was a place set apart in a Roman house for
the worship of the Lar familiaris
or (later) Lares.
(See Marquardt, [p. 2.8]Staats.
3.123.) Originally this shrine, with the image
or images, was in the Atrium,
as the place
where the hearth stood and the family assembled for meals; but, when the
hearth and the kitchen were moved to the back part of the house, the lararia
were placed elsewhere, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in the
dining-room, sometimes in the peristyle, and frequently at the entrance of
the house (especially in the later empire). Even in the 5th century Jerome
100.57) speaks of “idola
post fores domorum quos domesticos appellant lares,” and of the
“Tutelae simulacrum,” to which they paid reverence as they
went out or in. At these shrines was placed a lighted candle or lamp, and an
offering of food was made at the secunda mensa
(Serv. ad Aen. 1.730
; Varro, ap.
Non. p. 544, 1; Ov. Fast. 2.633
(when the Genius of Augustus had, after Actium, been associated with the
Lares) we can explain the expression “alteris te mensis adhibet
deum” (Hor. Od. 4.5
). We learn from Petronius (60) that, if
there was no lararium in the dining-room, the statues of the Lares were
sometimes brought to the table; but more usually a small table for this
offering was placed before the lararium, wherever it might be, with a
salt-cellar upon it (see Arnob. 2.67; Pers. 3.25; Liv.
), and this is probably the special significance of the
(Hor. Od. 2.16
It was an old Roman custom for the master of the house with his household
also in the morning to make an offering with prayers to the Lar familiaris.
Hence we find that the emperor had a lararium in his bed-chamber (Suet. Aug. 7
also Alexander Severus is said to have placed with the Lares images not only
of Orpheus and Alexander the Great, but of Christ (Lamprid. Al.
29; Gibbon, 2.529). On the occasion of feriae privatae
on the Kalends, Nones and Ides, at the
Saturnalia (Mart. 14.70
), the birthday of the
master of the house (Tib. 1.7
; Hor. 4.11,
&c.), the Lares were crowned and special offerings were made to
them, and in the lararium also was hung up the bulla
of the son who assumed the toga virilis. (For further
particulars regarding the worship of the Lares, see Marquardt, l.c.;
Preller, Röm. Myth.
497, and Dict. Myth.