an ancient and formidable Italian, probably Etruscan, divinity of the lower world, is called the mother of the Manes or Lares. (Varro, de Ling. Lat.
9.61; Arnob. ad v. Gent.
3.41; Macr. 1.7
The festival of the Compitalia was celebrated as a propitiation to Mania in common with the Lares, and, according to an ancient oracle that heads should be offered on behalf of heads, boys are said to have been sacrificed on behalf of the families to which they belonged.
The consul Junius Brutus afterwards abolished the human sacrifices, and substituted garlick and the heads of poppies for them. Images of Mania were hung up at the house doors, with a view to avert all dangers. (Macrob. l.c.
) As regards her being the mother of the Manes or Lares, the idea seems to have been, that the souls of the departed on their arrival in the lower world became her children, and either there dwelt with her or ascended into the upper world as beneficent spirits. (Müller, Die Etrusk.
In later times the plural Maniae occurs as the designation of terrible, ugly, and deformed spectres, with which nurses used to frighten children. (Paul. Diac. p. 128; Festus, p. 129, ed. Müller.)