. The remainder of the chapter considers which Latin authors refer to twin lares as opposed to a single lar. It also draws together the evidence from painted iconography, written text, and ritual custom to suggest an overall interpretation of the lares and snakes as “gods of place,” who receive gifts and honor from a genius on the Bay of Naples.

Keywords:   Roman religion, lares, cults, deities, snakes

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